Former World Series of Poker (WSOP) Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack has a new gig. After parting ways with Harrah’s last November, Pollack is the new Executive Chairman of the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) and will serve on the company’s Board of Directors, according to the Sports Business Journal.
Former PBR CEO Randy Bernard stepped down in February to make his way to the Indy Racing League (IRL). Pollack has already made an impact on the new company despite having little tenure. He told the Sports Business Journal, “We’ll take a fresh look at scheduling and where we hold our competitions” and added, “We may retire the title of CEO, that’s something we haven’t decided.” Pollack makes his home in Los Angeles and PBR is based in Colorado.
In addition to the WSOP, Pollack previously held down positions with the NBA and NASCAR, making him one of the industry’s top sports marketers. He once expressed his desire to have poker players competing at the annual WSOP look like NASCAR drivers, leading to the deluge of high-profile logos gracing the series’ telecasts. He joined Harrah’s in 2005 and was instrumental in serving as the primary liaison between poker players and WSOP management.
Three days following Joe Cada’s victory over Darvin Moon in the finale of the 2009 WSOP Main Event, Pollack announced that he was leaving his post. Appropriately for the new-age WSOP Commissioner, he Tweeted his final statements to the poker world: “Thank you for allowing me to be part of the WSOP these last few years. I will always be a fan and friend to the poker community.” Pollack has not made a Twitter entry since November 13th.
On TwoPlusTwo, posters reacted to Pollack’s new gig with PBR. TwoPlusTwo member “PADRE24” questioned, “Congrats to Jeff! He did a great job and will be a good rep for bull riding. I wonder if he has to wear a cowboy hat now?” Meanwhile, “Eponymous” joked, “He probably just wants to meet Jewel, who is married to one of the PBR founders.” Jewel is married to Ty Murray, who is an advisor to the PBR’s Board.
Pollack is a half-brother of Gary Bettman, the Commissioner of the NHL, and was instrumental in bringing on several non-poker sponsors to the WSOP including Sirius Satellite Radio, AOL, Milwaukee’s Best, and Planters Peanuts. The latter sponsored the “Good Instinct Moment” during WSOP on ESPN telecasts. Current WSOP sponsors include Everest Poker, Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, and Bluff Magazine.
In a December interview with Poker News Daily, UB.com pro and reigning National Heads-Up Poker Championship winner Annie Duke explained what Pollack’s departure meant to the poker community: “The community agrees that it may be bad for the players. What that speaks to, whether it’s true or not, was that he was a big friend to the players and that’s his legacy. What an amazing legacy for someone to have.”
WSOP Vice President Ty Stewart has assumed many of the front-line duties of Pollack, but no new Commissioner has been named. During the first bracelet ceremony of 2010, WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel took on the duties of awarding the piece of hardware to Hoai Pham, winner of the $500 Casino Employees No Limit Hold’em tournament.
Bluff Magazine Editor-in-Chief Lance Bradley told Poker News Daily that PBR was wise to Pollack into its ranks: “I think the PBR is lucky to have somebody like Jeffrey on board with them. Jeffrey will probably admit he knows as much about bull riding as he did about poker when he started with Harrah’s – and that’s a good thing. They didn’t bring him onboard for his cowboy expertise – they brought him onboard for his experience taking a brand to the next level