Following the recent departure of Chris Moneymaker from PokerStars, Celina Lin has also joined the recent group of departees. Celina was the last PokerStars’ Team Asia member, and her departure marks the end of their 11-year-old relationship.
Newbies Join as Lin Leaves
Celina had been a member of PokerStars since 2010, and her first major win was in the Red Dragon event (2012) at the Macau Cup. Subsequently, she has been a flagbearer for China, her native country, and won more than 1 million dollars in live tournaments. The Shanghai-born star grew up in Australia and played poker mostly in the Asia-Pacific region, both online and live.
Her first major event caught the attention of PokerStars—she cashed in the Asia Pacific Poker Tour 2007 Macau Main Event, making the final table at a Sydney APPT event. Lin and Randy Lew got engaged and married in 2018. Lew exited PokerStars in 2019 before the couple had a baby later that year. They settled in Australia and couldn’t play on PokerStars, causing a problem, especially during the pause of live poker in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Lin announced her exit on Twitter and appreciated PokerStars for the privilege she got to play all around the globe. Former PokerStars Pros Kalidou Sow and Mikhail Shalamov have also announced their exit after their contract ended in 2020. Twitch streamers James Mackenzie, Eva Reberc, and Nick Walsh are now free agents too. The beginning of a year is usually a period of change in the poker world. As PokerStars announced the departure of seven players within the last two weeks, it welcomes some new names.
In October, David Ginola, a retired soccer star, became the official ambassador of PokerStars France. YouTuber True Geordie, popularly known as Brian Davis, recently became PokerStars’ official partner. The deal might be indicating where the sports betting company is hoping to channel its marketing efforts. Davis first partnered with PokerStars during their promotional series the Sidemen and KSI. He has since transformed that into a series alongside Charlie Carrel, a poker pro.
PokerStars Stepping Into New Dimensions
Social media influencers like Davis bring numerous followers and help to connect with the next poker playing generation. That’s something PokerStars doesn’t want to miss. The exit of various Pros and the partnership deal with Davis also indicates the transforming nature of the online poker industry. Over the last decade, every platform has become more newbie-friendly.
Moneymaker’s win at the WSOP Main Event in 2003 triggered an upsurge of online activities. Sites like PokerStars had several new players flocking them as the industry was still new. Some of the players later became skilled grinders and topped online tables for almost a decade. It became an issue for operators, as their audience was gradually decreasing.
Fast-forward to the present day, lottery-style tournaments, restrictions on tracking software, and random seating scripts have allowed recreational players to return to the tables. This has, in turn, resulted in PokerStars changing their guard. Pros like Moneymaker and Lin are moving on to greener pastures while poker enthusiasts like Davis are coming in. The new intakes should help the sports betting company connect to a new playing generation. It also implies that PokerStars’ future may not be the same thing we’ve known in the past.