Full Tilt Poker Signs First New Sponsored Pros Since Relaunch

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Since the site returned to the online world in November of last year, Full Tilt Poker has only had three poker pros as a part of their sponsorship stable. “The Professionals” – Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan, Viktor ‘Isildur1’ Blom and Gus Hansen – carried the banner for the site as it made its triumphant return to the poker community, but they have now been joined by a host of pros who will take up an “ambassador” role on particular tours in their areas of the globe.

In the United Kingdom, four poker professionals were named as special ambassadors for the United Kingdom/Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT) prior to the start of the tour’s most recent event in Galway, Ireland next week. Those four players – Dermot Blain, Martins Adeniya, Ben Jackson and Sinem Melin – have all seen some success on the international poker circuit, with Blain and Adeniya perhaps most deserving of the deal.

Blain earned his first live tournament poker success in his native Ireland at the 2008 Irish Masters, finishing in fifth place in a €150 buy in tournament for a €1000 score. He has been able to parlay that middling early success to cash in 38 events since then, topped by his win at the 2008 Asia Pacific Poker Tour Main Event in Macau (for $541,100) and a fifth place finish in the 2011 World Series of Poker Europe Championship Event for a €275,000 windfall. For his career, Blain (who can count cashes in England, Ireland, France, the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria and the United States on his resume) has tournament earnings of slightly more than $1.35 million and is one of the most popular players in Ireland.

Adeniya has a career very similar to Blain’s, with his first cash dating back to March 2009 at the London Poker Masters’ £250 No Limit Event. Since then, he has 29 cashes in tournaments around the world, with a seventh place finish at the UKIPT stop in London in 2011 for a £86,350 payday being his best cash. While he is still seeking his first major championship, Adeniya has almost $500,000 in career earnings and is a formidable player in the international tournament spectrum.

Jackson and Melin are the mystery players of the signings for Full Tilt’s UKIPT ambassadors. Jackson does have sixteen cashes in English events since 2011, but his largest payday for his runner-up finish during the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour’s £1000 in Blackpool in November of 2011 (for a £47,820 score) and $196,822 in career earnings aren’t exactly awe inspiring. Melin, with her career earnings of $45,382, also is an odd choice, but the two will have plenty of opportunity to improve their career resumes with the sponsorship.

For their Australia New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT), Full Tilt Poker has also announced a roster of special ambassadors for that tour. As Day 1A of the Queenstown Snowfest Main Event started yesterday, poker professionals Jonathan Karamalikis, Liam O’Rourke and Tom Grigg were unveiled as newly sponsored players. “Our ANZPT Tour Ambassadors represent everything Full Tilt Poker stands for,” said Dustin Iannotti, Full Tilt Poker’s Senior Manager of Pro, Celebrity & VIP Marketing, in announcing the new members. “They are talented players with a passion for constantly improving their skill set, supporting grassroots poker and spreading the word about the game.”

Karamalikis is arguably the best of all of the new ambassadors with over $2.1 million in career earnings since his debut in 2007. In that time, Karamalikis has five six-figure cashes among his 44 tournament finishes, with a runner-up finish to Bryan Piccioli in the inaugural WSOP Asia Pacific “Accumulator” event this April as a highlight. He also has won tournaments at the Asia Championship of Poker (to the tune of $478,292) and the APPT Main Event in Sydney in 2010 (for another $454,304).

O’Rourke’s tournament resume is topped by a second place finish during the ANZPT stop in Sydney in March 2012, where he took down $144,754 (Australian) for his finish. Grigg has a similar record in earning two major cashes on the APPT and the ANZPT for almost a quarter million dollars. Both are successful online players who should add to the Full Tilt Poker online battles.

These seven players will take part in the offerings of Full Tilt Poker as “Red Pros” along with their responsibilities in their regional live tournaments. Special promotions for the new sponsored players with Full Tilt Poker are also planned but no announcements have been made as to those yet.

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