In the early months of 1949, Las Vegas legend Benny Binion hosted a poker showdown between  Johnny Moss and Nick “The Greek” Dandalos, that became a cornerstone of modern poker lore.

The game dragged on for a staggering five months, with Dandalos finally coming out on top, but its impact is felt to this day.

Besides garnering plenty of publicity for Binion’s casino, the epic head-to-head went on to become what we know as the World Series of Poker (WSOP). It also launched the age of the poker celebrity.

Since that time, casinos of all types have traded on the image of big-time professional poker players, their life stories, and their cool-as-cucumber demeanor to sell the rest of us on the gambling dream.

The age of the celebrity endorsement hit its peak during the Texas Hold ‘Em craze when images of the pros were splashed across every online poker room on the planet. But now that Texas Hold ‘Em isn’t quite the moneymaker it once was, some are asking whether the age of the poker celebrity is done.

In a recent blog posting on, Lee Davy took a look at Full Tilt’s recent web makeover, and what its conspicuous lack of celebrity endorsements means for the industry.

Mishandled Marketing

Davy’s big takeaway is that big name poker sites have mishandled celebrity endorsements to the point that they’re just not a big sell for players anymore.

He points out that Full Tilt’s recent, The Professionals, campaign is pretty bland and misses out on the interesting tidbits that make up the life of a professional poker player.

Instead, Full Tilt (in Davy’s eyes, anyways) relies on gimmicks like head-to-head games with gimmicky stakes instead of giant stacks of cash.

While that may sound great in a marketing meeting, it’s not-so-great in real life. Amateur players aren’t impressed by novelty games that dilute the images of these cold-blooded card sharks.

Poker Players are Unreliable

Would you believe me if I told you that professional gamblers can sometimes be unreliable?

Professional poker players are born risk takers and, sometimes, that behavior creates negative publicity.

The best example of this phenomenon is the rogue’s gallery of poker pros who got caught up in the Black Friday mess. Their casual attitude towards other people’s money wasn’t exactly a marketing team’s dream come true.

Black Friday is, however, hardly the only PR black eye from the pros. Guys like Phil Ivey and Archie Karas regularly make the kind of headlines that no online poker room wants to be associated with.


Davy’s take on the power of the professional poker player endorsement is an interesting take that casino marketing groups should definitely consider. Gimmicky head-to-heads and nothing burger viral content are definitely not the best use of the poker celebrity endorsement.




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