The Global Poker League has announced PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site, is on board as a league sponsor. With a lack of buzz surrounding the league intended to “sportify” poker, a sponsorship deal with the most recognizable brand in online poker couldn’t come at a better time.
League founder Alex Dreyfus, in a press release, announced the poker site will become an exclusive and lead sponsor of the GPL. As has been the case with the GPL throughout its inaugural season, details are hazy.
Dreyfus hasn’t released financial terms, contract length, or specific details on when and where PokerStars’ logo will be showcased during league matches. But he did mention the GPL will be available on PokerStars TV.
Will Everyone Be on Board?
There are a number of PokerStars Team Pros in the GPL including Vanessa Selbst, Liv Boeree, Jason Mercier, and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier. But there are those who have a grudge with PokerStars over the 2016 changes to the player rewards programs. And then there are the 888poker pros who may not want to be associated with a league that PokerStars sponsors.
Chad Holloway, a CardsChat contributor and Media Director for the Mid-States Poker Tour, addressed this issue on Twitter.
“How will players w/anti-PS feelings like @JustinBonomo react? Will @888poker pros DominikNitsche and @Moorman1 be allowed to participate?,” Holloway asked.
Justin “ZEEJUSTIN” Bonomo found himself in a difficult situation after winning an EPT event in May. Earlier in the series, he had some pretty harsh words about the poker site after discovering doing promotional work for PokerStars and EPT would be required of the winner.
“At this point in time, I see no reason to do unpaid promotional work for a company that has defrauded many thousands of players”, Bonomo said, referring to the 2016 VIP changes.
Bonomo’s shaky history with PokerStars dates back to 2006 when he was banned for life from the poker site for using multiple-accounts. The ban was lifted in 2009, but the rocky relationship continues.
What this Means for the GPL?
Whether or not some of the players in the GPL will bail due to the PokerStars sponsorship remains to be seen. It doesn’t change the fact that this is a home run deal for Alex Dreyfus and the Global Poker League.
PokerStars controls over 70 percent of the online poker market. It is the most recognizable brand in online poker history. The sponsorship doesn’t mean the GPL will soon be featured in primetime on ESPN. But it’s certainly a step in the right direction.