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US seizes domain names of online poker sites

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The US Department of Justice has seized the domain names of PokerStars.com, FullTiltPoker.com and AbsolutePoker.com. They have been skirting the law since the US made poker illegal in 2006, so the DOJ has clearly decided to go after them.

2+2 thread, short article.

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Not wanting to shit anyone up or anything, but some people here in Europeland are reporting that they can't withdraw from any of the sites. I think now might be a good time to relocate to party! If not at least buy a fucking TON of their shares.

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Just cleared out my Stars account, which has had a few hundred lying dormant for at least 6 months, but I can't get into my Full Tilt account, which has a similar amount in there. Haven't updated the software in aaaaages, and it just shuts down when it starts updating. I should be able to get to a computer with the newest version of the client tomorrow, though, so no big deal. I doubt our money is at any real long-term risk, but this is really a case of better safe than sorry. While you may get your money back in the future, I wouldn't be surprised if account funds were tied up for a period of time while the dust settles. Shit's crazy, though. Still trying to sift through the deafening noise online to work out exactly what's going on, and what the real implications of this are.

EDIT: Finally got into my Full Tilt account and cleaned it out. Had more in there than I thought I did, which is nice!

EDIT 2: Now Pokerstars and Full Tilt have released statements claiming that users on this side of the pond will be unaffected. Should be an interesting couple of days, as this story develops!

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It looks for all the world like full tilt has been taken off the internet everywhere. I just pulled this customer service email from 2+2:

Hi xxxxx,

As you have heard, the Alderney Gaming Control Commission (AGCC) has suspended Full Tilt Poker?s license with immediate effect, subject to a formal hearing late July.

Full Tilt is in ongoing discussions with the AGCC with the aim of rectifying the situation as soon as possible, therefore re-enabling real money play on the site.

Unfortunately, until this is resolved Full Tilt Poker is unable to facilitate any play, and this includes deposits and withdrawals.

Full Tilt Poker are deeply sorry for this inconvenience and will update you as and when there is further information available.

Thanks,

Katarzyna

Full Tilt Poker Black Card Support

I would be staying the hell away from any of the big US sites right now. Party poker have GOT to be a good investment on the stock market at the moment!

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Bit shocked that I may lose my money given how it looks like they haven't ringfenced player deposits! We shall see. Thankfully, it wasn't fortunes but still, what a complete farce this entire online poker situation is...

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Dude you kept money on there after black Friday? I thought they were still processing payments overseas.

I would hazard a guess that some of the euro-specific sites, Party or maybe sites attached to a reputable bookmaker like william hill, are probably safe bets since they're not exposed to the fuck-up in the U.S. But I would hazard that this will only serve to decrease the player pool even further, since a lot of people (me included) will be keeping their money away from online poker for certainly a little while to see how this whole thing develops.

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The Isle of Man gambling commission has come out and said that the status of Stars' licence will remain unchanged following the Full Tilt debacle, so there's a little more hope there but I'd agree that it's a worrying time for the future of the game. I had a couple of hundred bucks on Full Tilt so it could have been much worse. I'm assuming Tilt are essentially going to the wall as this whole situation seems to have come from them stalling on paying US players. There were no such problems with Stars, so I assume their players' funds are properly ringfenced.

That said, I've got around $4k on there at the moment so I think I'll play it safe and withdraw the majority of that while we see where the land lies. Just as I was giving very real consideration to going pro, too!

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Dude you kept money on there after black Friday? I thought they were still processing payments overseas.

I would hazard a guess that some of the euro-specific sites, Party or maybe sites attached to a reputable bookmaker like william hill, are probably safe bets since they're not exposed to the fuck-up in the U.S. But I would hazard that this will only serve to decrease the player pool even further, since a lot of people (me included) will be keeping their money away from online poker for certainly a little while to see how this whole thing develops.

Yeah I haven't been playing any poker much at all so just let it sit there. I'm kinda shocked that customer payments weren't ringfenced and entirely in liquid assets but there's nothing I can do about it all right now. We'll see what develops.

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I cashed out $2,500 (90% of my roll) the day after black Friday, received a single payment of £147 and have been waiting for the rest ever since. Two follow up emails in the meantime have both been met with a 'please bear with us' response. I'm kind of resigned to writing it off now.

I had also ran the bucks I left on up to $700. Kinda feel more silly about that in a weird way - what a waste of time!

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Funnily enough I was just reading about it and came on here. Wow. I am kinda shocked. Surely Lederer and Ferguson at the very least can never show their faces at another poker tournament again if this is what really comes out of it, especially if the players never get their funds back?

