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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Subject: Poker Reports That the Cake is a Lie! (And Ray Bitar Didn’t Get His Account Unfrozen)

doj_largeAround the 27th of May reports that the Department of Justice had unfrozen one of Ray Bitar’s accounts worth around 60 million.  This money would presumable be used to pay back the 150 million dollars owed to US players from Full Tilt.  However it appears that the DoJ did not unfreeze the account (as reported today by Subject: Poker):

 

 

 

The Public Information Office of the US Attorney's Office has informed Subject: Poker that NO deal has been struck with Full Tilt Poker to release or unfreeze any funds. eGaming Review Magazine reported Friday that an Irish bank account containing "more than a third of the US$100m to $150m still owed to US players" had been released to FTP. They cited an unnamed FTP source as having provided the information. The false story was widely reported on other gaming news sites, on social media, and on various poker forums. The rumor also lead to widespread speculation that Full Tilt's Monday announcement would include a timeline for the return of US player funds. It did not. The USAO representative made clear that funds had not been released and that any such action...

Subject: Poker

The other possibility is that one part of the DoJ is not talking to the other part of the DoJ.  The idea that they release a press release whenever they unfreeze a bank account sounds ridiculous on its face so another day or so will reveal the truth here.  In the mean time enjoy the chaos brought to you by the United States Department of Justice (Motto: we do what we must because we can?)

Full Tilt Posts 5/30/2011 Status Update on 2+2 Forums

TwoPlusTwo-Poker-ForumsThis new update really doesn’t change much.  They are acknowledging a lack of funds to pay players (which I thought most people understood by now, but based on the reaction of the 2+2 forum members many did not).  Some people are overreacting but the bottom line is that Full Tilt Poker WILL make good on their obligations to US players.  Now as to whether the rumor that they will make their first payments to US players sometime this week comes true only time will tell.

Here’s the full text of their update:

 

 

 

To our customers:

We acknowledge that our lack of communication reflects poorly on us, and rightfully so. We have been too optimistic in estimating how long it would take to sort through the issues we have faced since Black Friday. And as frustrating as the delays have been for us, we recognize that it cannot compare to the frustration you have been feeling.

We further recognize that our lack of communication has led to much speculation and many unsubstantiated rumors, which have often been contradictory. With this message, we hope to clear up as much confusion as we can, while at the same time keeping in mind the constraints imposed on us as a result of the cases brought in the Southern District of New York.

The most pressing questions:

1. When will the US players be paid?

We still do not have a specific timeframe for this. There has been, and remains, no bigger priority than getting US players paid as soon as possible, and we have been working around the clock to get this done. 

2. Is FTP bankrupt?

No. FTP's worldwide business is healthy and, although we've had some short-term challenges, it is operating as normal.

From: 
http://www.gamblingcontrol.org/userf...2020110516.pdf

"The AGCC’s investigation into the affairs of it licensee Vantage Limited, trading as Full Tilt.com, is ongoing; initial investigations indicate no reason to believe that player fund transactions are fundamentally threatened by any consequence of the US authorities' actions. Delays caused by these actions are in the process of resolution, with normal service now being restored for non-US players. We understand that progress in respect of US player fund repatriation is anticipated and will be the subject of a separate statement from Full Tilt in due course. The Commission will remain engaged in this process."

3. What is the company doing to speed up payouts to the US players?

We are raising capital to ensure that the US players are paid out in full as quickly as possible.

It is important to remember that Full Tilt Poker has always paid out our players, even in the face of previous legal obstacles or factors not in our control, such as payment processor defaults and prior actions by the US government which resulted in US player funds being seized.

In all of these previous instances, Full Tilt Poker has covered these losses and intends to do the same again.

4. Why are the Full Tilt Pros remaining silent?

It is not their choice. But they are constrained by the pending legal actions. 

As a final note, we understand -- and have always understood -- the effect that our brief statements have had not only on our customers, but also on our reputation. It has not been easy to stay silent and watch the damage being done to our company brand and personal reputations, but we need to be mindful of the complicated and serious legal issues raised in the pending cases.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hot From the Rumor Mill–Full Tilt Will Start Paying Next Week

A reliable but not-to-be-quoted source tells me that Full Tilt Poker will begin paying US players starting sometime next week.  Now personally I haven’t even had funds placed in my account from a failed cashout on April 7th, and there is no claim that all people will be able to fully cash out, but there should be the start of actual cashouts which is really great news and coincides with the beginning of the WSOP.

