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One on one with WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack: Part one

25 June 2007

By Aaron Todd

Jeffrey Pollack, the commissioner of the World Series of Poker, has been a busy man over the last two years. Since taking on the role, Pollack has built major corporate relationships with Milwaukee's Best Light and Corum.

He has been the catalyst for change in the WSOP, and while some of those changes have been met with initial disapproval from some players, the majority of them have been embraced.

Certainly no one can make the argument that the WSOP is suffering. The $1,500 No Limit Hold'em events have all had more than 2,000 entries, and after a few hiccups at the beginning of the Series, things appear to be running smoothly.

Pollack spent 20 minutes with us just prior to the start of the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament on Sunday. We'll be publishing excerpts of that interview over the next three days.

AT: Tell me about the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event. Why is it so important, what made it such a success last year, and what do you expect to see this year?

JP: I love this event. This is one of my favorites on the schedule because it really represents our All-Star event. No matter how many players turn out today, they will represent the world's finest poker players. And it comes at the halfway point in our schedule. It's just a nice experience. This year, we've expanded it to five days. We're running a very special banquet tonight for the players as a thank you. It will probably be the most illustrious meal ever eaten in poker, given who we suspect will be there.

AT: Are you thinking about doing more events like this next year?

JP: I think that next year we will look at more events that are higher buy-in like H.O.R.S.E. I think we're doing very well in creating a broad spectrum of choices for players at one end. I think that we could probably stand to do a little more for players at the other end, and I want to keep the World Series of Poker as fresh and meaningful and important as possible for the pro as well as for the non-pro, and I think that may mean a couple more high-buy-in events.

AT: The Amazon Room looks quite a bit different than it did last year. Tell me about the changes that have been made, and the thinking behind those changes.

JP: We see the World Series of Poker as a celebration of poker, our history and tradition, and of the organizations and players that support us. So this year, we tried to put a greater sense of celebration into the d├ęcor of the room. So as a result, you'll see wrapping all four walls, pictures of every Main Event champ from the beginning; a more colorful and substantial representation of our marketing partners and sponsors; and I think overall, a more comfortable atmosphere and environment for the players. We have a greatly expanded ESPN stage with seats with backs instead of just metal bleachers, and the Milwaukee's Best Light No Limit Lounge is really the anchor and focal point of the entire room. We worked very hard to upgrade the comfort and the sense of celebration.

AT: While the improvements in the Amazon Room are great, have you actually outgrown this space? Some players in tournaments with larger fields are forced to play in a tent outside, while others are playing in a temporary space on the casino floor.

JP: We've absolutely outgrown this space. We outgrew it last year. And I'm working hard with folks here to come up with a new solution. I don't know that we'll have it for 2008, but I think for 2009 you'll probably see us in a new space.

One on one with WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack: Part one is republished from
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd has covered the gambling industry since 2006. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and (his personal favorite) Badeuci.

Since graduating from St. Lawrence University, Aaron has worked as a journalist covering the gambling industry and as a communications specialist in college athletic departments.

A native of a small town in New York just south of Ottawa, Aaron lives in Needham, Mass., with his wife and three children. Write to Aaron at, and follow him on Twitter @CasinoCity_AT.