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Shulman throwing barbs at WSOP

27 Jul 2009

By Howard Stutz

LAS VEGAS, Nevada –- The nine players who qualified for the World Series of Poker's main event final table are using the four-month break between hands to sign sponsorship deals, relax, or better their game.

Card Player magazine Editor Jeff Shulman is spending the time lobbing bombs at tournament owner Harrah's Entertainment.

Shulman, 34, sparked a dustup when he told a poker blog he would toss the World Series of Poker champion bracelet "in the garbage" if he won the $10,000 buy-in no-limit hold 'em main event.

He didn't backtrack after earning a seat at the final table. Shulman, who will be fourth in the chip count when play resumes on Nov. 7 at the Rio, says he'll auction the bracelet for charity or offer it as a prize in a Card Player-sponsored poker tournament.

In a recent article on the magazine's Web site, Shulman continued his rant against Harrah's and the World Series of Poker's operation.

"It used to be run by people who loved and really cared about poker, and had the players in mind, first and foremost," Shulman said. "That mission's been derailed by a few executives."

Shulman's gripes concern 500 players who couldn't enter the final day of the main event's opening round because the 2,809 seats had sold out. He also wailed about the cut Harrah's takes from players' entry fees and "inaccurate decisions."

Shulman may raise some legitimate issues. But he is the wrong messenger.

Card Player lost the tournament's media rights to rival Bluff magazine in 2006. But Shulman said that's not the source of his fury. Insiders said Bluff pays Harrah's a larger sponsorship fee.

With 57 events drawing a record 60,785 entries, the World Series of Poker has grown since its early days at Binion's Horseshoe.

"It's not the little tournament with 10 tables in one room anymore," World Series of Poker spokesman Seth Palansky said. "It's a much bigger task to operate a tournament of this size."

World Series of Poker Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack, the target of Shulman's anger, tried to deflect the attention away from Shulman and toward celebrating the other eight final table participants, including seven-time bracelet winner Phil Ivey and chip leader Darvin Moon, a logger from rural Maryland.

Pollack said planners would correct mistakes made during the main event's opening round for 2010.

The Shulman-Pollack feud compares to the 1980s fight between Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis and NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle.

The Raiders won 1981 Super Bowl and Rozelle used two hands to award Davis the game trophy. He didn't shake hands with his adversary.

Pollack may use the same technique should Shulman claim the main event's title.

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