It’s Saturday So What the Heck Is Going On In the Poker World?

USA Catches Its Breath from DoJ Attacks

Justice Department DOJThe original DoJ indictments targeted four cardrooms: PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, UltimateBet and Absolute Poker. Of those cardrooms they have temporarily returned the .com domain names to PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker for the purposes of paying US players.  They also have an agreement with UltimateBet/Absolute Poker that those cardrooms will be allowed and able to return US player funds however the DoJ did not return their domain names.  Players can access them now at ubpoker.eu and absolutepoker.eu.
As far as returning funds goes only PokerStars has stepped up and actually accomplished this task so far.  It seems as though Full Tilt, UltimateBet and Absolute Poker are short on cash and looking to raise it either from the rake or (rumor has it for Full Tilt) by selling off part of the company.  In any case paying the funds owed to US players is a top priority for all these sites because they will lose the players in the rest of the world if they show they do not honor their player obligations.  There are other rumors and predictions that at least the beginning of a Full Tilt payoff for US players will happen by the start of the 2011 WSOP (that’s in just a few days so we will see).full-tilt-poker
This situation has also brought to light that Full Tilt (and possibly other cardrooms) does not segregate player funds from their operating capitol.  In the future having funds segregated until the cardroom actually “earns” the money through rake will be a must and hopefully a regulatory requirement which will eliminate these player payment issues.

Poker News Sites are Taking Advantage

I’ve seen several examples of poker news sites and blogs posting false news stories to make it look like their product is the one true cardroom and then blatantly post their affiliate link to this place at the end of their story.  Even news sites as large as www.cardplayer.com have been caught doing this with sites as lame as webcam poker or cardrooms on the Merge gaming network (which still serves US players).
I certainly understand the panic these places must feel in terms of paying their bills.  Right now almost 100% of all poker advertising income has ceased for the low limit poker sites that I own.  The big three cardrooms aren’t paying affiliates (yet) and once they do the player base won’t include US players which will reduce the amount of income for most US-based affiliates by anywhere from 75% to 95%.  I am  literally having trouble paying rent at the moment, but even so let’s have a little dignity and not mislead the very poker players we’ve always tried to help.  Ok?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Iowa Signs an Online Poker Study into Law

 

From Internet-Poker.co.uk - Iowa Online Poker Study Signed Into Law

Iowa is looking to see how an intrastate (Iowans playing other Iowans) online poker option will affect the state and its existing gambling enterprises.  I think in general these intrastate attempts will fail (the possible exception would be the very densely populated states like California).  Even a intra-country system where people in the US can only play other people in the US is a bad move in my opinion.  What definitely works are sites where people from anywhere in the world can sit down and play poker against each other.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yesterday’s PPA Protest in Washington D.C.

Yesterday (May 24, 2011) the Poker Player’s Alliance took Greg Raymer and dozens of other poker professionals to Washington to talk to senators, congressmen and really anyone who would listen about the issues on online poker and the recent crackdown by the Department of Justice on “Black Friday” April 15, 2011 against the three largest online poker rooms serving the United States.
The message of the PPA was one calling for regulation and taxation of online poker “now” and the message that many many Americans have been affected by the loss of either their income source or their hobby.
Did their trip have an impact?  None that is immediately apparent.  The machine that is going to license and regulate poker in the United States is already turning and at this point the PPA is like a child yelling at workers at an in-progress construction site to “keep building.”  “They will. They will.”
Forbes Blog Gets It Wrong RE: Doyle Brunson
Apparently Nathan Vardi wasn’t aware that Doyle has been distancing himself from Doyle’s Room since the April 15th action by the DoJ.  Some are saying he had inside knowledge there were going after targets closer to him but in any event he made it public he was severing ties with Doyle’s Room weeks ago.
Here’s the full Forbes Blog Entry

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Poker Players Alliance is in Washington DC Today

140px-PPA_logoEven though I don’t always (or lately often) agree with the direction and actions of the PPA I do support them today in Washington, especially on the heels of yesterdays astounding indictment of 10 more tiny poker and gambling sites (the most notable one being Doyle’s Room which Doyle Brunson distanced himself from a couple of weeks ago quite conveniently).
Please take the time today to go to the Poker Player Alliances TAKE ACTION page and lend support to the live people out in Washington DC today!

