Canadian Poker Pros in Demand


With all the uproar in online poker in the USA and mixed feelings about professional players proudly sporting patches and representing sites that are still in debt to many other players, demand for respected Canadian Pro Players to represent brands looking to aggressively market themselves appears to be on the on the rise.

Toronto player Xuan Liu, after much headline success on the EPT felts at the tail end of Season 7, recently signed with Poker Royalty, an international company representing many of the world’s top players today. Canadian players Gavin Smith,Petter Jetten, Daniel Negreanu and Evelyn Ng, along with other celebrity players like Lacey Jones, Phil Hellmuth and Tom Dwan are just a few of the well known names represented by the agency that has helped “ink” many of today’s sponsorship deals; the late May announcement of Liu joining their roster a clear indicator that young Xuan, with her rising poker accomplishments is well on her way to the “big time”.

Xuan is already at around $650,000 in live tournament circuit cashes, her largest and very recent score to date a 3rd place finish at EPT San Remo, worth almost $525,000. Liu followed this up with another EPT cash in Madrid with one of the deepest Canadian player finishes of the event, tacking on another near $30,000 to an already incredible 2011. Also a University of Waterloo graduate, players from the region seem to continue to make for some the world’s best, it is a safe bet that it won’t be long before we see Xuan picking up a major “deal” or win in the near future.

Also from Ontario, Casey “bigdogpckt5s” Jarzabek was another Canadian player making headlines this weekend, more than a few sharing the announcement made by Lock Poker regarding Casey joining their “Pro ELITE” team; “Casey is yet another brilliant mind to join the LockPRO Team. We are all very excited to welcome him to the Lock Family,” says Jennifer Larson, CEO/Owner of Lock Poker. “He will be working very closely with our product and marketing teams to really take Lock to the next level. As we grow our LockPRO team we get closer to really becoming the best online poker room in the world.”

Casey was equally thrilled to announce his new gig with Lock Poker this weekend on Facebook, sharing the news with friends and followers stating “For those of you that haven’t guessed, I am thrilled about this!”

In the “official” press release, Jarzabeck went on to say; “I can’t quite tell you just how thrilled I am to be joining the Lock team. I am truly pumped to be working with such dedicated and motivated people. It is an exciting time for Lock Poker right now, as its exploding on the poker scene. And I get a front row seat. I couldn’t have asked for or been given a better opportunity.”

Casey, as a former “friend of UB” was one of the many professional players sent walking when the company running UB and Absolute poker made drastic cut-backs, including terminating pro contracts. Jarzabek hadn’t been “officially” representing UB for very long, their announcement of a “bigdogpckt5s” affiliate deal coming only about a month before “Black Friday”.

Jarzabek is approaching the $5,000,000 mark in and online tournament winnings and is represented by Poker Players International, another player marketing/management agency. According to, “Following Black Friday in the US, they were the only agency to immediately announce they would not participate in online deals for US players. However, their strong and growing International Team leads all other agencies in online pro deals. If you are a NON-US player interested in a pro deal join PPI at” Top Canadian player Mike “GoLeafsGoEh” is also listed on the roster of players represented by the company. Prior to the April 15th events, Mike also happily announced he had finally been made a “patch” deal by Full Tilt Poker.

With Canada now being at the top of North America’s available player market, it seems popular players like Leah, Greg Mueller, Matt Jarvis and Shawn Buchanan could move up on the “A List” when it comes to “Big 3″ sponsored players, but like everything else, only time will tell.

With poker television or events with a good deal of the field qualifying online and marketing that was previously aimed heavily at US players being cancelled, it also seems to our favor that here in Canada, events and the related television like the FTP sponsored “Montreal Open” remain in the budgets.

Regardless, a recent move reported by of a decision made by Quebec’s online poker site “ESPACEJEUX” to affiliate and “patch” Laurence “Lady Luck” Grondin is among the first Canadian players to strike up a deal with one of the new provincially operated sites, but it could be a glimpse into a new direction available for Canadian pros, especially those experienced with the marketing and business end of being a signed pro;
Ontario players like Gavin, Xuan and Leah could make perfect fits when the province gets its site underway and players like Jarvis, Buchanan and Mueller have PLAYNOW close to home. Vancouver’s Edgewater Casino already has November Niner Matt sporting their logo and brand at events around the globe.

For those not familiar with how online deals work and how “Black Friday” has impacted them for players in the USA and created opportunity for those players in other markets, these several points made in an article by Poker Royalty titled “Black Friday and Poker Player Sponsorships”;

•Non-U.S. players in regulated and emerging poker markets are least likely to be affected

•U.S. based “A-List” poker players are likely to keep their deals, provided they are willing to participate in more International responsibilities

•U.S. based “B-List” poker players are the most likely to have their deals terminated or cut back

•U.S. players without significant International appeal will be the most likely to be affected

•U.S. sponsorship deals primarily based on “rake-back and hourly” are now pointless

There may have never been a better time for those truly looking to for online deals to peruse them seriously and Canadian poker pros are definitely in demand.

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Jon Harnish
35 year old recreational player, husband and father of three from Calgary, Alberta. Enjoy lower stakes cash games including PLO and limit Omaha 8. Any of the micro-stakes HORSE games will play online MTTS and SNGs. Live, Tournaments and Satellites up to $550. I love the game but am far to social to take it seriously and sometimes give up a little to much information at the table because I enjoy discussing the game, so decided it was safest for my bankroll to take up writing about the game. That way I still get to meet the cool people and opinions on the game, but with a little less risk. Writing wise, currently a regular contributor to Poker Pro Canada, like to write profiles, previews and recaps the most. formally wrote for Canadian Poker Player Canada. My Poker Blogs have been featured on CardPlayer Social and SpadeClub as "Recommended" or in newsletters on several occasions and Pokerweblogs as "Blog of the Month". Past projects included organizing and promoting major events with the Canadian Poker Tour, introducing Big Slick Poker Tour to Southern Alberta and directing events and finals.


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