Negreanu and Botez
Daniel Negreanu (left) welcomed Alexandra Botez to the GGPoker stable today as the 'chess queen' turned poker ambassador.

GGPoker have swooped for the chess grandmaster Alexandra Botez, announcing her as a new GGPoker Global Ambassador… with a little help from Daniel Negreanu. Kid Poker took to the felt to play a friendly heads-up with his fellow Canadian-Romanian as the pair discussed parental influence, the synergy between poker and chess and what the future holds for both one of poker’s all-time greats and one of its newest stars.

Is Botez the Biggest Chess Star to Transition to Poker?

Over the past few years, plenty of big names have made their way into the pantheon of poker players to be patched up. Who can forget Global Ambassador Steve Aoki’s announcement at his ball-pit palace? And what about just last week when we asked if PokerStars had broken the mould by handing an ambassadorship to the 68-year-old poker legend Barny Boatman?

Today, the latest poker pro has been announced, and its GGPoker doing to the announcing. Chess queen Alexandra Botez, as well as a popular poker player in her own right, has partnered up with the fastest-growing brand in the game. Born in Dallas, Texas to Romanian parents, Botez was actually raised in Vancouver. Studying at Stanford University, Botez became a prominent chess streamer, and the grandmaster has garnered 2.7 million fans on the YouTube channel she shares with her sister.

Winning both the 2022 Best Chess Streamer award and making the list for the notorious 2023 Forbes ’30 Under 30’ list, Botez is clearly a rising star whose capture by poker is hugely significant. Botez is noslouch when it comes to poker, having won $456,900 in a Hustler Live Casino ‘Streamer’s Game’ last year too, successfully taking on poker professionals too.

Alexandra Botez
GGPoker have snapped up ‘Chess Queen’ Alexandra Botez as their newest ambassador.

Did PokerStars Miss Out on the ‘Next Liv Boeree’?

Last year also saw the appearance of Botez on the PokerStars Mystery Cash Challenge, which pitched a mixture of a cash game and a mystery bounty drawing to poker fans around the world. The show was fun to watch and Botez was the undoubted star of the show, even pulling off a bluff on her poker hero, Maria Ho. With big personalities  such as Sam Grafton, Griffin Benger, and Parker Talbot all taking part, Botez more than held her own and as the credits rolled, was eating a cheeseburger as part of a challenge.

In many ways, it seemed inevitable that PokerStars might badge up Botez as soon as possible. The market leader in chess meets the market leader in poker. Indeed, look at Botez with anything less than 20/20 vision and you could be forgiven for thinking that Liv Boeree was still front and center in the ‘Stars show. Boeree, the poster girl for PokerStars during their most prominent period in history – post FTP fallout – is now a prominent You-Tuber, so there is more in common with Botez than first meets the eye.

Alexandra Botez
Chess grandmaster Alexandra Botez is a rising star of the poker world and now represents GGPoker.

When PokerStars broadcast the Mystery Cash Challenge, a top comment on one of those episodes on YouTube was “When is Botez [going to] be a PokerStars sponsored pro then?” Sadly for the poker brand, they’ve missed the boat with Botez heading to GGPoker instead. This is possibly down to one player, namely Kid Poker himself, Negreanu. Botez admitted during her GG launch video that Negreanu was a huge influence on her childhood, with her poker fan father idolizing the man who came from a similar familial background in terms of his ancestry.

Much has been made of the strategic symphony of chess and poker in recent times, and Negreanu has become a chess fan just at the point in time that Botez transitioned to playing poker as regularly as she would her favorite board-based strategy game. The timing is too coincidental to mean Negreanu didn’t have an influence.

Will Alexandra Botez Be Joining Game of Gold in Season 2?

While the answer is yet to be revealed, it looks a shoo-in that Botez will be part of the second season of the poker and reality TV hybrid show. Game of Gold was incredibly popular first time around, with over a quarter of a million views on average per individual show. The heightened production values, dramatic movie-quality soundtrack and exciting poker variant games aside, the genius of the show was in casting.

Bringing Botez into the mix for Season 2 seems an absolute lock. While the poker world loves Botez so far, they don’t yet know her completely, meaning the elements of reality tv, the green room, backstage interviews and possible ‘hotel breakfast’ feel to the second season would benefit hugely from her presence. With a blend of GGPoker players last time out, not having Botez in Season 2 of Game of Gold would seem very unlikely.

Alexandra Botez has shot to fame already in poker. After this latest announcement of her ambassadorship with GGPoker, the poker world looks hers to conquer, both in a marketing sense and – as she’d doubtless prefer – at the felt.

Here’s that GGPoker announcement video in full: