Text Link Ads


Showing posts with label absolute poker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label absolute poker. Show all posts

Monday, June 20, 2011

Online Poker to be Legalized by Tuesday! Obama Defies Gravity and Becomes Defacto Protector of Sector 2814

if there isn’t any real news we can make it up as good as everyone else!

barack-obama-green-lanternStill nothing much is actually NEW.  The excitement out on the street is that the bill co-sponsored by Texas representative Joe Barton could arrive as early as the end of this week, which the various news blogs and so on have morphed to “WILL ARRIVE THIS WEEK AND INSTANTLY REGULATE ONLINE POKER” which is not going to happen.  The fact of the matter is that the Nevada land casinos are already hard at work (don’t worry how I KNOW THAT land casinos, get back to it) on putting together the regulation infrastructure necessary for handle online poker.  If they work REALLY fast the soonest that’s going to happen is early 2012 so it really doesn’t matter much how fast the Federal legalization comes as long as it happens near the time Nevada casinos are ready to cash in on it.

Here’s the actual rundown so much as I know (and I’ve had my ear to many a door as of late):

Full Tilt Still Has Not Paid US Players: In fact, they haven’t even credited the accounts of most US players with the funds that they will eventually be paid.  An article on Subject: Poker on June 16th talks about a 60 million dollar shortfall they created by essentially giving players “loans” when the players deposited money on the site but Full Tilt didn’t have a payment processor to debit their accounts.  Since Black Friday this has sort of sealed the loss for Full Tilt and may be part of the accounting difficulties they are experiencing which of course are in addition that they just plain don’t have the money to pay US players.

The Joe Barton Poker Bill: He’s drafting it and they keep quoting him as saying online poker’s been legal but the bank funding has not, which is incorrect.  The DoJ clearly thinks that online poker is illegal (regardless of the truth) and the funding woes of all online poker sites trying to service the United States are due to the UIGEA which only applies if online poker is illegal.  So basically the DoJ is the bully which is saying they think it’s [online poker] illegal and if you’d like to try your luck funding it you might just disappear in a bleeping hole.  Obviously none of the other crimes like providing bank executive bonuses, funding player accounts with golf balls or providing hot oil massages to bank employees would be necessary at all if the banks weren’t 100% convinced by the DoJ that online poker is 100% illegal and therefore under the enforcement of the UIGEA in the first place.

Phew!  Having said that, online poker is actually legal, just no one wants to risk their life or freedom to prove that especially when state and federal bills which will effectively legalize the industry are so close.

UB.com and AbsolutePoker (Cereus Network) Payouts:  Honestly I think we’re all going to probably have to give up on this one.  The amount of business they are doing post Black Friday just isn’t going to be sufficient to generate money to pay back the US customers they owe.  Take a trip over to Poker Scout and check it out for yourself.  Maybe in the long run this is the best thing.  Cereus made some horrible decisions and they still refused to fix their infrastructure including customer support and fraud prevention.  I’m not saying they were actively cheating anyone in 2011, but they weren’t doing as much as they should have to be responsive to customers and to protecting their online interests.  Full Tilt Poker is also guilty of many of these issues especially with regard to poor customer service.  I sincerely hope that the next wave of online poker uses PokerStars as a model.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

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 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

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.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Professor I. Nelson Rose Talks About Current Black Friday DOJ Attacks on Online Poker


Federal Poker Indictments: Revisiting Prohibition

The timing is suspicious.

March saw Nevada regulators approving a partnership between Caesars and 888, and Wynn announcing a joint venture with PokerStars.  Now comes the indictments, three-billion-dollar civil suit and seizures of domain names by the feds.  Wynn immediately cancelled his plans.  Players were panicked.

Which was, of course, the goal.

If the allegations are true, the operators brought this on themselves, by lying and bribing bank officials. Of course, the prosecutors have the problem of convincing a jury that there is bank fraud when the "victims" are tricked into making millions of dollars.

And will this be the end of Internet poker?  Did Prohibition end drinking?

Prohibition created modern organized crime, by outlawing alcoholic beverages.  When people want something and it is illegal, organizations will arise to fill the demand.  How much more so when the activity, online poker, is not even clearly illegal?

Every action by the U.S. federal government makes it more difficult for it to go after the next operator.  The UIGEA, rammed through by the failed politician Bill Frist (R.-TN), can be seen as an anti-consumer-protection law, because it scared all of the publicly traded gaming companies out of the U.S. market.  Then prosecutors went after payment processors, making it more difficult for players to find legitimate ways to send their money to betting sites.

Now the feds have seized .com domain names and charged operators with bank fraud.  So, gaming sites are switching to .eu and .uk, and cutting off all physical contact with the U.S.  Even the present American operators can’t be extradited, so what hope is there for the DoJ to bring future foreign operators here to stand trial?

