Annie Duke Discusses Field of Federated Sports and Gaming Poker League


2011 marks a monumental year for Federated Sports and Gaming. It’s brand new poker league will hold four events at the Palms in Las Vegas featuring automatic bids for 200 of the game’s top pros. But how will those players be determined? Poker News Daily sat down with League Commissioner Annie Duke to find out.

Duke admitted that the admission criteria for the 200-player league have already been determined. “There’s no committee to select players because then you get into opinions about why certain players were selected,” Duke contended. “You should be able to qualify players with objective criteria as opposed to a matter of opinion or vote. An added benefit is that people who don’t qualify know exactly what they need do in order to qualify.”

Duke elaborated about the issues the league could face if non-objective criteria were used: “Let’s say committee votes in a player who does not meet the objective qualifying criteria. Now, someone else with the exact same achievements as the player who was voted in will ask why they weren’t qualified. You get into a matter of opinion.”

Perhaps the best example of a committee approach to determining an event’s field is this weekend’s NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. The field of 68 teams will consist of 31 conference champions and 37 at-large bids. The 10-man NCAA selection committee uses a variety of factors to determine the latter group, including overall record, RPI, key wins and losses, and strength of schedule. Still, no set list of objective criteria exists.

When asked how it’s possible to pare a field of thousands of professional poker players down to just 200 using only objective measures, Duke told Poker News Daily, “Once you decide on your criteria, you can set their levels to get around the number of people you want.”

Duke and the team at Federated Sports and Gaming have already performed a thorough analysis using several metrics: “What we’re looking at is how much you’ve won in your lifetime, with your single largest win capped. We also look at whether you have major titles, but you don’t need a major title to get a league card. We also look very carefully at what you’ve done in the last few years.”

Each tournament week begins with a Pro-Am event, which comes with a $1,500 buy-in and awards its nine final table players a temporary league card for the week’s rake-free Main Event. The latter tournament boasts a $20,000 buy-in and the rumor is that CBS will be providing television coverage.

On the format of the Pro-Am event, Duke revealed, “The pros are our card holders. The amateurs consist of anyone else, although we recognize that there will be true professionals in there as well. The idea was to continue to model after the PGA. If you look at something like the U.S. Open, there are ways for people to play their way into tournaments. In keeping with the idea that the pro is the rule and not the exception, there are nine exemptions per Main Event.”

Finally, the four rake-free Main Events will serve as the culmination to each week. “They’ll have added money,” Duke noted. The bracelet winner added, “The card holders when they play any of the league events, won’t be paying rake. If you’re playing the Pro-Am or the Main Event, you won’t be paying rake if you’re a card holder.”

In case you missed it, here is the schedule for the first season of the Federated Sports and Gaming poker league:

Event #1
Pro-Am Event: August 12th to 15th
Charity Event: August 14th
Main Event: August 16th to 19th

Event #2
Pro-Am Event: September 30th to October 3rd
Charity Event: October 2nd
Main Event: October 4th to 7th

Event #3
Pro-Am Event: December 1st to 5th
Charity Event: December 4th
Main Event: December 6th to 10th

Event #4

Pro-Am Event: January 20th to 23rd
Charity Event: January 22nd
Main Event: January 24th to 27th