Continuing the exodus from the world’s number one online poker room, poker professional Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier announced yesterday that he was ending his association with PokerStars and its Team PokerStars Pro stable.
In a Twitter announcement yesterday, Grospellier issued his decision to his fans and the poker community. “After 11.5 years of a great partnership, it is time to move on for PokerStars and I,” Grospellier began. “We had a wonderful journey together and I am glad for all the great people it gave me the chance to work with and befriend…2017 showed it was time to stop and open a new chapter.”
“Team Pro used to be a core part of their (PokerStars’) strategy,” Grospellier continued. “It has become evident this was not the case anymore, during the last few years. I respect that. On my side, I am happy to have been involved – except those last few years unfortunately – on how PokerStars could offer the best Poker (sic) experience…it was an amazing privilege, especially during the Scheinberg era…when their vision brought poker, PokerStars and the players to constant new heights.”
Grospellier didn’t explain any further what the difference was since 2014, when the Scheinberg Family sold PokerStars to the then-Amaya Gaming (now the Stars Group), and he only cryptically offered a view to his future. “I am too young to only be sponsored,” he finished. “I want to bring added value and be consulted for strategic decision as I used to be. I am now content and eager to start a new and very exciting challenge – more info soon 😉.”
Originally one of the top video gamers in the world, Grospellier easily moved his mind and his skills into the world of poker back in 2004. He was the first player to reach the vaunted “SuperNova” and “SuperNova Elite” levels over the years, but his skills weren’t limited to only online (two World Championship of Online Poker titles and a Spring Championship of Online Poker win). He won a World Series of Poker bracelet in 2011 in a $10,000 Seven Card Stud tournament and was a terror in High Roller events around the world. His more than $13.5 million in career earnings seat him firmly in the Top 50 in the 29th place slot.
The continued exodus of Team PokerStars Pros is something that must be concerning to The Stars Group, however. Earlier this month both Vanessa Selbst and Jason Mercier, for their own reasons, chose to leave what is considered THE top sponsorship that a player can earn. Especially when you look at the length of time that Selbst, Mercier and Grospellier had been with the organization (all were around a decade in their sponsorships), there gives one pause to think about what might be causing these departures.
There is no doubt that the “culture” has changed at PokerStars. During the days of the Scheinbergs, the players were the focal point of the business and the management and Team PokerStars Pros went out of their way to make the experience special for those who played on the site. The players, for their part, were also integral to marketing and (some) management decisions that they could offer their expertise for.
That all changed – and changed rapidly – once Amaya Gaming purchased PokerStars and its related entities in 2014. Now faced with having to please a Board of Directors and stockholders, the decisions were made more on the financial side and input from the PokerStars Pro members wasn’t as valued as it once was. It is something that is significant and cannot be ignored in considering the moves by the pros.
You can believe that Mercier, with a new wife and a child, is now wanting to change his life. You MIGHT even believe that Selbst’s statement about poker “not being fun” anymore is the truth. But when Grospellier steps up and says that he is leaving because his input wasn’t being requested anymore, then you know there’s some issues coming out.
We more than likely haven’t seen the last of Grospellier. At no point did he say he was “retiring” from poker and the cryptic statement at the end of his announcement leads one to believe that he will be getting into another online poker endeavor in some manner. What we can do is just as we did with Selbst and Mercier – wish him the best and look forward to when he does make any type of return to the game.