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Holy shit, have you seen the absolute mess that is full tilt's financial operation?

http://www.subjectpoker.com/2011/09/ftp-civil-amended/

I have to admit it's looking less and less likely that anyone will ever get their money back. And the full tilt brand is surely tarnished beyond repair now.

Blimey. I didn't realise big name players were involved to such an extent.

The FTP Insider Defendants are liable to the Government for a sum of money representing the amount of property, funds, or monetary instruments involved in the money laundering offenses described above, in an amount that is no less than $40,954,781.53 for Bitar; $41,856,010.92 million for Lederer; $25 million for Ferguson; and $11,706,323.96 million for Furst.

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I know that ferguson was heavily involved, maybe even in the technical side since I think he was one of the first wave of people to actually play poker online and saw its potential. He's got a phd in computer science I think so it's not too big of a leap. Of all the people to have been involved in fleecing people like this you wouldn't have said that Ferguson was involved. Kinda crazy. But then these guys think about money differently than normal people I suppose.

Phil Ivey has also been keeping an extremely low profile of late. I do rather wonder if he might pop up anywhere interesting in all this. Not done Dwan any good either.

Reading about how the business has been run is really fucking shocking. I'm certainly really unsure if I'll be depositing online anywhere in the immediate future, although Stars do seem to be coming out of this smelling of roses, comparitively.

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Not sure about Ivey (who, I have it on fairly good authority from an unnamed professional, was pulling in 1-2million a month from FTP as of a few years ago), but I genuinely believe Dwan was unaware of this. He's been posting extensively about it on 2+2 lately, and he's either an astonishingly good liar, or he's genuinely upset about it all. It wouldn't make much sense for him to be openly fielding questions about it if he had something to hide, anyway. It's insane, though. Just sheer, disgusting greed. The fucking thing would have been a license to print money even if they did it all above board. If the liquidators are brought in, there'll be a hell of a bidding war for their software, which, to their credit, is excellent.

A lot of people are keeping a very close eye on it over here too, as Full Tilt (in the guise of Pocket Kings) employ around 700 people in Dublin.

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Rumours floating around that FTP has been sold:

Tuesday morning while perusing the Internet for the top poker news stories of the day, we stumbled upon a piece on HighStakesDB that made us stop — "Full Tilt Poker Has Been Sold?"

According to HighStakesDB, TwoPlusTwo Pokercast host Adam Schwartz tweeted earlier on Tuesday that the sale of Full Tilt Poker was allegedly complete.

PokercastAdam Adam Schwartz Heard a rumor the the FTP sale to the French investors was done. <crosses fingers and obigitory ONETIMEDEALER> #justarumordontforget

Shortly thereafter, Schwartz posted in the FTP Discussion Thread on TwoPlusTwo.

"I was told by what I feel <and most of you would too btw> is a very reputable source. This person doesn't want me to say their name. Obviously I wouldn't have said it if someone sitting next to me in the $1/2 game told me. If some of you are unhappy that i tweeted it, what can I say, I felt it was worthy of some confidence."

Schwartz is backing this story though, saying he heard from a trusted source, and replying to a tweet asking if he thought it was true, by saying, "I would be very surprised if it wasn't. Someone very close to the negotiations would have had to lie to him."

Is it true? We don't know. We reached out to Full Tilt Poker and have heard nothing back (not that we were really holding our breath). As always, if we hear anything, you all will be the first to know.

Read more: http://www.pokernews.com/news/2011/09/the-nightly-turbo-was-full-tilt-sold-nevada-internet-poker-11114.htm

Pinch of salt required, but could be interesting.

Also, a Q&A from about a week ago with Tom Dwan. Worth a read:

PN According to your TwoPlusTwo post, your silence over the past few months was due to a non-disclosure agreement. Can you talk about your trip to Ireland at the end of April, why you were there, and how the NDA came about?

TD I was there because some friends were looking at investing in Full Tilt, and that later changed to buying, once they realized the situation. I would have liked to have been more involved than I was. Unfortunately, one of the things that was important to me was that I get to be in a room with the management of Full Tilt, because I had a bunch of bracelet bets against a bunch of the owners of Tilt, and got second in a spot that would have like more than doubled my net worth if you include the equity of the two and three-year bets. That’s pretty convincing evidence that I’m not gonna be a scumbag. If I was gonna be a scumbag, I would try to be one then.

PN Because you could have tried to buy a bracelet, is what you’re saying?

TD Right, yeah, I mean like that kind of stuff does happen. I’m not saying anything about the morals of the guy who won, maybe he would say no if I had offered twice first-place money, I don’t know. But the point is just that these guys have known me long enough, and I was trying to help, and it’s not common that you have a business that you’re trying to sell and the people that you’re trying to sell it to happen to know someone who, you know, knows a lot of the owners and knows the business well.

