POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jan 19, 2011
LAS VEGAS » Card professional Annie Duke will be the commissioner of 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 yet-to-be-named league is planning four televised regular-season events plus a $1 million championship freeroll at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas this year, league executives said.
"This is incredibly pro-centric," Duke said. "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."
Other tournaments, including the World Series of Poker, are open events with anyone able to play if they're willing to put up pricey entry fees. The world's most famous card tournament, the series' no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event, costs $10,000 to enter and attracts thousands of players each year. Jonathan Duhamel, a Canadian professional not widely known before making the final table of last year's main event, took $8.94 million for first place.
As poker became more popular during the last decade, growing tournament fields have made it impossible to guarantee showdowns between star players.
Duke, a former "Celebrity Apprentice" runner-up, said she hopes this league will change that by defining what it takes to become a card-carrying pro. About 200 players will be invited to the league based on a mathematic 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.
The league, created by a private company called Federated Sports & Gaming, Inc., is co-founded by Jeffrey Pollack, a former World Series of Poker commissioner known for being respected among players, especially famous pros.