Late last week, World Series of Poker (WSOP) Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack stepped down from his post and removed himself from Harrah’s entirely. The move caught much of the poker world off-guard and Poker News Daily solicited reaction from a few of the game’s top names.
“Celebrity Apprentice” runner-up and marquee female pro Annie Duke told Poker News Daily that Pollack’s ascension to the role of WSOP Commissioner in 2006 marked a player-friendly movement for the tournament series. She explained, “The first thing he did was meet with top players and I was fortunate enough to be among them. He really listened to us. There was only so much he could do because in the end he didn’t own it, but he was committed to working with the players and making sure they had a strong voice.” Pollack formed the Players Advisory Council, of which Duke was a member.
On the future of the tournament series without Pollack’s involvement, Duke admitted, “I know that Jeffrey stood as a partner with the players and fought with management over some of the issues. I feel like he was the players’ protector and it does concern me that he’s gone. I hope people at the WSOP take a lesson from what he did and partner with the players because that’s how you grow the brand.” Two years prior to Pollack’s Commissioner nod, Duke won the WSOP Tournament of Champions for $2 million.
Among those lamenting Pollack’s departure was PokerRoad’s Joe Sebok, who made a deep run in the 2009 WSOP Main Event and finished in 56th place. Sebok told Poker News Daily, “I think it’s a bummer. The biggest thing is that the players are losing out. Jeffrey did a good job and people don’t understand how much he fought for different things. He really was an advocate for us, so it’s a sad day. He was a great Commissioner and I think he did a great job of fighting for the WSOP and fighting for the players.” PokerRoad will take to the television airwaves this Wednesday with the debut of “Poker 2Nite,” a poker news show that airs on Fox Sports Net.
Two Poker News Daily Guest Columnists also weighed in on Pollack’s resignation from the WSOP and Harrah’s. Linda Johnson, co-owner of Card Player Cruises, explained, “This is not necessarily the best thing for poker players. He was a great communicator. If you sent him an e-mail, he responded immediately and he listened to us.” ESPN “Inside Deal” host and noted poker author Bernard Lee added, “I’m surprised. I think he did a great job of bringing the WSOP to another level with not only the commercial success, but also the growth in the number entrants. I thought he was doing a great job.”
Last night, the CBS reality series “Amazing Race” aired, one of the first episodes since the elimination of poker pros Tiffany Michelle and Maria Ho, who were sent packing in the Netherlands. Michelle gave her take on Pollack’s exit from the WSOP: “I’m very sad to see Jeffrey Pollack resigning. He has been so instrumental in the excellent changes and adaptations we’ve seen over the last four years. Jeffrey was professional, yet personal, which is why I think he held the respect of the entire poker community.” Michelle was the last woman standing in the 2008 WSOP Main Event, while Ho held that honor one year earlier. In 2009, the designation went to Leo Margets, who finished in 27th place.
According to WSOP officials, there are no immediate plans to fill the Commissioner’s role, leading many to wonder who will become the next face of the annual festivities in Las Vegas. Pollack was slated to become the President of Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment, the casino giant’s Canadian-based online arm. Former Party Gaming CEO Mitch Garber remains the head of the new outfit.