But anyway, long story short, I wasn’t involved in the discussion, I was just brought in under NDA (non-disclosure agreement), and so I never personally signed anything, so I have nothing at risk, but my friends do. So that’s why I really wasn’t able to say stuff.

PN After your trip there, why were you so adamant that players would get their money back? Were you told information that ultimately became false?

TD No, no, I mean, no. It’s just ridiculous that it wasn’t sold. I don’t know. After I’d been there and, you know, found out additional information and stuff, it seemed like a very viable business. It still seems like a much more viable business than a lot of the people that I’ve talk to seem to believe, a lot of people not affiliated with Tilt, who don’t know the numbers and things. But if you go back to May or June, I think it was very viable. I definitely thought the chances of it being sold were way over 80 percent.

PN The public is looking for the right people to blame. Obviously, we have four people listed now, but people want to know if any members of Team Full Tilt were aware of wrongdoings and/or participated in behind-the-scenes business actions?

TD The reason I’m happy the Justice Department did that is because it cleared me of the only stuff I wouldn’t be able to say [under the NDA] was the stuff that they just said. There was a lot of side things such as my take on who knew things, or my take on when people found out about the situation that I would have been able to say, and could have been for the last few months, but I would have been ignoring the elephant in the room.

So, to go to your question, I really believe that a lot of the owners, possibly all, possibly some, didn’t know as of late April. I’d rather not go into complete specifics for the reasoning behind this, but from the way it came up when talking to some of the owners, I really believe that they didn’t know. Plus there’s just the logical side that like any logical human being that owned a piece of Full Tilt, if they found out there was a shortfall on players’ funds, would have said, ‘What the hell are you doing? Stop processing U.S. deposits and probably stop allowing them to play on the site.”

PN Are you one of the approximately 23 individuals who own shares in FTP?

TD No. If I owned a piece of Full Tilt, I would not be doing these podcasts. I’d be sitting somewhere in, I don’t know, where’s a place that doesn’t have extradition?

PN Do you find it suspicious in any way that Phil Ivey was not named in this?

TD The four people that were named were the board members. I really don’t think, I really think I found out before Phil Ivey did, that there was a hole in the company. I really think that I found out before most of the owners did, and that’s because I had friends who were looking at buying it.

Obviously I could be wrong, there’s a chance that they’re all just, you know, bluffing me, but I’ve played poker with a lot of those guys, have pretty good reads on a lot of them. I could be wrong, I’m not sure, I mean obviously I was wrong in the past — but I really don’t think they knew.

PN When was the last time you spoke to either Howard Lederer, Ray Bitar, or Chris Ferguson? What was said during that conversation?

I don’t think I’ve talked to Chris since Black Friday, I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t. Ray, I sent a few texts to a few days after Black Friday cause I asked him if I could guarantee a million dollars and he said no. Then I did it anyway. I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t have said that, I feel kind of bad. Howard, to his credit, has been very open and picked up the phone and answered questions.

I haven’t caught him in a lie yet, and just like anyone who’s in a position that he’s in, I’ve obviously tried because it’s hard to trust someone in his position. There’s been times that he’s avoided a question or two, or maybe told a half truth, but it’s still pretty strong for him not to have lied yet. Now who knows, maybe he’s out there lying to everyone else and not me.

PN Do you worry about your own personal safety around disgruntled poker players? If not yours, do you think others including board members should fear for their safety?

TD I don’t think that they should need to, but sure, maybe there’s a chance that someone gets crazy or whatever, but even for the people on the board, they weren’t intending to be criminals, definitely [there are] people who are up to worse all the time. That’s not to sanction what they did, I think it’s very ridiculous what they did, and I do think that they should at least have civil actions taken against them, which clearly are going to happen. Obviously I’m not condoning anyone committing violence against any of those people.

PN What is your plan for the future as far as playing online?

TD [Jokingly] I think I’m just gonna get a proxy and play from the U.S., they sanctioned that, right? I don’t know, I guess I’m going to need to move. I don’t know. It just makes me angry.

PN Is there anything else you’d like to add?

TD I don’t know, I’m sure there would have been had you asked me at the start, but now I’m all tilted because I’ve been thinking about Full Tilt for the last 25 minutes. So I just want to go bang my head against the wall.

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I didn't know he was dodgy. Still, I don't care if Full Tilt is being purchased by the reanimated corpse of Colonel Gaddafi, if there's a chance I can get my $400 back then I'm happy.

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