After the FBI shut down PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker on Black Friday, the entire online poker community was shocked. Initially, it was thought that with 11 people indicted, over 70 accounts under lockdown and the FBI involved that the sites would go down quietly into the night – however that is not to be the case. Absolute Poker and the government of Antigua are ready to take on the FBI with the help of the WTO.
Harold Lovell, the finance minister of Antigua, was quite incensed about the situation and issued a statement expressing his views on Black Friday. “I am concerned that at this point in time United States authorities continue to prosecute non-domestic suppliers of remote gaming services in clear contravention of international law,” he said, calling Black Friday an illegal closure of the US poker sites.
The case is based on the UIGEA and is sure to have a lot of support – perhaps from the PPA. It is about time that someone questioned the US government on what is one of the shadiest laws to be instituted. Perhaps the Antiguan government will ask questions as to why an act like the UIGEA – which was sure to face a lot of protest – was hidden in fine print in an another bill. The purpose of the UIGEA is also something that does not make sense.
Mark Mendel, who acts as the legal advisor for the Caribbean government also commented on the issue. “I don’t think there’s another country in the world that puts people in jail for engaging in trade that’s lawful under international law. It’s as if Antigua would put Americans in jail for selling pineapples.”
The case will question why US poker sites are being punished while American casinos are allowed to offer poker. Other questions that might be raised are: Why is poker in the US illegal but legal in land based casinos and Is it within international laws to allow the US such freedom.
Mendel showed strong support for the three US poker sites that were recently closed by the FBI authorities. “They’re not defrauding anybody. They’re not stealing money from anybody. They’re just trying to run their businesses,” he said.
Recent statistical reports reveal that players in Canada are exiting Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars and are moving on to playing at websites such as 888 poker and Party Poker. It appears that although these Canadian players were once big patrons of the top 3 US online poker sites recently closed by the FBI, the Black Friday incident has players all over the world exiting the Big 3.
In Canada, online poker is completely legitimate and there are plenty of websites that offer a range of exciting games of casino and poker games. As a result, Canadian poker players prefer to be safe rather than sorry and do not want to risk a threat from the FBI. It is possible that poker players in Canada are focusing more on retaining their money in their respective accounts and want to avoid playing at the now heavily monitored US poker sites.
While both Canadian and US online poker players have been forced to shift from renowned American poker sites like Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, the US poker rooms are focusing on winning back the trust of their Canadian players. Two poker sites that are now welcoming Canadian players after closing their doors to US players, are 888 Poker and Party Poker.
Both 888 Poker and Party Poker have always been legitimate in all the years of their operation even after losing a considerable amount of market shares to Poker Stars and Full Tilt Poker. A lot of Canadian players were drawn towards pro American poker websites like Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars that were supportive of expert Canadian players and this had initially led to lower revenues for both 888 Poker and Party Poker after they left the US market.
However, it appears that leaving the US market after the UIGEA was the right thing to do and today 888 Poker and Party Poker are benefitting from the player traffic exiting Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars.
The US Attorney for New York Southern District, Preet Bharar, has announced that two of the US online poker service providers recently seized by the FBI have struck a deal with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) facilitating the withdrawal of funds from the accounts of US players. US players will now have to use other online US poker sites to meet their needs.
Last Friday, commonly called “Black Friday” by the online poker gaming community, saw the indictment of 11 people associated with Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and Absolute Poker for criminal activities such as bank fraud and money laundering. The DOJ expects compensation of at least $3 million from the accused companies.
US poker players who were planning to withdraw their funds for the upcoming World Series of Poker (WSOP) 2011, which is scheduled to commence in Las Vegas on May 31, are in shock. The WSOP Main Event is scheduled to commence on July 7. According to Bharara, the online poker companies have been officially permitted to return players’ money. The attorney said that the poker companies are free to return players’ deposits since the DOJ has not frozen any individual gaming account.
According to the agreement, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker have been allowed to use their fulltiltpoker.com and pokerstars.com domains so that players can withdraw funds from their accounts. Although the domains were seized last week, they are not to be used for playing real money poker games, according to the agreement of Wednesday. Absolute Poker, however, has not come into any such agreement with the prosecutors.
The Poker Players’ Alliance, an association of poker players in Washington, is delighted with this agreement. Stating that the alliance has addressed over 65,000 letters, emails, and phone calls to the Congress, the DOJ, and the White House urging reimbursement of player deposits at Full Tilt, PokerStars, and Absolute Poker, PPA Executive Director John Pappas said that the government has heard the voice of the poker players. But the PPA considers this a small victory in the poker players’ fight for their rights to play online poker in the US.