Keeping the Fear Alive

As far as most US online poker players are concerned, yesterday’s indictments had only a tiny effect at most.  By far the largest remaining online poker room that allows United States players is the Merge Network which includes Carbon Poker, RPM Poker, Lock Poker and several other skins.  Mysteriously they remain untouched.  Also surprisingly missing from recent persecution is Bodog, which had funds seized and was marked as “under investigation” in 2008.  So without making a big additional dent what the indictments have done is keep the spirit and feeling of “Black Friday” alive in the hearts of poker players.  Remind us that the government can step on us whenever it pleases regardless of how the public reacts (the govt. is supposed to work FOR the public right?) and also that it can ignore some pretty compelling legal issues against its cases as outlined in our recent post about Relentless Defense and their article on the legality and motivation of the Department of Justice’s actions on April 15, 2011.
According to what appears to be happening the land based casinos in Nevada will VERY soon be able to start licensing online poker for US citizens (but only against other US citizens). I have mixed feelings about this and will definitely go into it more as things develop, but mainly I don’t like the apparent corruption and synchronization between the government and these corporations.  Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, May 23, 2011

10 More Online Poker Rooms Indicted

bluff-logoFrom Bluff Magazine:

For those that thought the US crackdown on online poker would end at PokerStars, Full Tilt and the Cereus Poker Network, think again. Breaking news from Maryland indicates that three individuals affiliated with two online gaming companies are being indicted on charges of conducting an illegal gambling business and money laundering.

Monday the Department of Justice issued a statement announcing that Darren Wright and David Parchomchuk of BetEd and Ann Marie Puig of BMX Entertainment are being charged in two separate indictments. As part of the indictments, the Department of Justice seized 11 bank accounts located in Charlotte, North Carolina, Guam, Panama, Malta, Portugal, and the Netherlands as well as ten domain names. The domain names in question include a couple of recognizable sites, most notably DoylesRoom.com. Here is the complete list of domains seized:

Bookmaker.com, 2Betsdi.com, Funtimebingo.com. Goldenarchcasino.com, Truepoker.com, Betmaker.com, Betgrandesports.com, Doylesroom.com, Betehorse.com, and Beted.com.

The US Attorney for the District of Maryland, the IRS, and the Department of Homeland Security were all involved in building the case against online gaming software company ThrillX (DBA BetEd) and online payment processing company BMX Entertainment.

The investigation into the activities of the two companies included a sting operation in which the Department of Homeland Security set up a fake payment processing company called Linwood Payment Solutions. The company processed payments throughout 2009 both to and from the online poker sites. According to the affidavit, Linwood processed over $33 million in payments over the course of more than 300,000 transactions.

“It is illegal for internet gambling enterprises to do business in Maryland, regardless of where the website operator is located,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “We cannot allow foreign website operators to flout the law simply because their headquarters are based outside the country.”

Read the Full Story at Bluff Magazine

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Nevada Assembly Passes Online Poker Bill

But don’t worry it’s corrupt and evil just like you’d think.

The bill that was passed is a modification of a previous version.  The previous version would let Nevada residents play online poker regardless of federal regulation, but the version that actually passed was essentially just a machine to grant licenses as soon as the federal government explicitly legalizes (the non explicitly illegal) online poker.  So essentially this is just a bill to get Nevada’s hand out and ready to grab some cash when the time comes.

The bill also, and this is the evil part, requires that sites seeking a Nevada license must have a partnership with an existing Nevada land based casino that has been in good standing with the gaming commission for at least five years.  So payola to the land casinos is now legally enforced.  All that’s missing is a federal bill that will allow Nevada to license cardrooms.  I wonder how long it will take that to pop up?  I’m guessing within 30 days—any takers?

Relentless Defense Writes “U.S. Attorney’s Office on Tilt”

us dept of justiceThe lawyers from the Relentless Defense website write an excellent article regarding the DoJ action against PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and UltimateBet on April 15, 2011 debunking many charges and clarifying the legal situation and parallel the thoughts of I. Nelson Rose, an expert on Gambling and the Law (read his articles on www.gamblingandthelaw.com).

