PokerStars’ venture in new and potentially untapped markets continued recently with the announcement of two new sponsorship deals.
First up on the roster of promotional acts was the news that PokerStars will now be sponsoring Team Liquid.
For those unfamiliar with the world of professional gaming, Team Liquid is one of the leading eSports teams in the world with champions in a variety of games, including StarCraft 2 and League of Legends.
Although PokerStars has had tacit connections with the professional gaming world in the past thanks to team members such as Bertrand Grospellier (he was a professional StarCraft player before poker), this is the first time it’s forged an official relationship in the industry.
The new deal will see the poker site line-up alongside Team Liquid’s other sponsors which include the likes of HTC, Nissan and Alienware. However, more importantly for the poker community, the deal will expose the game to a new demographic of players.
As part of the sponsorship package, Team Liquid’s Janne Mikkonen, Jeffrey Brusi and Dario Wünsch will take part in various PokerStars events such as the EPT and stream online sessions via their popular Twitch channels.
In addition to showing the game to new players on a passive level, the professional gamers will also be breaking down the action and explaining the crossover skills between gaming and poker.
This alignment of poker and eSports is one that Alex Dreyfus of the Global Poker League has been pushing for a while, but PokerStars deal is one of the first concrete links between the two industries.
Beyond its mission to tap into the professional gaming market, PokerStars has also announced a new sponsorship deal with former Big Brother Canada contestant, Kevin Martin.
Despite being a relative novice at the tables (he has just over $3,000 in live earnings), Martin’s Twitch channel is gaining some notoriety thanks to his time in the Big Brother house.
Although he eventually exited the show in 9th place during Season 3, he’s also hosted radio shows in Canada and it’s this public profile that PokerStars will be hoping to tap into over the coming months.
The addition of Martin to PokerStars Team Online is yet another example of the site’s efforts to encourage more casual players to ante-up.
The last two years have seen celebrities and sports personalities like Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr join PokerStars’ professional ranks as it attempts to become a more inclusive betting platform for players of all skill levels.
Although this approach has caused some tension among established grinders, the general consensus among industry insiders is that it’s a necessary strategy if online poker is to continue growing.