With the holiday season in full swing, new developments in the poker gaming community are expected offerings – just like team shake ups among the big game professionals are.
All the online poker forums and blogging communities are rife with whispers and predictions about how the top websites, like PokerStars and UB.com have taken dramatic decisions about changing their pro poker player line up in 2011 – with obvious desire to draw in bigger wins!
Just a week ago in mid Jan 2011, the major changes in the pro rosters of both the above websites went public and the New Year brought in with it new beginnings for a lot of established old hands at poker. Old favorites of Ultimate Bet (now known as UB.com) like poker veteran Phil Hellmuth and poker babe Annie Duke were rumored to have been reshuffled though they had been long regarded as the public faces of this top card site.
However, last December when the online poker cheating Phil Hellmuth played at several poker events without his recognizable poker brand patches proclaiming his loyalty to UB, by the last day of the month, Annie Duke set to rest the rumors about her departure from the organization by declaring outright that she was no longer with UB and now concentrating on other business deals. It didn’t take Phil Hellmuth longer than a day to announce his departure from UB, choosing to give an interview to set the record straight.
Both players were quick to add that their current decision had nothing to do with past troubles with the said website (related to legal issues) and reiterated that they had parted on good terms with the website owners.
However, Joe Sebok strongly suggested that bigger things were in the pipeline even though top performers like Duke and Hellmuth were no longer with the online site’s fresh promotions and tours. He also took the opportunity to announce the latest addition to the UB team: professional poker player Prahlad Friedman!
Most poker fans were shocked to learn about this latest development since Friedman was supposedly feeling cheated until the point he was signed on by UB, considering they were allegedly responsible for victimizing him in their latest scandal. He had also been airing his dislike of the manner in which the online poker sponsorship deal had gone in the past.
That soon changed once he was signed on by UB as Friedman changed all his disgust to praises for UB and how it had handled its past scandal to emerge as a business house that was geared up to really support its players and give them the best deals possible. He also declared that he intended to make huge charity donations from his sponsorship money, which the media acknowledged as a smart move to win more public support and a great image building exercise for the newest addition to the UB pro player kitty.
On the other hand, Bryan Devonshire, the other big poker pro associated with UB, showed internet savvy when he went public tweeting about his 2 year extension granted by the same website. No surprises there since Devonshire had been touted as the next big thing for UB considering his strong dual run at the WPT of 2008, including a runners up position for the World Poker Classic tourney!