Harrah's announces new WSOP event and formation of player panel

Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., owner of the World Series of Poker (WSOP), will be adding a 45th event to the 2006 WSOP in Las Vegas this summer, it was revealed yesterday. In addition, the company has announced the formation of a player advisory panel to act as a conduit between players and WSOP executives.

The addition of yet another tournament to the already extensive list of events scheduled to take place at the 2006 WSOP was welcomed with approval - because it is not a Hold'em event - and shock - because it will mark the first time an event will boast a buy-in larger than $10,000 - by the professional poker world.

The inaugural event is a $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. tournament and, while it has yet to be allotted a date or time, is expected to host a large playing field. H.O.R.S.E. is widely regarded as one of the most difficult tournament games to beat because it's structure demands players compete in five different poker variations throughout the event, including No-Limit Hold'em, Omaha, Razz, Stud, and Stud Eight-or-Better.

The creation of a players advisory panel consisting of half dozen top players was met with approval and satisfaction in the professional poker community. As reported by PokerListings.com in November, 2005, a slew of poker pros, including Daniel Negreanu, Andy Bloch, and Barry Greenstein, voiced anger and disappointment with the published 2006 WSOP tournament schedule at the time, claiming the dominance of Hold'em events does not represent the historical diversity of poker or the WSOP. Harrah's apparently took the criticisms to heart, and established the players advisory board in order to give players a voice in determining the future of the WSOP and its events, as well as to guide and improve players' experiences at the World Series.

Pro players who have joined the committee include Negreanu, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Scotty Nguyen, Jennifer Harman, Howard Lederer, and Robert Williamson III. All players have signed-on for a one year stint that will include regular meetings with Jeffrey Pollack, WSOP commissioner and vice president of sports and entertainment marketing for Harrah's, and other Harrah's executives. Pros will be given the opportunity to provide suggestions and opinions regarding the WSOP, and all parties will have the chance to communicate effectively on controversial issues. Harrah's also announced that one non-professional player will be added the advisory board in the near future, though no other details were revealed.

"Harrah's is recognized worldwide for outstanding customer service and we're going to bring even more of that spirit to the World Series of Poker," said Pollack. "Working with the players advisory council and the outstanding operations team at the Rio, we are going to make a great tournament even better and send a clear 'player first' message." He further revealed, "No topic will be off-limits and, while we may not agree on every issue, our goal is to have a clear communications process and give everyone new perspectives to consider."

According to Negreanu, "Now that players have a voice, I believe we'll see changes that will be in their best interests as a whole. Harrah's determination to listen to players who love this game will help protect the tournaments' integrity while continuing to increase the popularity of the World Series of Poker."

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