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PokerRoom.com Takes a Different Approach When Finding a Face

14 March 2006

Jim Davenport made his first 'televised' appearance in late February. His self-produced home video appeared on PokerRoom.com's Web pages prior to the online poker site's "Become a Poker Pro" tournament.

In a scene near the end of his video, Davenport sits on a toilet seat and is asked who he thinks will win the tournament.

"There's one guy, I just can't put my finger on it," Davenport tells the camera, then pulls on a roll of toilet paper to display the letters "rufebert," the screen name of one of his friends and rivals also competing in the tournament.

PokerRoom.com is betting that scene won't be Davenport's last televised appearance. As the winner of the "Become a Poker Pro" tournament, Davenport will be entered into 12 major tournaments over the next 12 months. And he'll do it on PokerRoom.com's dime.

"Jim has obviously proven to everyone that he is the best player to succeed at this level," said Glenn Cademartori, who represents PokerRoom.com through the public relations firm Armstrong Partnership. "He played a perfect game, and not only will he represent PokerRoom.com well, but you will most definitely be hearing his name again soon on the professional circuit."

The promotion marked the culmination of a corporate philosophy that differs from other online poker rooms. Players who qualify through PokerRoom.com's online satellite tournaments become the members of "Team PokerRoom" at World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour events. These players not only earn a tournament entry and travel costs associated with the event, but are also invited to exclusive Team PokerRoom events during the competition.

Updates on the progress of Team PokerRoom players are provided on the PokerRoom.com Web site throughout each tournament. To further build the team concept, PokerRoom.com offers bonuses to team members who finish out of the money when their teammates cash in. After the 2005 World Series of Poker, PokerRoom.com gave team members who failed to cash in about $2,500.

Last weekend, the company took the team concept one step further, becoming the first online poker site to promote one of its own players to the professional ranks. In fact, PokerRoom.com likes to think of itself as a farm system, and Davenport is its first player to make it to the big leagues.

"PokerRoom.com is geared towards the advanced to professional poker player," Cademartori says. "What better way to establish an endorsement than by tapping into the talent that you already have – your best and most loyal players. Any online poker site can wait until the next person wins the next big tournament, and approach them with an endorsement deal to represent their site."

Davenport earned a spot on Team PokerRoom's 2005 World Series of Poker squad where he met Ryan Rufe (a.k.a. "rufebert"). The two have become good friends, which prompted Davenport to goad Rufe with his video presentation prior to the tournament. They have also had in-depth discussions about poker, and even though Davenport eliminated Rufe in third place, Rufe still offered advice on how to beat his opponent heads up.

"Because of the Team PokerRoom concept, meeting rufebert and listening to these guys talk strategy, I'm a better player," says Davenport, who turned into a seasoned spokesman immediately following his tournament win. "Why would you want to play anywhere else? Why would you want to play at a place that has sponsorships from all the big guns, where you're just an online qualifier? This is like a family."

Davenport will be acting as the big brother in that family when he plays in the $25,000 + $500 buy-in World Poker Tour Championship at the Bellagio this April, his first tournament as the official spokesman of PokerRoom.com.

"I'm getting tons of responses from the PokerRoom community," says Davenport. "Everyone is real supportive, telling me they I hope I get some good cards and am able to do something big. I'm going to take advantage of this to the fullest and take it seriously. I have a real opportunity here and I want to do something with it."

In his previous life, Aaron Todd was a sports journalist by day and a poker player by night. He can now be found covering the poker beat for Casino City and making horrendously unsuccessful bluffs in his home game. Write to Aaron at aarontodd@casinocity.com.

PokerRoom.com Takes a Different Approach When Finding a Face is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Aaron Todd
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.