WPT vs. Pros row continues


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001

It looks like a long summer of legal proceedings lies ahead

Last year's anti-trust legal action by seven poker professionals against the World Poker Tour was in a Vegas district court again this week for a ruling on a request by the players for a summary judgement in their favour.

But it was not to be - District Court Judge Otis D. Wright II denied the request, indicating that in the absence of an agreed settlement between the players and the WPT, the issue will have to be judicially heard in full.

The dispute has its genesis in claims by former World Champions Chris Ferguson, Greg Raymer and Joseph Hachem, along with Howard Lederer, Annie Duke, Andy Bloch and Phil Gordon that the releases that players are required to sign before they can play in WPT events infringed on their personal property rights and prevented them from pursuing their livelihood of professional poker.

The group filed a class action anti-trust lawsuit against World Poker Tour Enterprises, Inc. late last year. This was followed in April this year by a request from the players for a summary jurdgement, now denied.

WPT's legal counsel Adam Pliska applauded the Judge's decision, saying: "We are very pleased with Judge Wright's order denying the Motion for Summary Judgment. We feel that this decision confirms our contention that this case is without merit."

Some of the players have refused to play in WPT events until the issue is resolved, claiming that the WPT restrictions deny fans the chance to see top players competing. There is as yet no indication of when the issue will be heard in full in court, and there has thus far been little indication that a settlement might be achieved.
what is the issue? WPT doesn't allow "pros" to enter anymore?

i don't know what harm it could do to have a "pro tour" like golf, where the top 500 or so poker pros (the names everyone knows) have their own private circuit. this would be better for tv, and i know a lot of the "old boys" and the big names seriously dislike how internet/amateur players play against them. calling down a star to try and bust them, super aggressive play mostly preflop, etc.

you could still have open tournaments, but the tour/circuit events could be for card-carrying members of that league only. and of course you could easily have more circuits for the other career players, like european and north american tours. and it would take great performance to get promoted to the "big" league, maybe only the top money winner or the overall highest finisher (or a more advanced ranking like tennis has) from each circuit would get a free pass into the "world" tour. a tiered system would be good for the household names and the up and comers.
Quote: ....that the releases that players are required to sign before they can play in WPT events infringed on their personal property rights and prevented them from pursuing their livelihood of professional poker. Unquote

It's more to do with individual image and reputation rights.
I had a discussion with Annie Duke at UB about this. Her opinion (which I agree with) is that WPT used their images in direct violation of other agreements tmany pros had already made. For example Annie Duke has (had?) an endorsement deal with Ultimate Bet, her image was being used to promote WPT's online poker room. Her contract with UB forbids this not to mention it is shady for the WPT to force you to be used in promotions beyond broadcasting of the event. Many other pros holding deals with Stars and Full Tilt agree and are all along together. She told me at the table many of the pros walked about of an event refusing to sign away. OTOH nobody forces you to play in these tournaments.
I can understand the concern of pros to protect their right to manage the "property" of their images and names....and how sponsors or associates other than WPT may feel about WPT trying to exercise some control over this.

Your point is well made that noone is forcing them to play in WPT tourneys. I guess WPT events constitute a significant enough portion of the available earning pool to motivate the pros into contesting the release form requirement - perhaps in the hope of eventually getting a settlement.

Unfortunately that doesn't look likely right now, and some bad feeling on both sides is a dangerous possibility.

That's a pity because these are big names that can enhance interest and publicity on WPT events and television coverage.


also, playing at online casinos you agree to be available for promotions if you win a big one, so if say negreanu wins the stars sunday million, they could use his name and picture in promotions and advertisements.

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