PokerStars Ambassador Shuffle: Randy Lew leaves; Kalidou Sow joins


PokerStars continues to change their ambassadorial cast with long-time servant Randy ‘nanonoko’ Lew leaving after a nine-year stint, and European Poker Tour Main Event champion, Kalidou Sow, stepping into the fold.

pokerstars-ambassador-shuffle-randy-lew-leaves-kalidou-sow-joinsThere are a few ‘poker ambassadors’ you could imagine ending up on Jerry Springer, but Randy ‘nanonoko’ Lew isn’t one of them. Quiet, reserved, studious, brilliant – the type of guy who has a gothic teddy bear collection sitting in a bedroom decked out like the Bridge on Shatner’s ship methinks.

Today, Lew is a free agent after becoming the latest in an ever-expanding list of PokerStars Ambassadors who have failed, for one reason or another, to renegotiate a new contract.

Lew’s had a great run, after joining PokerStars in December 2009.

In his Twitter eulogy, Lew spoke of his lack of desire of the limelight.

“I wasn’t looking forward to it.”

Despite the fear, Lew felt the opportunity would help him add a few more dollars to his bottom line, and to put ‘poker’ in a more positive light when his parents finally saw their career plans for him bordered with yellow crime scene tape.

“My parents never knew I played poker for about 10-years!”

Lew’s departure speech spans two tweets.

The Triton Poker Series broadcaster wrote about how coming from a ‘traditional Chinese background’ made playing poker professionally ‘taboo’, and how this led to his drive to be ‘extraordinary.’

“I wasn’t proud of playing poker, and I felt I needed to be extraordinary to be able to tell my parents and feel proud.”

Lew also wrote about having few ‘poker friends,’ an intention from the outset to separate the ‘game’ from the ‘lifestyle’.

“It was my internal defence mechanism always to steer clear from being too close with my peers because that was not the life I wanted.”

Lew finally revealed to his parents that he was ‘nanonoko’ after playing 13 million hands, winning a lot of money, and buying a home in California.

“I truly felt unstoppable.”

Over time, Lew’s drive for poker declined. He tried Twitch, but stated that it “felt too forced for me, and I didn’t enjoy it.” Lew also wrote about the challenges of trying to grind online from a US base, and switching from playing 24-tables – “straight out battling all of the best players, and playing epic high stakes heads-up matches,” and then playing a “one tournament table on a laptop.”

‘It simply isn’t for me,’ was Lew’s view on the Twitch lifestyle.

The two-page goodbye ends with:

“I will playing poker when I want to play poker.”

“I will be nanonoko.”

Kalidou Sow Joins PokerStars

As one old chestnut leaves, another joins in the hope of using the PokerStars platform to create a poker brand with the strength of a giant oak tree.

Kalidou Sow is the newest PokerStars Ambassador and will represent the brand throughout France and the emerging European market currently shared by France, Spain and Portugal, with the irritable Italians waiting in the wings.

Sow went from sardine to shark after winning the PokerStars Championship in Prague for €675,000 in December 2017. One month later, and Sow defeated 852-entrants to win the PokerStars Festival London Main Event for another £121,803 and a $25,000 Platinum Pass. A third title arrived in February of that year, beating 376-entrants to win the €100,000 first prize in a €1,500 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller at the Winamax Poker Tour.

The appointment of Sow is similar to that of Ramon Colillas, who joined the team in the aftermath of his incredible victory at the PokerStars Player’s No-Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC) earning $5.1m, with both players fitting perfectly into the ‘dream is still alive’ storyline that began with the PSPC, and seems like a consistent theme moving forward.

The first time you will see Sow compete with a PokerStars patch on his Hugo Boss apparel will be at EPT Monte Carlo, 25 April – 4 May. ​