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Poker News: April 29th, 2009

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Copyright © SFGate

HEADLINE: Poker series commissioner digs at Joan Rivers

The commissioner of the World Series of Poker commissioner said Tuesday that he thinks that cardplayer Annie Duke's presence on reality show "Celebrity Apprentice" will be good for the game, despite repeated insults thrown at Duke and the profession by Joan Rivers.

Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack mentioned Rivers' name unexpectedly during a news conference when a reporter asked him if he thought a woman would eventually win the series' no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event.

"We would love to see a woman win the main event ... unless that woman happens to be Joan Rivers," Pollack said.

Pollack said during the same news conference that series organizers planned to monitor players' conduct more closely during the tournaments to more effectively dole out punishments for violations like taunting at the table.

The 75-year-old comedian called Duke a "Nazi" and said all poker players were "beyond white trash" in an episode of the NBC show that aired Sunday. Rivers' anger at Duke built over several episodes, but she unleashed her fury after her daughter Melissa was fired by Donald Trump on the reality show.

"Your people, you give money with blood on it," Rivers said.

"I met your people in Vegas for 40 years. None of them have last names, none of them," Rivers told Duke. "You're a poker player, a poker player. That's beyond white trash."

Duke, who won a gold bracelet and nearly $138,000 in 2004 for winning an Omaha High-Low tournament, responded by saying that poker players are "the most awesome people in the world."

Pollack said he believed Duke's presence on the show represented a "quantum leap" for poker in terms of its place in mainstream popular culture.

"Annie is representing poker players beautifully. I think she's playing the game masterfully," Pollack said. "We think the net effect is that it's going to be very good for poker and for the World Series of Poker."

Pollack and other organizers said they revamped their system of warnings and penalties for the series after several incidents, including poker superstar Phil Hellmuth calling another player an "idiot" during the main event, violating tournament rules.

"After the episode with Phil in the main event last year, we said publicly we're going to review our system of warnings and penalties. We have done that," Pollack said. "We saw a couple of things last year that we weren't too pleased with or proud of and recognized that some changes needed to be made."

Pollack said tournament officials starting this year will keep a written log of warnings and penalties, using it to better determine appropriate punishments when rules are violated.

"Our intention is to make sure that the behavior of a few does not impact the experience of the many," Pollack said before mentioning "Celebrity Apprentice" again.

"Anyone who thinks that poker players are anything other than a great group of people, that represent not only America and the world, is absolutely wrong," he said. "No one will defend the honor of poker players more than the WSOP. Bonus

Article downloaded from the World Wide Web on April 28th, 2009

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