If you follow poker, you know that the major poker sites have pros shilling for them. Back in the day, Phil Hellmuth used to be the face of UltimateBet. And PokerStars had their big name pros too (as did Full Tilt Poker).
When Black Friday pushed the major poker sites out of the US market, it seemed like the big name poker pros went away as reps of the sites. And in many cases they did, at least on US shores.
But poker is way bigger than that. Internationally, PokerStars is the world’s largest poker site. And up until now, they’ve been pure poker. But that’s changing soon. With a plan to bring casino games into the mix and become an all-around gambling hub, PokerStars is hoping to take a bite out of the online gambling market.
While some welcome this (hey, a little competition is always good), others don’t. Victoria Coren Mitchell falls into the latter category. The only player in the world to win two European Poker Tour titles, Coren has been representing the PokerStars Pro team for years. She’s also the host of BBC’s intelligent game show, Only Connect.
While she has had no problem representing PokerStars, she’s suddenly decided to part ways. Apparently she wants to work with a site that’s purely poker and doesn’t want to be aligned with an online casino.
Her reason? Addictive gambling. If you ask me, that reason is pure hogwash, to use a British term that fans of the BBC might be familiar with. There is very little evidence to show that online casino games are more addictive than online poker games. In fact, one could argue that the multi-million dollar prize pools are far more addictive than the smaller wins offered at casinos. Plus, in many cases, online casinos limit themselves to $200 max bets. At many online poker sites, you can play cash games at $1,000 a hand.
Don’t get me wrong. Some people do have a gambling problem. We don’t ispute that. That’s the case online and live. Thankfully, online casinos like ours have mechanisms in place to recognize addictive gambling habits and assist people with getting the help they deserve.
Victoria Coren Mitchell’s argument that she’s leaving is flawed and it gives online casinos a bad name. For her to allege that online casinos fuel addiction any more than online poker isn’t fair. So why is she walking away? I have my theory.
I think the BBC could be behind this. Perhaps they have an anti-gambling stance. It could be argued that poker is a game of skill where online gambling is purely based on chance. So maybe she’s not making the decision. Either way, we’re not impressed with the black shadow she’s decided to cast on a really fun pastime while insinuating that poker is less of a vice.