Posts Tagged ‘Leaves’

Jason Mercier Leaves Team PokerStars Pro

 Jason Mercier Leaves Team PokerStars Pro

Another American poker pro has left Team PokerStars, as Jason Mercier has announced his departure from his role as a site ambassador. As with fellow pro Vanessa Selbst, Mercier’s stint with PokerStars was effective at the end of 2017.

In a blog post on PokerStars’ website, Mercier explained that the reason for his decision – his contract with PokerStars was up at the end of 2017 and he had to think about what to do about renewal – revolved completely around his family and his newborn child.

His son, Marco Henry, was born three months ago. As any parent knows, having a child changes one’s life and priorities immediately. Said Mercier:

After my son was born, I knew things were going to be different. One of the major things to address was my relationship with PokerStars. My contract was set to expire at the end of 2017, and I wasn’t sure what exactly was going to happen there. I had a lot of questions rolling around my head. Do I even want to travel now? How much can I travel? Should I continue playing poker so much? How’s it going to be on the road with a baby? Does PokerStars want me to do more? Is my wife going to continue to play poker? DO WE NEED A FULL TIME NANNY!!??

Mercier said he “delayed my inevitable contract discussion” with PokerStars, but as the end of the year drew near, he realized it was time to call it quits. He needed to stop traveling full time and be home with his family.

While I have never been and never will be in the sort of position Mercier is in as an extremely successful poker pro, I did make a somewhat similar decision with my career in the poker world, though on a much smaller scale. When I started out in poker, I covered the WSOP live in Las Vegas in both 2005 and 2006. In 2006, my wife was pregnant with our first child, who was born that October. The following year, this site’s ownership (different ownership than today) asked if I could cover the WSOP again. I said no, as I did not want to leave my wife and infant, especially since my wife worked full-time. While I missed being at the Rio, it really wasn’t a difficult decision, and fortunately, my boss was onboard with it.

“The conversation about my contract was short and sweet,” Mercier wrote. “There were no hard feelings and there never would or could be. I was a PokerStars Pro for eight and a half wonderful years. I’m forever grateful that they took a chance on me when I was just a 22-year-old kid who had just captured his first gold bracelet in the summer of 2009. There were times when I thought I might be a PokerStars Pro for the rest of my life… hey, a kid can dream can’t he? Thank you to all of the wonderful people I worked with at PokerStars, your support and friendship has been invaluable.”

At the end of the blog post, Stephen Bartley of the PokerStars Blog staff, added a footnote from the site. He briefly described how they had met Mercier and how one thing that stuck out about him was that “he came across as a man who valued nothing more than the trappings of his family, and his friends.”

“So it was not really surprising to hear that it was his wife Natasha, and young son Marco took priority over a poker career at this stage of his life,” Bartley wrote. “The pride he takes in being a father and husband is clear for anyone to see. So while he’ll be missed as a PokerStars regular, we pass on our thanks and best wishes to Jason and his family, and look forward to seeing him at a PokerStars event soon.”

Cover photo credit: / Jamie Thomson

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FanDuel Co-Founder Nigel Eccles Leaves Company

 FanDuel Co Founder Nigel Eccles Leaves Company

Nigel Eccles, co-founder and CEO of daily fantasy sports (DFS) giant FanDuel, announced that Monday was his last day at the company. Matt King, the CFO of FanDuel from 2014-2016 will step into Eccles’ vacated role. Between his previous stint at FanDuel and now, King was equity partner and President of Regional Operations and Corporate Development at ‎Cottingham & Butler.

“Excited but a little bit sad to be leaving @fanduel today,” Eccles tweeted. “It has been an amazing 8 years. Really excited to see how Matt King and the team drive the company in 2018 and beyond. For me I’m building something awesome in eSports. Watch this space.”

Though DraftKings is the DFS market leader, it really was Eccles’ FanDuel that launched industry. Traditional, season-long fantasy sports have been popular for multiple decades now, but DFS has really only been a thing for less than ten years. It was born largely out of the UIGEA, which while hurting online poker, contained a carveout for fantasy sports. Eccles founded FanDuel in 2009 and grew it to the biggest player in the space until DraftKings eclipsed them a few years later. FanDuel is still the second largest DFS site in the industry.

In a statement on FanDuel’s website, Eccles said of Matt King:

With his strategic vision, range of experiences, and broad skillset, I cannot imagine a better individual to steer FanDuel forward. With tremendous legislative strides in the past two years and the business moving into profitability in Q4, FanDuel is in a great position. I know Matt is the leader to capitalize on the momentum in the sports technology space to take FanDuel to the next level.

King himself said, “It’s an incredible honor to return to FanDuel at such an exciting time for the company. Over the past eight years, Nigel has built one of the most disruptive companies in the sports world. I look forward to working with our talented team to make FanDuel the place for fans to engage with sports they love in new and exciting ways.”

