We are in a distinctly new era of online poker than we were in just a decade ago. During the poker boom, online poker rooms – Full Tilt Poker, especially – raced to sign as many poker pros and poker celebrities as they could to represent their sites. Black Friday killed most of that (and killed Full Tilt Poker) and in recent years, sites have used poker “ambassadors” somewhat sparingly. And whereas those old sponsored pros were usually very recognizable names even to the casual poker fan, usually tournament players who made appearances on television, many of today’s ambassadors are primarily online players who have strong Twitch followings. Such is the case for the six new PokerStars Ambassadors that the poker room introduced this week.
The first three are better-known poker pros, but even in their case, the people that would recognize them are likely very dialed in to the poker scene. Canadian Parker “tonkaaaaP” Talbot has more than $3 million in online tournament cashes, including both SCOOP and WCOOP wins. A regular Twitch streamer, he is considered one of the best high stakes players on the streaming platform.
“If you’d have told 18-year-old Parker he’d one day become a PokerStars Team Pro he definitely would have just laughed at you,” he Talbot told the PokerStars blog. “He wouldn’t even believe that I’d be streaming.”
Sam Grafton was announced as a new member of the PokerStars team at the same time as Talbot during Stars’ 2021 SCOOP stream. The English pro isn’t just an online player – he is a familiar face at the live tables, a well. He has more than $4 million in live cashes, with his top score coming in the Super High Roller event at the 2019 EPT Barcelona, where he finished second for $1.45 million. Grafton will spend time serving as a tournament commentator in addition to his regular poker playing.
A poker pro from Portugal, Andre “ACoimbraPoker” Coimbra will focus on streaming and he sees this as a great opportunity to build his Twitch following.
Then there are the true streamers: Lasse “WisternJL” Jagd Lauritsen, Keith “AccidentalGrenade” Becker, and Mark “naigo1” Foresta. The former lives in Denmark, while the latter two, interestingly, are in Pennsylvania. PokerStars normally goes with “international” ambassadors (forgive me for being US-centric), but since it has a poker room in Pennsyvlania, it is obviously looking to build its following stateside.
“The cornerstones of our strategy are supporting poker players and poker streamers, in particular new talent who have tons of potential and drive to grow, alongside creating a fun and welcoming environment for our community on Twitch and in other spaces,” said Scott Goodall, Associate Director of Communities and Partnerships at PokerStars. “We’re excited to bring on board our new ambassadors so they can share their journeys, inspire others and most importantly have fun. Welcome all!”