The Grand Jury has been meeting for at least a year.  The criminal indictment against PokerStars, Full Tilt, Absolute and their founders, was unsealed by the U.S. Attorney for New York on April 15, but bore a date-stamp of March 10.  So why now?

Besides the Caesars-888 and Wynn-PokerStars agreements, the Nevada Assembly Judiciary Committee recently approved a bill to regulate online poker.  And the District of Columbia actually made it legal.

The DoJ has been waging a war of intimidation against Internet gambling for years, successfully scaring players, operators, payment processors and affiliates into abandoning the American market.  Lacking the two essentials to any prosecution – a statute that clearly makes the activity illegal and a defendant physically present in the U.S. – the feds have announced showy legal action against easy targets about every other year.

Online poker is not an easy target, since a federal Court of Appeal ruled the Wire Act is limited to bets on sports events.  And tricking financial institutions into processing poker payments seems a technicality, especially since the banks made millions without paying a penny in fines.

But getting a bank to agree to process gambling transactions in return for a $10 million investment is an easier case, if true.  I can understand approaching a small bank – so small that the officer and part-owner who allegedly arranged the deal, asked for, and received, only $20,000 for his “bonus.”  But why would you do this in Utah, of all states?

There are lots of interesting nuggets in the legal papers.  The DoJ claims that one-third of the billions of dollars players deposited went to the operators through the rake.  That number seems high, but if true, it explains why everyone wants to operate an online poker room, with few expenses and no chance of losing to a lucky gambler.

Most of the activities cited occurred after the passage of the UIGEA.  This is a subtle acknowledgment that operators who left the U.S. in 2006 have nothing to fear.

Even if there was a bribe, the feds are still going to have to prove that the poker was illegal.  Since the Wire Act won’t work, prosecutors used 18 U.S.C. 1955, which makes it a federal felony if five or more people do more than $2,000 in business a day in violation of state gambling laws.  The indictment relies on "New York Penal Law 225 and 225.05 and the laws of other states." There is a “thank you” to the Washington State Gambling Commission, indicating that the DoJ is probably going to piggyback on that state’s 2006 law outlawing all Internet gambling, as well.

The Washington statute was upheld by the State Supreme Court.  Still, there are problems.  State laws are presumed not to reach beyond their borders.  And even if Internet poker is illegal in that state, it is quite a leap to seize domain names for the entire country and threaten bank accounts in places like Panama.

The only state with a law better than Washington’s is Nevada.  But basing this attack on Internet poker on Nevada law would look like it was motivated by the landbased casinos.  After all, who are the big winners here?

We will probably see the first attacks on the indictments from the two defendants who were arrested, the Utah banker and the Nevada payment processor who allegedly bribed him, when they fight extradition to New York.  And the poker operators will undoubtedly fight to get their .com names back for the rest of the world.

The operators will never stand trial.  The only U.S. extradition treaty I have found that covers illegal gambling is with Hong Kong.  Calling it bank fraud won’t work, since the defendants can show their local courts that it is based on gambling.  And it is fundamental to all extraditions that the activity be illegal in both countries.  No nation will extradite an individual to be tried for the very activity that that nation licenses.

There may not even be a settlement.  The DoJ accepted $405 million from PartyGaming and one of its founders and $100 million from Neteller and its founders.  But those companies had already left the U.S. gaming markets.  The DoJ will insist on a guilty plea to something, which might kill the operators’ chances of getting licensed when American laws change.  And no amount of money will buy them the right to open up again without a change in the law.  So what would these operators get from a settlement, other than not having to be worried about getting arrested changing planes?

It will be interesting to watch the fallout.  There are a lot of famous American poker players and others who are associated with the indicted operators.  They should be getting their affairs in order.

Meanwhile, like a raid by Elliot Ness on breweries and speakeasies during Prohibition, there are now wonderful opportunities for new operators to fill the vacuum.  Unless, of course, Americans are actually going to stop playing poker on the Internet.


© Copyright 2011, I. Nelson Rose, Encino, California.  All rights reserved worldwide.  Gambling and the Law® is a registered trademark of Professor I. Nelson Rose, www.GamblingAndTheLaw.com.

Friday, April 15, 2011

US Federal Government Lowers the HAMMER on Top 3 Online Poker Rooms

 

Full Tilt, Pokerstars and Absolute Poker up on charges

The United States Department of Justice created an indictment against the top 3 USA online poker rooms accusing them of fraud, money laundering and more.  This could effectively and immediately shut down the still thriving US online poker scene and rattle a nest of hornets that the DOJ may wish they hadn’t touched.

