FS+G Poker League Roster Revealed

Many poker fans were skeptical about the new invitation-only poker league to begin with, and with so much negativity surrounding poker in Las Vegas these days (following the dissolution of several online poker and live gambling brand partnerships), many wondered if the Federated Sports and Gaming poker league would actually leave the ground. At the end of March, FS+G revealed that the league had already changed its inaugural tournament dates when it appeared that many pros would be choosing more established tournaments over the new FS+G events. This week, though, the new Federated league finally took an important step forward by announcing its qualifying criterion as well as the roster of 218 pros that currently meet it.

“Our goal in setting the objective qualifying criteria was to capture the best live tournament players – not a certain set of personalities,” said Annie Duke, the new league’s Commissioner, in conjunction with the announcement of this year’s field of invitees. Of course the lifetime earnings milestones ensure that Duke’s usual set of card cronies will all be receiving an invitation.

The criteria also requires a minimum number of cashes in the last three years, which would seem to ensure that even longtime pros would still have to be relevant in the current poker crowd, except the 2-year card category offers a reduced cashes option for players that have earned a major lifetime title (including WSOPand WSOPE titles in events with buy-ins of $1500 or more as well as a Main Event win at any of the major recognized tournaments or tours).

No one would argue that the minimum qualifying criteria – of either nine cashes in three years plus $1.25 million in lifetime earnings or six cashes in the last three years plus $2 million in lifetime earnings and a major title – ensures that the players are of a certain skill level, but these criteria nonetheless exclude a significant number of exciting young pros, many of whom easily meet the nine cashes criteria but who haven’t yet gotten a score big enough to surpass the lifetime earnings limit. Once again it seems pretty clear that the FS+G is first and foremost a good ol’ boys club.

For example, some of the significant young players that have been excluded are 2010 WSOP Main Event champion Jonathan Duhamel and online powerhouse Daniel Cates. Also suspiciously absent are popular personalities like Phil Laak and Joe Cada. To be fair, these players will have a chance to qualify for individual FS+G tournaments via preliminary pro-am events, but the money offered in these events is hardly on par with what these players are used to competing for. Thus far, very few of the players that have qualified have even committed to playing. In other words, the strength of the new league may not be gaugable until we can actually count heads at the first Main Event competition in August.

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