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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

WPA Calls on WPT to Amend WPT Ladies Policy

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In January of 2008, the World Poker Tour launched the WPT Ladies League (WPTL). A series of five tournaments would take place with buy-ins ranging from $300 to $1,500 to allow female players to play in a tournament environment, and the final table of the championship event would play out in front of the TV cameras for a WPT episode on GSN.

The press release announcing the WPTL, along with all subsequent media announcements, made it clear that the WPT partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to obtain donations and raise awareness for breast cancer research. The initial statement from the WPT in January about the WPTL stated, “Participants will have the opportunity to donate at each tour stop and 15 percent of each $1,500 buy-in at the WPTL Championship will be donated to benefit Komen for the Cure.”

Apparently, many of the women who intended to play in the WPTL Championship at the Bellagio on April 13th did not see the press release and were not aware of the mandatory donation inherent in the buy-in. One of the women who noticed it approximately a week prior to the tournament was long-time pro Susie Isaacs, and she sent messages to women around the country to make them aware of the situation. She felt it was unfair for the charity donation to be mandatory, as this is never done in open events.

Isaacs and others who were in agreement with her boycotted the WPTL Championship event at Bellagio. She noted, “We were completely amenable to promoting the tournament and encouraging women to contribute to SGK from their prize winnings, as appropriate to their individual bankrolls – if the WPT would just make the donations optional.”

After some conversations with executives at WPT Enterprises, Isaacs took her objections to the World Poker Association (WPA), an organization dedicated to the fairness and integrity of tournament poker. WPA Chairperson, Wendeen Eolis, explained, “The furor has centered on the WPT’s insensitivity to the varying financial means of ‘working players’ and more broadly on the decision to compel a charitable donation in an event labeled as a championship.”

According to a press release distributed by the WPA, Eolis called upon the WPT to “reverse this mistake” for the future. And the WPT responded. Not only did Lyle Berman, Chairman of the Board of WPT Enterprises, issue a statement regarding the WPTL, but he joined the WPA and expressed his support of the organization.

Berman said of the WPTL, “The WPT has re-evaluated its decision to make a charitable donation a condition for participation in the WPT Ladies Championship. In the future there will be no such requirement in a WPT championship event.”

At this time, there has been no definitive statement about the future of the WPTL. Inside sources say that the WPT sincerely wants to host another season of tournaments geared toward female players, but no official announcement has been made.

The current WPTL Championship event garnered 150 entrants and played down to the final six players on April 14th at Bellagio in Las Vegas. Those players will return on April 25th for the final table to be played out and taped for television broadcast on GSN later this year.

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