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World Poker Tour Extends Its Middle Finger to Chris Ferguson, Andy Bloch, Howard Lederer, Joe Hachem, Greg Raymer, Phil Gordon, and Annie Duke

Somewhere deep in the World Poker Tour's ivory tower in LA that we're imagining in our minds, WPT executives and lawyers are leaning back in their Herman Miller chairs and saying, "Take that, assholes!"

This past June, Chris Ferguson, Andy Bloch, Howard Lederer, Joe Hachem, Greg Raymer, Phil Gordon and Annie Duke (from here on known as The Plaintiffs) sued the the World Poker Tour, alleging that the release forms it requires players to sign are, among other things, unlawfully anti-competitive and violative of their intellectual property rights. The players also alleged that the WPT has entered into agreements with certain casinos that have "artificially restrained the number of televised, high stakes professional poker tournaments that are available for poker players to compete in, and for poker fans to enjoy."

Middle_finger_flameThe WPT has now finally responded and did so first by sticking out its middle-finger and saying "Fuck you man. If it wasn't for me you would be nothing. NOTHING!" Then following it by saying, "Chill dude. It's cool. Everybody's doing it." Then, after providing a false sense of security to The Plaintiffs, they go for the jugular, saying "You dirty, double-crossing bastards . . . biting the hand that feeds you. I'm a gonna break you."

Finally, they wrap things up by saying something really spiteful and even a little bit dumb.

While that pretty much sums up all you need to know about the WPT's response, we understand some readers would like a more thorough account, which you'll find after the jump.

Alright, the WPT begins its response with a brief account of how far poker's popularity has come since the days before the WPT, basically taking claim for much of its success.

"Before the World Poker Tour began televising poker tournaments with its innovative format on the Travel Channel in March 2003, the poker industry was dormant, with poker rooms in casinos around the country closing and industry leaders trying to find ways to resuscitate the business," the WPT says.

They also argue that poker programming on TV was nonexistent except for off-hour broadcasts of the WSOP on ESPN, and that before the WPT, tournaments with over $1M or more prize pools were rare, as well as major tournaments having more than 100 entrants.

In sum, the WPT claims that "...poker is more popular than ever before, which has lead to more poker tournaments, more poker players entering tournaments, more poker programming being broadcast on television and more prize money for players."

The WPT then goes on to say that the release forms players sign are "reasonable" and "required" for broadcast on any network. They also claim that other poker programs have similar releases. The WPT flat-out denies any conspiracies or unlawful agreements with casinos "regarding the terms of such releases." And they claim they have done nothing to restrict competition or prevent players from capitalizing on the fame that WPT has brought them.

Then, the WPT argues that the players who are suing them have basically become rich and famous in large part because of the WPT.

"[H]aving used the World Poker Tour as a springboard to become wealthy and famous enough to own or otherwise affiliate themselves with various business ventures, including online gaming ventures such as Full Tilt Poker that also now offer televised poker tournaments in competition with WPTE, Plaintiffs have turned around and sued WPTE to damage WPTE's goodwill and reputation to the benefit of Full Tilt Poker and the other websites and companies in which Plaintiffs have ownership or other interests."

And it gets worse. As you may know, the WPT has an online gaming site. It is only offered overseas, as they do not accept US wagers at this time. The next part of the WPT response some might think goes waaaaaaaay over the line, opening a potential Pandora's box of bad tiding for the industry:

"For example, Full Tilt Poker, a website started by Plaintiffs Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer and with which at least two other Plaintiffs are affiliated, already competes unfairly against WPTE by using the tremendous revenues it obtains from promoting online gambling in the United States and accepting online bets from persons located in the United States - activities declared by the US Department of Justice as illegal under existing law - to subsidize the poker programming it offers television networks."


The response then goes on to address the Plaintiff's allegations point-by-point. You can read it in full here or download it here.

Wicked Chops Poker Analysis: We've been critical of the WPT in the past, but they have some valid points. Very valid. Their bombast on their influence on poker in this reply is so great we were expecting them to claim they invented the Internet, but they do have many valid points, although they seem to ignore the impact of Chris Moneymaker's win coupled with the growth of online gaming as reasons for poker's explosion. However, the limitations they place on player's through signing releases seems minimal or at least a fair trade-off given the riches players are receiving from making a WPT final table broadcast. Looks like things will only get uglier before they get better...

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Do they realize that online sites are responsible for many satellites players into their events?

PartyPoker Million anyone (not anymore of course)?




Was that you at the end of the ESPN broadcast this evening standing on the rail yelling at Daniel Negreanu?

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