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New poker league releases roster for first season

3 May 2011

LOS ANGELES, California -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- Federated Sports and Gaming (FS+G) announced today the criteria for membership in its new professional poker league, along with the roster of 218 players eligible for the 2011-12 inaugural season.

“I’m honored to be included in this elite group and look forward to the challenge of competing with so many other skilled live tournament players.”

“We are committed to celebrating the world’s best live tournament players in an entirely new way,” said Jeffrey Pollack, Chairman of FS+G. “As we start to fulfill this mission, the first question we had to answer was who made the cut and why. For what could have been a very subjective discussion and debate, we elected to embrace objective data.”

Qualification for membership in the Federated poker league is based on an individual player's adjusted lifetime earnings in qualifying tournaments; the number of major poker titles he or she has won; and the number of cashes and amount earned since 2008.

These criteria combine to determine eligibility and a player's card level for league membership. FS+G generally considers qualifying tournaments to be live open events that have a minimum buy-in of $1,500 U.S. (or converted equivalent). Adjusted lifetime earnings are the accumulation of earnings in FS+G qualifying tournaments.

Based on the qualification criteria, players qualify for a Five-Year, Three-Year or Two-Year card. The length of each “card” term – otherwise known as the “exemption period” – is based on the player’s achievement level and the exemption period is the amount of time a qualifying player will be eligible to enter the FS+G professional poker league tournaments before his or her status comes up for review. For example, if a player has a Five-Year card, they will not come up for an eligibility review until the end of 2015-2016 season. For the upcoming 2011-12 season, the professional poker league will make available 27 Five-Year cards, 55 Three-Year cards, and 136 Two-Year-cards.

“Our goal in setting the objective qualifying criteria was to capture the best live tournament players – not a certain set of personalities,” said Annie Duke, Commissioner of the league. “Keeping the league membership small not only ensures the highest quality of tournament play, but also allows FS+G to provide a superior playing experience and outstanding service levels to our members.”

In its inaugural season, 218 players qualify for league membership. Additional players may qualify for 2011-12 league membership through August 1st, 2011 -- so the inaugural roster may be expanded, based upon player performance in qualifying tournaments over the summer. There will be no exemptions of any kind for entry into the league, except for the nine temporary, single-event cards awarded through the Pro-Am tournament that precedes each of the four Main Events.

The Federated Sports + Gaming website has a complete list of the 218 players who have qualified for the inaugural season of the professional poker league and the detailed qualifying criteria.

Some of the legendary players and rising stars that qualify for the league include: Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, Erik Seidel, Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, Carlos Mortensen , Mike Matusow, Antonio Esfandiari , Vivek Rajkumar, Joe Hachem, Allen Cunningham, Tom Dwan, Jason Mercier, Vanessa Selbst, Eugene Katchalov, Andy Lichtenberger, Annette Obrestaad and Daniel Alaei.

“These players are an exciting mix of seasoned veterans and young talent,” said Duke. “They are the best of the best and we congratulate them on their achievements in poker and earning league membership in our inaugural season.”

“This type of league has been a dream of mine for more than 50 years,” said poker icon Doyle Brunson. “I’m honored to be included in this elite group and look forward to the challenge of competing with so many other skilled live tournament players.”

“I'm very happy to be part of the pro poker league because of how well the players are being represented,” said Andy Lichtenberger, who also qualifies for a Two-Year card. “This is the first time we are getting something in return for all that we are putting in.”

FS+G announced today that each of the league’s four rake-free events will feature $400,000 in guaranteed prize pool overlay. Combined with a $1,000,000 free roll championship prize pool, FS+G is guaranteeing $2,600,000 in added prize money to league members in its first year. Details of other benefits to the poker league members will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Palms Casino Resort will host four event weeks in the inaugural season, along with the 2011-12 championship event. The four Main Events will feature different formats of No-Limit Texas Hold’em, including six-handed play, a heads-up tournament with an innovative seeding structure, and a special multi-format tournament to round out the season. Each event week will include a Pro-Am event, a charity tournament, and a $20,000 buy-in Main Event.

Each tournament week at the Palms will begin with a $1,500 Pro-Am event, which is also rake-free for league members, in which the top nine finishers will be awarded a temporary league card for that week’s league Main Event. The nine Main Event buy-ins will be withheld from the Pro-Am tournament prize pool and the remaining prize money will be awarded to the top 10% of the Pro-Am players, including the players who are awarded the temporary league cards. The Pro-Am tournament will be open to all players 21 years and older.

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