PokerStars loses yet another big name pro from its lineup. Ivan Luca on track to bag heaps in the PCA $100k. Unibet eliminates its high stakes games. And more.

Parenting Over Poker

Jason Mercier and Natasha Barbour are one of poker’s most recent power couples, having tied the knot in November 2016 and wasting little time in producing a child. Marco Mercier was born this past October. Initially, both parents were intending to find a way to juggle continuing their poker careers with raising a baby, but it turns out that being a parent is hard work!

Neither plans to step away from poker entirely, but Jason says he’s reached the conclusion that he can’t for the time being dedicate the time to it that would be required to continue working as an ambassador for PokerStars. As a result, he and the site have amicably parted ways.

Team PokerStars has been shrinking rapidly in recent years. First there was a wave of pros cutting ties with the company due to objections to its new strategic direction. Others, like most recently Felipe Ramos, have failed to obtain the contractual terms they wanted, and left for that reason; PokerStars has recently begun funneling more of its marketing dollars towards non-poker celebrities like Kevin Hart, leaving less for its sponsored pros. And now, we’re seeing the likes of Vanessa Selbst and Jason reaching a point in life where they’ve made the decision to step away from their ambassadorships due to shifting priorities.

Quick Hitters

– Scott Seiver bagged the Day 1 chip lead in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $100k High Roller, but made a quick exit today after losing a couple of huge hands. The beneficiary of the hand which eliminated him was Argentina’s Ivan Luca, who got lucky to find himself holding Kings over Seiver’s Queens. As of this writing, Luca sits on the chip lead, with more than double the average stack.

– Good news for Asia’s troubled gambling industry as Macau posted its first year in the black since 2013.

– 2018’s barely started and already we can probably file the state of Georgia under “Not This Year” when it comes to legalized gambling, at least according to FlushDraw.

– Unibet has jumped on the recs-over-regs bandwagon, eliminating all cash game stakes above €2/€4 in order to create a safer environment for inexperienced and recreational players.

– PokerStars and PartyPoker have both announced a major new tournament for 2018. The PokerStars Players Championship and PartyPoker MILLIONS Online are quite different offerings, but both represent a major financial outlay and huge marketing opportunity for the respective sites. Steve Ruddock, writing for USPoker, takes a look at how the two tournaments compare.