During the last few years, a number of online poker operators have made major changes to their marketing approach, especially when it comes to their brand ambassadors in the international arena.
Traditionally, well-known and highly accomplished poker pros would take up the role as “poker ambassador” but a number of top poker rooms have experimented with getting celebrities and top athletes to endorse their brands.
More recently, GGPoker stole the spotlight after Lewis Hamilton dropped by the site to play. The Formula One superstar took part in Event #7 of the GGPoker High Rollers Week which featured a buy-in of $10,300 and $1.5 million in guaranteed prize pool. The event took place on November 10. Hamilton appeared at the high-stakes table, alongside Niklas Astedt, Christian Rudolph, Artur Martirosian and Isaac Haxton.
Hamilton is a six-time Formula One World Champion with an estimated net worth of nearly $300 million. The 35-year-old’s high roller quest on GGPoker came to an early end though, after finishing in 113th place among 130 players. But that short appearance stirred rumors that the British athlete might join Team GGPoker very soon. This comes after the logo of major rival PokerStars‘ was on display at recent F1 races, giving rise to speculation that GGPoker could absorb Hamilton as its newest ambassador, to keep up with competition.
If this proves to be true, then Hamilton will join the site’s existing team of ambassadors, comprised of Daniel Negreanu, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Fedor Holz and Felipe Ramos. Current All-Time Money List leader Bryn Kenney, who became GGPoker’s first high profile signing back in 2018, recently parted ways with the brand.
There has been no official statement yet from GGPoker regarding the rumors, though a spokesperson for the online poker operator said Hamilton only played as “a guest“.
Just A Guest?
Popular athletes and celebrities have endorsed poker brands in recent years. Back in 2015, football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo joined PokerStars. The Portuguese footballer is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and has a massive following on social media.
Two years later, PokerStars also added world-record sprinter Usain Bolt to its roster of ambassadors. Most of these celebrities and super stars do not play poker seriously but there are a few exceptions.
Barcelona football legend Gerard Pique is one player who has had some success playing poker. He finished runner-up in the 2019 European Poker Tour Barcelona for €352,950 ($391,772).