Sponsored Players

    PokerWired's guide to Poker Player Sponsorship. What are the different types of poker sponsorship? Find out which types of players online poker sites use as sponsored pros, streamers and ambassadors.

    • Sponsored Pros
    • Poker Ambassadors
    • Poker Streamers
    • Celebrities
    • Sponsored Players FAQs

    Sponsored Poker Players

    Ever since online poker sites have existed, they have employed poker players to represent them as sponsored players and brand ambassadors. They are the recognisable faces of the brands they are promoting and help create a touch point for customers of the online poker site, especially when they participate in live poker tournaments and events. Often they are the only real-life people that customers of an online poker site will ever come into contact with.

    There is no single type of player that poker sites prefer to use as ambassadors, with some being chosen for their mad skillz at the poker tables, while others are engaged on a basis akin to that of an influencer. Sports stars are often used as brand ambassadors, with the most famous ones to have taken their seat at the poker table including Rafa Nadal and Neymar Jr.

    During the original online poker boom of 2003-2007, many sites, such as Party Poker, PokerStars and Full Tilt had extensive lists of sponsored players on their books. It was often the case that players would pick up a sponsorship deal purely for winning a big tournament or recording a series of good results in a short space of time. But these were often not the hardest working ambassadors and as the industry matured, poker sites began to expect more from their pros than simply making correct calls and good folds.

    To be a successful ambassador for a poker site you have to not only have an above average understanding of the game, more importantly you have to be producing content, engaging the community. To help to raise awareness and grow the game of poker, you can't just play and wear the logo.

    Sponsored Pros

    Sponsored pros are professional poker players who are sponsored by an online poker site. They are (usually) winning players and have skill levels that are greater than the average player and may have won some big poker championships, but this is not essential. 

    Sponsored poker pros wear branded clothing or logos of the brand they represent when they play live and will also take part in customer promotions. They might feature in marketing materials and on the websites of the brands they represent. They are often active on social media channels with large followings and will use their profile to promote poker brands on facebook, twitter, instagram and other popular platforms.

    Some of the most famous sponsored pros include Daniel Negreanu and Bertrand ‘Elky’ Grospelier, who are both sponsored by GG Poker and as such are two of the most recognisable poker players in the world. Their images have even been turned into digital versions that live within the GG Poker client, popping up to laugh at your bad beats and congratulate you when you win a big pot.

    Chis Moneymaker, a pro for ACR is another of the highest profile sponsored pros, rising to fame when he won the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event. He was sponsored by PokerStars for 17 years before joining ACR.

    In the UK and Ireland, many successful players have been sponsored by poker sites. Scottish player Ludovic Geilich was once a Party Poker team pro and is now a sponsored pro for Grosvenor Poker. Soon after he joined the UK casino group’s team of ambassadors he went on to win the GUKPT Blackpool Main Event.

    Unibet Poker employs the services of Dara O’Kearney and David Lappin as its sponsored pros. As well as playing in many live poker events around the world every year, such as the WSOP and the WPT World Championship, the two Irish pros also host a fortnightly podcast called The Chip Race. It’s an award winning show that gets great guests and is the only poker podcast to have won the GPI awards twice

    Poker Ambassadors

    All sponsored players are effectively ambassadors of the sites they work for, but some sites choose to describe them as ambassadors rather than sponsored pros. The term is looser and enables players who might not be successful at the game, but who have a high profile within the poker community to represent brands. Their roles are effectively the same as sponsored pros, but with greater emphasis on promoting the brand and less expectation that they will win lots of events.

    Often ambassadors will be people who have a profile outside of poker, but are also known to be players. Victoria Coren-Mitchell is a perfect example of this, as she became an ambassador for PokerStars soon after becoming the first woman to win a European Poker Tour event in 2006. As a TV presenter and journalist, Coren-Mitchell already had a public profile before she started representing PokerStars, which helped to raise the brand of what was then the biggest online poker site in the world.

    Alexandra Botez is a chess player and has recently become an ambassador of GG Poker. She is not the first female chess player to have crossed over to poker and taken on an ambassador role. Jennifer Shahade made the switch from Chess to poker many years ago and presents a poker strategy podcast, which is sponsored by PokerStars.

    Ambassadors come in all shapes and sizes and often they are people who have already been connected to a brand. For example, James Hartigan and comedian Joe Stapleton have been hosting podcasts and commentating on PokerStars live events for many years, but in 2024 their statuses were upgraded to become ambassadors of the site.

    Poker Streamers

    Live streamers are another category of players that are sponsored by online poker sites. They live stream their online poker sessions on platforms like Twitch and YouTube and can have hundreds or even thousands of fans watching them play. It is a very engaged form of brand representation and tends to be more useful for player retention than introducing new players to the game, as people who watch poker streams tend to already be familiar with the game. 

    Streamers can help to give exposure to online poker sites and give them greater branding awareness than sites that don’t engage streamers. Poker streamers who represent specific brands will sometimes do giveaways for their viewers, such as tickets to tournaments and satellites at online poker sites.

    Not all streamers are sponsored either, such as girafganger7 (Bert Stevens) who as an unaffiliated player won the WSOP Online Main Event on GG Poker while streaming, from his shed in Austria, celebrating with a not even metaphorical “F*%k You” to the sites that had previously declined to offer him sponsorship, adding that he didn’t really need a sponsor anymore, as that he’d just picked up a $2.7m score and that 'the price has no gone up bitches'. Bert Stevens remains unsponsored and can be viewed playing several nights a weeek on his Twitch channel.
    girafganger7 winning the WSOP Online
    Bert 'girafgfanger' Stevens reacts to winning the WSOP Online at GG Poker in 2023


    Celebrities are favoured as ambassadors by many online poker sites, as they already have a high profile. Sports stars in particular are sought after, as they emphasise the competitive and skill based nature of poker. 

    Rafa Nadal, Boris Becker, Cristiano Ronaldo, Usain Bolt and Neymar Jr are amongst the highest profile sports stars to have been ambassadors for online poker sites. 

    Comedians, actors and television presenters are also often employed to do fulfil a similar role, with Kevin Hart being amongst the most famous entertainers to have represented an online poker site. 

    Actress Jennifer Tilly, who is married to poker pro Phil Laak is also a keen player herself and has won a WSOP bracelet. She was at one time sponsored by Full Tilt Poker.

    Sponsored Players FAQs

    Why do poker sites sponsor poker players?

    Online poker sites and sometimes live poker tours sponsor poker players for a variety of reasons, most obviously to help raise awareness of their brand or events within the poker community.

    Which online poker sites sponsor players?

    Many online poker sites sponsor players, including GG Poker, WPT Global, PokerStars, ACR, Grosvenor Poker, KK Poker and Coinpoker. 

    Who are the most famous sponsored poker pros?

    Daniel Negreanu, Chris Moneymaker, Phil Ivey and Bertrand 'Elky' Grospelier are amongst the most famous sponsored pros in the poker world