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At the start of 2021 itself, the poker community was woken out of its New Year hangover with news of one of the most celebrated brand associations in poker history coming to an end. On December 31, Chris Moneymaker announced the end of his 17-year-long association with PokerStars.
Moneymaker was just one among a string of team pros who have parted ways with PokerStars in 2021. In under 15 days, six PokerStars Team Pros have abandoned ship, bringing the site`s team of ambassadors down to 10!
The same day as Moneymaker announced his departure, the three-member OP-Poker team comprising Nick Walsh, James Mackenzie, and Eva Reberc and Russian online poker phenom Mikhail Shalamov also publicly ended their association with PokerStars.
All the above were part of PokerStars Team Online. The OP-Poker team had joined PokerStars in May 2019, while Shalamov has been associated with the brand since 2010. Incidentally, all of them made the announcements through tweets.
As of midnight tonight OP-Poker will be parting ways with @PokerStars Team Online.
— OP-Poker (@OfficialOPPoker) December 31, 2020
After 10 years as PokerStars ambassador, i also say farewell to that really great place to play poker at. Покерстарс, спасибо за всё!
Кстати, чуток не пересидел, чтоб стать самым древним амбассодором )) дольше меня в команде был только Крис… https://t.co/TyV1Jxt9vn
— Mikhail Shalamov (@innerpsy) December 31, 2020
Another prominent poker player who was till recently part of PokerStars’ quickly diminishing roster of Team Pros, Celina Lin, on DATE announced that she was leaving PokerStars for “more freedom, adventures and quality family time.”
I will start by saying 👋 to @pokerstars & all the amazing ppl I have met & worked with over the years. I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to travel the 🌏, play 🃏🃏 & call it work.
2021 let’s hope for more freedom, more adventures & more quality time with our ♥️ ones pic.twitter.com/WBnn1r7wUq
— Celina Lin (@CelinaLin) January 6, 2021
The Shanghai-born Australian pro was signed up by the brand in 2007 and was a prominent face in the site`s branding in Asia. Lin, who is married to poker pro Randy Lew and settled in Australia, has been unable to play on PokerStars due to the country’s rules. The pandemic also put a stop to all live poker events in the country.
French pro Kalidou Sow is another player who recently exited his sponsorship association with PokerStars. Sow had joined the Red Spade in April 2019.
Bonjour les amis !
Tout d’abord je vous souhaite une très belle année.
Cette crise sanitaire est difficile pour tous et j’espère sincèrement que cette année sera bien plus simple.
Pour ma part mon contrat avec PokerStars prend fin j’ai passé deux années exceptionnelles 1/2
— Kalidou Sow (@KalidouSowFr) January 6, 2021
PokerStars only recently renewed its partnership with Brazilian football star Neymar Jr by onboarding him as their sporting ambassador in mid-December. However, with Lin and five other former Team Pros parting ways with the brand, its slate of Team Pros has whittled down significantly.
The exodus fever seems to have caught up in the industry as the New Year brought with it news of departures at other sites as well. As many as seven partypoker sponsored pros have, since the start of 2021, ended their association with the site. These include Philipp Gruissem, Anatoly Filatov, Roberto Romanello, Ludovic Geilich, Renato Nomura, Richard Dubini, and Josip Simunic.
PokerStars – The Exodus
Being part of the PokerStars pro team lineup was for a long time considered a badge on the shoulder – a quick way to global stardom. But in the last few years, the glory had lost much of its sheen.
2019 brought several departures. Players like Jeff Gross, Jaime Staples, Kevin Martin, Randy Lew, Daniel Negreanu, Maria Konnikova, poker couple Liv Boeree and Igor Kurganov, and India’s poker veteran Aditya Agarwal split from the brand.
However, after Lin, Shalamov, the OP-Poker trio, and Sow following Moneymaker out the door, the Red Spade Pro Team has been reduced to 10 members. These include brand ambassadors André Akkari, Muskan Sethi, Ramón Colillas, Jennifer Shahade, and Team Online pros Lex Veldhuis, Ben Spragg, Fintan Hand, Felix Schneiders, and Arlie Shaban. Mason Hughes is part of the site`s futuristic virtual reality team.