In a nearly midnight decision regarding the long-simmering issue of player logos on the World Poker Tour broadcasts, the Travel Channel and the World Poker Tour announced late on Tuesday evening that, beginning with the Borgota Poker Open in Atlantic City in September, players will be allowed to wear sponsorship logos in the preliminary and final table rounds of WPT broadcasts.
There had been much uproar from the players regarding the decisions of the WPT to not allow players to earn sponsorship monies and, thus, alleviate the stresses of world class, high priced tournament poker. The WPT pointed out, accurately, that the contract signed with the Travel Channel was the barrier that prevented the players from wearing their sponsorships. It seems now all has come clean and the players will be permitted to wear logos that fall in line with the standards set forth by the WPT and available at worldpokertour.com/rules.
"This policy is a testament to the strength of the WPT's partnership with the Travel Channel," CEO and WPT founder Steve Lipscomb exclaimed. "We were the partnership that launched the current poker boom and this is a sign we are constantly trying to find new ways to foster and grow the market we helped to create."
Lipscomb was very quick to point out that the background of Pat Younge, the executive vice president and general manager of the Travel Channel. Younge's background with sports programming at the British Broadcasting Company and Channel 4 in England and "understands the significance of what we have done here - the transformation of poker into a televised sport. We have agreed that a player logo policy would solidify our relationship with players and help foster a climate in which mainstream sponsorship of poker players will become a reality," remarked Lipscomb.
The players response was nearly as quick. Brian Balsbaugh, President & CEO of Poker Royalty, a poker-specific marketing and representation agency, nearly shouted his acclaim for the landmark decision. "Kudos to the WPT and the Travel Channel for adopting this final table policy," said Balsbaugh, who represents poker professionals Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Jennifer Harman, among others. "This policy change will open the door for corporate sponsorship of the players on the WPT. I also applaud the WPT for establishing clear guidelines regarding logo wear. Sponsors want certainty and these guidelines provide just that."
It was an issue that has threatened to disrupt play on many of the televised events that we have all come to enjoy. With this decision, the WPT and the Travel Channel have extended the olive branch to the players and play can now commence unhindered by the threat of a serious player boycott or other fiasco that could affect tournament poker today. A rousing ovation for all involved and, now that this is out of the way, let's sound the "shuffle up and deal!" on the fourth season of the World Poker Tour!
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