Posts Tagged ‘Black friday’

Top Five Poker Players of 2012

by | Published: Friday, January 4th, 2013

2012 was truly an incredible year for poker. After Black Friday tarnished 2011 for the Poker world it was good to see Poker get back into the headlines for the right reasons in 2012. The Big One For One Drop tournament, the incredible final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event and the reopening of Full Tilt Poker were some of the biggest stories of the year. However, the question remains who were the best poker players in 2012? We have come up with a list of five players who we believe were a cut above the rest in 2012.

5. Dan Smith

Dan Smith truly had a breakout year in 2012. He started the year by defeating a star-studded field in the Aussie Millions $100,000 Challenge which was only a sign of things to come for the popular American. Smith went on to dominate the Monte-Carlo Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final and had a consistent World Series of Poker without winning a bracelet. He continued his winning ways by finishing the year with two more European Poker Tour victories. Smith truly had an incredible year and the only thing stopping him from being higher on this list was his failure to win a World Series of Poker bracelet.

4. Marvin Rettenmaier

Marvin Rettenmaier made history in 2012 by becoming the first player in history to win back to back World Poker Tour events. Rettenmaier scored the biggest win of his career by taking home $1,196,858 in the World Poker Tour $25,000 Championship and backed it up with victory in the WPT Merit Cyprus Classic $4,000 Main Event. As well as a deep run in the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event he finished the year with victory at the European Poker Tour Prague Event. The incredible achievement of winning back to back tournaments of such size puts Rettenmaier just above Smith on our list.

3. Phil Hellmuth

Phil Hellmuth had a terrific 2011 but he took his game to a whole new level in 2012. The ‘Poker Brat’ finally won his elusive 12th World Series of Poker bracelet in the $2,500 Seven Card Razz event and went on to record good results in the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E and $1 million Big One For One Drop events. But Hellmuth wasn’t finished there. He headed across the Atlantic for the World Series of Poker Europe and absolutely dominated the field in the Main Event to take home his 13th bracelet and become the first player to win the main event of both World Series events. It was a truly banner year for a player who seems to keep on getting better.

2. Antonio Esfandiari

With one fell swoop Antonio Esfandiari became the most successful player in the history of tournament poker. The Big One For One Drop tournament was the biggest in poker history with a $1 million buy-in and featured a small but tough field of professional poker players and wealthy businessmen. Esfandiari showed just how good he really is by winning the tournament and taking home the incredible prize of $ 18,346,673. That wasn’t his only successes in 2012 as “The Magician” went on to claim another World Series of Poker bracelet at the WSOP Europe. While Esfandiari didn’t win his as many tournaments as those below him on the list his victory in the Big One For One Drop tournament will go down as one of the most memorable in poker history and makes him worthy of this spot on the list.

1. Greg Merson

Greg Merson dominated the 2012 World Series of Poker like no other. He started the Series by winning his first bracelet as well as the biggest payday in his tournament poker career. Having already had a successful World Series Merson entered the Main Event despite stating that he doesn’t like tournament poker. Merson not only went on to claim the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event World Championship he also stole the title of World Series of Poker Player of the Year away from Hellmuth. Amazingly, just over a year ago Merson was battling a drug addiction that appeared as though it might derail not only his poker career but his life. Thankfully, Merson got his career and his life back on track and is an extremely deserving winner of our player of the year award.

Could 2013 be your year?

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Full Tilt Cops Canadian Class Action

by | Published: Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Canadian poker players have become the latest group to launch an attack on Full Tilt Poker with a class action lawsuit filed earlier this week.

Jeff Orenstein, attorney for the Consumer Law Group, submitted the suit in the Superior Court of Quebec.

He represents an unspecified number of Canadian players who’s funds remain inaccessible following the websites closure on ‘black Friday’.

According to the CLG website a statement reads, “the class action lawsuit involves Full Tilt Poker’s illegal freezing of customers’ money that is kept in their internet poker player’s accounts.”

In estimates made by Orenstein there could be as much as $10 million worth of Canadian funds still tied up by the U.S. Department of Justice’s freezing of Full Tilt accounts.

