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In what comes as a much-needed move to liven up its shrunken roster of Team Pros, global online poker giant PokerStars has onboarded three prominent poker players as brand ambassadors. The online poker giant has signed up UK’s poker phenom Sam Grafton, Canadian pro Parker Talbot and its former Team Online pro Andre Coimbra.
The PokerStars panel of Twitch streamers has also expanded with the inclusion of Mark ‘naigo1’ Foresta, Keith ‘AccidentalGrenade’ Becker, and Lasse ‘WisternJL’ Jagd Lauritsen, just as its summer online festival, the 2021 Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) kicks off.
The announcement of Grafton and Talbot joining PokerStars was made by Joe Stapleton and James Hartigan on the sidelines of the live cards-up FT coverage of the Event #6: $10K High Roller at the ongoing SCOOP on April 6. Much to the viewers’ surprise, Grafton and Talbot joined the live stream where Stapleton and Hartigan broke the news.
PokerStars later tweeted a video confirming the appointment.
— PokerStars (@PokerStars) April 5, 2021
Hartigan announced – “I’m delighted to reveal that Talbot and Grafton are now officially the newest members of PokerStars’ Team Pro…Congratulations!”
Responding to Hartigan, Grafton, who is currently residing in Brazil, said, “I’m really excited to join the team, though I’m really saddened to share my moment in the limelight with Talbot.”
Talbot added to the conversation by stating – “Sam and I have been friends since ages…it’s going to be an absolute mess, but it’s going to be very exciting!!”
Coming out with an official statement on the signups, Scott Goodall, Associate Director of Communities and Partnerships at PokerStars, said, “We are proud to expand our team and welcome these brilliant ambassadors for the game to PokerStars. 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.”
The Newly Minted PokerStars Team Pros
The signing of Sam Grafton, Parker Talbot, and Andre Coimbra is a significant move by the brand since all three are popular players with a prominent standing in the poker community.
The trio joins Lex Veldhuis, André Akkari, Ramón Colillas, Jennifer Shahade, Ben Spragg, Fintan Hand, Felix Schneiders, Arlie Shaban, and Mason Hughes expanding PokerStars’ Team Pros lineup to 12 members.
Grafton, who has been a regular fixture at European Poker Tour (EPT) stops, boasts over $4.14 Million in recorded live winnings. He has been equally active on the online felts, and he will be promoting the brand by providing fun content and commentary at PokerStars events.
Talbot, a semi-retired streamer and a former Team Upswing Poker Pro, may have a more modest scorecard of live winnings standing at $750,620 but has a sizeable record of online feats and is both a former SCOOP and WCOOP champion.
Finally, there’s Andre Coimbra, who was a member of PokerStars Team Online until 2017. Even though Coimbra now returns as a full-fledged Team Pro, he will continue to focus primarily on Twitch streaming.
In a video tweeted by PokerStars, Team Pros Spraggy, Lex Veldhuis, and Fintan Hand welcomed the trio to the team.
— PokerStars (@PokerStars) April 5, 2021
PokerStars has also roped in three twitch streamers. Two of them, Mark Foresta and Keith Becker, are Pennsylvania-based players who have been streaming on PokerStars PA.
Foresta called the signup with PokerStars a “dream come true,” while Beckers underlined that he was humbled and honored to join the prestigious team. “I hope to live up to the name ambassador. I want to bring this game we all love to more people!”
Rounding out the trio is Lasse Lauritsen, an online player looking to make a mark in the online poker community.
The New Sign-Ups – A Much Needed Move
Six new faces joining PokerStars’ Team Pro and streaming lineups is significant for the brand!
In the past, PokerStars pursued a global strategy of targeting the regional markets with local poker stalwarts at the frontline of endorsing the brand. However, there has been a steady decline in the brand’s roster. If we take only the past six months into account, several prominent members of PokerStars’ roster have jumped ship, most prominent of them being Chris Moneymaker, who ended his 17-year long association with the brand on December 31 and subsequently joined the U.S.-facing site Americas Cardroom (ACA).
Around the same time as Moneymaker, the three-member OP-Poker team comprising Nick Walsh, James Mackenzie, and Eva Reberc, as well as Russian online poker phenom Mikhail Shalamov announced that they’ve ended their sponsorship with PokerStars. Within a week, Shanghai-born Australian pro Celina Lin and French player Kalidou Sow also parted ways with PokerStars.
Donning the Red Spade in India was the country’s poker veteran Aditya Agarwal and Muskan Sethi. Agarwal ended a five-year collaboration with the brand in December 2019, and just about a year later, in January 2021, Sethi also parted ways with the brand after a three-year association.
While PokerStars has been represented by a broad mix of popular poker icons and sportspersons in the past, the latest signup indicates that is strongly leaning towards content creators with good skill sets.
Timing of the Announcement
These signups come when there’s a fierce three-way battle ongoing between PokerStars, GGPoker, and partypoker. All three sites are currently running their respective flagship summer stops.
While the ongoing Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) has recorded a strong start, GGPoker/Natural8 has rolled out an equally exciting lineup as part of its Spring Festival that began on April 4. On the other hand, partypoker is currently hosting the Irish Open Online, but after the series culminates on April 8, the site will be running the WPT Online Series from May 7 to 26.