Who would you choose as partypoker's next pro?

While PokerStars seem to be shedding sponsored pros on an almost weekly basis, partypoker seem determined to extend their team of pros and ambassadors at a similarly swift rate. In the past couple of years the likes of Sam Trickett, Fedor Holz, Ike Haxton, Jason Koon, Dzmitry Urbanovich, Johnny Lodden, and Joni "Bustoville" Jouhkimainen (and plenty more besides) have all joined the partypoker ranks. But who will be next? Here are our top 5 picks...

1) Viktor "Isildur1" Blom

Well this is HighstakesDB, who else did you think was going to be our first choice? There is no player on earth who creates a buzz at the online tables like Viktor "Isildur1" Blom. One of the most naturally talented players the game has ever seen, he is also utterly fearless and has a heart the size of a mountain. When Viktor Blom is playing high stakes online people stop what they are doing to watch. Unfortunately for him (and perhaps fortunately for high stakes online poker), his discipline and table selection are, well, 'questionable' to say the least. He also doesn't know the meaning of either 'quit while you're ahead' or 'stop loss', and as such his presence at the tables, especially if he is one hot run, makes him the biggest game starter around. Blom has already featured heavily in the well publicised high stakes invite-only games run by Sam Trickett at partypoker and he has done well.

Blom is the only player in history to have been sponsored by both of the biggest online poker sites of all time, Full Tilt and PokerStars, so it certainly isn't that much of a long shot that partypoker would be interested in his patronage.

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Above: Having already represented both Full Tilt and PokerStars, could partypoker be third time luck for Viktor "Isildur1" Blom?

On the downside, Viktor has never been one to court publicity and you felt that any interviews he conducted as a sponsored pro for either Full Tilt or PokerStars were nothing other than contractual obligations. Also, despite proving himself to be a world class tournament player online he rarely travels to live events and has only graced the WSOP with his presence on one occasion in the ten years he has been a professional poker player.

If the role of a sponsored pro these days (as Daniel Negreanu pointed out) is to bring on board new players, then perhaps Viktor Blom wouldn't be a no.1 choice - but there certainly is value in taking exisiting market share from a rival site, and there is no denying the pulling power of Viktor "Isildur1" Blom. Whatever his shortcomings as a sponsored pro, Viktor Blom has the 'X-factor' and for that alone he will always be in contention.

2) Steffen Sontheimer

The rise of the German poker phenoms over the past few years has been nothing short of spectacular and although partypoker have already snagged the no.1 European live tourney money winner of all-time in Fedor Holz there are literally dozens more worthy of consideration.

There are plenty of young German pros with more live tourney winnings than Sontheimer (he's currently the 12th biggest German money winner with just over $7.5m in live tourney cashes), and others with more online winnings. There is certainly a case to be made for Christoph "Tight-Man1" Vogelsang for example, who has over $15m in live tourney cashes as well as millions in high stakes online winnings. Other notables worthy of consideration include Stefan Schillhabel, Rainer Kempe, Ole Schemion, and Koray Aldmeir.  However, some of the German pros have been accused of being somewhat robotic and perhaps lacking the sort of character which might attract new players to the game. This is where we feel Sontheimer stands out from the rest of the Germamic marvels.

Sontheimer has been happy to mix it up with a little jokey trash talking (usually against Phil Hellmuth), has not been shy in presenting himself to the poker media, and has even had the odd twitter rant - including one at the final table of last year's WSOPE €111,111 High Roller for One Drop where he slated his table mates for deliberately tanking for no reason and 'killing the game'.

Prior to 2017 Sontheimer had less than $500k in live tourney winnings and earned his keep at the mid-stakes NLHE online tables. After being convinced live tournies were the way forward by Fedor Holz, however, he began to take them seriously, cashing for over $7m last year alone including a dominant display at the inagural Poker Master Series last Autumn where he cashed for over $2.7m, winning the 'Purple Jacket' for the best overall performance. Surely a contender for sponsorship?

