Respected tournament veteran Jesse Jones sees a problem with tournament poker, and he's enlisted some big names to help him fix it. "Right now there's chaos in tournament poker" regarding structure, payouts, levels, even the rules that are followed from tournament to tournament. While the TDA (Tournament Directors Association) rules are the standard by which most poker tourneys are run, those rules don't cover things like payouts, or whether a venue plays 9-handed or 11-handed.
These issues, along with general issues of respectability and consistency, are things Jones and the newly formed World Poker Association are looking to address.
"We want to do for tournament poker what the PGA has done for golf, which is to elevate the sport to a professional standard," Jones said at this year's World Series of Poker. An important goal, with more people watching poker tournaments than ever, and more sponsorship dollars coming in, it's more important than ever that an organization be created to ensure fair treatment on all sides. Because the WPA is not just a player's association, venues are invited to become organizational members as well, and thus have a voice in shaping the rules and structures of future tournaments.
Now when a player goes to sign up for a tournament, he is completely at the whim of the venue. Even if there is a sign saying that the TDA rules are in effect, that says nothing about levels, blind escalation, breaks or anything else of that nature. The WPA looks to build upon the work of the TDA in codifying not only the rules of the game, but the structure of the events as well.
In the future, players can look for a WPA logo on an event form and know what type of structure they will be playing. According to Jones there are benefits for the poker rooms as well; "When you think about it, actually it will make their job easier to run a tournament, because it will be systematic, standard and the questions and disputes will end up being reduced considerably because we won't have to worry about the rules being different in different venues."
Jones has enlisted some heavy hitters to help enact this change. TDA co-founder Matt Savage has signed on to join the Rules Committee; charged with reviewing the TDA standards to see if there are changes to make.
Champions Johnny Chan, Barry Greenstein, Phil Hellmuth and Joseph Hachem are on board as founding members, lending their endorsement to the goals of the WPA as well.
The momentum is building, with over 400 individual members since the WPA's founding in November of 2005, and with the top pros attached to the movement, there's no doubt that Jones' PGA of Poker is set to tee off for the long drive toward standardized tournaments everywhere.