Winamax Sets New Sponsorship Standards

Winamax Sets New Sponsorship Standards
Expanding beyond France with solid strategies

Winamax has blazed a new trail in the world of online poker since it was founded in 1999. It has been a market leader in France for many years, and its roster of sponsored players has always served a specific purpose. The pros have been an effective marketing tool in many cases.

In the past year, however, Winamax has been choosing its new pros for sponsorships very purposefully. Instead of catering to its French base, Winamax has chosen a number of pros from various European countries that will be a part of the new liquidity partnership. As the online poker site prepares to expand into Italy, Spain, and Portugal with the intent of launching a four-country shared site to challenge PokerStars, Winamax has been signing deals with pros in each country.

Smart marketing and player relations may be the key to achieving its substantial goals.

Winamax Stands Alone and Stands Out

When the company was founded in 1999, Winamax was one of many online poker sites entering the new industry. And when it began to emerge as a major player in France, other sites were growing as well and overshadowing Winamax, as the poker boom created opportunities for many operators to shine.

Instead of trying to compete directly with sites like PokerStars during the poker boom, however, Winamax seemed to focus on building its reputation solely in the French market. Its coverage of live poker events around the globe focused on French players and its French sponsored pros and gave French poker fans a focused and personal view of the game.

As sites disappeared and closed after Black Friday, Winamax continued to thrive because it never depended upon US players or the broader global market for its core business. And as of 2018, it remains the largest poker room in France and the sixth largest poker site in the world, barely trailing 888poker and PartyPoker in cash game traffic.

Prepared for European Expansion

As soon as France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal signed the online poker shared liquidity agreement in the summer of 2017, Winamax expressed a sincere desire to compete in that market. Though the company had some name recognition throughout Europe, it had no sites licensed in the Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese regulated markets.

One of those problems was fixed within just a few months, as Winamax acquired the Italian license of Bet-At-Home, a subsidiary of the French-based Betclic Everest Group. That took care of the entrance into the Italian market.

Winamax also applied for a special license from ARJEL to participate in the shared liquidity network, and that approval came in early February.

The poker site also has license applications pending in Spain and Portugal, the approval of which will allow Winamax to join the network and advertise freely to customers in those two countries. With the French side of the puzzle already in place, Winamax now awaits word from the rest of the regulators in order to jump into the pool that is currently only occupied by PokerStars.

Pros in Place to Promote Winamax

Over the years, the list of sponsored pros on the Winamax player roster has fluctuated. At times, there were several high-profile pros, and sometimes there were more than a dozen players signed to represent the site. Some French pros remain: Patrick Bruel, Davidi Kitai, Gaelle Baumann, Sylvain Loosli, Michel Abecassis, Bruno Lopes, Guillaume Diaz, and Pierre Calamusa. Ivan Deyra and Romain Lewis were more recently added to the French stable.

The past several months, however, have ushered in a shift in the framework of the pro roster. In October 2017, Winamax signed two non-French players – both very well-known and accomplished in the poker world. Adrian Mateos Diaz of Spain and Mustapha Kanit of Italy became a part of the Winamax team.

There was no secret as to the motivation for signing high-profile Spanish and Italian poker pros, as Winamax was open about wanting to spread its wings into Spain and Italy.

And just this week, two more non-French players were added to the team. Former PokerStars Team Pro Leo Margets of Spain signed with Winamax, as did Joao Vieira of Portugal, the latter competing a team that now represents all four countries in the European shared liquidity program.

Thinking of a Master Plan

Winamax has been planning for this anticipated expansion for several years, lining up multi-lingual staff members, eyeing companies across Europe, sizing up potential competition, and watching the pros who may best represent Winamax in a cross-border market.

This type of forward thinking mixed with patience has put Winamax in an ideal position to become a strong contender in the new market. And its entire years-long game plan is setting new standards for companies looking to keep up with Winamax.

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

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