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Aaron Todd

Aaron  Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

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Putting the 'World' in WSOP -- Part Two of our interview with Commisioner Jeffrey Pollack

26 Jun 2007

By Aaron Todd

World Series of Poker Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack has been a busy man over the last two years. He has been the catalyst for change in the WSOP, and while some of those changes have been met with initial disapproval from players, the majority of them have been embraced.

Casino City reporter Aaron Todd sat down with Pollack prior to the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E tournament for a three-part interview.

In our second installment, Pollack addresses the success of women and international players this year and explains his role when there are medical emergencies during tournament play. Read part one.

AT: Poker has always been an international game, but it seems like it's been reflected in the results this year more than ever. There have been bracelet winners from Russia, Italy, South Korea, and Germany this year. How does this affect the WSOP?

JP: We're working hard to put more "World" in the World Series of Poker. That's why we're going to London with World Series of Poker Europe. That's why we've created an International Players Advisory Council. That's why, for the first time ever, there is a dedicated international players line at the cage. We're trying to better serve and entice the international player, and we've only just begun. Poker is a global game, and we're the number one poker brand globally. We need to do a better job of interacting with the international player and bringing our version, our brand of thrills and entertainment to different markets internationally.

AT: Women have also been doing very well this year. Katja Thater won the Razz tournament, and a number of other women have made it to final tables.

JP: Yes, Katja was the first woman to win an open bracelet event since Harrah's bought the World Series of Poker and moved it to the Rio. It's very exciting.

AT: What does it do for the World Series and for poker generally when women become more involved and more successful in the game?

JP: If you look around the tournament room, the World Series of Poker does not reflect the diversity of America. That's something that we're focused on. I think more women playing and doing well certainly helps in that regard. But I do want to dispel a nasty rumor that's been going around since the Ladies' Event. We have no plans to eliminate the Ladies' bracelet event. Somehow someone started this rumor that this was the last year we were going to do it. Absolutely not. As long as women continue to turn out in droves for this event, we will continue to run it and run it as a bracelet event. I think it's an important part of our tradition. And while some may argue that in 2007 you don't need a Ladies only poker event, I disagree as long as the event continues to be successful. So as long as women want to play in that event and want to compete for a bracelet, we'll continue to run that event.

AT: Paul "Eskimo" Clark has had a few health issues during tournaments this year. The first time he was taken to the hospital, but he refused to go the next time when he was deep in the Razz tournament. What is your role when situations like that occur?

JP: I never anticipated that medical issues or health issues would come into play here, largely from my own experience. This isn't athletic competition. The health issues that arise are the health issues that would arise during any day at a casino, or anywhere. But here, because we play under such a global spotlight, we certainly are looking at it through a slightly different lens than if it were someone sitting at a slot machine. Our concern for Eskimo was for him as a human being. He made a couple of decisions that I may not have made myself in terms of continuing to play, but it was his right to make those decisions. But it's raised a couple of issues that we probably need to think through over in the offseason.

AT: Can you envision a situation where you would have to step in and say "You're not fit to play?"

JP: Yes, if anything ever disrupts the play and detracts from the experience of other players, I would deem that as not in the best interest of the tournament, and we would take whatever steps we needed to take in order to fix that disruption. We're concerned first and foremost with the individual, and I hope the people that play here will make good decisions, but people don't always make good decisions, but it's not our job to make decisions for them. And our second concern is always for the quality of experience for everyone else, so that's what we need to balance against each other.

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