Four-time World Poker Tour champion Darren Elias seems like a natural target for an online poker site, especially American-faced operators. He has plenty of winnings, titles, and a deep history in two legalized online poker states.
As of this week, the Pennsylvania native is a free agent no more. Partypoker US Network announced his signing as a brand ambassador on Wednesday.
That event is set for Sept. 19-21 for players in New Jersey, featuring a $1 million guarantee and live-streamed final table. Elias recently spoke with USPoker about the event and adding his name to the partypoker roster.
“It feels great to be partnered with an organization so focused on delivering an accessible poker product to players,” he says. “I grew up playing poker at the Borgata in Atlantic City in my early 20s. This relationship, so closely tied to that casino, seemed more than fitting.”
Joining the partypoker team
Partypoker has seen growth in the last year, launching into Michigan and Pennsylvania. Elias, 34, seems a fitting selection to represent the brand. He grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, and now lives in New Jersey.
He now becomes active in promoting online events across the partypoker US Network in those states. His role also goes beyond simply being a face for the company.
“I’ll be focusing on the larger events and consulting, from a player’s perspective, with the partypoker US Network team on schedules and structures,” he says. “I’ll also be representing partypoker US at live events and communicating as well.”
Elias won the first of his WPT titles at the Borgata Poker Open in 2014. When it comes to the WPT, he remains the top dog as the all-time leader in:
- wins – 4
- final tables – 12
- cashes – 43
Continuing his online poker career
No stranger to the online poker realm, Elias began playing on the virtual felt in college. Along with $9 million in live earnings, he has $8 million in online tournament winnings in his 15-year career.
Obviously the new deal means Elias will be heading back to the online poker tables even more.
“While I’m still travelling a good deal for live poker, I’ll be playing much more on the partypoker US Network while home in New Jersey or in other live markets, especially Pennsylvania,” he says. “Events like the $3,500 (tournament) next week are the ones that I look forward to the most and circle on my calendar.”
With four tour titles under his belt how would it feel adding an online WPT title to reach No. 5?
“To have the opportunity to play an event of this caliber – a WPT Main Event – in a legal, regulated market from home is an amazing feeling and shows you how far our game has come,” he says. “For those reasons, adding my fifth title through this event would be a truly special feeling.”
Growing the game, promoting WPT Borgata Online
US regulated online poker has seen some real traction over the last year with more operator launches into new states. Connecticut online poker was also recently legalized and other states have been considering legalization.
The US regulated market remains at revenue highs as well. PartypokerUS/BetMGM see Elias as a key in growing the game and network.
“During his career, Darren Elias has been a strong advocate for the game of poker,” BetMGM Vice President of Gaming Matthew Sunderland said.
“We’re thrilled to welcome him to the partypoker US Network team and look forward to working together to elevate our brand and drive awareness for the WPT Online Borgata Poker Open and beyond.”
A Supreme Court ruling earlier this year has cleared the way for interstate compacts and rumors swirl about a coming expansion. Where does Elias see the industry in five years?
“I’m hoping we can make some progress in the legal system on getting more states up and running – with ring-fenced and shared markets,” he says.
“Judging from the size of the tournaments with only a few states online, I could imagine we’d have tremendous events with just a bit of growth. It’s very clear to me, and to partypoker US Network, that the demand for online poker is huge in the US. I’m excited to work with the team to help open the floodgates.”
— Darren Elias (@DarrenElias) September 7, 2021
Jumping in the WPT Online Borgata
Players still have plenty of time to qualify for the WPT event. Partypoker has already completed a freeroll tournament, which awarded 10 main event seats. Satellites start at just $5 and continue on the site now.
The WPT event also runs concurrently with the network’s popular Online Series. Additional festivals are coming to Michigan and New Jersey as well this month. Elias is pleased to be part of the company’s growth.
“As partypoker US Network continues to expand, I’m excited to grow with them and bring accessible, championship-level online poker to players across the US,” Elias says.
“As an online Main Tour event, I believe the upcoming WPT Online Borgata Poker Open can fill a void left by the postponement of many live events this season. I hope to see many of my friends on the felt, as we all try to put our name on the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup.”