GGPoker is planning on “outreach to female players” following the controversial signing of Dan Bilzerian as a brand ambassador for its poker site, to “balance out” audiences that Bilzerian does not reach, pokerfuse has been told.
The statement comes after significant backlash from the poker community following the appointment of the controversial playboy and poker enthusiast.
“One of GGPoker’s main goals is to bring the game to a wider audience and make it more inclusive,” A GG spokesperson told pokerfuse. “Dan Bilzerian helps us accomplish that goal. In just days he’s brought tens of thousands of new players to GGPoker.”
“However, part of making poker more inclusive is actively balancing out audiences that Dan does not always reach,” the spokesperson continued. “Over the coming weeks and months, GGPoker will make a concerted effort in extending our outreach to female players.”
“The game of poker doesn’t discriminate,” the spokesperson went on to say. “Every player should have a welcome seat at the table. GGPoker’s central focus remains on bringing everyone – regardless of gender, beliefs, ethnicity or other social and personal characteristics; together to play the game we love.”
After the signing was announced last week, concerns were raised from both prominent women and men in the poker community that Bilzerian joining GG was a step in the wrong direction for the industry, undoing hard work done by many to make poker more inclusive.
No doubt, GG wants to reach Bilzerian’s 32 million Instagram followers and 1.7 million Twitter followers. According to the statement given to pokerfuse, this is already happening, with thousands of new players apparently flocking to the poker site.
However, Bilzerian is a divisive character, having made a name for himself with his outlandish lifestyle. He is plagued with controversy from lawsuits to failing business ventures to how he made his millions.
On top of that, he has a history of questionable behavior that includes allegations of violence against women.
Bilzerian himself has remained largely quiet when it comes to talking about the GGPoker signing.
As far as pokerfuse can tell, Bilzerian used his Instagram stories – a functionality that allows users to post content that disappears after 24 hours – to promote a $100,000 Birthday Freeroll that had been laid on by GG to celebrate the signing. No permanent post on Twitter or Instagram was made by the influencer.
The $100,000 Birthday Freeroll played out on December 7 on GGPoker and was ultimately won by female amateur poker player Alex O’Brien.
The only other time Bilzerian engaged in any public conversation around his signing was to the fan the flames of his detractors by posting an inflammatory tweet in response to a comment made by poker pro and Twitch streamer Vanessa Kade.
It is unclear what the outreach to female players will look like from GG.
GGPoker wanting to seek the endorsement of a “celebrity” with appeal outside the core poker demographic is nothing inherently new. In the past, they have worked with world renowned tennis player Boris Becker on an ad hoc basis.
Elsewhere in the industry PokerStars and partypoker have leveraged mainstream “influencers” in the past, but this is the first time perhaps that someone so polarizing has been given such a platform.
Can GG salvage this situation, or will it be too little too late in the eyes of the poker community that are vocally against the signing?