In Canada itself there are currently no restrictions on online poker however because Full Tilt was based in the USA they, like players from all over the world, were also caught up in the fiasco.

The website was licensed under the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) with that approval being suspended in late June.

A hearing will get underway this week in regards to reinstating or permanently revoking their license however even if Full Tilt were to re-surface it’s still highly unlikely funds would be immediately available.

Reports have been flooding in about the dire financial position the website was in even before black Friday and after paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars in overdue fees to the AGCC that has only got worse.

The following names are listed on the lawsuit filed  by Orenstein:

Tiltware LLC, Pocket Kings Ltd., Filco Ltd., Ranson Ltd., Mail Media Ltd., owners Ray Bitar and Nelson Burtnick and some members of Team Full Tilt, which includes Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Phil Ivey, Andy Bloch, Erick Lindgren, Jennifer Harman, Allen Cunningham, Erik Seidel and Mike Matusow.

This isn’t the first time a class action has been fired towards Full Tilt with the Southern District of New York fielding a case on behalf of American players.

That being said the attorneys of record for that case, Jeff Ifrah and David, later withdrew it on the basis that, ““continued representation of [the] defendants would create unreasonable financial burden to our law firm.”

Latest estimates of Full Tilt’s total bill to players is that the number could be as high as $150 million with very little capacity to pay any of it back.

Fellow website Pokerstars which was caught up in black Friday as well had similar debts but was able to honour players cash out requests.

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Full Tilt Offers Explanation Of Sorts

by | Published: Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Full Tilt has offered its biggest explanation to date as to why hundreds of millions of dollars in player funds appear to have disappeared or which are at the very least inaccessible.

As the second biggest Poker company on the planet up until its crash the payout scheme for Full Tilt was always going to be a long and complicated process.

The questions players wanted answered though is would the money be paid back at all?

The one page statement designed to try and answer some of those questions was released by executives earlier this week.

Far from making things more simple though, if anything it has only further confused and already hard to follow situation.

Much of the report was also designed to shift as much of the blame as possible onto the US Government and surprise tactics they used.

“As is obvious from the events that have transpired since April 15th, Full Tilt Poker was not prepared for the far-reaching, US government enforcement effort of Black Friday,” it read.

“Full Tilt Poker never anticipated that the DOJ would proceed as it did by seizing our global domain name and shutting down the site worldwide.”

The major issue though is that back in April players were told a deal had been brokered with the Justice Department which would allow money to flow back to players with large accounts.

Since then it’s become apparent that Full Tilt can’t pay back the money, breaking what is effectively the number one rule in the world of poker.

Once again they blame it on the US Government and the fact that over the course of a few years they seized up to $115 million of players funds from US based banks.

They also said they were ripped off by one of their payment processers which pocketed up to $42 million in a funnelling scam.

“Until April 15th, Full Tilt Poker had always covered these losses so that no player was ever affected…unprecedented issues with some of its third-party processors that greatly contributed to its financial problems,” it said.

Further complications coming out of the investigation at the moment include the statement from one payment processer that Full Tilt had shortfalls in excess of $50 million.

Bradley Franzen says that in early 2011 there was a $60 million black hole caused by Full Tilt crediting players accounts without being able to retrieve the funds from their bank accounts.

This only adds to the desperation Full Tilt has in trying to find outside investors willing to fill their financial gap.

They claim that there are six interested investment firms which they have so far spoke to from their base in Dublin.

They also say they have hired a new financial advisor to “assist us in our search for an infusion of cash as well as a new management team to restore the site and repay players.”

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US Debt Crisis Could Save Online Poker

by | Published: Friday, August 19th, 2011

With the current economic turmoil being felt across the United States and indeed most of the world it’s hard to fathom the situation being good for anyone, least of all online poker.

It’s an industry that relies on customers having a free flowing bank account and sufficient funds to healthily support their hobby, or in some cases their career.

However while it may seem like all doom and gloom on Wall Street and around the Whitehouse, this situation could actually be beneficial for online poker.

At the end of the day the situation is that President Obama needs to find more money, a lot more money.

