Following the recent news that Humberto Brenes and Angel Guillen are no longer members of Team PokerStars Pro, another popular Latin American player has parted ways with the world's leading online poker room, indicating a shift in PokerStars' regional marketing strategy.
PokerStars confirmed to PokerNews on Wednesday that the contract of Jose "Nacho" Barbero was not renewed on July 31. Barbero was a regular fixture on the Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) and in 2010 he became the first player to win back-to-back titles on the tour. He has career live winnings of $2.6 million, with his biggest cash coming from a victory at the 2010 European Poker Tour London High Roller for $870,000.
Barbero issued the following statement on Twitter after his contract expired: "Today is a nice day in my life, where poker is no longer a priority. Thank you everyone and PokerStars. It's been fun to represent."
"We wish them well in their future endeavors," a PokerStars spokesperson said in a statement to PokerNews.
Humberto Brenes' contract also ended on July 31, while Angel Guillen reportedly parted ways with PokerStars at the end of June. Brenes, who has long been a face of PokerStars both in the Latin American region and across the globe, hinted that the number of sponsored players at PokerStars could be reduced even further. He told PokerNews this week that he doesn't foresee the company adding new faces to the team.
In an interview with CardPlayer Latin America last week, PokerStars Regional Manager Juan Carreño explained that the decision to cut the Latin American roster is due to budget cuts and is not related to the company settling into new ownership under Amaya Gaming.
"While the region is growing well, countries like Argentina and Mexico cannot support two Team Pros," Carreño said, adding that PokerStars doesn't hold any live events in either country.
"The strategy is to renew and reduce the budget in the region," Carreño concluded. "This is happening all over the world."
The departure of Brenes, Guillen and Barbero leaves only Leo Fernandez (Argentina), André Akkari (Brazil), and Christian de León (Mexico) representing Team PokerStars' Latin American squad, not including several members of its online team.