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The 2009 Poker TDA Summit

June 16-17, 2009

Rio Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada

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     The Poker Tournament Directors Association was founded in 2001 by industry professionals Matt Savage, Jan Fisher, Linda Johnson, and Dave Lamb (l-r, below). The founders recognized that standard tournament rules were needed in order to move the industry forward. Over the past 8 years, the association has grown to include 1300 tournament staff in 39 countries. To date, 44 rules have been adopted by the membership.      The 2009 Summit was the fourth in TDA history. Over 125 members from 22 countries attended the two-day event at the Rio in Las Vegas. The Summit coincided with the 2009 World Series of Poker, ideal for participants of both events. The agenda included a review of all rules, adoption of 4 new rules, modifications to 19 rules, and a new categorization structure. The event was made possible by generous support from Angel Cards. The full story is below.

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The TDA Summit kicked off June 16th in Las Vegas with sponsorship from Angel Cards & the Rio All-Suite Hotel.

The TDA Board of Directors kept the discussion flowing during the marathon two day event.



     The Poker Tournament Directors’ Association (TDA) held it’s bi-annual Summit on June 16 & 17th at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Over 125 Poker Tournament Directors attended the Summit to debate and vote on proposed rules changes and amendments. The final draft of this legislation was published by the Board of Directors on July 27.

     The TDA was founded in 2001 by industry professionals Matt Savage, Jan Fisher, Linda Johnson, and David Lamb (photo above, l-r). Board Member Matt Savage described the inception of the Association in a recent interview: “… during the 1990’s, poker tournaments were becoming increasingly popular. The problem was every venue had a different set of rules. The players didn’t know what to expect from tournament to tournament…”  Linda Johnson remembers the initial challenges the TDA faced: “…The first year the TDA met, it was difficult to adopt rules… everyone supported the idea of standardization as long as it was based on the rules they were using…”

Tournament Directors from 22 Countries on five continents represented the world of poker.

WSOP TD Jack Effel shared his thoughts on the proposed rules and was instrumental with event logistics at the Rio.

     Poker tournament regulation has come a long ways since the inception of the TDA. During the past 8 years, the membership has grown to over 1300 tournament staff in 39 countries. Heading into the 2009 Summit, the Association had adopted 40 rules governing the  situations that professional tournament directors face everyday. At this year’s meeting, the association adopted 4 new rules and amended 19 existing rules. Jan Fisher explains the process: “…basically we discuss the proposed rule change. It’s open to the floor to debate so all opinions are heard… When everyone has had their say we take a vote. If a substantial majority votes yes, it’s approved. If we can’t get a substantial majority approval, it’s not adopted…”

     The entire poker industry has changed dramatically in recent years. Matt Savage was Tournament Director for the World Series of Poker in 2003 when an unknown amateur named Chris Moneymaker made history, beating a field of over 800 players and winning $2.5 million in the process. “That was the year that really changed everything.” Savage said, "The popularity of the game just exploded after that”. Reflecting the surging popularity of poker, a record turnout of over 125 Tournament Directors from 90 casinos, leagues, & tour circuits attended the 2009 Summit. The event isn’t all work; 50 attendees competed in a special WSOP “Directors’ Tournament” the first evening. Raffaele De Nicola of Italy claimed first place in this very tough field.


TD's stayed busy debating the impact of proposed new standards. 4 new rules & numerous amendments were adopted. TDA Board Member Matt Savage outlines 8 of the many rules suggestions up for discussion at the Summit

     How much progress has been made since the founding of the TDA in 2001? Founding Member Dave Lamb noted an important change in the substance of this year’s meeting: “… We categorized the rules for the first time, making access & interpretation a lot easier. Also this Summit was more about clarifying and modifying existing rules than adopting entirely new ones… That’s encouraging because perhaps we’ve reached a turning point and identified the majority of the issues…”

TDA members cast their votes on one of the new regulations. At the WSOP Tournament Director's Tournament. TD's take a break from legislating poker rules to.... play poker!
After two days of legislation, the TDA Board and Advisory Committee celebrate the conclusion of a landmark Summit.

     The TDA is an unpaid, volunteer organization. The Summit was made possible by hosting from The Rio Hotel & Casino and sponsorship from Angel Playing Cards. Special thanks are due WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack and Tournament Director Jack Effel for help with innumerable details. Also many thanks to TDA volunteer staffers Douglas Alexander, Chet Frederick, Mike Bishop, Jim and Mylene Leitner, and Randi Levenbaum for their contributions to website development and Summit logistics. Photography courtesy of Devanir Campos and Chet Frederick .

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