Jeffrey Pollack is the WSOP Boss so we decided to ask him a few questions: “The World Series of Poker started as a very intimate affair. Players were hand-selected and invited, there was one table”

We talk to the Jeffrey Pollack the World Series of Poker Commissioner ahead of the historic World Series of Poker Europe

Commissioner of the WSOP, Jeffrey Pollack, is the man in the know for all things World Series. Here, he tells us the (short) history of the World Series of Poker Europe – and what it means for the game

When did the idea of bringing the World Series to London first come to fruition?

We started mapping out our three-to-five year business plan back in August of 2005. Part of that plan was developing international events. When Harrah’s acquired London Clubs at the end of last year, that really accelerated our planning process.

Was London always the first choice?

Yes. Next to Las Vegas, it’s really the poker capital of the world. We think it’s a teriffic city; very cosmopolitan, and with a great sense of style and flair. I think it’s the right home for this event and for the WSOP Europe.

The main event at WSOP Europe is a £10,000 buy-in. What does this mean for the main event in Las Vegas?

We want to establish this tournament [WSOP Europe] as not only the most prestigious tournament in Europe, but also the richest. That was part of our thinking there. As for the World Series main event, it’s possible that we’re going to revise it in the future, but certainly not this year.

That buy-in has been the same throughout the 38-year history of the tournament. It’s never been adjusted for inflation. There are some who would make the argument that [raising] it is overdue, but we have no plans to change it in 2007.

How are you giving WSOP Europe a European slant?

Firstly, the fact that we’re featuring Omaha is a nod to European players, recognising the increasing popularity of the game. From a packaging and style level, we’re seriously considering a dress code; blazers and what have you. Shake it up just a notch or two and put a little more style into the Word Series of Poker. Do it in a way that would be fitting for the city that this event will be held in.

Do you envisage a lot of the American players making the trip over?

Yes. This tournament is called World Series of Poker Europe, but it’s open to players all around the world and we’ve heard from a number of the top pros who are US-based that they intend on participating. We think there will be a nice mix, but we are hoping for a very large contingent of European-based players.

The winner of the WSOP can call himself World Champion; what will the WSOPE winner call himself?

I would think the European Champion. The true World Champion really is the winner of the main event in Las Vegas; that’s a title that has taken hold over the years. I don’t think anyone would argue the winner is the best poker player in the world that year, but certainly he or she is the player who has won our main event and is rightfully entitled to the title: World Champion. It’s really about whether or not you win a bracelet. There are very few in the World – about 450. The fact we’re offering three bracelets is a pretty unique distinction and part of what sets us apart from any tournament currently taking place in Europe.

What will mark the entire WSOP Europe as a success for you? Will it be solely based on numbers?

Our success will be measured in three finite ways. The first will be whether we sell the tournament out. The second will be if it proves a good experience for our colleagues at London Clubs. And finally, it will be if we [WSOP Europe] are on television in a meaningful way.

The Rio’s Amazon room obviously dwarfs the poker room in the Leicester Square casino. Do you think that leaves the WSOP Europe as something of a pale imitation in terms of scale?

No, actually not. I think it’s a tip of the hat to our heritage. The World Series of Poker started as a very intimate affair. Players were hand-selected and invited, there was one table. We think that the intimacy of the LCI venues is a terrific way to make this event different from what happens in Las Vegas. If we were looking to simply recreate what happens there, we wouldn’t be thinking very authentically about the market places we were going to. It is part of our goal and international business to be as relevant and authentic as possible to the markets we enter.

We think the intimate affairs at Leicester Square, The Sportsman and Fifty will be a great way to differentiate this event and create an experience that is unique and memorable.

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