Thoughts on the Annie Duke Jeffrey Pollack poker league

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Feb 23, 2011 Posted in Op-Ed, Tournament News | No Comments »

Now that more details have emerged regarding the professional-only poker league formed by Annie Duke and Jeffrey Pollack that is being backed by Federated Sports and Gaming my concerns about a stale production trying to one-up the now defunct Professional Poker Tour have been put at ease, but in their place is a whole new set of issues!

The biggest problem I see is that the Main Event has a $20,000 buy-in. Now, many in the poker community can afford to play in four $20,000 buy-in tournaments, but they will need some advanced notice of who is being invited! Without knowing the way the tour will select its participants, I think many of these players will already have their travel plans set by the time they get around to releasing the eligible entrants. Additionally, PokerStars or Full Tilt Poker may already be lining up these players for promotional reasons at other tournaments around the world.

The first tournament is scheduled for August, and we are fast approaching March as I write this; when do they plan to let the lucky 200 players who have met their criteria for selection, know they have been selected?

Furthermore, considering the hefty buy-in amount my guess is that many of the 200 players who do receive a “Tour Card” will not be able to afford to play in the tournaments. It’s not as if players are tripping over themselves to play in the High-Roller events at major tournaments, and the $50k Players Championship has trouble reaching 150 players; even with the overlay I fear the $20,000 buy-in is simply too steep, the overlay will have to be quite impressive to attract a full contingent of the tour’s top 200 players. Not to mention that many of the high-roller participants are cash-games specialists who have mediocre tournament results and will likely not even be invited: Phil Galfond, David Oppenheim, Daniel Cates, Andrew Feldman; I mean, will Sam Trickett even be invited to play? Will durrrr’s tournament results be enough to earn him a tour card?

Based on the way they will be selecting players I have a hard time picturing the likes of Allen Kessler, Men Nguyen, Miami John Cernuto, Dwyte Pilgrim, Valdemar Kwaysser, Dan Heimiller, and Matt Matros willing to just peel off $80,000 for these four tournaments when they can just travel the regular tours paying the typical $5,000 buy-in per event.

Let me give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they will add $500,000 to each prize-pool: The total prize-pool for the tournaments will be $4-$4.5 million –if they get full attendance. Why do they feel players will attend an event with a $20,000 buy-in when the payouts are likely to be on par with the EPT and WPT tournaments taking place? Yes, the field size will be smaller, but the competition will be EV neutral.

My guess is that 100 or so players will turn up for the first tournament to see what it’s all about, and attendance will decrease from there.

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