Controversial poker pro and businessman Howard Lederer talks exclusively to PokerPlayer

We caught up with Howard Lederer during the World Series to find out why he felt it was time to act against the WPT

PokerPlayer: So what exactly is the problem with the current set-up between the WPT and poker players?

Lederer: Poker players pay their own buy-ins, their own travel expenses and an extra fee to the host casinos. On top of that, the WPT then forces players to give them valuable rights to their name and likeness for free. This outrageous treatment could only happen in an anti-competitive environment. The agreements the WPT has with all the host casinos combined with their market dominance also enables the WPT to enforce the worst final table structures in tournament poker today; all to save a buck or two in production costs.

Why do you think it’s important to take a stand against the WPT?

Poker players have to take a stand and say enough is enough. Without the players, there’s no show. Until the players and TV producers realise this players will never get a fair deal.

There have been similar cases in the American football and baseball leagues. What’s the difference?

Professional athletes, in every sport, get paid to play by leagues and TV. But all they give up are their rights to those particular broadcasts. The idea of the players having to help create a show for free and then giving up image rights for nothing smacks of the WWE (American Wrestling), not a legitimate game.

So what happens next?

Antitrust cases take a long time to litigate. We are prepared and confident that we will win in court if necessary. But we remain hopeful that the WPT will come to the table and settle our case. The result would be a fairer deal for all players.

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