In August, PokerStars inexplicably cut ties with one of its most famed sponsored pros Viktor ‘Isildur1′ Blom. At the time, it was hard to imagine the reasons behind the severed sponsorship. After all, Blom is one of the biggest legends in online poker history who attracts a sea of rail-birds wherever he goes. How could PokerStars let Blom slip through their fingers?
It now appears that question has an answer.
This week, Full Tilt Poker added Blom and fellow online high-stakes legend Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan to its stable of ‘The Professionals’ that already included Gus Hansen. Hansen and Dwan were two former members of Team Full Tilt whose reputations emerged from the site’s meltdown mostly in tact or even strengthened in Hansen’s case. As the new owners of Full Tilt Poker, it now appears PokerStars had a strategy in mind when they “released” Blom in August.
Step 1: Release Viktor Blom
Step 2: Wait a couple of months
Step 3: Sign him under the new site we just acquired
Step 4: ???
Step 5: Profit!
It’s a pretty slick marketing move by PokerStars, but one should expect nothing less from them. The largest online poker room has proven over the years that they know what they’re doing when it comes to marketing. Recently, the site signed tennis star Rafa Nadal and shortly thereafter used his likeness to release the best poker TV commercial ever produced.
While one does not begrudge PokerStars the right to do as they please from a marketing standpoint with the two sites they now own, it does seem dubious to act as if PokerStars and Full Tilt are two distinctly different operations. It would be nice if they would rename Full Tilt Poker to PokerStars Too. Get it? It’s a linguistics maneuver. In speech, it sounds like “PokerStars 2″ but in text what the name indicates is “yes, this site is PokerStars also.”
We’ll be here all week, folks.