The founders of Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and Pokerstars have been indicted by the FBI under the charges of severe money laundering. It is believed that information provided by Daniel Tzvetkoff, an Australian technological tycoon, led the FBI to converge on these sites. Now there are only a few reliable US poker sites left online.
As of now, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and Pokerstars are closed down and players from the US who visit these US poker sites are greeted by a message from the FBI. Poker fans all over the world have been keen on taking their money from a few of the giant poker websites because of a grave incident that took place last Friday.
The closure of the top poker sites in the industry has proved to be a huge let down for poker players in the U.S. American poker players are not only losing a thriving source of income but are also facing the probability that US online poker may be completely abolished in the States.
Daniel Tzvetkoff was arrested in April 2009 for his involvements in a money laundering scam which amounted to $450 million. Since it was information obtained from these online poker sites that reported Aussie internet tycoon Daniel Tzvetkoff to the FBI last year, it is possible that this is a case of tit for tat.
Tzvetkoff, who was soon declared bankrupt, was accused of having hidden $100 million by the authorities and was facing 75 years in prison. Although, he was denied bail initially, he was later let out without bail in June and walked away free fro no apparent reason. Now however, speculation is rife as to whether Tzvetkoff was responsible for turning the owners of these 3 sites.
On Friday, however, the FBI clamped down on the management of all the three poker sites and closed the websites. The defendants are up against 30 years in prison for the charges of money laundering and illegal gambling.
In a recent report by ‘The Nuts’, a monthly magazine dedicated to poker and the top poker players all over the world, Phil Ivey has been given the number one ranking for poker players in the month of March.
Phil Ivey, a high stakes poker professional, cashed in a total of $901,730 in winnings in March and according to the magazine he averages approximately a million every month.
Following close behind Ivey on the list are Seidel, Mercier and Dwan. While Seidel took the title of the National Heads-Up poker Championships bagging $750000, Mercier took home $30,000 in the same tournament.
Losing most of his money to Daniel Cates, Dwan approximately lost a million this year, which pushed him down to the 4th rank. Although Cates cashed in $740k this month, he is still considered to be a newbie and maintained rank 10. Cates still has not qualified for this.
Daniel Cates, who is a new comer to the list, is only at Number 10, even though he banked over $740k profit in the last 30 days. He is definitely one of the best online cash game players, but has not played in a WSOP yet. He will make his first entry into WSOP in two months and it is rather exciting to find out if his strategy will be as rewarding as it is for Ivey.
Joining Cates in the beginners list, into the best ten, is Vivek Rajkumar who has seen many victories over the last few days, reaching the final table twice in the WPT tournament. Cashing in $1.23 million, he placed 2nd and 4th. Rajkumar has made a little over $4 million.
The poker world is pleasantly surprised to see Gus Hansen featuring the list, who in the first three months of the year won so much money, which sidetracked all the players on the list who are bordering $4 million.
Hung-sheng Lin from China was recently declared the winner of the 2011 Macau Millions and took home a large prize amount of HK$400,000.
The Macau Millions poker competition bears a very different structure to normal poker tourneys, in which the players were required to compete in seven events, with a probability of receiving rewards for every event. Every day, the players had to play up to the top 7% of the field and each of them was promised a HK $8000 on pay day and a day 2 seat.
In this tournament, all of six players managed to make money more than once and even so, many of them thought that the structure of the game was very lucrative.
The Macau Million 2011 was a very successful poker tournament and had a turn out 1329 players. So far, in the history of poker tournaments in Asia, this is one of the biggest live poker tournaments that have taken place. The event saw a handful of well-known poker players on the field apart from the resident players, namely, Bryan Huang, Celina Lin, 2010 WSOP Champion Jonathan Duhamel and Raymond Wu.
On Day 2 of the tournament, a total of 93 players qualified and the number came down to 34 on the last day wherein, Hung-sheng Lin dominated the table as he was the chip leader. This gave him an edge over anybody else and led him to win the pot.
On the final day, the most fascinating turning point happened at the three handed play, when subsequent to the commencement of the pot by Huy Khiem from Germany, Lin made a three bet pre-flop having A-6. The former took the call and the series was A-3-T and a wager of 850,000 was made by Lin for the same. Nguyen decided to go all in and had a T-7 but Lin inevitably had the best cards and definitely had the edge over Renaud.