PokerStars Loses Jason Somerville as Asian Operators Flex their Muscle

January 3rd, 2020 | by Kaycee James

The new year may only be a few days old but there have already been some interesting changes at the top of the online poker tree.

Jason Somerville

Jason Somerville (pictured) has left PokerStars as former stablemate Felipe Ramos joins GGPoker. (Image: PokerStars/YouTube)

First to make what could be seen as an unexpected move on January 2 was Jason Somerville. The Twitch streamer and poker pro announced that he’s heading for pastures new in 2020.

After working with PokerStars since 2015, the American has decided to head in a different direction.

Twitter Post Leaves PokerStars Another Man Down

Somerville made the news public via Twitter. In a short video, he said that a new focus on sports will shape the future of his career within the betting industry and on Twitch.

However, the American also highlighted the fact his location has hampered his progress. As a US-based representative of PokerStars, Somerville was limited by state laws with regards to where and what he could play.

Born in New York but able to play online poker in neighboring New Jersey, Somerville has been able to create Twitch content in recent years. However, with the rise of legalized sports betting opening up new opportunities with other operators and in other states, he feels the time is right to become a free agent.

The move is not only another high-profile loss for PokerStars just eight months after Daniel Negreanu left, it highlights the status of US online poker. Although national regulation would make it the largest market in the world, the current state-based system means it’s currently a bit-part player in terms of poker.

While online casino gaming and sports betting in states such as New Jersey are booming, interest in poker is stagnant at best. Because of that, opportunities for recreational players and professionals are dwindling.

Asian Invasion Adds New Dimension to Online Poker

A fact that further highlights the importance of international markets comes courtesy of GGPoker. The Asian-based operator became a rising star in 2019 by introducing a number of player-friendly features and, of course, signing Negreanu.

At the start of 2020, its expansion will continue with the help of Felipe Ramos. The Brazilian recently signed for the site and will fly its flag among the Latin American poker community.

The signing will be seen as another coup for GGPoker as, like Negreanu, Ramos was previously a PokerStars representative. However, beyond that, it signifies another move by Asian poker operators to infiltrate the industry at large.

Indeed, with IDNPoker and GGPoker rising up the ranks in 2019, PokerStars has lost its grip at the top. That may not have been the reason for Somerville leaving the team. However, it’s a sign that the times are changing.

With new brands emerging and previously strong markets plateauing, online poker is in a state of flux and that could create some interesting dynamics as we move through 2020.


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