When the business side of the poker world is discussed, there are several voices that are heard. The casinos have their organizations that provide their opinions. The different commissions that oversee gambling activities have theirs. Even tournament directors have a group, the Tournament Directors Association. There is one significant group that, so far, has been mute, and that is the players.
Many different organizations are looking to change that. These different organizations all are facing the same uphill battle; wooing the players to allow them to be that voice that would speak on subjects close to the players fight. In a continuing series of articles, I am going to look at these organizations, their current status, and the roles they hope to play in the future of the game.
The United States Poker Association is an organization that has been able to get off to a good start. The USPA is a group that is not just looking at the welfare of the players, but the welfare of all who are associated with the game. They are a not-for-profit group who has some very interesting goals set out. These goals not only benefit the players, but all who are associated with the USPA.
The goals of the USPA are very well spelled out from viewing their website, foruspa.org. The stated goals are to provide a voice for all who are associated with the game of poker, from dealers to players to others who are involved with the game. They want to set a uniform set of rules that would cross over all tournaments and make the game more uniform for those who play. The USPA wants to have a concise ranking of the players of the game. Finally, and potentially most importantly, it wants to provide services to their members, such as health care, other insurances and a retirement plan that most involved with the game do not have for certain reasons.
I had the opportunity to speak with the president of the USPA, Tommy Eubanks, who gave me more insight to the current state of the USPA and where they want it to go.
PN: Tommy, how long has the USPA been in existence and what is the current "state" of the organization?
TE: We have been in existence for approximately one year. Our membership is growing and we are adding new benefits all of the time.
PN: What is the desired goal of the USPA?
TE: The goal of the USPA is to promote poker as a recreational sport in the United States and to offer products and services to those in the industry.
PN: What are the major roadblocks that you are finding during the start of such an organization?
TE: It has to be skepticism! Most of the people in this industry have heard it all and not very many of those they have heard from have done what they said they were going to do.
PN: What would it take for the USPA to be called "successful"?
TE: First, we have to become financially successful. We need enough members to generate the revenue so that we can implement all of our programs that we want to for our members. Second is enough members so that we can implement change in the way poker is received in the United States, such as the game being legal in some states and not in others.
PN: Who are the members that make up the Board of Directors?
TE: Well, I am the President and Founder of the organization. I have over twenty years of
experience in the business world, everything from home building, land development, restaurant, home sales, and I have been a business consultant in management training with corporate clients such as Mobil Oil, DuPont, Goodyear, and other companies. I am an avid recreational player and, I think, I bring a passion for the game and a vision for the industry to make poker a legitimate recreational sport throughout America.
There are three players on the Board of Directors, former World Champion Tom McEvoy, Clonie Gowen and Robert Williamson III. They are all world class players who are also known for their instructional abilities in the game as well as their desire to see the game grow beyond even what we have today. They provide a voice for the players.
There are also three members who represent different sections of the poker community. Eric Morris represents the media. Eric is the co-founder and publisher of BLUFF Magazine. Michael O'Malley represents those people that work in the industry. Michael has worked in virtually every area of the casino, from the ground up, and is very knowledgeable about the industry. Finally, representing the tournament directors, we have Matt Savage, who has been in charge of more high-profile tournaments than can be mentioned!
Through these great people, we hope to provide an organization that will be a solid voice in the poker world as we move further into the 21st century!
PN: How important is it to have backing of the major players in the game?
TE: It is important. However, we are established to serve the entire industry, not just the "big name" players. Their input has been invaluable to our group
PN: How closely does someone have to be tied to the poker world to be able to join the USPA?
TE: Anyone interested in the game of poker can join. We have several levels of membership available depending on their desired benefits and the amount of time they spend, or income derived from, the poker industry. We are looking for both the professional and recreational player.
PN: Is it more important for each nation to have their own organization or would an "international" group be the bigger goal?
TE: As of this time, we have no plans of expanding outside of the United States. All of our goals are focused within the U. S. We don't feel like we can offer all of the services, products and programs to an international audience and be as effective.
PN: Is a poker organization really critical to the players, and to the continue on the path of the current renaissance of poker?
TE: Absolutely. I think this is the most important issue facing the poker industry today. We have to pull together and focus our resources to have a game plan on growing the industry in a logical, organized approach. If everyone continues to do their own thing and only be self-serving in their efforts, we will leave behind lots of people and a huge opportunity for increased revenues for all.
PN: Thank you for your time, Tommy.
TE: Thank you as well.
I would like to thank Mr. Eubanks for his time and encourage all who are associated in any way with our great game to take a look at the organization's website, foruspa.org, to learn more about the group and its desired goals.
The United States Poker Association seems to be the furthest along here in America to achieving the goal of a poker organization. The group is solidly led, by people from across the spectrum of the game, and seems to have their objectives firmly in place and heading in the proper direction. As Mr. Eubanks stated, though, the skepticism of many needs to be overcome for true fruition of the goals of the USPA to come into effect. It is a great starting point, and I would encourage all who are associated with poker to take a look at what they have to offer.
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