Greg Raymer is No Longer a PokerStar
I ran across an article that Greg Raymer and PokerStars split company. The speculation is that PokerStars is cutting back its support of World Series of Poker winners as they focus more on non-US pros and online winners.
First, I've never played against Greg Raymer. Second, from watching him play on TV, Greg appears to be an excellent player who enjoys putting pressure on his opponents whether he has the goods or not. Of course, the best evidence of his skill is his winning the 2004 World Series of Poker. Third, he seems like a really nice guy and I am sure he will end up getting his support from another online poker site.
And, that's my problem. Online poker sites should not be paying star players to play at their sites. If they want poker stars to appear in their ads or promotions, that is fine. But, to give them money to play at their site is just cheating the game, and the players at the site.
I don't blame the players for taking the money. Heck, no matter how good a poker player you are, you are going to have long stretches of losing your money. But, giving players an edge like this, especially the "pros," is just wrong IMHO.
Personal Experience Being Sponsored, sort of.
I would like to come up with an analogy that helps illustrate my point, but I don't have one. Poker is gambling. It is skill and luck. And, the combination of these two ingredients weighs heavier on the "luck" factor than any other sporting competition I can think of.
Players who don't care about the money are going to play different than if the money was coming out of their own pocket. At least that is what I have found in my own play.
For example, I was visiting a friend and he said that he wanted to see me play a poker tournament at a local casino. I guess he gave me grief because I had a book on tournament poker, and he wanted to get a good laugh when some young kid knocked me out. I told him I wasn't interested in playing.
To convince me to play, though, he made me an offer I couldn't refuse. He would give me the buy-in for the event and I could keep whatever I won. I didn't realize it at the time, but that is the kind of deal these poker stars get from the online poker sites.
Of course, I took him up on his offer, and entered the event. I guess it was a psychological thing or something, because I took more chances than I normally would do in a poker tournament. I'd like to say I won the event, but I didn't win. I finished second.
This was not some major poker tournament. It was a local game with maybe 100 players. And, my friend thought some of my all-in moves were too risky. Maybe, probably, actually, yes for sure! Why? I wasn't gambling at all. I had no risk. I wasn't using my money.
Oh yeah, let me share with you how I got knocked out at the end...I am ashamed to say that I tried to bluff out my opponent pre-flop when he was holding pocket Kings. Now you know why I'm not sponsored by a poker site :-)
My point to all of this is that online poker sites should not be influencing the results of any poker event. But, by paying poker pros to play at their sites, they are doing precisely that. Pay these stars to promote your site in all the other traditional marketing ways--from PR to advertising to promotion. Just not in a way that effects the outcome of the actual events where everyone else is risking their hard earned money.
If you agree, please let me know. If you disagree, I am sure I will read your comments.