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Above: Steffen Sontheimer marked his breakout year in 2017 by winning the 'Purple Jacket' for his amazing performance in the inaugural Poker Masters Series of high roller NLHE tournaments where he won $2.7m including 2 outright tournament victories against many of the world's best players.

3) Victoria Coren-Mitchell

This might look like a strange choice given the number of younger pro players, both male and female with considerably better resumes in both live and online poker, but there is more to Vicky Coren-Mitchell than her poker ability - she is a great communicator and has an army of fans both in the poker and media worlds. Coren-Mitchell is a true crossover star of poker and media and is capable of bringing the passion she has for the game she loves to a far wider audience than your average pro

Her autobiographical 2009 memoir, For Richer, For Poorer: A Love Affair with Poker is, for my money, one of the best non-strategy books ever written about poker. An accomplished journalist, TV host, author, and of course poker player, Coren-Mitchell is a true all-rounder.

Let's not forget her poker accomplishments, she is still the only player, male or female, to ever win two EPT Main Event titles (EPT London 2006 and EPT Sanremo 2014). and also the first player to win both a televised professional tournament (EPT London 2006) and a televised celebrity tournament (Celebrity Poker Club 2005). Coren-Mitchell has $2.5m in live tourney cashes on her CV. Also, with seasoned pros such as Marcel Luske and Padraig Parkinson already on Team partypoker, they're clearly not adverse to taking on the more 'mature' pro!

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Above: With victories in both London and San Remo, Vicky Coren-Mitchell remains the only 2-time EPT Main Event winner in history

One thing which may hamper any deal, however, is Vicky's stance on online gambling outside of poker. She famously quit Team PokerStars after their decision to add casino games to the site, saying she felt uncomfortable endorsing an operation in which the odds were in favour of the operator and which could lead to player addiction. However, there is a difference in so far as partycasino was in operation before partypoker. Also partypoker have recently been focussing all their efforts on promoting the game and the players whereas The Stars Group have somewhat sidelined their pro players in favour of building their non-poker portfolio.

4) Samantha Abernathy

Las Vegas based pro Sam Abernathy didn't take poker seriously until 2014, previously finding gainful employment as a graphic designer and illustrator. She first came to public attention during her deep run in 2016's Aussie Millions Main Event when she finished up in 3rd place behind Tony Dunst and Ari Engel, winning $437,543.

Perhaps 25 year old Abernathy's poker results may pale into insignificance compared to many other pro players but in a game still heavily dominated by men, her decision to pack up her steady, well paid job and move to Vegas to live off her wits at the poker tables will hopefully inspire more great female talent in the future - something partypoker could certainly use to their advantage.

Abernathy is also clearly a people person and she shines in front of the camera, one of the reasons she has been employed this year as an Ambassador by the Aussie Millions Series and another reason she could be an asset to team partypoker.

Abernathy also clearly has some cash game skills as you can see from this great bluff she pulled off against Mike Dentale on Poker Night in America last year;

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5) Charlie Carrel

In just four short years affable 24 year old English poker pro Charlie Carrel has gone from a £10 online deposit to over $6.2m in live tourney cashes and millions more won online, including $1.2m for winning last year's SCOOP Main Event.

Not only is Carrel a precocious talent, he is also widely regarded as one of the nicest players on the tour and is rarely seen at the tables without his trademark toothy grin, crazy hairstyle and garish dress sense. He is also one of the few young players on the high roller scene who positively encourages banter at the tables - a welcome change from some of the super-serious  twenty-somethings currently crushing the live high rollers.

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Above: With his tradmark ever-present toothy grin, wild locks, and blinding wardrobe, Charlie Carrel would certainly give Team partypoker an additional splash of quirky personality.

Charlie Carrel is another player who positively welcomes the poker media with open arms, Carrel gives great interviews and coming from a humble beginnings he is a great example of how achieving the poker dream, even in this day and age, is emminently possible.

Hugely successful both online and live, Carrel could easily be a great ambassador for partypoker

 

C'mon partypoker, what are you waiting for? Go get 'em!

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