Online Poker Sponsorships have been a significant part of the online poker scene going back to the 2003 WSOP (World Series of Poker) main event when Chris Moneymaker won the Main Event.
PokerStars who had been in the gaming market since 2001 had realized the marketing power of Chris Moneymaker, his story, and of course the name to go with it and put their limbs on the line as sponsors – This as we all know worked out and other sites followed that trend. Within a very short period of time one can safely say that poker was on the rise and there were several other Poker sites that were sponsoring at least one or two players.
Black Friday ended much of that era in 2011 – Only a relatively small number of poker sites that survived that time and most players based in the United States were of little value to the operators that did survive. There were the dedicated handful of players that travelled to Canada or Mexico to play, while others became such integral parts of the company that they stayed (Daniel Negreanu with PokerStars, Mike Sexton with PartyPoker). Some non-US sites such as PartyPoker discovered ways to grow their rosters in ways that would appeal to a wider range of players.
WSOP’s online poker venture experimented with sponsorship when 2012 WSOP Main Event champion Greg Merson began representing the site in New Jersey. Merson did tout the site on his social media accounts, but the WSOP seemed to do more to downplay the sponsorship than to promote it.
888poker sponsored Jessica Dawley for a few tournaments, PokerStars sent Jen Shahade to a number of New Jersey events, and Borgata Poker worked deals with local pros like Jamie Kerstetter for a time as well. None, however, have been featured in major advertisements or on the online poker websites themselves.
There are those that say that sponsorships are possibly a huge waste of financial resources and that Poker players sign up for the love of the game and what the site offers in play rather than being able to play alongside a so called “Pro”
However, there was one glaring opportunity missed by WSOP/888poker in the past year, and that was the WSOP Main Event victory of Scott Blumstein in 2017. Not only did he live in New Jersey, he spoke in interviews after his $8,462,000 win about how much the New Jersey online poker market influenced him and aided in his success. He was an ideal candidate for a sponsorship, someone who could connect with a broad customer base. He was the Moneymaker of the New Jersey market had WSOP taken a better look and actually sponsored him.
Four European countries signed an agreement about nine months ago to share online poker liquidity. In less than one year, the new networks are launching and putting the final pieces of the machine together. The regulators of Italy, Spain, France, and Portugal decided not to let their online poker businesses fade away; instead they found a way to build them up.