Many people remember when Team PokerStars Pro was the ideal sponsorship opportunity. The team was famous for Chris Moneymaker and Daniel Negreanu for many years, but there were players from around the world that represented the site. The site also signed celebrities from time to time and kept a rotating but impressive group of sports legends on the team, too.
Since Black Friday, those opportunities fell away, little by little. The past two or three years saw some very prominent names exit Team PokerStars Pro. Of particular note was Daniel Negreanu, along with Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Vanessa Selbst, Jason Mercier, Felipe Ramos, Jake Cody, and Randy Lew.
On December 31, 2020, Chris Moneymaker took to Twitter to post a goodbye message. He decided to end his 17-year relationship with PokerStars.
After 17 years as a PokerStars Ambassador, today we say farewell to @CMONEYMAKER.
Thank you for everything you’ve done for PokerStars, the game of poker & the industry. Without you, who knows where we would all be today, we can’t thank you enough.
Farewell, but not goodbye. 🤝 pic.twitter.com/1EW9FOTWrJ
— PokerStars (@PokerStars) December 31, 2020
Celina Lin Ends Long-Lasting Partnership
Aside from Moneymaker, Celina Lin was one of the remaining long-term members of Team PokerStars. Andre Akkari and Lex Velduis had also been with the site for many years.
On January 6, 2020, though, Lin joined the exodus.
She had been a poker pro before joining PokerStars in 2007. Celina Lin Pei Fei was born in Shanghai but raised in Australia, and she played poker in the Asia-Pacific region live and online. But her first major live tournament cash caught the eyes of PokerStars, as she cashed in the 2007 Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Macau Main Event and made the final table of an APPT Sydney event.
Lin went on to capture numerous titles throughout her years as a Team Pro with PokerStars. She won the 2009 PokerStars Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon Main Event, and she won the 2013 APPT Asia Championship of Poker in Macau. When she won that same ACOP Macau event again in 2016, she made poker history.
In the years that followed, Lin won events at the PokerStars Festival Korea, Macau Poker Cup, and ACOP Macau, while racking up cashes at dozens of final tables. She traveled as far as Europe for some tournaments but mostly remained in the Asia-Pacific region. Only a handful of times did she travel to play in the United States.
Along the way, Lin and Randy “nanonoko” Lew became a couple in 2016, engaged in early 2018, and married later that year. Lew left PokerStars early in 2019, and the couple welcomed a baby girl in October 2019. The two settled in Australia, which meant they were unable to play on PokerStars, which became a problem, especially when live poker paused in 2020 because of the pandemic.
Lin started off 2021 by announcing her departure from the team in favor of more freedom, adventures, and quality family time.
I will start by saying 👋 to @pokerstars & all the amazing ppl I have met & worked with over the years. I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to travel the 🌏, play 🃏🃏 & call it work.
2021 let’s hope for more freedom, more adventures & more quality time with our ♥️ ones pic.twitter.com/WBnn1r7wUq
— Celina Lin (@CelinaLin) January 6, 2021
OP-Poker Follows Moneymaker
The OP-Poker team started as a trio of online poker players, content creators, and Twitch streamers based in the UK. Their first association with PokerStars came in early 2019 after they focused their content on the Stars’ Power Up poker format. OP-Poker founders Nick Walsh, James Mackenzie, and Eva Reberc grew a substantial digital community of players.
By May 2019, PokerStars officially signed the OP-Poker crew as PokerStars Team Online ambassadors. But on the last day of 2020, the team announced the end of their deal. Their post called the experience a rewarding one. They said they had no plans to change their streaming activities but looked forward to a fresh start in 2021.
Thank you for everything!♥️ pic.twitter.com/TJbgejL9qX
— OP-Poker (@OfficialOPPoker) December 31, 2020
Sow Ends Short Stint with Stars
Kalidou Sow may not have been a globally-recognizable name in poker, but the French market is a different story. He had been in the poker scene since 2015 but started racking up bigger scores in 2015 onward.
By 2017, PokerStars took note when he won the PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event, the PokerStars Festival London Main Event, and a Platinum Pass to the PSPC in the Bahamas in 2019. He continued winning and signed on as an ambassador for PokerStars in April 2019.
Sow played live and online for PokerStars for nearly one year before the coronavirus pandemic shut down live poker indefinitely. And just days into 2021, Sow announced the end of his sponsorship. He noted that his contract ended, but he plans to continue playing online – and live when Covid-19 vaccines allow – going forward.
Avec de très belles rencontres ! Mais ne vous inquiétez pas je serais bel et bien présent online pour le moment et en live dès que tout reprendra !
À très vite les amis 2/2
— Kalidou Sow (@KalidouSowFr) January 6, 2021
Shalamov Says Goodbye
Mikhail Shalamov, playing online as “Innerpsy,” may have been the longest-lasting member of Team Online. The Russian online poker specialist began playing poker seriously in 2008 and quickly moved up in stakes.
PokerStars signed him as one of the first members of its Team Online in late 2010. While he did play some live poker through the years, especially in PokerStars live events, he remained an online cash game pro in his day-to-day play.
At the ten-year anniversary for Shalamov and Stars, as 2020 came to a close, Shalamov announced his departure from the team. He announced it on the same day as Moneymaker.
After 10 years as PokerStars ambassador, i also say farewell to that really great place to play poker at. Покерстарс, спасибо за всё!
Кстати, чуток не пересидел, чтоб стать самым древним амбассодором )) дольше меня в команде был только Крис… https://t.co/TyV1Jxt9vn
— Mikhail Shalamov (@innerpsy) December 31, 2020
Typically, when PokerStars and a Team Pro break up, the pro disappears very quickly from the website. This is not the case with the latest round of departures.
The team is now down to just 10 players. It seems that everyone remaining on Team PokerStars focuses on a specific market. Those people are:
–Andre Akkari (Brazil)
–Jennifer Shahade (US – New Jersey and Pennsylvania)
–Muskan Sethi (India)
–Ramon Colillas (Spain)
–Lex Veldhuis (online)
–Ben Spragg (online)
–Fintan Hand (online)
–Felix Schneiders (online)
–Arlie Shaban (online)
–Mason Hughes (virtual reality)
Of course, PokerStars just signed a special deal with Neymar Jr, but that partnership may be so unique that it doesn’t belong on the “Team PokerStars” page.
PAR MAIS MATADOR DO POKER CHEGA EM 2021.
I’M IN !#POKERSTARS #AD pic.twitter.com/aYZksirJ4X
— Neymar Jr (@neymarjr) December 15, 2020