United States v. Scheinberg, et. al.

It has long been axiomatic that criminal statutes should be written in such a manner that there remains no ambiguity regarding the prohibited conduct.[1] After all, a person has a right to know exactly what conduct he may engage in without running afoul of power hungry prosecutors. While it has never been quite enough, it is this maxim that has occasionally restrained Federal prosecutors from using the strong-arm tactics of a Mafia Don. But not today.

Relying primarily on the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) (31 U.S.C. §5361, et. al.) on April 15, 2011, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Manhattan brazenly seized the websites of Full Tilt Poker, Poker Stars, and Absolute Poker and unsealed indictments against eleven individuals, including the founders of the poker sites and four bankers, charging them with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is seeking at least $3 billion in “civil money laundering penalties and forfeiture” from the poker sites and the defendants. Before moving on the poker sites, the U.S. Attorney’s Office secured restraining orders against at least 75 bank accounts allegedly used by the poker sites to process their payments.

For those who operated the sites and for those who played poker at their online tables, April 15th was characterized as “Black Friday.”

A criminal indictment is no small matter. The power to indict is the power to destroy. Those targeted today by the Federal government are unable to access much of their funds, making it difficult if not impossible for them to meet their obligations.  They stagger from the blows to their reputations, watch helplessly as their friends recoil from them, and awaken every morning to the crippling fear of incarceration. In our Federal courts the presumption of innocence is meaningless, for without a single conviction, these ruthless prosecutors have taken all these men have and threaten to confiscate whatever morsel they have so far missed. Even if exonerated, the damage done to these men is severe and very likely irreversible. Given this awesome power, one would hope that these prosecutors would not arbitrarily ruin the lives of their fellow citizens unless they were sure these individuals had violated a criminal statute.  Not so.

Read the rest of the article

Friday, May 20, 2011

PPA Continues “Glue Sniffing” Approach to Protecting Poker Players Rights.

Today I received (as I’m sure most people reading this blog have) a new email message from the Poker Players Alliance.  In it they say:

ppa_logoWe are now more than one month past Black Friday and there are still many concerns among poker players. Chief among those is the return of player funds. As recently as this week the PPA has communicated with Full Tilt Poker and shared with them player concerns about payouts. [ed. Seriously?  You shared with them that poker players have concerns about not receiving money from them?  You think they didn’t KNOW that?]

As the organization representing the interest of the players, we have shared with Full Tilt Poker the frustration of the players and have urged Full Tilt Poker to fulfill their promises to allow U.S. players to cash out their account balances. We are very encouraged by our communications with them. It is clear that progress is being made and that Full Tilt Poker remains committed to playing players as soon as possible. This is a top priority and we are confident that they are working toward a solution to return player funds.  [ed. Besides “talking to them” what else are you doing?  What specifically have you said to them and what specifically have they replied?  Talking to them is 100% meaningless they already have huge pressure from the players themselves and the international community to pay the money to US players—Is your talking doing ANYTHING?  No!]

It is important to note that Full Tilt Poker has always paid out their players even in the face of similar legal obstacles or factors not in their control, such as payment processor defaults and prior actions by the US government to seize US players' funds. The PPA will continue to communicate with Full Tilt Poker until the matter is resolved. [ed. OBVIOUSLY this situation is FAR different than previous processor fund grabs from the DoJ both in scope and in them going after the founders of the big three online poker rooms directly.  Previous money grabs didn’t force them out of the US market but THIS ONE DID which is a HUGE AND ONGOING financial hit]

The  PPA similarly calls on Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet to fulfill their  promises to allow U.S. players to cash out their account balances.  The  PPA will initiate a dialogue with Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet to  convey to them the frustration of our membership. [ed. Again do you think they don’t know that poker players with Cereus balances are frustrated and/or worried?  A far bigger deal to both Full Tilt and Cereus is that if they default on their responsibility to pay US players then they will lose their international players because, after all, who is going to put their money in a cardroom that doesn’t pay?  Large scale welching will never be tolerated.]

