PokerStars just got a little PR glitz today.
Premier, a famous online poker player who has made himself known in both high stakes no-limit cash games and tournaments, has cashed in his VIP points at PokerStars for a game of HORSE vs Dallas Maverick's celebrity owner, Mark Cuban. While it could be said that Mark Cuban isn't exactly a major celebrity to get excited over, the fact does remain that PokerStars was able to secure a very unique promotion for their VIP store.
In the poker industry so far, most of the sites have dragged their feet when it comes to anything remotely creative when it comes to comps for their players. Merchandise such as t-shirts, hats, gear, mugs and the usual corporate rewards are all that has emerged from the start. Party Poker put a luke-warm effort with their VIP program, which essentially gave out money back to it's players in a form of rakeback, as a means for comps. That didn't go so hot with the players though, because it was a very murky and unfair program depending on who you asked.
PokerStars answered back with their own VIP program, which included the usual extended gear and merchandise, but also many cool things such as a gift cards, travel vouchers, monitors, iPods and even a Porsche Cayman as their top product. With this game of basketball vs Mark Cuban though, that really sets a new precedence that will probably send some sort of ripples to the top brass in the industry. Because essentially what this is, is major step toward the personalization of the online poker / gambling experience. Yeah, Premier might be a special case because he's a huge star and has VIP points to blow at PokerStars, but this type of reward is what you would see at the red carpet and high roller rooms in Vegas.
The big thing is, is that more money is wagered via online gambling and internet poker than at Vegas. The rammifications of that fact, along with the idea of personalizing the online experience, is something that should worry Las Vegas. As anyone with knowledge of e-commerce, trust and security are two key variables that determine whether or not an online retailer will get a customer's business. When a site such as PokerStars or any other site is able to add that much more depth to their offerings, that's when the kill switch will be turned on for the offline industry. That's another reason why, in my opinion, that there is so much debate over the legality of internet poker and online gambling.
And oh yeah, Mark Cuban won the game versus Premier. Just incase you were curious about that instead of my random poker speils on this page.