Celebrity poker pro to be commissioner of new group trying to become the game’s major league

Celebrity poker pro Annie Duke is being touted as the commissioner of a new group that is looking to become the game’s major league, where the best players and biggest stars will compete for prizes as high as $1 million.

The yet-to-be-named league is planning four televised regular-season events plus a championship free roll at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas this year.

Duke told The Associated Press, “This is the one piece that’s kind of missing from the poker landscape right now, which is something for the best players in the world to compete against the best players in the world.”

The league is the brainchild of a company called Federated Sports & Gaming, co-founded by Jeffrey Pollack, chairman of Professional Bull Riders Inc. and a former World Series of Poker commissioner.

“Membership in our league will signify standing as a true professional in poker,” Pollack told the AP. “We’re going to apply a little more rigor to that definition.”

About 200 players will be invited to the league based on a mathematic formula measuring finishes in major events, money earned and recent success, Duke said. Cash games and online poker won’t count.

Pollack, who will act as the league’s chairman, also is a former executive for NASCAR and the NBA. The league’s other partners are the founders of Youbet.com, a horseracing wagering site that was sold last year to Churchill Downs.