In the current world of poker sponsorships, the well seems to be quite dry. Compared to the burgeoning period from 2004-2010 when sponsorships were handed out like Snickers bars during Halloween, the last five years has actually seen a significant decline in the number of sponsorship deals handed to top pros. It may not be a significant change to the system but, according to poker journalist Jennifer Newell at PokerUpdate, recent moves indicate that poker rooms are loosening up the purse strings, at least for one segment of the poker world, the ladies.
888Poker has traditionally been ahead of the loop when sponsoring female poker players. For many years Sofia Lofgren has been a part of the stable alongside Kara Scott and U. S.-specific player Jessica Dawley. In the past, Canada’s Xuan Liu was a member of Team 888Poker. Now Lofgren has another female partner with the team in Natalie Hof, who was formerly aligned as a “Friend” of PokerStars.
Hof has gradually worked her way up the ranks of the German poker world, making significant impact on the European Poker Tour in smaller side events. In 2014, Hof was the champion of the Eureka Poker Tour (a sub-tour of the EPT) Women’s Event in Vienna for a decent score and she has earned two EPT Main Event cashes in her career. Using the online moniker ‘888NatalieH,’ Hof seems to be looking forward to the challenge facing her.
“With such talented pros and a variety of games, it’s quite an honor to have the opportunity to play as an 888poker ambassador for a game I love so,” Hof said as her deal with 888Poker was announced. “I’m very motivated to improve my game and travel a lot playing with amazing teammates.” Along with her taking on opponents on 888, Hof will also be streaming some of her online actions on Twitch and will create content for poker fans on her new YouTube channel.
Hof isn’t the only lady in the game to earn her stripes and get a sponsorship.
An India-specific site, Adda52, has announced that they also added a female player to their sponsored roles. Nikita Luther will be the lady who will stake new ground for women in India, as poker is (and some would say this thought is still the prevalent rule of the game) considered a “men’s only” game. Luther won the Ladies Finale at the 2015 India Poker Championship and is ready to take up the mantle of breaking stereotypes, saying “I can’t wait to start my term with them. I passionately aspire to remove the taboo and ignorance associated with poker.”
Finally, partypoker has added two new members to its roster, both ladies joining a team that also includes Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton and WPT champion Tony Dunst.
One of the most successful women players in Australia, Jackie Glazer, has earned a sponsorship from the online room. Glazer, who has racked up over $1.3 million in career earnings, Glazer is looking to further expand the game in a country that already embraces it vehemently. “I am confident that together our passion will help us to expand the game of poker in my country,” Glazer noted. “I am looking forward to announcing some games and promotions over the next few weeks that will offer great value to the Australian poker community.”
The other new face on the partypoker roles is Hungary’s Beata Jambrik. A noted online player who has been successful on her Twitch streams, Jambrik looks to be a player who will encourage those online to take part in the “Lottery Sit and Go” feature that is offered.
In looking at the history of the game, the number of women has always been way behind men. Such players as Annette Obrestad, Jennifer Harman and Annie Duke have held sponsorships in the past, but those faded away with “Black Friday” and, in Obrestad’s case, the failure of poker rooms in the past five years. Thus, for four women to get sponsorship deals in a short period of time is revolutionary for the poker community and perhaps indicates that poker could be looking to market more to the “better half” of the human condition.