PokerStars PA has unveiled two ambassadors to represent them streaming online poker in Pennsylvania: Mark “naigo1” Foresta and Keith “AccidentalGrenade” Becker.
The Pennsylvania pair are just two of a new six-strong team, chosen to represent PokerStars across the US and Europe—the biggest wave of new signings for two years.
The move suggests that the PokerStars feels the need to up its profile in the US, after years of downsizing its ambassadorial team. A raft of departures over the last two years had left Jennifer Shahade as the only US representative on PokerStars books.
Foresta will be going by the moniker of NaigoPA on the platform, while Becker will be using the name whoopsboom as his handle.
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It is noteworthy that Stars has chosen to sign two players from Pennsylvania. For almost a year and a half, PokerStars PA has had an effective monopoly in the state, but that is set to change very soon.
Pennsylvania is the largest regulated online market in the US and other operators are keen to get in on the action. WSOP PA is set to go live there any day now, and one of partypoker/BetMGM rooms—likely BetMGM PA or Borgata Poker PA—looks sure to follow soon after.
The appointment of Foresta and Becker shows that Stars is well aware of the competition coming and is getting its retaliation in first. The Pennsylvania duo do not have long to settle in—PokerStars flagship series, The Pennsylvania Spring Championship of Online Poker (PASCOOP), is just around the corner and will keep them busy for the next few weeks.
All Change in the World of Online Poker
The other new ambassadors on PokerStars books are Parker “Tonkaaaa” Talbot, Sam “SamSquid” Grafton, Andre “ACoinbraPoker” Coimbra, and Lasse “WisternJL” Jagd Lauritsen.
The new roster of players splits broadly into two categories: established pros and up-and-coming streamers. Foresta and Becker are very much in the latter camp, which suggests that PokerStars is looking to appeal to a younger generation as it expands its online operations in the US.
The PA recruits were quick to express their excitement, gratitude, and no small amount of surprise on social media. Foresta tweeted, “Thank you so much for the warm welcome! Hopefully I never wake up from this dream.”
Becker echoed this sentiment on his Twitter stream, saying, “I’m INCREDIBLY thrilled to join as a new ambassador and @pokerstars streamer. This has been a crazy journey and [it’s] about to get even crazier.”
A New Direction for the Stalwart Operator
PokerStars now has 15 brand ambassadors. The old-school pros who made their names in the live arena have largely been replaced as a new generation of poker fans discover the game through the likes of Twitch and YouTube.
Over the last two years, big names such as Daniel Negreanu, Liv Boeree and Barry Greenstein have left the fold, and when Chris Moneymaker departed at the end of 2020, it was clear that we were witnessing the end of an era.
The American market is expanding and industry disruptors like GG Poker are challenging the decade-long dominance of the Red Spade brand. A new chapter of PokerStars’ story is about to be written.
New Recruits Jumping Straight into the Action
Foresta and Becker’s first big undertaking will be promoting PokerStars PASCOOP festival. The flagship event is returning for its second edition, after 2020’s unqualified success—and fans of the streamers will be able to follow their fortunes on Twitch.
PASCOOP boasts $2 million in guarantees, although if the recent success of MICOOP is anything to go by, PokerStars will be confident of smashing that total. Concluding with a $300 two-day Main Event, the series runs from April 17 through May 3.