Thursday, May 19, 2011

CEO of Ceasars Pleads for Legal Online Poker

Fox News:

gary_lovemanWhat isn’t being said are the details of what kind of online poker game Gary Loveman and Caesars wants.  The answer to that question is most likely a game that where they control a large portion of the market themselves and a game where they are excluding offshore investors and players from participating.

Ultimately the devil will be in the details of whatever plan is enacted.  Harry Reid’s plan which included a 15 month (MINIMUM) blackout period was ridiculous yet many were for it.  What lame plan will we enable out of desperation instead of fighting the US crackdown legally based on the fact that online poker is not illegal and therefore the UIGEA does not apply to it (which further means that the laundering and other money manipulations were done because banks were frightened mob-style to not provide services to offshore poker providers)

I hope everyone keeps their eyes open and also remember if Fox News is for it there has to be a catch!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Full Tilt Poker Updates Status of US Player Withdrawals on Two Plus Two Forum

logo_fulltiltpokerThe short version is that they aren’t ready yet and there’s no set date for the next update. FTPDoug on the twoplustwo forum posted this update late Sunday May 15th (read the full version on twoplustwo here):

When are we getting our money back?

- Here's the official statement about where we currently stand on US withdrawals:

"Since April 15th and the days immediately following, Full Tilt Poker faced numerous challenges and hurdles to ensuring the smooth operation of its international business and the orderly return of US player funds. FTP has worked tirelessly to address these issues and has made significant progress on both fronts. 

FTP's international business operations are returning to normal while we focus on ensuring the safe and orderly return of US player deposits. We are absolutely committed to making sure that US players are refunded as soon as possible. We apologize for the delay and the fact that we underestimated the time it would take to work through these issues. We will update our US players when we have more specific information to provide."

And what's going to happen with our points?

- We will be opening up the FTP Store to US players again. All of the details haven't been worked out yet, but this is how you will be able to use your points. It's expected that everything in the store will be available for purchase except for bonuses and tickets. We will be sure to keep everyone updated when we know more, including when the store will re-open.

Where we're at in terms of reconciling US player accounts:

  • All promos have been paid out. That includes Take 2, Tournament Leaderboards, Cash Back, and the FTOPS Satellite Challenge payments.
  • T$ and Ticket conversion has started, but is a slower process and will continue through next week.
  • Pending rakeback payments should also happen next week, but only after all of the store purchases that need to be refunded have been refunded.
  • Iron Man medals have been distributed for April's play. Iron Man freeroll tickets will be converted to medals before all medals are converted to FTPs.
Other answers for US players:

1. what bout my cashout on April 15th that obviously hasn't come AND has not been put back into my account?!

- All cashouts that were never received (or checks that were received but couldn't be deposited) should be placed back into your Full Tilt account this coming week.

2. Can there be an "opt-out" for the medals/points conversions? Since it looks like there won't be a forced cash-out for relocating players, can we just keep our accounts intact?

- There is no opt-out for the medals conversion, but we won't be forcing anyone to use their points if they'd prefer waiting until they can play again to use them.

3. what about FTP store purchases made prior to April 15th, but weren't sent out yet and put on hold. Are we going to get FTPs back for those or are you going to start sending those out soon?

- We are going to cancel and give the FTPs (or medals) back for any store purchases that have not yet shipped.

4. you tell us we'll get our pending rakeback, but what about reimbursement for rakeback hits for store items that haven't and won't come?

- We will make sure any MGR hit is reversed on any store shipments that have to be cancelled. This is one of the reasons the final rakeback payments were delayed.

5. if we final tabled a FTOPS or MiniFTOPS event in the last series, will people in the United States still receive the jacket that they are supposed to get?

- Yes, these will still be sent out.

6. Posting to make sure you don't forget about PMI Doug. Also an update on that would be nice as last week you said people were still working on it.

- We have confirmed that the recurring charge will not happen again. As far as we can tell it didn't happen in April, so that's a good sign. There is still an ongoing investigation into exactly what happened and how.

7. just noticed the "my promotions" page doesn't work either. not sure how they can get the academy, iron man stuff right without these pages functioning.

- I'm looking into this.

Answers for non-US players:

8. Moneybookers?

- Moneybookers has been turned back on for some countries. Once it's confirmed everything is flowing smoothly more countries will be added.

