Welcome to the Red Spade club, Igor Kurganov. The Russian is the newest Team Pro and joins the ranks various international ambassadors like Daniel Negreanu, who help spread the joy and awesome of PokerStars around the planet. Kurganov is the perfect ambassador for PokerStars because he speaks several languages. He is fluent in Russian, English, and German.
Kurganov's addition is a shift from the current sponsorship strategy. He's the first legit pro that PokerStars sponsored in the past year or so. PokerStars had a celebrity-centric strategy the last couple of years and focused on professional athletes to help them add new players to the site. PokerStars HQ doled out sponsorship deals to soccer superstars Neymar and Ronaldo. The marketing campaign was heavily rooted in famous athletes. Even the most-recent #RaiseIt campaign featured NBA star Dwyane Wade and Ronaldo. With Kurganov's addition to the roster, perhaps PokerStars will be returning back to relying on the biggest names in poker to help pimp their brand.
For many Americans not familiar with the EPT, Kurganov might have been most-known as “Live Boeree's boyfriend.” But the Russian can flat out play. Doesn't matter if it's online or live poker, Kurganov was always ready to play for the highest stakes. In a short span, Kurganov earned over $12 million playing live tournaments. He used to play under the online moniker “lechuckpoker.” Kurganov first name a name for himself back in 2012, when he beat out Daniel Negreanu for a 25K High Roller title. Kurganov shipped $1 million for that win and the rest is history.
Kurganov's off the felt activities is one of the primary reasons PokerStars tapped him to join their ranks. Kurganov is one of the founders of Raising for Effective Giving (REG), which is an organization that donates money to certain charities based on their “effectiveness.” Kurganov donates a percentage of his earnings to REG, who in turn sends money to charities that spend their money wisely.
Eric Hollreiser, Vice President of Corporate Communications for PokerStars
With all the talk of artificial intelligence and poker, we're proud to bring someone with such profound human intelligence as the newest member of PokerStars Team Pro. Igor's mathematical poker mind and passion for giving back to society represent some of the best traits in poker. We're eager to have Igor contribute his talents to our brand and to our business. As an outspoken advocate for online and live poker players, he'll contribute to our products, our policies and our promotion of live and online poker in Russia, Germany and serve as a global ambassador for poker as a member of Team Pro.