PokerStars Sponsorship Changed: And for the Worst!8 months ago
How times have changed in the last decade across the entire poker community. Back in 2010, before Black Friday decimated the online scene overnight, things were a lot different. The high-stakes games on both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker were populated with a whole roster of sponsored stars. A mix of old hands that had moved smoothly from the live arena to the online game such as Phil Ivey, to the young upstarts such as Tom 'durrrr' Dwan and Dan 'Jungleman' Cates.
Players chasing sponsorship in those days was all about being recognised as one of the elite. No gimmicks involved whatsoever. Sadly though, with much reduced traffic through to 2019 and the big players such as PokerStars have now changed their game plan. They are no longer obsessed with signing the big names, they are treating popular Twitch streamers as the new figureheads much in the same as as the real stars. Of course with much less money being thrown around.
It’s no secret, nor an insult to point out, that most of the streamers are not at a level that is truly inspirational to ambitious new players. While Jason Somerville, the man who really kicked off the poker streaming genre, is a great player with millions of dollars of profit. This is not the general case.
We have streamers now trying their best to be as professional as they can be on the broadcasting side while clearly not putting 100% into becoming the best player they can ever be. This can’t be a great example. Chatting while playing on Twitch is enough of a distraction as it is. Factor in the loss of time to be editing footage for a YouTube channel, and possibly a website, and how are you ever going to reach your potential?
Names such as Jaime Staples, Fintan Hand and Benj “Spraggy” Spragg are firmly in the PokerStars family now. The three, particularly Staples, have put a lot of effort into both their Twitch and YouTube channels and definitely deserve a lot of credit. This is something the old school never really gave us.
Durrrr instead delighted us with his hyper-aggressive, fearless play, which going by what we see from mid-stakes streamers these days, shows us how far ahead of his time he was in 2010.
This is not an attack, purely noting the difference between what we had and what we see now.
In mitigation, we must also consider that the online world in general has also changed since 2010. E-Sports have grown into a multi-billion dollar industry and serve as a dangerous threat to the poker industry. This is in competition for potential gamers who are motivated to reach the pinnacle of their chosen game. Maybe poker Twitch streamers are the perfect weapon in this fight.
It’s also the case that many of us who started playing online poker in 2003 are a full generation ahead of the 18-year-olds today. Maybe we should just get with the times?
There are still enough top live players who are sponsored pros, but it looks like the online giants are fresh out of luck now - if they were ever even interested in the first place.
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