Somach: Expect Exodus of Online Poker Shills

Written by:
Thomas Somach
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The announcement Wednesday by poker pro Dusty "Leatherass" Schmidt that he's quitting as paid spokesman for online poker room Poker Stars is likely the start of a trend.

It's a ripple that will turn into a tsunami.

Schmidt posted on his blog that since he can't play online at Poker Stars any more, he's quitting as flack.

Schmidt and many other poker pros (and a few celebrities) have served as paid spokepeople for Poker Stars--the room officially refers to these shills as members of Team Poker Stars.

These shills' duties are to publicize Poker Stars, mainly in two ways--by participating in live poker tournaments around the world and on TV wearing Poker Stars logos on their clothing, and by playing online at the room so average customers get a chance to play against a top pro or celeb.

Schmidt reasoned, quite rightly, that if, as an American, he couldn't legally play online at Poker Stars any more, his effectiveness as a paid flack was severely limited.

Either that or he knew he was about to get canned anyway, for the same reason, so he jumped instead of being pushed.

Don't be surprised to see other Poker Stars flacks abandoning a sinking ship like a pack of rats.

Other American members of Team Poker Stars who could soon bolt include Chris Moneymaker, Jason Alexander, Greg "Fossilman" Raymer, Barry Greenstein, Orel Hershisher, Vanessa Rousso and Dennis "Fordman" Phillips.

Poker Stars won't be caught flackless, however, as they have a number of non-American shills, including Joe Hachem of Australia, Boris Becker of Monaco, Marcel Luske of the Netherlands, Peter Eastgate of Denmark, Humberto Brenes of Costa Rica, Alex Kravchenko and Ivan Demidov of Russia, and Mats Sundin, Gavin Griffin and Daniel "Kid Poker" Negreanu of Canada.

Another online room that was busted by the U.S. Feds last month and consequently banned U.S. customers was Full Tilt Poker.

Full Tilt also has a stable of paid flacks, mostly Americans, including Howard "The Professor" Lederer, Phil "Poison" Ivey, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Jen Harman, Phil Gordon, Erick Lindgren, Erik Seidel, Andy Bloch, Mike "The Mouth" Matusow, Allen Cunningham, Patrik Antonius and Don Cheadle.

Any or all could quit, leaving a thin roster that would include Gus Hansen of Denmark and John Juanda of Indonesia.

The third online poker room busted by the Feds last month was Absolute Poker, which is affiliated with another room, Ultimate Bet.

Absolute Poker has no paid shills, but Ultimate Bet does, including Americans Annie Duke, Maria Ho, Tiffany Michelle and Brandon Cantu, all of whom may soon flee their gigs.

By Tom Somach Staff Writer