Team PokerStars Pro Sam Grafton Says Site has "Special Importance" for Him
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It seems like such a good fit for Sam Grafton. By his own admission, PokerStars is the site where he's put in the most volume and had his biggest scores - both live and online.
Just look at his poker resume with the Red Spade: A PokerStars Festival title. A World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) title. A regular on the European Poker Tour (EPT), performing both the Main Events and the High Rollers, Grafton is one of the most recognizable faces - and voices - in world poker.
Having joined Team PokerStars Pro in April 2021, PokerNews sat down with him to discuss how the sponsorship came about, the return of live poker and his plans for the rest of the year.
Grafton joined Team PokerStars Pro in April 2021 alongside Andre Coimbra and Parker Talbot
Relationships and Volume Lead to Sponsorship
Grafton says he came close to signing a sponsorship deal on a couple of occasions, but that the situation never felt right.
"I kind of felt that the moment might have passed," he told PokerNews. "But when PokerStars approached me, I was immediately interested as they've always had a special importance for me.
"It's the site where I've put in the most volume, and the place I've had my biggest scores - both live and online."
He also says that his relationships with those behind the scenes, with the EPT staff and the team that produces the live coverage, was an important element of his decision to become a member of Team PokerStars Pro.
What Makes a Good Ambassador?
Now that he's officially signed, we asked Grafton what he thinks he brings to the table as a PokerStars Ambassador. The answer is simple, he's just trying to be himself.
"I hope that by doing that I'm drawing attention to how fun it can be to play poker seriously. The spirit of competition, the friendships you can form, the community, the entertainment, and the craft of the game played at an expert level while playing responsibly. If I can do that, hopefully it will reflect well on PokerStars and the poker community more broadly."
Target On His Back
Grafton says that the pressure he puts on himself to perform hasn't increased, even with the red spade next to his name on the PokerStars client.
"It does seem that people are a little more eager to make a big hero call against me," he said. "Or run a big bluff! But that's not necessarily a bad thing!"
Balanced Diet of Live and Online Poker
The thing that has made poker so enjoyable for Grafton, he says, is a "balanced diet of live and online poker."
"Playing live again and seeing my friends in real life again is something I'm really looking forward to," he said.
He also added a PokerStars Festival title after winning €117,707 in Bucharest in August 2017.
He finished second in the €100,000 Super High Roller for €1,303,950, losing out to Sergi Reixach for the overall title.
Currently playing in Brazil, Grafton is enjoying balancing his poker with exploring the country a little. He plans to add some extra volume to his poker schedule with the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) and of course the 2021 World Series of Poker (WSOP).
Will Shillibier is based in the United Kingdom. He graduated from the University of Kent in 2017 with a B.A. in German, and then studied for a NCTJ Diploma in Sports Journalism at Sportsbeat in Manchester. He previously worked as a freelance live reporter, and video presenter for the World Poker Tour.