Proud to be part of the Team
Team PokerStars Pro has been around nearly as long as PokerStars itself. During its 10 years in existence, the world's leading online poker room has signed many of the game's greatest minds and personalities ever seated at a poker table. While some have come and gone, a select few have spent much of their careers donning the PokerStars logo online and at live tournaments around the world.
We asked some of the most familiar faces at PokerStars why they decided to join the PokerStars team and how the relationship has changed their lives.
PokerStars Blog: What set PokerStars apart from other sites when deciding to represent an online poker room? And how did the relationship come about?
Daniel Negreanu: I'd already played most of my online poker at PokerStars and it was a really easy choice. I've known some of the key people involved in the company since I was a teenager, so trust was a big issue for me. I trusted wholeheartedly in the decision makers at the company, and the same couldn't be said about any other online site that I could have signed with. PokerStars was already the biggest and best site in the world, so it seemed like a natural fit for me.
Barry Greenstein: I was given the assurance that I would be able to be involved in the game offerings and other features on the site. I feel that PokerStars has proven to be the leader in the industry. It is easy to represent the best site, especially since it's the one with the best support and security.
Vanessa Rousso: After I made the final table at the 2006 WPT $25k World Championship I had some conversations with PokerStars about the possibility of sponsorship. At that time I had about $300,000 in winnings and was one of only a few young women with those kinds of results. Fortunately, we signed a deal later that year and the rest is history.
PSB: Vanessa, after you signed with PokerStars there were some critics that said you hadn't done enough in poker to warrant a sponsorship deal. Did that give you more motivation to improve and succeed in the game?
Rousso: For sure ... but I wanted to prove to myself more than to anyone else that I had what it takes to succeed in poker.
PSB: What do you have to say to those people now?
Rousso: I think results speak more than anything else. I have won over $4.5 million in tournaments ($1 million online and the rest live) and hopefully that's enough to appease those folks.
PSB: In what ways has your life changed since you decided to represent PokerStars?
Chris Moneymaker: When I first started playing poker I worked for Deloitte and Touche accounting firm and I hid the fact that I played poker altoghter. Poker and gambling were frowned upon by the conservative accounting profession. After signing on with PokerStars I am proud to say I play poker. I enjoy the opportunities PokerStars provides for me and my family. I get to travel, play poker and teach others about this great game. I am very fortunate.
Vanessa Rousso: Joining team PokerStars allowed me to network with some of the best players in the game. The many conversations I've had about strategy with other team PokerStars Pros have certainly helped me develop my game.
Negreanu: I was already pretty well known at the time, but the exposure globally that I received since being a part of PokerStars is astronomical. Since I've been regularly used in global ad campaigns, it took things to a whole new level in terms of exposure.
PSB: Today, what separates PokerStars from the rest of the online poker rooms? How has PokerStars changed the industry?
Moneymaker: For years it was and is their customer service. PokerStars listens to and responds to players needs and requests. PokerStars is very active in poker forums, listening to players desires and trying to improve their software and keep on the cutting edge in todays online poker market. Pokerstars changed a very shady industry by adding stability. They are really the only option I would trust with my money when playing online poker.
Negreanu: You can now play in a well-run live poker tournament in almost every corner of the earth. Initially, PokerStars hit pay dirt with the European Poker Tour, but since then, they have launched several other tours with various buy in levels across the globe. Before this spread of options, you really had to live in the U.S., or travel to the U.S. to play a regular schedule of quality tournaments, but that's just not the case anymore, and that is 100 percent because of the global tours sponsored by PokerStars.
PSB: Barry, you were inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in November. Which members of Team PokerStars do you see following you into that elite group?
Greenstein: PokerStars normally signs people who have done well in tournaments, so most of them won't have the complete career, as far as cash games and ambassadorship is concerned. The only one who can make it based on current accomplishments is Daniel Negreanu. I'm sure a couple of the younger players will go on to have great careers, but it's too early to know which ones will stand the test of time.