What is the Point of an Ambassador of Poker?

TAGs: Black Friday, Brazil Series of Poker, BSOP, Dustin Iannotti, ftp, full tilt poker, Lee Davy, Poker Ambassador, Red Pros, UKIPT

It seems that Full Tilt Poker (FTP) are going to be occupying the news for a little while longer, as they continue to drip feed the media with the release of their newly appointed ambassadors, coinciding with their regional live tours.

What is the Point of an Ambassador of Poker?Just a few days ago the inaugural FTP Galway Festival kicked off proceedings by unveiling the four professional poker players chosen to represent the online poker room at all of the United Kingdom & Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT) stops. The three lucky lads, and obligatory lady, were Dermot Blain, Martins Adeniya, Ben Jenkins and Sinem Melin.

In a press release issued from the site, FTP said that the UKIPT announcements were the third set of representatives to be revealed on the back of similar appointments of Larissa Metran, Caiaffa Rafael, Carlos Mavca and Leonardo Toddasso, for the Brazil Series of Poker (BSOP), and Robert Cezarescu, Hana Soljan and Andras Nemeth for the Eureka Poker Tour; names I had to hire Sherlock Holmes to track down such was the lack of information streaming from the FTP press office, or anywhere else on the Internet for that matter.

Today that stock of ‘Red Pros’ has been extended to 14 with the announcement that Jonathan Karamalikis, Liam O’Rourke and Tom Griggs will be joining the FTP Ambassador brigade, to aid and abet the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT) which is currently underway in Queenstown.

“Our ANZPT Tour Ambassadors represent everything Full Tilt Poker stands for,” said Dustin Iannotti, Full Tilt Poker’s Senior Manager of Pro, Celebrity & VIP Marketing. “They are talented players with a passion for constantly improving their skill set, supporting grassroots poker and spreading the word about the game.”

I’ll just go ahead and say what’s on everyone’s mind then shall I?

“What exactly is the point?”

I want to start by saying that for the poker community the recent signings are fantastic news. The tsunami caused by Black Friday is just starting to retract and we can suddenly start to see the devastation that it has caused. There are too many top quality poker players who are really struggling to stay in the game that they love. They don’t know how to do anything else. The news that FTP is starting to move into sponsorship is fantastic for the professional poker players.

But despite the great news for the poker professionals I can’t help but feel that FTP’s marketing department has just pulled the ‘how to’ manual from the top draw and is going down the list line by line. If you are operating an online poker room then you must have a group of professional poker players that represent the brand.


The roles and responsibility statements of Blain, Jenkins, Adeniya and Melin are going to be severely lacking in ink. What are they suppose to do that is going to add value to the brand? With the exception of the likes of a very small minority, professional poker players are only famous within the poker circus. In terms of selecting an ambassador for the UKIPT then wouldn’t one of the most famous names be Sam Trickett? But who is aware of Trickett’s fame outside of the bubble we are all in? If Trickett’s pretty mug wouldn’t cut the mustard what chance do the other four have?

As a poker writer I don’t even know who Sinem Melin is. Perhaps that’s because I am not involved in grass roots poker and this is where they have been hired to provide value. But if a poker writer, even one has dumb as me, doesn’t know whom the ambassador of FTP is then how does anyone outside of poker?

The selection process is an interesting one also. Unless you personally know these four people then how do you judge if they are a good fit for your company? How do you know if their beliefs and values are in tune with your own? In any other business there would be a recruitment process to nail down these traits. Not so in poker where it is more a case of whom you know and not what you know. Just take a look at the stable of ever increasing pros over at IveyPoker. Are there a few that make your eyebrows twitch? Do you think they all sat down in front of the God of poker and received an interview? Do you think he even knows who any of them are?

If the purpose of the appointments is to improve brand awareness, and attract new players to the game, then they haven’t got the right people. This isn’t to criticize the merits of the quartet currently handed the task. As I’ve said I don’t even think Trickett has the ability to provide much value in this area. For brand awareness and attracting new players you need stars that are recognizable outside of the poker world. What’s the point otherwise? Everyone who knows these four probably has a FTP account.

If the purpose is to just mix with the qualifiers and make them feel comfortable, then I don’t see what the point is. If you are a recreational poker player and have just qualified for an event like the UKIPT, how are the Ambassadors going to create an experience differentiation that means you will keep trying to qualify for more events? Wouldn’t the fact that you have qualified and experienced the event be more than enough?

“Hey mate. If I were you I would try and qualify for the UKIPT because Ben Jenkins takes great care of your every need.”

I don’t think so.

If you have just skipped this load of old twaddle and have decided to read the last paragraph then let me summarize. Well done to everyone chosen. In a riverbed that is quickly drying up, professionals all over the world will look upon any drop of water with an envious glance. Long may it continue? But I fail to see what the point is, and believe the hiring of whatever you want to call them – in this case Ambassadors – is just ‘something that online poker rooms do.’

In short, there is no point to an Ambassador of poker.


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