Small wonder Annie Duke said she had no plans to seek out another poker room sponsor after splitting with UB.com in December. Seems Duke had her eye on being named commissioner of the new PGA-modeled Professional Poker League (PPL). The idea is to create an invite-only league of 200 top tournament pros that will do battle at four rake-free events, beginning in August and culminating in the league’s inaugural $1m Championship in January 2012. Television deals are being negotiated but nothing’s firmed up just yet.
The new league is a partnership between the Palms Resort Casino in Las Vegas and Federated Sports and Gaming, an outfit fronted by Jeffrey Pollack (former World Series of Poker commissioner), and Michael Brodsky, David Goldberg and Jeffrey Grosman (the three principals behind online horse betting site Youbet.com).
We suspect they’re still working out the finer points of how one earns their PPL ‘tour card’, but it would be determined by a “ranking system based on an eligibility formula that is driven by mathematics and proven historic achievement.” In other words, your stellar online play means bupkis, so there will be no unknown faces rocketing out of nowhere to take the PPL title. As Pollack put it, they have the word ‘professional’ in their league name for a reason, and intend to “apply a little more rigor to that definition.” Tour cards will be granted in two-, three- and five-year eligibility standards, although a couple über-professionals may be awarded lifetime membership.
We put Annie’s name in the title, so we’ll give her the final word. “A unified league is something we have been talking about in the industry for years and I’m really looking forward to bringing this vision to life.”