Online poker giant PokerStars has signed two Asian poker players to its Team PokerStars Pro roster.
On Wednesday, PokerStars announced that it was pleased to welcome Taiwan’s Chen-An Lin and China’s Yaxi Zhu to its list of sponsored pro players. Both players plan to be covered in PokerStars patches during the ongoing Macau Poker Cup, which runs until September 13 at the PokerStars Live Macau poker room at the City of Dreams casino.
Lin’s biggest live scalp to date was a $50k cash at the 2014 Macau Poker Cup, while Zhu earned her biggest score last year at a European Poker Tour Prague side event. Kirsty Thompson, PokerStars associate director of pro & celebrity marketing, said the pair were “highly respected in their local and national communities and will help to raise the profile of their game in their regions.”
Lin and Zhu join a host of other Asian-based members of Team PokerStars Pro, including Bryan Huang, Celina Lin, Vivian Im, Aditya Agarwal, Kosei Ichinose and Naoya Kihara. PokerStars said its ambition was to “grow the game in one of the world’s biggest emerging poker markets,” even if the overwhelming majority of the Asian market views poker – online or live – as a prohibited activity.
PokerStars’ parent company, Amaya Gaming, has laid out a five-year plan to double the size of its existing poker business, primarily through new jurisdictions in Asia and Latin America. In March, Amaya said it was working with/on regulators in “select” Asian countries to allow them to legally provide online poker.
Despite Amaya’s lobbying, not a single Asian jurisdictional domino has fallen, but PokerStars remains committed to its unauthorized Asian revenue. PokerStars did pull out of a number of grey markets shortly after its Amaya takeover but Asian countries – barring Malaysia, North Korea and (eventually) Singapore – were largely absent from the list of no-go zones.