One of the world’s largest poker sites is ending its association with the man that sparked the poker boom.
PokerStars announced Thursday morning that the 2003 World Series of Poker main event champion Chris Moneymaker will no longer be an ambassador for the site. The move ends a 17-year relationship between the Tennessee accountant and the online gaming giant.
Moneymaker qualified for the 2003 WSOP main event through an $86 satellite on PokerStars. The amateur parlayed that into a $2.5 million score after defeating 839 players and besting poker pro Sammy Farha heads-up.
He signed a sponsorship deal with PokerStars immediately after his victory and has been a part of the PokerStars team ever since. Last year, Moneymaker and high-stakes cash game pro David Oppenheim were inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.
After 17 years as a PokerStars Ambassador, today we say farewell to @CMONEYMAKER.
Thank you for everything you’ve done for PokerStars, the game of poker & the industry. Without you, who knows where we would all be today, we can’t thank you enough.
Farewell, but not goodbye. pic.twitter.com/1EW9FOTWrJ
— PokerStars (@PokerStars) December 31, 2020
Moneymaker released a video statement from his own Twitter account in a tweet that read “2020 has been a year. Sad news. Thanks for everything @PokerStars.” He went on to say that he was likely going to play a little less poker in the immediate future and “explore different endeavors.”
2020 has been a year. Sad news. Thanks for everything @PokerStars pic.twitter.com/tT1rZ12QGr
— Chris Moneymaker (@CMONEYMAKER) December 31, 2020
The 45-year-old went on to rack up more than $3.9 million in tournament earnings. Aside from his historic bracelet, he went on to finish runner-up in the 2004 World Poker Tour Bay 101 Shooting Star and the 2011 NBC National Heads-Up Championship.
In the fall of 2018, PokerStars used Moneymaker’s story as a backdrop to their “Moneymaker Tour,” a series of $86 no-limit hold’em tournaments that awarded Platinum Passes to the $25,000 PokerStars Players Championship at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure the following January.
PokerStars’ decision to cut ties with Moneymaker is a surprise simply because of the length of their association and the historical ties that the two entities, but it’s really just the continuation of a long-term trend.
The company has been shrinking its roster of sponsored pros for quite some time. In May 2019, the company decided to part ways with another Poker Hall of Famer, Daniel Negreanu. It was the end of a 12-year relationship between Stars and the six-time WSOP bracelet winner.
Just six months later, high-stakes pros Igor Kurganov and Liv Boeree had their contracts terminated as well.
Between those three players, there was a combined $64.6 million in live tournament earnings between those three players. Negreanu went on to sign a deal with GGPoker in November 2019.
The company has opted to sponsor many prominent streamers instead of high-stakes pros. Lex Veldhuis, Ben Spragg and Fintan Hand all have popular Twitch streams and currently sponsored by the company.