9. CAN YOU PLEASE INCREASE THE MAX BUYIN FOR RUSH.

- There are no plans for this at the moment, sorry.

10. I think the tournament time shifts are definitely a good idea. However, you need to shift more than just a few of the majors. By shifting just these few tournaments it actually makes the tourney schedule considerably more inconvenient.

- What "normal" tournaments do you feel are missing from earlier times? Most US prime time tournaments have a Euro prime time equivalent already, so we didn't think shifting the entire schedule was necessary. If there are particular tournaments you think the Euro friendlier schedule is still missing, though, let us know and we can shift the later version or just add a new version of it at an earlier time.

11. Will this effect Iron Man freerolls as well

- Yeah, Iron Man freerolls will start a few hours earlier than they used to.

12. What’s going to happen to the Cash Back Bonus for those people who are planning to be in the US for the whole of the WSOP? Are FTP going to make a 1-time exception so we don't lose it?

- We'll figure something out to make sure you don't lose it.

13. I see the 150 seats to the WSOP has been removed. Are you planning on doing something like a 50 or 75 Gtd?

- No plans for that, no. The entire WSOP promotion has been scaled back, and that larger qualifier was one of the casualties.

14. Not sure if this has already been posted; but if you select this option [Auto-Close SNGs] & play a matrix, when 1 table closes the whole tourney shuts down?

- One of the small updates last week was to address this bug. It should work fine now, sorry about that.

15. Can you please give back some incentives for table starters

- I'll look into it again for sure.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Doyle Brunson is Leaving Doyle’s Room According to Gambling911

DoyleBrunson240_widecFriday May 13th, Gambling911 reported in an exclusive interview with Doyle Brunson that he was ending his endorsement deal with the DoylesRoom online poker room.  CardPlayer reported that on Saturday the 14th Doyle was giving “no comment” as he played in the $25,000 World Poker Tour championship at the Bellagio. 

Steve Gross who is still sponsored by DoylesRoom says that Doyle wants to leave because of potential legal ramifications but that he may return to the site when the legal status of online poker becomes more clear in the United States.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Caesars Hypocritical Stance on Online Poker

caesars-palaceHartley Henderson has written an interesting editorial on Caesars recent calls to for pro-online poker federal legislation even though they’ve partnered with one of the offshore baddies (888.com).

 

Read it here: Caesars Hypocritical Stance on Online Gambling is still Confusing

Friday, May 13, 2011

“The Motley Fool” Argues for an End to Online Poker Shutdowns

motley_foolA few weeks ago, I questioned the FBI's decision to shut down a handful of online poker websites. The FBI correctly interpreted the law -- but that law didn't make any sense. Why ban online gambling when its negative effects are demonstrably less harmful than other perfectly legal evils such as obesity, smoking, or medical bills?

More importantly, this debate is about which businesses should and shouldn't be regulated. I believe that things need regulation when they can cause widespread collateral damage on innocent bystanders. Most courts have taken that test a step further, judging the legality of a game based on whether it relies on skill or luck. Skill is good. It's capitalism. Luck is bad. It ruins people -- or so the thought goes. The current ban on online poker rests largely on this skill-vs.-luck premise.

A new paper by Thomas Miles and Steven Levitt (the latter of Freakonomics fame) challenges it. The two economists used data from the 32,000 players who participated in last year's World Series of Poker to show, convincingly, that successful poker players are indeed skillful folks.

Read the rest of the story @ the Motley Fool

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cereus Makes Deal with DoJ Moving Toward Returning US Player’s Funds.

 

The Associated Press reported that a deal has been struck between Absolute Poker (actually the Cereus Network including both AP and UB.com) and the US Department of Justice.

An online poker company facing severe legal troubles says it has made a deal with the Department of Justice toward repaying deposits from players.

Absolute says its agreement says it can work with third-party payment processors to facilitate return of the funds. It says it plans to collect the funds from the processors, then establish proper ways to repay the players.

Unlike Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker they will not be regaining their original domain names (UB.com and AbsolutePoker.com) as part of their deal with the DoJ and will continue to use their new domains. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Steven Levitt, author of “Freakonomics” says Poker is a Game of Skill not Luck

 

Levitt analyzed the 2010 WSOP (including not just the main event but the 57 sub events that led up to it) and determined that the skilled opponents won an average of $350 per tournament and the other less skilled players lost an average of $400.

