SBJ/April 25 - May 1, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Pollack leaving PBR to launch pro poker league

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Jeffrey Pollack saw his role with PBR as more of a consultant than a full-time executive.
Nearly a year after joining Professional Bull Riders as its executive chairman, Jeffrey Pollack has left the organization and stepped down from its board.

The former commissioner of the World Series of Poker stepped aside in order to concentrate on Federated Sports & Gaming, a new professional poker league he’s launching with the support of the Palms Casino.

“I spent the last year with (the PBR) leading a strategic planning process that was pretty intensive,” Pollack said. “My company, Federated Sports & Gaming, absolutely requires my full-time attention. (The PBR is) in great hands with (new CEO) Jim Haworth.”
“Clearly, this is his choice,” said Rick Patterson, a partner at Spire Capital, which bought PBR in 2007. “He brought us good things, I’m glad we had him while we had him.”

Spire Capital brought on Pollack in hopes that he might become the organization’s CEO, but Pollack never relocated from California to Pueblo, Colo., where PBR is located, and he always saw his role as more of a consultant than a full-time executive.

Pollack spent the last year analyzing the organization’s business, crafting a new media strategy and assisting in the hiring of key executives like Haworth and chief marketer Dockery Clark. One of Pollack’s key initiatives was revamping how PBR is covered on TV. He hired former NBC executive producer David Neal to lead that effort. Broadcasts in 2011 have seen a 4 percent increase in average viewership on Versus, rising to 263,000 per telecast from 252,000 per telecast in 2010.

Patterson declined to discuss whether Pollack will retain an ownership stake in the PBR. Spire doesn’t plan to immediately fill the vacated executive chairman role. Haworth already has filled Pollack’s board seat. The other board members are: Patterson, Andrew Armstrong and David Schaible of Spire Capital, and Tom Teague, president of Salem Leasing, a truck leasing company.

Pollack will concentrate on his role as chairman of Federated Sports & Gaming. The league will be composed of 200 poker players and will use a ranking system for players that is similar to those in golf and tennis. He is joined in the venture by Michael Brodsky, David Goldberg and Jeffrey Grosman, who together recently ran Youbet.com. The first event for the pro league will be Aug. 6 at the Palms.

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