One of the things that is constantly heard in the world of poker is that there is a need for an organization that can be a voice of the players. With the current poker boom, there are many groups that are getting themselves off the ground in an attempt to be that voice. The difficult part is finding those that seem like they will have the "legs" to stick around.
You may remember back in February I wrote about the United States Poker Association. Since that time, there have been some other groups that have gotten off the ground and are attempting to be that "voice" for the players in the sport today. One of the organizations that has received some notice is the National Poker Association.
The National Poker Association is an organization located in Franklin, Tennessee that began just recently. It has been able to procure some excellent benefits of membership and, at a very small cost, is something that the grassroots player may have an interest in. I had the chance to speak with the president of the Association, Wes Parker, who gave us some insight to his goals with the NPA.
PN: Wes, how long has the National Poker Association been in existence?
WP: Well, we just recently got off the ground. We started on June 7th and are located in Tennessee. That will hopefully change, as we are looking to make a move to Las Vegas within the next year.
PN: What would you say are the goals of the NPA?
WP: First off, we are designed for the everyday person. I like to look at what the National Rifle Association or AARP are doing for their members as kind of a guide for the NPA. With over 50 million poker players in the United States alone, we realize that there needs to be a group for them. In this way, their voice can be heard on many matters that face the poker community.
We would like to be able to be a lobbying group for the poker players, to be able to expand the game into land based casinos that aren't necessarily on Indian reservations. For example, there are no casinos here in Tennessee, and that is something that we would like to be able to change. By being a forceful lobby for the game of poker, we hope to have an impact in that area, among others, including legislation.
Finally, we would like to be able to offer as many discounts as possible for our membership. We have been able to partner with many companies and are already providing excellent discounts on travel, hotel and car rentals, among other things, that a poker player can benefit from by being a member of the NPA.
PN: What have been the major problems with getting the National Poker Association off the ground?
WP: It has to be just getting the word out to the players that we are here. While we have been able to get our name out into search engines like Google, it really has been difficult just letting the people know that our organization exists.
We are looking for the grassroots player, much like the USGA does with golf. We want to represent everyone who plays the game, not just the big names in the sport or the professional players. Poker is mainstream America now, not just in the backrooms and the shadows anymore. As our membership and the sport grows, we will have a more powerful voice to be able to have an effect on the matters that are affecting players in the sport today.
PN: You've mentioned the discounts that a person gets for membership. Is there a chance that an insurance program may come in the future?
WP: That is something that we are looking at definitely. Right now, we have to be able to expand the membership to a point where that will be something that we can offer. There are some organizations that do offer an insurance package, but their membership costs are much higher than what ours is.
PN: You are the president of the NPA. Is there any other leadership, such as a Board of Directors?
WP: Right now, to keep the administrative costs down, I am wearing many hats for the NPA! I am the president and am running everything pretty much. Once again, once our membership expands, then we will look at hiring additional staff to assist me. Right now we are giving every effort towards the members of the NPA, rather than having a large staff of administrators or a board.
PN: What kind of support from the poker community have you had?
WP: We have had some great discussions with the people at Full Tilt regarding getting our message out on their site. We have also been in talks with other online poker websites to help push our message to the Internet players. That is something that I focused on when I was in Las Vegas a couple of weeks back. Professional player Marty Sigel, who has won a couple of World Series bracelets, is involved as well with our group.
We want the players to realize there is a need for this. We just have to let them know that we are here and we are here for them!
PN: How would someone go about joining the NPA?
WP: Our website, myNPA.org, has all the information for joining. The memberships are one year for $25 and there are also ways that someone can give a gift membership for someone that is a poker player.
PN: Well, Wes, I will you success and look forward to hearing more from the NPA! Thanks for your time!
WP: Thank you, Earl, for your interest!
I would like to thank Wes Parker, the president of the National Poker Association, for his time. The NPA seems to be interested in every person who is involved in the game and wants to be the driving force to move the game into the 21st century. To learn more about the National Poker Association, be sure to visit their website at myNPA.org!
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