Blame it on the uncertain market or the underperforming poker pros, the online poker companies have shed many players from their sponsorship programs of late. PokerStars marked the outset of this lay-off last month when it terminated its contract with 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Joe Cada. Following the footprints, 888 Poker parted ways with 2006 World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) winner JC Tran and Ultimate Poker slashed half of its sponsored player list down to 4. The 2-time World Poker Tour champion and Partypoker team pro Marvin Rettenmaier is the latest in the series to hit the rail.
A major reason behind the lay-off of these players can be drawn back to their poor performance in recent tournaments across the globe. An acute review of their game play and winnings in concluded tournaments over the past one year clears the picture of online poker companies showing no interest in renewal of their sponsorship contracts. However, Joe Cada remains an exception to this with his outstanding performance in 2013 and a WSOP gold bracelet in 2014 too. “If everyone is wondering what happened with Poker Stars and myself it’s pretty simple. I asked for 100 percent rake back, they said no,” Cada wrote clarifying over the issue.
Among the other notables who will no longer represent PokerStars are Latin American poker layers Jose ‘Nacho’ Barbero, Angel Guillen and Humberto Brenes, the Dutch pro Marcel Luske, and Alex Kravchenko of Russia. A PokerStars representative said that a major cut in budget for the latin American region and change in policies after Amaya taking over the company has led to these lay-offs. Ultimate Poker in its quest to restructure its sponsorship list dropped the 2012 November Niner Jeremy Ausmus, 2011 November Niner Phil Collins, William Reynolds and Brent Hanks.
An interesting insight from the industry indicates new marketing policies being adopted by these poker companies in form of celebrities or sportsmen representing them across the globe. Whether it is Shane Warne wearing a 888 Poker tee-shirt at WSOP event or Rafael Nadal and Ronaldo sporting PokerStars logo in a heads-up match aired live on TV, such personalities intrigue the new generation poker audience and draw them to the website. As these sites already have millions of online poker players, a fresh face that too coming from other genre of sports promises their followers hitting the online poker portals.
Poker players facing the heat are looking anxiously to grab another badge but it’ll a matter to watch in coming months whether they succeed to join a sponsored team or continue to play as individual players.