Caesars Interactive Entertainment’s, Vice President of Corporate Communications, Seth Palansky, sits down with Lee Davy to discuss the appointment of Greg Merson on the eve of WSOP.com’s first birthday.
Greg Merson is the new ambassador for the Nevada based online card room WSOP.com. On one hand, it’s not a surprise. Merson was wearing WSOP.com patches throughout the summer and has been a supportive voice for a long period of time. On the other hand, the WSOP don’t do sponsored pros.
So why the change of heart?
We haven’t changed our feeling as it relates to our land-based tournaments. This is strictly an agreement related to online poker, specifically real-money online poker in Nevada and New Jersey. Plus, this isn’t a deal where you will see us plaster a player’s face on billboards and in TV ads. This is an incentive-based deal giving the player a good opportunity to succeed if he can help us build our business.
When I think WSOP I think Hellmuth, Chan, Brunson, etc. I don’t think Merson, Duhamel, and Cada. Why a youthful approach?
Yes, but that is the offline world. This is a deal to promote our online product. We only live in two states, Nevada and New Jersey. Thus we needed someone who would be playing on our sites a lot, thus someone in those states. Merson resides now in New Jersey and spends the WSOP in Nevada, so he is a great fit. He grew up in the online game too, so better fit from that standpoint.
Why Greg Merson?
He has perhaps played the most hands of anyone in online poker. He really understands the product, the ecosystem, the player pool, meaningful promotions, etc. He is very knowledgeable. To be able to tap into that knowledge-base, plus his passion for the game and being a former WSOP world champion made him a great fit.
What will make Merson successful as an ambassador for WSOP?
If he simply plays a lot on our site, spreads the word about our offering and helps players learn and understand our product better, it will be successful.
Are we going to see more appointments?
Remains to be seen. We are trying to establish a gold club for WSOP Main Event champions. It is an incentive-based deal where if you play a lot of online poker, it would be of value. Obviously, with the geography issue of just Nevada and New Jersey for the time being, this may not make the most sense for the players that reside elsewhere, but we’re open to opportunity’s in our nascent online businesses and would welcome players to contact us if they fit the bill.
What’s your opinion on the sports star appointments of PokerStars, 888 and Party and is this an approach WSOP would consider?
Luis Suarez is available now if we want him, right? Just kidding. Actually we think getting ambassadors outside of the poker realm can be real additive. We see a real need to get new players into the game and thus using stars in other sports/entertainment, etc., can be quite beneficial as they typically can introduce their target audience to ours. I’m afraid with us in limited markets, the cost-benefit isn’t there today. But we are optimistic about the further spread of the game across the U.S. online and in due time, all opportunities afforded companies operating in multiple jurisdictions, should be afforded to us as well.