Posted 1/19/11 : The speculation on where poker pro Annie Duke is bound following her recent departure from Ultimatebet is over. The international poker ace revealed this week that she has been appointed a commissioner in a new league that is hoping to become the PGA of poker, defining the game's best players and hosting invitational tournaments for only its biggest stars.
The new organisation is yet to be branded, but it is chaired by ex-WSOP maven Jeffrey Pollack and plans four televised events plus a $1 million championship freeroll at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas this year, senior figures told Associated Press this week.
"This is incredibly pro-centric," Duke told the news agency. "This is the one piece that's kind of missing from the poker landscape right now, which is something for the best players in the world to compete against the best players in the world."
Duke, a former "Celebrity Apprentice" runner-up, said she hopes the new league will define what it takes to become a card-carrying pro. About 200 players will be invited to the league based on a mathematical formula measuring finishes in major events, money earned and recent success, she said. It won't measure success in cash games or in online poker.
Created by a private company called Federated Sports & Gaming, Inc., the league is chaired by ex-WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack, who said this week: "Membership in our league will signify standing as a true professional in poker. We're going to apply a little more rigor to that definition."
AP reports that the league's other partners are former executives of Youbet.com, a horse racing wagering site that last year was sold to Churchill Downs (see previous InfoPowa report).
Most league memberships will have two-, three-, or five-year terms, with fewer than 10 lifetime cards being granted to living players who have had unparalleled success in poker, Duke said.
"Fans have shown over and over again that they love the stars of this game," she said. "It's the stars of this game that they really want to be watching on television, and I think the stars should get something in return for that."
"This is something that I really wanted to see happen for a very long time," Duke said. "And if my sacrifice is to give up playing full time, then that's my sacrifice and I'm OK that."