Somerville Latest Player to Leave Team PokerStars
On the very first day of 2020, Jason Somerville posted a video on Twitter to announce his departure from Team PokerStars.
In and of itself, a member of a sponsored team of poker pros leaving the group is not exceptional. Somerville was a prominent member of that team, though, one with a tremendous Twitch and general fan following. Further, his Run It Up brand was also intertwined with PokerStars for a year and a half.
Even more significant is the overall uncertainty of Team PokerStars, which is a shadow of its former self. While some longtime members remain – Chris Moneymaker, Andre Akkari, Fatima Moreira de Melo, Celina Lin – many of the team’s most high-profile members have departed in the past year. Names like Daniel Negreanu and Liv Boeree made their exits in 2019.
Somerville’s announcement is the latest in a string of similar ones, but he and Run It Up take a significant fan base with them.
The news of Somerville’s breakup with PokerStars came via a video posted on January 1, 2020.
“I’ve got some news to share with you,” he said. “As of the start of 2020, I will be departing Team PokerStars.”
a new year, a new chapter… pic.twitter.com/rj5Jn70XTq
— jcarver (@JasonSomerville) January 2, 2020
Somerville went on to express gratitude for the partnership and admiration for the members of the team creating content, and building and representing the game of poker.
“Working with PokerStars the last few years brought a lot of advantages, no doubt, but it also brought some disadvantages,” he continued. “As an American poker streamer, it was tough being limited by my PokerStars exclusivity on the content that I could create.”
By using the Run It Up platform he has built, Somerville wants to try to combine his passion for poker and newer love for sportsbetting with the streaming abilities of his company.
“I don’t have all the answers about what’s next right now, but I will say that next week, we’ll be live for a good old-fashioned online poker stream over on RunItUp.tv,” he said, adding that he will answer some questions during that stream.
Somerville also mentioned that Run It Up Reno 10, the gathering of players for live tournaments and cash games, will run as scheduled from April 3-13. It will be the tenth iteration of the series.
Book your room today using code RIU2020 for 20% off!
— Run It Up (@runitup) October 18, 2019
He finished by saying, “We’re not done yet. Next chapter ahead, we turn the page, and I’ll have more for you next week when we’re live on Twitch.”
Multi-Year, Multi-Faceted Collaboration
Somerville brought more to the poker table than most with his ambassadorship, as he had the aforementioned Run It Up brand that he built from scratch over the past decade. What is now a studio and poker laboratory of sorts pooled resources with PokerStars in the summer of 2018 to grow the Twitch presence of both…and poker in general.
Soon after, PokerStars invested even more in Somerville’s brand with a new Twitch channel called RunItUp247, one that featured round-the-clock poker content from Run It Up and PokerStars.
The collaboration between Somerville and PokerStars stayed in place for nearly a year until just a few months ago, when they announced a new venture called Chat Plays Poker. The subscription-based Twitch channel was an interactive experience that allowed viewers to participate in the game by dictating some of the actions and playing virtually alongside one of the players.
The idea had tremendous potential, but little more came of it after the initial launch.
Clarification to Come
Somerville will eventually reveal what is next for him and the ways in which he and PokerStars may still be linked. It also remains to be seen if still-members of Team PokerStars like Ben Spragg, Fintan Hand, and Lex Veldhuis will continue to be linked with Run It Up.
PokerNews did confirm with Somerville that the RunItUp247 Twitch channel is still a joint project between PokerStars and Run It Up. Everything else seems to be back in Somerville’s hands.
Undoubtedly, Run It Up will continue to grow. Somerville has built a successful brand through the years and will continue to do so in poker and incorporating his other interests.
Slimming the Team
Most of the players who part ways with PokerStars say very little about the breakups. They typically thank PokerStars for the time together and move on.
This has happened quite frequently in the past several years. In 2019, the highest profile departures from the team starred Daniel Negreanu, then Liv Boeree and Igor Kurganov, and Maria Konnikova followed later in the year. Randy Lew also left the team, as did Jake Cody, Barry Greenstein, and Kevin Martin, Jaime Staples and Jeff Gross.
Another exit took place just at the end of 2019 with a tweet. PokerStars India lost Aditya Agarwal after a five-year stint representing the site in the new Indian market.
Your poker journey has been a real page-turner and we’re sure there are many more thrilling chapters still to be written. A true inspiration 👏 to many aspiring poker players in India. We wish you all the best on and off the tables. 🙂
— PokerStars India (@PokerStarsIN) December 28, 2019
The remaining pros on the team are predominantly dedicated to various markets. Andre Akkari is a Brazilian ambassador, Celina Lin covers Asia, Muskan Sethi has the Indian market to herself, and Jennifer Shahade represents the new Pennsylvania market in the United States.
Chris Moneymaker remains the best-known player on the team, and he is known around the world and not limited to the US market in which he resides.
The future of the team as a whole is unclear but has been for some time.