Recently, “Captain” Tom Franklin became the brand new Chair of the World Poker Association (WPA) Board of Directors. During its first teleconference of the New Year, the WPA named Nancy Todd Tyner its Secretary and John “The Greek” Leontakianakos its Treasurer. The WPA’s founder, Jesse Jones, will remain onboard as a Director when his health permits.
The WPA strives to bring standardization to the fragmented poker industry. With tournaments held in different casinos spread across different continents, the only similarity between the various events is the game of No Limit Texas Hold’em. In addition to the three newly-minted Board members, Team PokerStars Pro member Joe Hachem and Ultimate Bet Star Player Michael Binger serve as non-voting ambassadors of the WPA. The organization’s original Board member was online and live poker guru Blair Rodman.
Each of the three current Board members brings a unique insight into the poker industry. Franklin served as the Corporate Director of Games Compliance for Lyle Berman as well as the Grand Casino chain. He won a coveted World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet in 1999, taking down a $2,500 buy-in Limit Omaha tournament. The final table of that tournament was highly-competitive and featured “Minneapolis” Jim Meehan and Eli Elezra. The pair finished third and seventh, respectively, in the 104 player tournament. Franklin’s win was worth over $100,000.
Tyner runs a strategic consulting firm out of Las Vegas and is highly-versed in the land-based casino industry. In March, her name will be enshrined in the American Association of Political Consultants Hall of Fame, becoming the first woman to earn that accolade. She authors a monthly article that can be found in Casino Journal under the title of “The Politics of Gaming.” She has also hit the speaking trail, visiting illustrious American universities such as George Washington University, Georgetown University, and Vanderbilt University.
Leontakianakos’ experience is in security and he currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Finance for GateKeeper USA. A high-stakes poker player, Leontakianakos also founded the Cancer Research Institute for Personalized Medicine. He was a member of the U.S. Armed Forces during the 1980s in Beirut. Gatekeeper USA is based in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Jones told Poker News Daily what was up for discussion when the group’s first conference call took place this month: “The top two priorities discussed during the meeting were what can be done to offer tangible benefits to existing and new members and how to attract new members.” The WPA recently reached out to foreign trade organizations, offering free memberships for their constituents. Memberships to the WPA range between $20 and $2,000. The organization often has a presence at live tournaments, similar to the membership drive approach taken by the Poker Players Alliance (PPA).
Part of the aim of the WPA is to encourage casinos and local card rooms to adopt its universal guidelines. Variance that currently exists with regards to starting chip stacks, play schedules, payout tables, length of breaks, amenities, and codes of conduct could potentially be alleviated. Even among circuits like the World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker, these factors vary widely. On the response that the WPA has received from the WSOP, the industry’s largest poker tournament series, Jones revealed that his organization would continue to “explore ways to continue receiving the support that the WSOP has given to the WPA over the past three years. The WSOP continues to offer the best option to make contact with tournament players each year.” In addition, the first teleconference also resulted in the creation of a new WPA Rulebook, which will be given to existing members of the organization. During the 2008 WSOP, the WPA’s former Board of Directors resigned after its Chair, Wendeen Eolis, left her post to pursue opportunities with the general elections in the United States.
The WPA is also actively searching out new Board of Directors members. Interested parties should visit the World Poker Association.