Jeffrey Pollack Talks with PokerNewsBoy Regarding First EPL Event

Posted by James Guill on Aug 20, 2011 Posted in Interviews | No Comments »

The Epic Poker League has nearly reached the end of its first ever event.  Jeffrey Pollack is the co-founder and Executive Chairman of Federated Sports and Gaming, the company that owns the EPL.  He was gracious enough to take a few minutes and talk with us about the EPL’s first event.

James Guill:  Jeffrey, congratulations on a great first event.  Tell me how it feels now that you are near the event’s completion.

Jeffrey Pollack:   Annie and I think our debut was very strong and we are very appreciative of the players who participated in our first event week at the Palms. That said, we’re already looking ahead and are focused on our second event week, which begins on September 2nd.

James Guill:  The Main Event drew a field of 137 players.  Did this number fall in line with your expectations for turnout?

Jeffrey Pollack: This number exceeded our expectations. We are pleased with the turnout. Annie and our player relations team did a great job and we appreciate the support of the players who participated.

James Guill:  Daniel Negreanu published a lengthy blog on Thursday regarding why he is refusing to play in the Epic Poker League.  Would you care to make a comment on his statements?

Jeffrey Pollack: No. Last month I offered to meet with him and provide a personal update on our progress and answer any questions. He declined to meet with me, so at this point, there isn’t anything I have to say.

James Guill:  Do you feel that this first event will help to bolster the attendance in future events, especially seeing that first place will take home $1 Million?

Jeffrey Pollack:  In our first season, we are taking each event one at a time.  We’ll see what our second event brings, but we know that the European leg of the poker season is gearing up in full force and that is going to make it difficult for some of our membership to show up. Because of that we are expecting the turnout for our second Main Event to possibly be lower than our first. That being said, we have heard many players including Allen Bari and Matt Glantz are planning to make the trip back to the States from Barcelona for our event, before turning around and going right back to Europe. That shows real commitment.

James Guill:  If you had 5 minutes to spend with each pro that has qualified for the Epic Poker League, how would you sell the event to them?

Jeffrey Pollack:  I’d say, let us celebrate you like never before. The premise of our league is that the best live tournament players deserve a custom-tailored experience.  This means a special mix of formats, rake-free entry, added prize money, complimentary lodging and generous food and beverage credits at the Palms, and new national television exposure from two of the most important media companies in the world.

James Guill:  Several notable qualifiers did not show up for the first event.  While the field was certain stacked, were you disappointed that players such as Doyle Brunson, Mike Matusow, and Scotty Nguyen failed to show up?

Jeffrey Pollack: And severable notable players did show up: Phil Hellmuth, Erik Seidel, Andy Bloch, Huck Seed, Gavin Smith, Jason Mercier, Carlos Mortensen, Ben Lamb, Vanessa Rousso, Barry Greenstein, Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Laak and I can keep going. We had a great mix of both old school and new school support. But, to be clear, we have never had the expectation that every player is going to play every event. These players have a tremendous demand on their schedules.. In fact, we only require our members to play just one Main Event in our first season, along with just one Pro/Am and one Charity Event. And, for the record, Mike played our Pro/Am event but was unable to attend the Main Event and Doyle, who has been very public with his support for us, has told Annie he will play at some point.

James Guill:  Let’s talk about the Charity Event for a minute.  A total of $53,800 was raised for Operation USA for the benefit of Joplin, MO tornado victims.  Tell us a bit about that night and what was your favorite memory from the Charity Event?

Jeffrey Pollack: The best part of the night for was experiencing the fun, positive energy in the room. The league players came out in full force to support the cause and it was great to see them compete in a relaxed atmosphere where everybody wins, because 100% of the prize pool was going to Joplin. 48 of the 92 players were Epic Poker League card holders. The money raised is just another testament to the generosity of the poker community. The standout memory was watching Andy Frankenberger, our inaugural Charity Event winner proudly wear and show off the very cool charity event bracelet throughout the rest of the week.

James Guill:  The Pro/Am event drew a strong field of 190 players and surprised some in that it did not have an overlay.  Were you surprised by the turnout or did you feel the numbers were in line with expectations?

Jeffrey Pollack:  This event also exceeded our expectations. We’re only just getting started. Once amateur players and aspiring professionals see the Pro/Am Events promoted on television later this year, I think we’ll do even better.

James Guill:  What is your vision for the EPL over the next 3 to 5 years?

Jeffrey Pollack:   Honestly, we’re completely focused on having a successful Inaugural Season. That means staging our events with a high degree of proficiency, producing and promoting our television shows, and ensuring that our most important constituency – the league members that play in our events – have a great experience.  Beyond that, over the next three to five years, I’d like to see us expand by just 3 more events: one in Asia, one in Europe and one more in the United States but outside of Las Vegas.

James Guill:  Jeffrey, thank you for taking the time to talk to us and good luck in your next event.

Jeffrey Pollack: Thank you for your interest in Epic Poker. We’re on our way and this is just a beginning.

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