WPA takes on WPT Ladies Championship issue

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The World Poker tour is changing its tune about the automatic donation to charity taken out of the Ladies Championship prize pool after encountering resistance from some prominent female players and the World Poker Association.

Last week some players decided to cancel their plans to compete in the Ladies Championship after learning that an automatic 15% was being taken from the prize pool as a donation to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure charity organization.

Susie Isaacs became the most prominent opponent of the forced donation, stating her case in her blog as well as through media outlets.

The women weren't opposed to donating money to charity; what they didn't like was that organizers had decided to take it automatically from the prize pool of the championship event.

"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," said Wendeen Eolis, World Poker Association chairman.

Eolis pointed out that the WPT has never exacted that kind of pledge in any previous championship event, and she called upon the WPT to "reverse this mistake" for the future.

As a result, Lyle Berman, WPT Enterprises chairman of the board, told Eolis that the organization 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," Berman said.

Susie Isacs
The boycott was a winning move for Susie Isaacs.

Isaacs has already expressed her happiness with the news. She had said in her blog that boycotting the WPT Ladies Championship was one of the hardest poker-related things she's had to do.

"I am no longer sad [about not playing] in the WPT Ladies Championship. It was worth it," Isaacs says in her blog. "I believe that the efforts of a group of women, from coast-to-coast, have made a big difference for the future of ladies poker tournaments."

Isaacs and her poker club colleagues also stressed that they are very pro-charity, and their issue wasn't about the charity itself, but about the forced donation taken from the prize pool which diminishes the playability of the tournament from a financial standpoint.

"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," Isaacs said.

Isaacs also thanked Eolis for bring the matter to the attention of the WPA Executive Committee, which helped bring the issue to a "wonderful completion for all female poker players everywhere."

According to a press release, Steve Lipscomb, WPT founder and CEO, explained to Eolis that his strategy in planning the Ladies Championship was to advance opportunities for women in poker to get television coverage while aligning the WPT and the players with a good cause.

The WPT Ladies Championship went ahead as initially planned with the 15% taken from the prize pool for charity. One hundred fifty players showed up to participate and played down to the final six last weekend.

"The WPA is pleased the (Susan G. Komen for the Cure) has been the beneficiary of a significant gift from the poker community," said the Association in a press release.

Since the WPA was created, it has also been committed to charitable giving. Last summer the WPA conducted a raffle to benefit children in need in the Las Vegas area. It also has plans for fundraisers during its inaugural conference this summer and during its Annual Membership Drive in order to raise money for worthy causes.

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