The roster of sponsored pros at the online poker room PokerStars continues to change, as the company both parted ways with players and signed on new faces during the month of September.  Longtime PokerStars representative Isabelle Mercier of Canada ended her relationship with the site a few weeks ago, but another woman has already been added to the roster.  PokerStars recently announced the signing of Fatima Moreira de Melo, an Olympic gold medal winning field hockey player from Holland, to its Team PokerStars SportsStars.

News first broke of Mercier’s departure during the European Poker Tour (EPT) Barcelona stop.  The live reporting team and television commentators reported that Mercier, who worked with the online site for five years, was moving on to pursue other projects.  At the time, it was not clear what those projects would entail, but the mystery would be revealed in just a matter of days following the announcement that she was moving on.

On September 18th, the European gambling site Betclick announced Mercier would be serving as its new spokeswoman.  The site, which is primarily known for its sports betting, is aiming to expand its online poker brand and turned to the well-known Mercier to help them do so.  “We are very strong on betting, but poker is not the strongest part of our offering,” said a spokesman in Betclick’s official press release. “The signing of Isabelle Mercier means we will be putting in place a strategy to develop and improve our offering, but this will not be put into action for a few months yet. It is part of our overall project to enhance our poker platform.”

Mercier first rose to poker notoriety when she won Ladies Night II of the World Poker Tour (WPT) in 2004.  On her road to victory, WPT commentator Mike Sexton first referred to her as “No Mercy,” a nickname that has stuck with her to this day.  Prior to her WPT victory, Mercier got her start in poker on the other side of the table.  The French-Canadian law school graduate began as a poker dealer before working her way up to poker room manager and eventually giving it a shot at being a pro herself.  She found success as a pro and, in addition to her Ladies Night win, she has also more recently made an appearance at the EPT London High Roller final table and won the Ante Up for Africa charity event held in conjunction with the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo.

Team PokerStars’ newest face did not start out as a poker player either.  The field hockey star made her claim to fame serving as a striker on the Dutch national team in the 2000, 2004, and 2008 Olympic Games.  She helped lead her team to a gold medal in Beijing, adding to her bronze medal in 2000 and silver medal in 2004.  In addition to her athletic ability, De Melo is known in Holland for her singing and has performed at several athletic events around Europe.

De Melo will be a part of Team PokerStars SportsStars, an elite group of five athletes who have a passion for card playing.  She is the first female to join the team, which already consists of tennis star Boris Becker, hockey player Mats Sundin, rugby player Sebastien Chabal, and powerboat racer Sami Selio.  In addition to representing PokerStars at live tournaments around the world, De Melo will also play on the online site under the screen name “FatimaDeMelo.”

The room’s official Twitter account recently revealed that it is looking for a group of strictly online players to serve as Team PokerStars Online Pros.  PokerStars will be accepting online applications through October 31st.

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