LONDON, February 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
Few things in online poker's short history have remained the same for long including the pecking order on player liquidity which has seen the lead change hands four times in just over 10 years. However, the marketing of 'professional' players as brand ambassadors has been a dominating strategy for some time.
Such players were billed as having an extra talent that others didn't possess and then the marketing people turned them into celebrities in the hope the brand would be swept long in their wake.
Previous to the recent revelations, even the ever forthright poker forums would take enormous exception to suggestions that the big name pros were anything other than just that.
Sadly, as the smoke clears from the horrendous business failures in the online poker industry of the past year it is increasingly obvious that the biggest poker celebrities were in fact unable to pay debts or cheated to 'win' their tag as a poker professional. The latest examples of Phil Ivey and Erick Lindgren thought to be owing $4,000,000 each paints a very different picture to that of the clever, aspirational characters the marketers sold us. Even the 'pro's pro', Barry Greenstein, has admitted that he is unable to pay around $400,000 of debt for many years.
The poker pros have also often been vocal about how poker should be run and some have even tried ventures of their own, in almost every case the result has been the same and the list is a long one including; Phil Laak (Unabomber), Dave Ulliot (Devilfishpoker), Doyle Brunson (Doyle'sRoom) and to certain extent FullTilt itself.
While we don't pretend for a second we envisioned this personal implosion of the poker pros when the Bodog Poker Network first started working on the Recreational Poker Model back in 2009 one of the first realisations was that the players we wanted to attract knew they were never going to become 'pros'. Indeed, they did even not aspire to be one. As a result we started looking for people who really represented our brand best. Yup, pretty girls, still work! The most recent addition to the Bodog team, Tatjana Pasalic, is not just a pretty face though. She knows poker and poker people but she is also approachable and friendly unlike most of the recently discredited 'celebrity' names of the past.
What is now evident is the gravy train that was the 'sponsored pro' is coming to an end. Many of those that still enjoy a sponsorship are at very reduced amounts and even some of the best players in the world, even those without debt skeletons, like Phil Helmuth, remain unsponsored. Of course, we have seen a dramatic drop in the value of 'pro' players as TV programmes with huge audiences in the US are no longer viable and poker rooms realise they don't drive the right kind of revenue, if any at all. They simply suck money out of the eco-system.
Poker marketing looks to have changed forever and once again we will see a reinvention of how the game is sold to a more mainstream audience. Once again there will be winners and losers and (once again) it will be fascinating to see whose strategy wins out.
Article originally published at CalvinAyre.com.
SOURCE Bodog Poker Network