Who Wants to Lead the WPA?

by , Nov 12, 2008 | 9:42 am

A message from WPA Founder Jesse Jones which floated into my email account (among others) earlier this week:


I founded the WPA in November 2005 with $100,000 of personal funds as a non-profit association. The mission was to represent tournament poker players worldwide and establish uniform tournament rules, procedures, structures, and payouts; and to improve playing conditions for players. In June 2006 a WPA booth at the WSOP for six weeks saw 80 professionals pay $1,000 each as Founding Members and approximately 800 others join as regular members. In March 2007 an initial Board of Directors was elected by the membership. I was elected Chairman by the board. During the 2007 WSOP the WPA booth saw an additional 50 professionals become Founding Members and approximately 350 others join. During the first two years I worked countless hours to introduce and gain support for the WPA and had umpteen conversations with poker pros and poker related businesses all the while playing in major events around the globe.

Because of my health issues with voice and other physical problems from prior throat cancer I requested the Vice Chairman to chair all board meetings. During 2007 I served on the Executive Committee. Some of the accomplishments of 2007 include the formation of an Ethics Code, revision of the website, formation of basic rules, donation of the WSOP booth space by Harrahs, planning of the first WPA tournament and annual meeting with an educational conference.

In 2008 a new Board of Directors slate was chosen by the outgoing board and elected by the membership. I disagreed with the leadership as “pushed through” and made my feelings known to some of the board members. The leadership decided to resign within two weeks after being chosen and in the process all but one of the remaining nine voting board members decided to resign also which happened at a special meeting on June 10, 2008. During that meeting two motions were proposed – 1) a motion to refund membership fees paid by all members starting January 1, 2008 and 2) a motion to dissolve the World Poker Association. Any member can read the minutes of this meeting in the members only area. Because one director opted not to resign the dissolution motion did not pass and I was reinstated as Chairman. I read a 3 page statement to the directors before the vote asking those who had not made up their mind before hand to remain and stating my case for keeping the WPA active.

Blair Rodman and I were the two directors remaining after the meeting. I immediately reinstated Affiliate and Friend membership levels. We reversed the “refund” decision primarily because the WPA was not dissolving. I made contact with a number of news agencies and potential affiliates all of which were positive. Within a couple of months Blair Rodman decided to resign which left me alone on the board. In the past six months I have invited several prominent poker players who have won WSOP and WPT events to join the board and who expressed an interest in getting involved with the WPA. During the 2008 WSOP I had very serious discussions with an individual who was planning an international tour and sharing the proceeds with the players. Those discussions ended because of philosophical differences. To date none of these individuals has volunteered to join the board.

For whatever reason the right mix of leadership or the lack of proper marketing of the WPA has prevented the WPA from growing into a size befitting tournament poker. Currently there are over 1400 members from 41 countries. Tournament poker continues to grow, being up 7% over last year and an annual total of worldwide buyins reaching almost $700 million according to Pokerpages.com. Wow! I believe now more than ever that tournament poker needs a professional body like the WPA to be the PGA of poker. Other major sports or even many associations (like ducks.org which has 700,000 members who pay $25 annually) are represented by a professional organization for its players or members. The Poker Players Alliance grew into 1,000,000 members via the support of major online poker sites. There are almost 500,000 individuals who have entered tournaments this year. And all of their rights are dictated by profit making casinos or tours. Isn’t it time we as players have some influence over our participation?

I take full responsibility for falling short in leading the WPA. As much as I’d like to I am unable to continue to fight the good fight in a leadership capacity. Because of declining health I am happy to continue to serve on a WPA Board but will not be able to be its leader. I also have severely curtailed my tournament playing due to stamina issues.

I welcome 3-5 individuals who have leadership skills and business expertise to send me an email with their interest and background. Being a board member means devoting time once a month at board meetings (via conference calls or in person) and devoting additional time to special projects or committees. The primary focus in my opinion remains increasing the membership and addressing membership needs. Perhaps there is an online major site who will sponsor the WPA. There are millions of tournament poker players worldwide; surely the WPA can attract them and represent their needs. Just as Barack Obama is the right leader for the US right now, the WPA needs the right leader right now to spark the growth of the WPA. Is that you?

When I put in $100,000 of my own funds to found the WPA, I did it with the knowledge that it may fail and the money may go waste. I was encouraged by the initial response and support. It’s up to you, the members, whether it succeeds in its mission. Please send any comments or inquiries to me at jessej@wpapoker.org.

Warm Regards,


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