The full text of the indictments are here:

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/April11/scheinbergetalindictmentpr.pdf

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Poker Table Ratings Uncovers Cereus Flaw and Then Makes Everyone Misunderstand What it Means

Ok, I’m out of the loop so I missed this issue that was bought up in May and then which circled sites like wildfire.  UltimateBet and Absolute Poker were using a simple custom encoding instead of industry standard SSL encryption (the kind your browser uses where you are visiting https:// sites like a bank, etc.)  The flaw is definitely something that should have been fixed (and was fixed a few weeks ago) but the explanation given by Poker Table Ratings (their article here) gave the impression that the flaw could easily allow an attacker to compromise your account, see your hole cards, etc.
Well… Yes.  IF you are playing UltimateBet on an unsecured and unencrypted wireless connection AND someone has a computer with a special wireless card that lets them sniff packets AND if they figured out the encoding they could see information sent from you to the cardroom (like your username and password) and from the cardroom to you (like your hole cards) AND they are sitting right next to you.
One minor issue—who plays poker (or does anything financial at all) on an unsecured unencrypted wireless connection?  ALMOST NO ONE.  Most online players, I’d dare say, play poker either from a single computer, or from a home wired network or from an encrypted home wireless network.  And instead of acknowledging that this is basically safe they say even wired networks could be compromised which goes beyond silly because it means that someone has to target YOU and then get a wired connection to your wired network which means plugging an RJ 45 into your switch/router/whatever which is probably right there sitting next to you and THEN they have to have a special network card that allows packet sniffing, the software to use that card and the ability to crack the encoding, and then somehow use that while you are playing online poker.  So… yes if your sister is a master computer hacker and lives with you there could have been an issue.  For everyone else in the world there’s NO way your account, hole cards, etc are going to be compromised.
Question:  If someone knows about this bug and sees my account playing poker can they hack me and see my hole cards?
Answer: Not unless they know who you are in real life and break the physical security at your actual physical network to intercept your information.  If they only know your poker Screen Name there is no way for them to target you.  They must actually get in close physical proximity to you in the real world.
Of course UltimateBet and Absolute Poker are now using industry standard SSL encryption so even this “in-person” attacks on your account won’t work anymore, but my point is that this was never a threat to most players at these sites and only a mild threat to the worst-case-scenario people who were logging in and playing real-money poker or an unknown and unsecured wireless network.  For those people, even though this issue has been fixed I sincerely recommend they stop doing that.  And stop accessing their bank and any other financial or sensitive information.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Absolutely the Worst Part 2

Two bits of news. First, Absolute Poker is now saying that an inside programmer "hacked the system" and was, in fact, able to see the hole cards in the tournament in question. The story is being carried on MSNBC here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21381022/. They have promised to "return all appropriate funds" to players and to possibly pursue a lawsuit or criminal charges against the employee in question.

To me this brings up a couple things. First, how can you return appropriate funds to players? The existence of this card-seeing cheater in the tournament totally invalidates the entire tournament. It's not good enough to simply bump everyone up one pay place and redistribute the money. Everyone who played in the tournament deserves at the very minimum a refund.

Next, what is this about pursuing criminal charges? Last time I checked it wasn't for companies to make that call. Criminal charges should be filed by the authorities with appropriate jurisdiction in this case and a complete investigation should be done into Absolute Poker to see what complicity existed in both this employee's access (if in fact the "geek" employee they mention was to blame) and in their total inability or unwillingness to come clean to an obvious case of cheating which only takes a very quick perusal of the hand history to see. Their initial statements in light of the statement today does not exactly make them look squeeky clean.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Absolutely the Worst

Unless you have been hiding under a tree lately you have heard about the recent scandal involving Absolute Poker. The condensed version is that a player named POTRIPPER won a large buy-in tournament at Absolute Poker by making essentially perfect play (the play you would make if you could see all hole cards) every hand for 126 hands in a row. This includes the most talked about hand where he called a massive all-in river bet with a ten high to beat a 9 high flush draw bluff.

Imagine a very skilled poker player who can, through observation, odds and so on, make plays that are perfect plays about 70% of the time. Over the various actions in a hand let's say that he can do an entire hand perfectly about half the time. To do 32 hands perfectly in a row for this skilled player would be about a 1 in 4 billion shot. To do 64 hands perfectly would be about a 16 QUADRILLION (16,000,000,000,000,000,000) to 1 shot. What this person did was about 250 followed by 36 0's to 1 or in short impossible. I have a far better chance of getting a foot massage from Jessica Alba, and believe me that's saying something.

To compound this issue, Absolute is not being very forthright regarding the situation and their reputation may now be permanently marred.

More information on the controversy can be found at:

Pocket Fives
Adanthar's Blog
High Stakes Report