JC Tran’s run to the final table at the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event paid off in more ways than one, as it also landed him a sponsorship deal with 888poker. Now, after a successful year for the long-time poker pro, it appears that his relationship with one of the world’s largest online poker firms is coming to a close.
Tran has announced that he will no longer be a part of the 888poker team after one year as a member of their professional stable. The move comes just under twelve months after he first signed with them, making him the biggest signing of the 2013 November Nine.
“Want to announce that I am no longer a member of 888poker,” tweeted Tran last week. “Thank you for a fun journey ovr the past 12mos. GL to all of team888.”
At the time of the signing, 888poker was likely hoping that Tran would deliver them the biggest title in all of tournament poker. Tran not only came into the 2013 WSOP Main Event final table as the most recognizable name remaining, but also as the chip leader, making him the odds-on favorite to take home a World Championship.
Ultimately, things didn’t quite work out that way. Tran struggled to make progress at the final table and would end up finishing in fifth place, scoring over $2.1 million. While the result was hard to call a disappointment in the grand scheme of things, both Tran and 888 were likely hoping for more.
But Tran’s year as an 888 pro did end up producing some very high-profile results. Earlier this summer, Tran made two final tables at the WSOP, finishing fourth in both the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Six Handed event and the $25,000 No Limit Hold’em Mixed Max event. Earlier in the year, he managed to take down the World Poker Tour Rolling Thunder Main Event, scoring over $300,000 in the process.
Despite those notable results, however, 888poker decided to go in another direction. The company appears to be interested in continuing on with November Nine players, a strategy that banks on the television exposure that those players will get when the WSOP final table reconvenes later this year. This year’s target was Bruno Foster Politano, the Brazilian who will enter the Main Event final table as the short stack.
Tran’s exit is just the latest in a series of high-profile sponsorship deals that have ended between professional poker players and online poker companies. Perhaps most notable was the severing of ties between PokerStars and Humberto Brenes, a long-time partner of the site and the face of their operations in Latin America.
Similarly, Ultimate Poker has recently paired down their sponsorship operations, dropping players such as Jeremy Ausmus and Phil Collins while holding onto a leaner group of more recognizable names like Antonio Esfandiari and Jason Somerville. 888 has also had their share of sponsorship issues, as they were forced to drop Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez after his biting incident at the World Cup in Brazil. They also recently lost Sam Holden, who announced a “semi-retirement” from poker to pursue a philosophy degree.