Major Sites Make Major Shakeups in Pro Teams
The holidays are normally a time where you don't see a lot going on in the poker world.
In 2010, however, major online poker sites UB.com and PokerStars.com shook things up dramatically as both made significant changes to their pro rosters to start the new year.
Out With the Old
Since the beginning - when UB was still known as UltimateBet - Phil Hellmuth and Annie Duke have been the public faces of the company.
Rumors started swirling about Hellmuth's status in early December when he played several events minus his UB patches. Then on December 30th, the day kicked off with Annie Duke announcing that she had left UB to pursue non-poker related business ventures.
Later that day, Phil Hellmuth made his announcement that he as well was leaving UB. Both players stated in interviews that they left the site on good terms and the past legal matters had no bearing on their decisions.
In With the New
Joe Sebok hinted around the time of Duke and Hellmuth's departure that big things were going to happen. And it didn't take long for the online site to drop a bombshell on the poker world when they announced the signing last Friday of pro player Prahlad Friedman.
This signing came as a huge shock due to the fact that Friedman was one of the biggest victims of the UltimateBet cheating scandal. Friedman also was vocal of his dislike of online poker sponsorship in the past.
In interviews since the signing, Friedman has praised UB for its handling of the past scandal and also stated that one of the major reasons he is with the site is that he plans to donate a significant amount of his sponsorship money to charity.
In other UB related news, Bryan Devonshire announced on his Twitter account that he has signed a two year extension on his deal with the site.
This will keep him with the site until at least 2013. Devonshire signed with the site after two back-to-back strong runs in the WPT in 2008, one that included a runner-up finish in the World Poker Classic.
Devonshire also took down the WSOP Circuit Main Event at Rincon in March 2010.
Isildur1's Identity Revealed
Pokerstars shocked the poker world back in December when they announced the signing of Swedish high-stakes sensation Isildur1.
After his signing, the site said that they would eventually reveal his identity. That finally happened this past Saturday at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event.
A live heads-up match was set up between Isildur1 and Bertrand "Elky" Grospellier and the man to walk out from behind the curtain was Viktor Blom.
Blom had been suspected for over a year of being Isildur1, but now the cat was officially out of the bag. Blom then proceeded to defeat Grospellier in the 100-hand heads-up match.