The PokerStars team of poker pros has plenty of names that any amateur player would love to get a few lessons from. Of course, a few hours with a top flight professional player isn’t affordable for your average Joe, even if you do manage to track one of these poker superstars down. But what if you could get some one-on-one time with an elite player, essentially becoming their protÃ©gÃ©?
That’s the concept behind The ProtÃ©gÃ©, a PokerStars promotion that promised to pair up everyday poker players with some of the biggest names in the company’s stable. In total, four professionals are taking part in the promotion: Vanessa Selbst, Eugene Katchalov, Bertrand Grospellier (also known as “ElkY”), and Andre Akkari.
The idea is simple. Each of the four pros will offer training to a selected protÃ©gÃ©, who will in turn receive three free entries into the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP), including the Main Event. At the end of the series, whichever protÃ©gÃ© managed to make the most money will win a PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) package.
In order to earn the right to be trained by one of these illustrious poker names, players had to participate in tournaments on PokerStars that featured the name of the pro they wanted to be paired with. Each person who finished in the top two of any of these tournaments was then invited to submit a one-minute video that explained why they should be selected for the protÃ©gÃ© role.
The Team PokerStars Pros then narrowed down the choices to two for each of them, after which fans were allowed to vote on the ultimate winners via a Facebook poll. In the end, four players were selected for the opportunity to train with their heroes and potentially win a seat in the PCA.
Vanessa Selbst will be working for Rob Glenister of Southend-on-Sea, UK. The 29-year-old Glenister is a member of a band called “Tim Clark and The Underscores,” and says he’s been playing poker for about five years.
“I’m relieved to be picked as the ProtÃ©gÃ©,” Glenister said. “It was a stressful few weeks.”
Arseny Shurapchikov of Moscow will be paired with ElkY. The 23-year-old cleans up sewage for a living, and uses poker as an escape from his day job.
Olga Ermolcheva of Kiev, Ukraine will be working with Eugene Katchalov. While she’s only been playing for three years, she already has some live tournament success, having won a side event at EPT Barcelona just a week earlier.
Finally, 20-year-old Allan Justino of Sao Paulo, Brazil will be the protÃ©gÃ© of Andre Akkari. While he’s the youngest of the four players, he has been playing poker for several years.
“I’m so delighted to get this opportunity,” Justino said.
Promotions such as this one may be a sign that PokerStars is looking to use their professional team in a more active manner. While poker players have historically been asked to do little more than wear patches and compete in tournaments as a part of their sponsorship deals, there has been a move towards asking more of players in exchange for support from poker rooms and other sponsors.