Have you noticed the fanfare that accompanies a new signing for an online poker room? The press release, the photo shopped images, and the buffed out biographies.
It’s not quite the same when their contracts end though is it?
Google knows the answer to most things, but it doesn’t have a clue if Full Tilt have parted ways with their roster of ‘red pros.’ But don’t worry. I have been reliably informed that the 14 ‘red pros’ recently hired to represent Full Tilt Poker have not had their contracts renewed.
PokerStars acquired Full Tilt Poker back in 2012, and it launched with only three sponsored pros: Tom Dwan, Viktor Blom and Gus Hansen; aka “The Professionals.”
It was clear that the site’s emphasis was going to be on the high stakes cash games that made them so famous in the past – unfortunately, things didn’t exactly go to plan.
Dwan, Hansen, and Blom might be some of the best players in the business when it comes to getting their money in, but working for a living? Being the face of an online poker company? Interviews?
I don’t think so.
Dwan had his contract terminated at the beginning of the year, and after much speculation, both Blom and Hansen also left the Full Tilt building in October. At the time of their axing, Blom was down over $3m in online cash games, and Hansen $20m.
Neither Dwan nor Hansen’s name has surfaced since the axe fell, but Blom has recently been picked up by the up and coming Swedish online gambling operator, Unibet, to appear in a series of live cash games at Aspers Casino in Stratford, UK. A more permanent deal has not been confirmed at the time of writing.
The Red Pros Follow The Professionals Out the Door
At the height of Full Tilt Poker’s powers, it’s believed that they had a roster of 150 ‘red pros’ playing from every nook and cranny the globe had to offer. In total, there were close to 200 people being paid to play on the Full Tilt Poker site.
The ‘red pro’ status was revitalized in the summer of 2013 after Full Tilt Poker recruited 14 poker players to represent the brand at the United Kingdom & Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT), the Eureka Poker Tour, the Brazilian Series of Poker (BSOP), and the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT).
Players recruited by Dustin Iannotti, Full Tilt’s Senior Manager of Pro & VIP Marketing, included Sin Melin, Dermot Blain, Ben Jenkins, Martins Adeniya, Robert Cezarescu, Hana Soljan, Andras Nemeth, Jonathan Karamalikis, Liam O’Rourke, Tom Grigg, Larissa Metran, Caiaffa Rafael, Carlos Mavca and Leonardo Toddasso.
The four United Kingdom players were unveiled ahead of the Full Tilt sponsored UKIPT in Galway, Ireland, and during a recent interview with CalvinAyre.com, Sin Melin told me that Full Tilt had ended their affiliation with all of their ‘red pros.’
“We all officially ended last week. I received a phone call from them,” said Melin.
A Different Direction
At the time of the hiring, Iannotti said, “These Tour Ambassadors will help redefine what it means to represent a poker site. These players are working with us to create exciting new live experiences that will leave UKIPT players with memories that extend well beyond the felt.”
The decision not to extend contracts makes sense. As Iannotti says above, “These Tour Ambassadors will help redefine what it means to represent a poker site,”only the site will be moving further away from that experience.
In July, Full Tilt Poker dropped the word ‘Poker’ and re-branded as Full Tilt. Amaya Gaming have been totally transparent on their viewpoint that the way forward is through casino and sports betting.
It was good while it lasted.
A dream even.
“When I started playing poker, 10-years ago, I always dreamed of becoming a pro,” said Melin. “I was fortunate to get signed by Full Tilt and I loved every minute of it.”