The Future of PokerStars Pros: What Are They Now Looking for?6 months ago
It’s been an interesting month for PokerStars, what with all the changes to their Team Pro roster, and even fighting off a boycott by leading players. Professional Twitch streamers Jaime Staples, Jeff Gross and Kevin Martin all recently announced their departure from the company, apparently claiming they had the opportunity to continue if they so wished.
Is PokerStars changing tack on their policies for both signing up new pros and the deals that they offer them?
Let’s look at the facts of what has transpired over recent years. The total dismantling of the VIP program turned PokerStars into public enemy number one for so many professionals and keen regs. This culminated with a long-time team member Ike Haxton resigning from his deal and publicly criticising the company.
Then, a year ago, stars such as Jason Mercier, Vanessa Selbst, and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier all refused a new deal, with ElkY also throwing a few pointed remarks at PokerStars’ new management on the way out. And now this year we see three guys who have done a great job in their niche all walking away. What could be wrong?
It looks to be the new public perception that PokerStars can no longer attract the biggest star names as they have done in the past. Daniel Negreanu and Igor Kurganov are arguably their only true superstar names remaining. partypoker, on the other hand, can claim Nikita “Mikita” Bodyakovskiy, Jason Koon, Philipp Gruissem and Timofey "Trueteller" Kuznetsov. Not only those guys but they have also stolen Ike Haxton and ElkY from PokerStars.
So, it is clear that if PokerStars cannot build a team such as this one then they must be looking for something different. Could that something be recruiting unexpected winners of huge events such as Ramon Colillas. Colillas is totally unknown, but his victory in the $25,000 PokerStars Players Championship allows him to be used as a “Moneymaker” type figure to give the belief to potential new players that they can emulate his success.
One question that needs answering before we know how PokerStars feels about streamers these days is were the three leavers offered a terrible deal because that’s not the new direction for PokerStars TeamPro? Or is another entity such as 888 Poker or partypoker already sat with their claws into these guys with a great deal?
For now, it is our opinion that PokerStars has limited options for signing quality names to their team roster. Attracting relatively unknown players with highlighted success looks to be where they are heading for the time being.
Other possibility is that they don’t see enough value in paying out for a prestigious team of pros for marketing purposes. Still holding more than 70% of the market share PokerStars may feel that only a couple of star names is enough. The PokerStars live tournament set up provides end-to-end coverage with tons of the top players being shown at these events, even if many are tied to rival companies.
In conclusion PokerStars have paradoxically become the pariahs of the industry even though they still firmly control it. They probably can’t sign who they would like to because of this current reputation but don’t really seem to care right now.
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