Posts Tagged ‘Team PokerStars’

Alex ‘Kanu7’ Millar quits Team PokerStars in Protest

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

alex-millar-quits-pokerstarsWe’ve heard quite a few strong responses from online pros over PokerStars’ decision to change their VIP program. But perhaps Alex Millar has made the strongest statement yet after quitting Team PokerStars in protest over the VIP changes.

Best known by his ‘Kanu7’ handle, Millar has been a high-stakes grinder for quite some time. And he felt so strongly about the matter that he gave up his lofty sponsorship position. Here are a couple tweets from Millar on the matter:

“I’d like to apologise to the players for my complete failure to be able to help in any way with the recent pokerstars VIP changes”

“With @RealKidPoker eventually failing as well I no longer feel I can represent the company and I have now left Team Pro Online”

Prior to quitting Team PokerStars, Millar announced that he hoped to change some minds among PokerStars management. Obviously he wasn’t able to do this as the Supernova Elite level was eliminated along with mid/high-stakes rewards. So Kanu7 sacrificed his sponsorship money over the principle.

In his poker career, Millar has racked up $3,294,787 in cash-game winnings. However, he’s had a rough go of it in 2015 and has lost $136,042. Considering that he won’t be receiving VIP rewards to help with any future losses in 2016, it’s easier to see why the Brit has taken such a strong stance against Stars.

This is actually the second year in a row that a high-profile player has quit Team PokerStars. Victoria Coren-Mitchell did so in 2014, but under different circumstances. In Coren’s case, she didn’t like how parent company Amaya Gaming was pushing Stars towards casino gaming and sports betting. It had always been Coren’s principle that she didn’t want to represent non-skilled gambling, so she quit.

PokerStars gets Far Prettier with Yuiko Matsukawa Signing

Friday, March 20th, 2015

yuiko-matsukawa-signs-pokerstarsDoes PokerStars have a Japanese schoolgirl fetish? Sure seems like it because their latest Team PokerStars addition is model Yuiko Matsukawa, whose schoolgirl photos and other modeling work are plastered across the net.

This is quite an interesting signing because Matsukawa has no live-tournament cashes; instead, it seems like she just started playing poker since she was spotted at the Macau Poker Cup before landing a sponsorship deal. However, it’s pretty clear that Matsukawa wasn’t signed on her poker merits.

Instead, this is your perfect example of a poker site signing a good-looking woman who brings more to the table than just a couple big live-tournament victories. Matsukawa furthered her fame by starring in a film called “Terrace House Closing Door,” which centers on a fake reality show involving six men and six women. Given the 24-year-old’s fame in Japan, this fits in well with what PokerStars is trying to do in Japan: get ahead of the market before the game is legalized.

In previous years, it seemed like there was no chance that Japan’s relatively traditional society would ever embrace casino gambling/poker games. This is, after all, the country that inspired the Last Samurai, a movie about a bunch of late-nineteenth-century, stubborn-assed samurais who refused to trade in their swords for guns, ultimately meeting their demise after charging a Gatling gun head-on.

yuiko-matsukawa-signs-pokerstars-1Of course, this isn’t to say that casino gambling is the Gatling gun and all Japanese are stubborn samurais for refusing to embrace the activity. But it’s pretty clear that their prime minister, Shinzo Abe, sees the value in legalizing casinos and not just relying on a bunch of pachinko machines to drive gaming revenue.

So by signing Matsukawa and their previous additions to Team PokerStars, Naoya Kihara and Kosei Ichinose, PokerStars is doing a great job at appealing to the large potential Japanese poker market before anybody else gets a chance.

Jason Somerville signs with Team PokerStars, will headline PokerStars Twitch Channel Launch

Friday, February 27th, 2015

jason-somerville-pokerstarsJason Somerville just goes to show that if you have a great idea and put hard work behind it, then you’re going to be rewarded. The WSOP bracelet winner and host of the popular podcast show Run It Up just signed a big deal with Team PokerStars.

