Jason Somerville and his Run it UP (RIU) brand is joining forces with DraftKings, the second largest daily fantasy sports (DFS) network that is currently in a battle for player liquidity and overall popularity with frontrunner FanDuel.
The announcement of the partnership might come as a surprise to many, including perhaps Somerville himself.
“I’m not a big daily fantasy player,” he said during his Sunday RIU broadcast. “I’ve just recently been introduced into the world of daily fantasy, obviously though I’ve had many years of hardcore UFC watching and I’ve been known to fire off some bets on UFC in my days.”
It was just six months ago that Somerville became a member of the elite PokerStars Team Pro roster, and the DraftKings revelation might not come as a welcomed sponsorship in the eyes of executives at the world’s largest online poker network.
Like many other multibillion-dollar corporations including CBS, Yahoo, and several sports leagues, the DFS market is being targeted by numerous organizations looking to grab a piece of the industry that is expected to bring in over $1 billion in net revenues for operators by 2020.
And PokerStars’ parent company Amaya is no exception, announcing earlier this month it will launch StarsDraft before the NFL season gets underway.
Amaya’s quick DFS launch is in thanks to its acquisition of Victiv, a Texas-based platform that will be given a reboot and rebrand to follow the PokerStars identity.
At the time of the deal, Victiv CEO Matthew Primeaux said Amaya and his company “intend to capitalize on what we believe is a strong crossover between online poker players and daily fantasy sports.”
But if one of the game’s most popular and widely seen players is routinely pushing poker players interested in DFS to DraftKings instead of StarsDraft, a likely conflict of interest could occur.
Whether that will ruffle the feathers of the suits at Amaya is unclear, but it certainly isn’t expected to be well-received.
Somerville and DraftKings aren’t wasting any time getting their partnership up and running, with the DFS platform hosting its first satellite qualifier during Sunday’s UFC Fight Night for Jason’s Run it UP Poker Event.
The six-day poker event will be held at the Peppermill Resort in Reno October 20th to 25th.
For a $5 entry, players competed last night for a shot at winning a $1,800 prize package that included a free $565 entry into the Main Event along with a $500 airfare credit and hotel package at the Peppermill.
Capped at 520 entries, the private DraftKings satellite quickly sold out during Somerville’s Twitch broadcast, highlighting his influence among online poker players who might be considering making the DFS crossover.
Though Somerville’s interest in DFS lies chiefly in mixed martial arts, he showed the vast offerings of DraftKings by pointing to the upcoming NFL season options and other sports contests.
“Click some buttons, win some money,” Somerville concluded.