Best and Worst Bets for Poker Sponsorships
Yesterday the Hendon Mob announced it has ended its exclusive sponsorship and affiliation deal with Full Tilt Poker.
Citing financial reasons, the UK pros behind the Hendon Mob - Barny Boatman, Ross Boatman, Joe Beevers and Ram Vaswani - are now actively seeking new partnerships for both themsleves and their popular poker player database.
With the ever-changing landscape of poker and poker sponsorships, Poker Junkie blogger Compncards shares his thoughts on the best and worst bets for those looking for new sponsorship in this climate.
Worst Bet - U.S-Facing Online Sites
I realize I'll get a bit of flack for this statement, but right now US online poker sites are the worst bet for sponsorship. With the tenuous-at-best legal climate surrounding online poker in the US, signing contracts with these sites are going to be a gamble.
With that said, I can't fault any pro or organization that can get a good deal with any of the U.S.-serving sites. Poker is as much a business as it is a game. If the deal is good enough, or if it's the only deal on the table, sometimes you have to take the risk.
Good Bet - PokerStars
Yes, I realize that PokerStars is currently under indictment and that they caused a good deal of the mess that the three main sites are in.
The fact remains that out of the sites indicted, Stars is still a very viable operation and is well positioned to continue being the dominant site in online poker despite not having U.S. traffic.
PokerStars has slowly begun to cut its U.S. pros, however, and I wouldn't be surprised if more get dropped the longer the U.S. remains without licensed and regulated online poker.
However, international players and those that have a worldwide influence can't go wrong with at least talking to PokerStars.
Best Bet - Party Poker and Caesars
Right now, anyone that can jump on board with either bwin.Party or Caesars is going to position themselves for a profitable future.
While I don't believe that the U.S. will legalize online poker until at least 2013 or 2014, once it does happen I see Party Poker and Caesars jumping to the top of the online poker world.
Home of the WSOP, Caesars will instantly become the place to play for those wanting to play in the WSOP, WSOP Europe or WSOP Circuit events.
In fact, I would not be surprised if we start seeing bracelets awarded online in the future.
Party Poker already has a strong partnership with the World Poker Tour and as ratings continue to climb for the WPT brand, fans of the WPT will flock to the site.
Party Poker was also really the #1 place to go for soft action back in the day.
Personally, I would still play there nearly exclusively if I were able.
Once legalized poker becomes a reality, don't be surprised to see many of the big stars and past champions of the WSOP jump on board with Caesars and many of the WPT stars jump on board with Party.
Holdover Bet - Live Casino Sponsorships
At least until the online poker climate gets resolved in the U.S., partnerships with live casinos will be a trend I think you'll see more pros take to.
T.J. Cloutier, Scotty Nguyen, Greg Raymer and Maria Ho have all recently been connected with different live casinos.
Bernard Lee's deal with Foxwoods is probably one of the best in the industry currently and one I would not be surprised to see others take advantage of.
Granted, this might mean someone tying themselves down to one casino or one area longer than they would like, but again, poker is a business and you have to go where you can make the money.
Realize that a lot of the above is based on the current climate of online and could change quickly.
Also, certain sites such as Full Tilt Poker were intentionally left out of this discussion due to the uncertainty behind their future.
Of course, the above are not the only answers. Poker players are extremely creative in finding opportunities.
The above should give you some type of an idea of what to expect in the future - a future that hopefully sees online poker legal in the U.S. sooner than later.