Somerville certainly has multi-value as the face of Run It Up, where he plays online poker and offers players tips in real time. Additionally, he also challenges himself on the show, such as the time he streamed himself running a starting bankroll of $50 up to $10,000.

Previously a member of Ultimate Poker’s “Team U,” Somerville laid the foundation for Run It Up’s success on YouTube. However, after Ultimate Poker began sinking faster than Nicolas Cage’s career, the two sides ended their business relationship. It’s at this point that Somerville made the brilliant move to keep the rights to Run It Up, before moving it to the growing Twitch streaming site.

While Ultimate Poker has already vaporized into the dust of online poker memories – along with UB Poker, Chris Ferguson’s reputation and Phil Ivey’s poker skills – Somerville will be headlining the launch of PokerStars’s Twitch channel. Going further, he’ll begin the third season of Run It Up on March 1st, and broadcast for at least four hours a day for 70 straight days.

Here’s what Kristy Thompson, PokerStars Head of Pro & Celebrity Marketing, had to say about Somerville’s plan and what he brings to the table:

“Jason is a unique proposition – a poker pioneer who has had great success both online and live, and brings something different to the table through the way in which he has built a popular live streaming poker show. I’m sure he will be a great ambassador for PokerStars and help to increase the level of interactivity between the brand and its players.”

This signing of Somerville represents a new direction for PokerStars’ sponsored player model – one that calls on players to be good not only on the felt, but also in having value outside the poker room. Somerville, with over $6 million in live and online poker winnings along with a popular Twitch show, meets both of these requirements.

Victoria Coren quits PokerStars – She loves Poker, not Casino Games

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

victoria-coren-pokerstarsWhile PokerStars continues their expansion into casino gaming and sports betting, Victoria Coren won’t be sticking around to see the results. The English poker pro/writer/TV personality announced her resignation from Team PokerStars through her personal blog.

As Coren explains, the announcement that PokerStars will be doing a mass launch of online casino games came “very sudden.” While writing that she isn’t against casino games, the two-time EPT champion doesn’t like the thought of promoting a company that offers them either. Here’s one excerpt from Coren’s blog that really explains her mindset on Stars’ new direction:

But I cannot professionally and publicly endorse it, even passively by silence with my name still over the shop. Poker is the game I love, poker is what I signed up to promote. The question I’m probably asked most often in interviews is about the danger of addiction, going skint and so on. I’m always careful to explain the difference between the essentially fair nature of poker, where we all take each other on with the same basic chance, and those casino games at unfavourable odds which can be (especially online) so dangerous for the vulnerable or desperate.

Unlike many of their sponsored players, which PokerStars treats with a grain of salt these days, it seems like they truly valued what Coren brought to the table. After all, she’s a very successful writer and TV show host. And from the looks of what Coren wrote, it seems as though Stars made a pretty good pitch to keep her on Team PokerStars.

However, the Brit is pretty adamant that she doesn’t want to be associated with the promotion of online casino games. Coren didn’t rule out a possible return to Stars, citing that she will watch from the sidelines and maybe work on “something which is pure poker.” But she seems dead-set on avoiding sponsorships with any casino gambling-related companies, which is what Stars is moving closer towards becoming.

Joe Cada’s Split with PokerStars foreshadows Grim Future

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

The death of the sponsored poker pro is something that’s been discussed frequently over the past few years. But Joe Cada’s recent split with PokerStars has hammered the point home that sites are increasingly moving away from sponsored pros.

In Cada’s case, all he wanted was 100% rakeback from PokerStars to continue representing them. And this seems like a reasonable request from a former Main Event champion. Amazingly, Stars saw this as too high a price, as you can see from Cada’s tweets:

If everyone is wondering what happened with Poker Stars and myself it’s pretty simple. I asked for 100percent rake back, they said no.

I asked for zero money. I just wanted the rake back that I used to get.

Cada added that he’s never heard of a company asking somebody they sponsor to pay for their product. Seeing as how Stars wouldn’t keep the 2009 Main Event winner on their roster, it seems highly likely that they’ll continue dumping more pros over the coming years.

