Victoria Coren Mitchell, the popular UK media personality and professional poker player has announced that she has ended her time as a member of PokerStars Team Pro. Coren, who recently became the first player to ever win two European Poker Tour main event titles, said that PokerStars’ recent decision to add casino games to their poker clients worldwide caused her to part ways with the company.
“On Friday night, PokerStars.com announced that it will be rolling out online casino gaming alongside its internet poker,” Coren wrote on her personal blog, where she made the announcement. “As a result, on Saturday morning, I terminated my endorsement contract with them.”
PokerStars has been slowly increasing their casino game presence, first rolling out the games as a part of their client in Spain. They then confirmed that the same would soon be happening in Italy. While some had hoped that the casino games would be limited to certain segregated markets, and that the bulk of casino gaming would stay in Amaya’s Full Tilt brand, the writing was on the wall before the company’s announcement late last week.
For Coren, that announcement left her in a difficult position. She felt she had to make a quick decision: while she knew she didn’t feel comfortable being in a position where she might be tacitly endorsing online casino games, she wrote that PokerStars was also a big part of her life, and more practically, the money from the endorsement deal was also important. Ultimately, that led to a quick decision.
“I can’t hang around, sleep on it, have meetings and talk myself into staying, when my gut tells me that the right thing is to walk away,” Coren wrote.
Coren said that the decision isn’t a condemnation of PokerStars. It’s even true, she wrote, that she has “been known to indulge in live table gaming” from time to time.
“But I cannot professionally and publically endorse it, even passively by silence with my name still over the shop,” Coren wrote. “Poker is the game I love, poker is what I signed up to promote.”
Coren pointed out that she, like many poker players, feels that the game is fundamentally different from other casino games, and that influenced her decision.
“I’m always careful to explain the difference between the essentially fair nature of poker, where we all take each other on with the same basic chance, and those casino games at unfavorable odds which can be (especially online) so dangerous for the vulnerable or desperate,” wrote Coren. “Although PokerStars assured me I would not have to actively promote the casino arm, I know in my heart that continuing in my current role could risk helping to send people to a place where they would encounter something I think is dangerous. That’s not the way I want to make a living.”
But while Coren was adamant about her decision, she still said that she was on good terms with the people at PokerStars, and said that she could potentially see herself coming back someday for “something which is pure poker.”
“This is a very sad and regretful day for me,” she wrote. “I still believe that PokerStars is, at time of this writing, the best place to play online poker.”