Following the 2005 created the role of Commissioner of the World Series of Poker by expanding the responsibilities of Jeffery Pollack, vice-president of sports and entertainment marketing for Harrah's Operating Company.
The move, says Ginny Shanks, senior vice-president of brand management for Harrah's, was brought about to help "develop a strong sense of community among players, tournament organizers, event staff, media partners, sponsors, licensees, and corporate management."
Pollack's influence as Commissioner can already be felt in a substantial way. The biggest new addition to this year's WSOP is the inclusion of a massive, $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event. This follows Pollack's creation of a Player's Advisory Council, featuring Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Howard Lederer, Scotty Nguyen, Jennifer Harman, Robert Williamson III, and Daniel Negreanu, who campaigned hard for the creation of the five game event (Hold'em, Omaha Eight-or-Better, Razz, Stud, and Stud Eight-or-Better, with a change of game every 40 minutes). The H.O.R.S.E. tournament will help to preserve the existence of the lesser-known poker variations at the WSOP, and will feature the highest buy-in in the history of poker. The three day event starts July 12.
In addition to the new H.O.R.S.E. tournament, Pollack and the WSOP organizers have increased the stakes of a number of popular events. Event #8, for example, the Omaha Hi-Lo Split tournament, has been bumped from a $1,500 buy-in up to $2,000.
Further, due to the anticipated popularity of the $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em tournament, organizers have decided to divide the field into four groups of 2,000, each of which will begin play on one of four "Day 1s". Once the field has been narrowed, two "Day 2s" will be played, after which the field of remaining survivors will be compact enough to all fit into the poker room at once (barely).
Another high-profile change Pollack made was commissioning the redesign of the WSOP bracelet, which is given to the winners of each of the tournament's 45 events. The striking new bracelets were designed by Frederick Goldman and are made from 14 karat yellow gold. They feature full-cut white diamonds, including a centre plaque of diamonds weighing one-third of a carat. The winner of the Main Event will receive a specially designed bracelet with a collection of 170 diamonds weighing 6 carats!
Pollack's other improvements and alterations to the WSOP are of a more practical nature than the high-profile H.O.R.S.E. event, but for players, spectators, and media, they'll be very much appreciated. New smoking regulations and more restroom facilities, while less interesting than new tournaments and bracelets, will no doubt make life more comfortable for the legions of players and fans that flock to this event. Pollack and the Rio are also trumpeting the expansion of the menu at the new, enlarged concession stands. Prices on most items will not increase, and snack food fans, take note: The price on cheese pizza has been lowered to a measly $3.75!
Indeed, whether it's a 6 carat diamond bracelet or a $3.75 slice of cheese pizza, Commissioner Pollack and his team of dedicated organizers have instituted enough changes to keep everyone satisfied, players and fans alike.