This trend already began weeks ago when Humberto Brenes, Jose “Nacho” Barbero and Angel Guillen didn’t get their contracts renewed. A PokerStars spokesman came out and said that these players were from countries where they don’t hold live tournaments. So Stars felt there was little reason to sponsor these players any longer.

But Cada is arguably more marketable than any of these guys because he has worldwide recognition as a Main Event champ. He is, however, from Michigan, yet another spot where PokerStars had no live presence.

The world’s largest poker site will always have some players representing their brand like Daniel Negreanu, Bertrand Grospellier and Liv Boeree. But it’s becoming obvious that they aren’t interested in having dozens of signed pros from every corner of the world.

Leo Margets signs with PokerStars

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

The world’s largest poker site has announced the addition of Leonor “Leo” Margets to Team PokerStars. Margets had previously been under contract with 888poker, but signed with Stars once that deal had expired.

The 29-year-old is best known for finishing 27th in the 2009 WSOP Main Event, which earned her $352,832. What’s more is that, by finishing 27th, Margets also attained the coveted title of “Last Woman Standing” in the 2009 Main Event. The Barcelona native’s name is etched in history with the likes of Barbara Enright, Maria Ho and Tiffany Michele, who also managed to be the Last Woman Standing at the WSOP Main Event.

Margets is definitely more than just a one-hit wonder because she’s also cashed in a number of other big poker tournaments. Besides the 2009 Main Event cash, Marget’s other very impressive performance came when she won the Full Tilt Masters Series in Spain. The Spaniard grabbed a €100,000 ($132,23) payout and captured her first major tournament title.

One more strong tourney finish that Margets had was in a 2010 Aussie Millions $2k No-Limit Hold’em event; she finished third place and earned $54,270. Thanks to this quality cash and others, Margets has managed to rack up $770,274 in live tournaments winnings, which ranks her 30th all-time among women.

What’s truly impressive about everything Margets has done is that she only started playing live poker in 2008. So in less than five years, she’s already managed to accumulate $770k in earnings and attract the attention of the world’s biggest poker room.

Margets will join several other Spaniards on Team PokerStars, including Ana Marquez, Poli Rincon, Juan Manuel Pastor and tennis champion Rafael Nadal. As for the latter, Nadal has not only helped PokerStars immensely, but also the online poker industry as a whole.

Unknown Ivan Freitez wins EPT Grand Final

Friday, May 13th, 2011

It seems like the last few EPT events that I’ve seen have featured little known winners. And this trend definitely kept up after Ivan Freitez defeated fellow unknown Torsten Brinkmann to win the 2011 EPT Grand Live Final.

Now this isn’t to say that Freitez was a total bum before he won the biggest EPT tournament of the year. In fact, he had 13  cashes prior to the EPT Madrid win; however, it’s not exactly like the poker world was talking about the Venezuelan before he graced poker news headlines everywhere.

The same goes for Freitez’s heads-up adversary Torsten Brinkmann, who was known by few people outside of his mom and dad before finishing runner-up in the 2011 EPT Madrid. Looking past their anonymity, I’m glad that both players were able to put themselves on the poker map with the big finishes

As far as those who poker fans might actually recognize, Alex Gomes was the big story going into the final day since he was chasing a triple crown (WPT title, EPT title, WSOP bracelet). The Team PokerStars member was hoping to become part of an elite class that only includes Gavin Griffin and Roland De Wolfe. However, those dreams ended when Eugene “FishosaurusREX” Yanayt busted him out.

Yanayt was another interesting story since he made headlines earlier in the year for losing over $2 million in one month at Full Tilt Poker’s cash tables. However, he was looking to get some of the money back, which he did manage to do to an extent. If you’d like to see how much Yanayt made, along with the rest of the results, here is a look at the final table:

1. Ivan Freitez – €1,500,000
2. Torsten Brinkmann – €900,000
3. Tamas Lendvai – €550,000
4. Andrey Danilyuk – €400,000
5. Juan Maceiras – €315,000
6. Eugene Yanayt – €250,000
7. Alex Gomes – €185,000
8. Andrew Li – €130,000