WPT could lose some top pros

I read in a couple of blogs last week that some
poker pros are unhappy with the release the World Poker Tour requires
them to sign before they can play in WPT events.

So I called up Chris Ferguson, who I’d heard is unable to play in WPT
events due to the scope of the current release, got some comments from
him and wrote an article about it for CardSquad.

These days, when you sign up for a poker tournament, in addition to
plunking down your buy-in and flashing your ID, you often have to sign
a release. In fact, for any televised tournament, including World Poker
Tour events, if you refuse to sign the release, you won’t be allowed to
play. This has created some tension between the World Poker Tour and some of the top tournament players in the world, who who can’t — or won’t — agree to the WPT’s terms.

[. . .]

player the WPT may miss the most is 2000 World Series of Poker Champion
  Chris "Jesus" Ferguson. I
caught Chris a few minutes before a tournament last Thursday, and he
told me, "The release has gotten worse over time, and I simply can’t
sign it." He explained that the WPT release is so broad, it asks for
rights Chris is not legally able to relenquish. "I have business deals
that prevent me signing this release," He said.

Some Internet commentors have been critical of the pros, suggesting
that they wouldn’t be in this position if television hadn’t made them
famous, but Chris said, "I’m not asking for money, just the right to
control my image outside the program." He reminded me that in
tournament poker, the players put up all the money for the prize pool,
in addition to paying for the rake. "In no other sport do participants
put up [as much money as poker players do] for the events," he said,
and that’s a major point of contention for some players, who feel that
they are taking all of the financial risk while the WPT profits from
their tournament participation.

Commenting is currenty hosed at CardSquad (probably because they are
associated with me, and we all know how technology breaks whenever I
get too close to it — NASA calls me before an important space probe
launch, just so I won’t do something crazy like think about it) so feel
free to comment on it here.

The story has also made it to digg,
even though it doesn’t say anything about the Xbox, haxxoring
[whatever] or contain a top ten list. So check me out! I’m totally
doing journalism . . .ish . . . things.

I’m grows up and grows up and grows up! Yeeehhhaaahahahahaaa!

10 thoughts on “WPT could lose some top pros”

  1. Wil,
    There is very good money in article writing. If you can do teh funny in non-fiction article form – there is a huge market for it.
    See you there.

  2. Wow…that’s enlightening. I had no idea that the players put up the entire winnings through their buy-ins. That’s a pretty freaking sweet deal for the tournament, and then they want to essentially own the players on top of that.
    They must have gone to the RIAA school of business.

  3. As in any business deal between two parties, there should be some room for negotiation. The wording of the current WPT release apparently leaves no space for compromise, and for that reason I don’t blame the players for refusing to sign it.
    Frankly, I think the tournament promoters should contribute to the prize pools instead of only using the entry fees. The promoters of the big tourneys can surely afford it, and it would make for more excitement to have an even bigger prize pool to play for, and would attract more players. I could go on, but in any case I hope the WPT and its lawyers see the light, and ease up the restrictive language in their release.

  4. Pros like CF really don’t pay any of their own tourney fees anymore. FullTilt pays his fees.
    I understand CF’s position on being able to control his “image” and if the WPT agreement prohibits this, then he is well within his rights. But, it is true that without the televised tourney events, CF’s “image”, and that of other pros, would not be worth as much, in terms of sponsorship deals.
    The next couple years will determine how poker, as a sponsored sport, will play out. Hopefully, it won’t go the way of Nascar…

  5. Zowie –
    The deal that CF has with FTP to pay his fees and other considerations is the exact kind of deal that prevents him from signing the WPT release.
    I’m sure that the FTP deal (or others) calls for certain exclusivities of CF’s voice, image, etc. that the WPT release would grant to WPT.
    You are correct that without TV the deals would be worth less, but as Paul Phillips and others have pointed out, WPT is asking FAR more than any other outlet, including the WSOP.
    And whether or not CF has the fees covered by someone else, the fact is that the tournament is NOT putting up the prize money, it comes from the fees paid by players or the players’ sponsors, that the players went and made deals with.
    The tourney is really only providing a place to play and television exposure – both of which have value, but only within reason.

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