This is just more real world scientific evidence of something all poker players already know, which is that the person with the edge eventually wins.

Read more here.

Absolute Poker and UB.com Fire Pros in Wake of Black Friday Indictments

Joe Sebok, Prahlad Friedman, Scott Ian and Trishelle Cannatella have all had their ties with the cardrooms severed.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The parent company of online poker websites Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet said Monday it laid off 11 sponsored poker professionals in the United States as two of its executives face charges of tricking banks into processing illegal gambling payments.

Antigua-based Blanca Games said it has severed ties to players including Joe Sebok, Prahlad Friedman, Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian and "Real World" reality star Trishelle Cannatella.

"This was a difficult task for Blanca's management, and we are very disappointed that we have been compelled to sever ties with our sponsored pros," the company said. "We are truly saddened that circumstances have dictated this course of action."

The company said the indictments unsealed April 15 mean the company can't pay players to play poker. The legal actions in federal court in New York targeted 11 executives and alleged associates of Absolute, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, including Scott Tom and Brent Beckley of Absolute.

The indictment said Tom and Beckley were stepbrothers who were principal decision-makers for Absolute.

Sebok, a former Ultimate Bet-sponsored professional who has cashed 16 times at the World Series of Poker since 2005, told The Associated Press that he learned about the layoffs a week ago. Sebok said he has been talking with upper managers at Ultimate Bet since the indictments became public.

"It was obvious that, regardless of what direction things went, that sponsored players in the USA were going to be unnecessary, or certainly far less necessary," Sebok told the AP. "It was pretty obvious, at least in my mind, that we would be let go."

Sebok, popular among card fans with nearly 1.1 million Twitter followers, said he's less concerned about his situation than with American players getting back funds deposited on the sites. He said he hoped it could get done despite hurdles.

"Everyone's way of life has just been uprooted," Sebok said. "(Players) are going to have to rethink how they plan on living, moving forward."

Sebok, a founder of popular poker news site PokerRoad.com where he maintains a blog, said he hasn't yet decided what he will do next.

Blanca announced last week that it significantly reduced its staff as it fully moved away from its U.S. business.

Full Tilt and PokerStars have announced agreements with the Department of Justice to return money to players, and PokerStars says its process has begun. But Absolute has said that while paying players is its top priority, it's reviewing the legal actions with its lawyers before moving ahead to make payments.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Online Poker in Nevada in the near future? Scott Matusow says yep…

 

From www.scottmatusow.com

Harrah’s/Ceasar’s will be the first to roll out interstate online poker. The UIGEA only covers ” funding thru a financial institution illegal gambling”.. Nevada has legal gambling, and regulates it. It will be up to each individual state as to whether or not to allow online poker in their state. As it stands now, only a handful of states did not allow FTP/PS and others to serve them, and specifically have laws forbidding it. See, PS, by trying to team up with The Wynn Hotel, was trying to get into Nevada, and around The UIGEA. They were prepared to put in a ton of money to get into the “interstate online poker game”.. My contacts tell me that this triggered Harry Reid and Ceasar’s to use their contacts to give the “go ahead” for The DOJ to essentially muscle out the offshore giants, PS, FTP, AND UB/AP, opening up the market for Caesar’s first, then others will follow. In time, PS will return to the USA Market, once Interstate Poker is flowing, and most states allow it. This will trigger Federal regulation to allow PS/FTP and others to enter back into The USA Market, eventually. However, they will have to be legally incorporated in The USA, accepting corporate liability along with all other corporate law, and abide by any and all regulation at the time they enter back in. Basically, what has happened here is Caesar’s/Harrah’s saw a big offshore site, Pokerstars, try to move into their market in Nevada, and basically used/paid off their “people” to ensure that would just not happen.

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Shutdown of Internet Poker Hurts Players

Las Vegas Journal Review

It's a standard recession-era tale of woe: A company closes and workers lose their income.

But there's little else conventional about what has happened to North Las Vegan Mike Ziethlow.

Ziethlow earns a living through Internet poker, playing for cash on websites such as PokerStars and FullTilt and selling poker-training software.

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