Lew Follows Cody Out of PokerStars, Sow Signs Up
PokerStars has drastically changed its lineup of Team PokerStars Pros in the past several years. The vast majority of the roster has disappeared or changed with the exception of names like Negreanu and Moneymaker, Boeree and Moreira de Melo, Akkari and Lin. There are now only 15 members of Team Pro and five players with Team Online.
The latest changes are rather significant. Well-known names like Randy “nanonoko” Lew and Jake Cody, who have sported PokerStars patches for many years, are the most recently departed from the team. And Barry Greenstein is no longer on the PokerStars website, as noted by F5Poker, though nothing official has been released about this omission. He had stayed on for years after PokerStars left the US market in a capacity of marketing the free-play dot-net site.
This all comes on the heels of Kevin Martin leaving the team after a fairly short stint on the Stars roster, and that followed two high-profile Team Online pros – Jaime Staples and Jeff Gross – departing the team to join the new online-focused team at PartyPoker.
Meanwhile, French player Kalidou Sow was added to Team PokerStars to focus on the French market. He follows the addition of Spaniard Ramon Colillas in February, who took his place on the team after winning a Platinum Pass to the PSPC in the Bahamas and winning the tournament in January.
It should be noted that Sow is now the only black person in the PokerStars lineup, which has been mostly devoid of black players with the exception of the celebrity sponsorships of Kevin Hart and Usain Bolt. Both of those sponsorships seem to have ended.
— PokerStars LIVE (@PokerStarsLIVE) April 10, 2019
No Mo Nanonoko
Randy Lew was one of the most well-known members of Team PokerStars for more than nine years until he announced this week that he was leaving the team.
Known by many as nanonoko, Lew specialized in video games before online poker, but when he made the switch, he quickly earned more than $1 million online through grinding $5/$10 games. He first achieved Supernova Elite status in 2007, then again in 2008 and 2009, and he was signed by PokerStars in 2009.
Lew’s specialty was multi-tabling, and he was known for setting a Guinness World Record in 2012 by playing 23,493 hands on PokerStars in eight hours…with a profit. And in 2014, he was the second person honored in the PokerStars VIP Club Hall of Fame for reaching 10 million lifetime VPPs.
In the live poker scene, Lew won the 2011 APPT Macau Main Event, and he has made numerous final tables throughout his career as he collected more than $1.5 million in live tournaments alone.
On April 9, Lew announced that he was no longer representing PokerStars. He noted that online poker became much tougher as a US resident, as travel outside the US was required to play, and the elimination of the Supernova Elite incentive took away some of his motivation. And now that Twitch is almost a necessity, he is not comfortable with it. He thanked PokerStars but said he’s ready to take control, take a leap of faith, and step into the unknown. “I will play poker when I want to play poker,” he wrote. “I will be nanonoko.”
Tweet (1 of 2): I am no longer an ambassador for Pokerstars. It is always good to take a step back from life and self reflect. I thank you for taking the time to share this moment with me as I open my thoughts to you. pic.twitter.com/qHByR5bdPK
— Randy Lew (@nanonoko) April 9, 2019
Tweet (2 of 2):
Thanks again! pic.twitter.com/q5XfnSrgot
— Randy Lew (@nanonoko) April 9, 2019
Cody and Martin Gone
At the beginning of March, Jake Cody disappeared from the Team PokerStars roster. His sponsorship was still in force as of the PCA in the Bahamas in January, as he was there and sporting his PokerStars gear. But in the months that followed, he silently parted ways with the site.
After a six-year partnership, the Cody announced the separation on March 6 on Instagram, wherein he thanked PokerStars for “THE most amazing and unforgettable time.” He mentioned the “huge changes” at the company in the past few years and the “rightly deserved critics” but added that some at the company fought hard for the best interests of the poker community.
View this post on Instagram
I was a little hesitant to post this as I don’t really like these dramatic-type posts but I was looking through some old photos and couldn’t help but smile and felt motivated to post something to thank everyone if anything, as I’m feeling very grateful. Back in 2013 I signed with PokerStars and I was announced in January at PCA as part of Team Pro, which at the time really was the clear pinnacle of poker endorsements. One of my proudest moments ever. It was also kind of fitting that the most recent PCA event turned out to be my last. It’s hard to find the right words to justify it but I had THE most amazing and unforgettable time and cannot thank them enough for the opportunity and people who I have met and the memories I have made over the years. It was 6 years and over half of my twenties, Pokerstars has been a huge part of my life. The company went through some huge changes over the past few years and they have had a lot of rightly deserved critics during most of my time there but I can guarantee you there was ALWAYS lots of people throughout the entire company who were fighting extremely hard for the best interests of the poker community. A lot of those battles were lost and a lot of people left because of it. There’s really too many people to name everyone, but I do want to give a special thank you to John Caldwell, the man who originally signed me and to both Kirsty Thompson and Dave Curtis, who always had faith in me and had my back in every situation from day one. From the bottom of my heart a huge thank you to everyone I met along the way, friends I made in and out of Stars and everyone who supported me. Big love and see you all around ❤️
Canadian Kevin Martin had just parted ways with PokerStars weeks before Cody. He had been with Team Online at PokerStars for three years and noted that he was not fired but left of his own accord.
After 3 years with @PokerStars my time as an ambassador for them has come to an end.
Really thankful they took a shot on me when I was just getting going with my journey. 🧡 pic.twitter.com/cMtllob1F4
— Kevin Martin (@KevinRobMartin) February 18, 2019
Sow Sows Seeds of Success
(Writer’s personal note: Yes, I admit to writing that. I couldn’t help it.)
Frenchman Kalidou Sow has been on the live tournament poker scene since 2013, though his first forays into poker came in the preceding years during home games and cash games in Paris casinos.
His first five-figure tournament cash came in 2015 at the France Poker Series in Deauville, where he took home more than €14.5K for second place in a preliminary event, but later that year, he made third place in the FPS Main Event for €72K. In 2016, he won his first event on the Barierre Poker Tour in Toulouse, then the Belgian Poker Challenge High Roller in Namur.
But it was in 2017 that Sow began to shine bright enough for PokerStars to take more notice. In December 2017, he won the PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event for €675K, followed that with a PokerStars Festival London Main Event win one month later for almost £102K and a Platinum Pass to PSPC, and he then took down the Winamax Poker Tour High Roller in Paris in February 2018 for €100K. He also took down a WPTDeepStacks High Roller event in Portugal in 2018.
To date, in just a few years, Sow, at 38 years old, has collected more than $1.6 million in live events.
As of April 2019, Sow is now a member of Team PokerStars Pro. “To become an ambassador for PokerStars, it’s a dream for me,” he said. “My competitiveness has always pushed me to look for opportunities. 2018 was a great year, and I am looking forward to what 2019 brings wearing the PokerStars patch.”
Sow will be playing on PokerStars as “KalidouSow” on the dot-com site and “Kalsow1” on dot-fr, as well as in live events on the French and global circuits.
J’ai le plaisir de vous annoncer mon entrée en tant que Team Pro dans la grande famille @PokerStars, c’est un honneur et une fierté, je suis comme un enfant ouvrant ses cadeaux 😜@PokerStarsFR pic.twitter.com/xhGHgwhGuc
— Kalidou Sow (@KalidouSowFr) April 10, 2019