The FanDuel Board said in a statement:

Nigel achieved something remarkable — he completely redefined an existing industry. His passion, intelligence, and focus have been the bedrock of FanDuel’s success. We would like to offer our sincere thanks as he leaves to pursue his next venture. We are excited to work with Matt again. He is an exceptional executive who knows the business intimately, and has a clear vision for its next phase of growth.

Aside from essentially creating the DFS industry and elevating FanDuel to its position of prominence, one impressive feat Eccles had a hand in was getting the professional sports leagues to see DFS as a legitimate recreational activity, even though many consider it gambling. Of course, much of that has to do with the leagues enjoyment of the money that DFS helps generate, but nonetheless, that FanDuel has partnered with half of the NBA and NFL teams (and DraftKings essentially the other half), is quite the accomplishment.

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Las Vegas Review-Journal Writer Leaves Paper Following Restrictions on Sheldon Adelson Content

 Las Vegas Review Journal Writer Leaves Paper Following Restrictions on Sheldon Adelson Content

I got into the poker industry and the writing part of it, specifically, by a happy accident back in 2005. In the eleven years since, I have generally been able to write what I want on my own terms. There have been those rare times, however, when I have been told to stay away from a certain topic or perhaps adjust the way I wrote an article, whether it was to add some sort of mention, remove something, or alter the tone. Only a handful of those times did the request from someone up above truly frustrate me, but hey, it comes with the territory. Not every day is great in any of our jobs; I wasn’t about to quit just because someone pissed me off one day. But then again, I’ve never had a serious journalist role like columnist John L. Smith of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

On Tuesday,  Smith resigned from Nevada’s largest newspaper because he was instructed to no longer write about casino barons Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn.

Adelson, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. and billionaire Republican string-puller, purchased the Review-Journal in December 2015 for $ 140 million, an amount that seemed exorbitant. The prevailing opinion at the time was that he bought the paper in order to use it to exert political influence, but the paper’s publisher, Jason Taylor, said that Adelson would have no influence on editorial content.

Taylor was replaced on January 28th by Craig Moon, who reported directly to the Adelson family ownership. Prior to his installation, there was a disclosure in the paper about Adelson’s ownership; after his hiring, that disclosure was deleted. It was that day that Smith was instructed to stop writing about Adelson, a fact that remained largely a secret until this past Saturday.

On Saturday, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas hosted a public Society of Professional Journalists meeting during which Review-Journal editor J. Keith Moyer (who joined the staff in February) was interviewed. During the interview, he for some reason revealed that he had told Smith not to write about Sheldon Adelson. This jaw-dropping admission was live-tweeted by several journalists, including those from his paper, who were in attendance.

Moyer explained (or tried to explain) that Smith had a legal history with Adelson and therefore “it was a conflict for John to write about Sheldon.”

In 2005, Adelson sued Smith in response to a book he wrote about the CEO. That lawsuit was dismissed by a judge. A similar lawsuit for a similar reason was brought against Smith in 1997 by Steve Wynn. That suit was also dismissed.

When asked about the Wynn lawsuit, Moyer admitted he knew nothing about it. According to Jon Ralston of Ralston Reports, Moyer told Smith on Monday to stop writing about Wynn, as well.

It sounds like that was the last straw for Smith, who resigned Tuesday. Before leaving he explained his reasons via a letter he distributed around the office, saying, in part, “….if you don’t have the freedom to call the community’s heavyweights to account, then that “commentary” tag isn’t worth the paper on which it’s printed.”

Smith’s entire letter is copied below.

Job Opening: Columnist

Dear Friends,

I learned many years ago about the importance of not punching down in weight class. You don’t hit “little people” in this craft, you defend them. In Las Vegas, the quintessential company town, it’s the blowhard billionaires and their political toadies who are worth punching. And if you don’t have the freedom to call the community’s heavyweights to account, then that “commentary” tag isn’t worth the paper on which it’s printed.

It isn’t always easy to afflict the comfortable and question authority, but it’s an essential part of the job. And although I’ve fallen short of the mark many times over the past three decades, this is a job I’ve loved.

But recent events have convinced me that I can no longer remain employed at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a spirited newspaper that has battled to remain an independent voice of journalism in this community. If a Las Vegas columnist is considered “conflicted” because he’s been unsuccessfully sued by two of the most powerful and outspoken players in the gaming industry, then it’s time to move on. If the Strip’s thin-skinned casino bosses aren’t grist for commentary, who is?

It’s been an honor working with you all. Your hard work and dedication remind me every day that journalism is better than ever – even if management leaves something to be desired.

Take care,

John L. Smith

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