In fact over the coming decade the United States government needs to find almost one and a half trillion in new revenue or spending cuts.

That’s a monumental ask at the best of times, let alone given that they are also trying to do so without levies to income tax thresholds.

That’s where online poker comes in, it gives the Government a unique opportunity to create a whole new revenue stream that as yet doesn’t exist.

The plan quite simply would be to legalise the industry while their own measure son it which give them a much needed boost of funds.

It seems like the logical outcome but once again it will come down to the Republicans and the Democrats putting aside their party lines to do what’s best for the country.

As yet it’s something that hasn’t happened but according to Senate majority leader Harry Reid there is hope yet.

The Nevada based senator gave an optimistic outlook when questioned about the future of online poker saying that it, “will get done”.

It’s given a renewed sense of confidence to the Poker Players Alliance with executive director John Pappas saying they will at least take the first step.

“I think there’s a very good chance we’re going to get in the discussion,” he said.

“Whether it makes it into the final recommendation is the question.”

As it stands the Government is working under the Budget Control Act of 2011, the agreement reached earlier in the month which raised the debt ceiling level allowing the country to accrue even more debt.

The fact is that the Government has a massive task on their hands and the legalisation of online poker one way or another actually isn’t an area of high importance.

They need to find a number of ways to increase to decrease the debt in the treasury and online poker will simply be one aspect of sweeping reforms.

That’s probably a good thing for the poker industry as it certainly limits the amount of blunt opposition it can receive due to the fact doing nothing on the broader scope is no longer an option.

The tough thing here though is the fact that the committee needs to come to a majority agreement.

That’s not going to be easy given the six and six makeup between republicans and democrats.

It would be almost impossible to see a single member breaking party lines due to the fact the selected members were chosen due to the fierce loyalty to their leader.

That means it would need to be a complete bipartisan agreement, history tells us that’s far from a smooth process.

In the end then these are the people who will likely decide the fate of online poker.

The 12 members are Democratic Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.), Max Baucus (Mont.) and John F. Kerry (Mass.), Republican Sens. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.), Democratic Reps. James Clyburn (S.C.), Xavier Becerra (Calif.) and Chris Van Hollen (Md.), and Republican Reps. Dave Camp (Mich.), Jeb Hensarling (Texas) and Fred Upton (Mich.).

These politicians have been far from supportive of online poker in the past, but that’s no the be all and end all given the different context that things will be viewed through now.

That being said it looks like some individuals could be more crucial than others.

“The people holding the cards I think will be Kyl and Reid,” Pappas said.

“Even though Reid is not on the commission, he appointed people who are. If Kyl and Reid can compromise on a deal to include online poker, I think it can happen. It’s handing Congress revenue without raising taxes, which is exactly what they’re looking for.”

Kyl wrote on his website earlier in 2011 that he would be willing to debate the legalisation of online poker providing that certain areas of the unlawful gambling enforcement act were strengthened.

Will these developments may be a cause for optimism among the online poker world they are far from being giant steps in the right direction.

As yet the committee doesn’t even has a start date and there’s no way to tell how high on the priority list they determine this proposal to be.

It’s a complex issue given the government would also need to work out how they would tax the industry, how much money they’d make form the industry and how they would go about implementing and enforcing their controls.

The Poker Players Alliance is attempting to cease this new opportunity as best they can with calls for players to petition all the members of the committee as well as their own political representatives.


“If we’re able to get a lot of PPA members tuned up to contact members of the committee and say to include online poker, I think when it comes up in their discussions that it will be much more palatable to them than if they go into this without any understanding that there are a bunch of people out there who care about this,” Pappas said.

“We don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket but, if we’re looking at something between now and the end of the year, this is our best shot.”

While any decision on online poker websites hosted in the United States will still be months away, that doesn’t mean you need to wait that long to start playing yourself.

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Months On – Black Friday’s Effects On Live Poker

by | Published: Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Black Friday was always going to have an effect not just on online poker, but across live tournaments as well.

At first it was feared live tournaments in the USA would slump drastically in numbers due to players being scared off from poker altogether.

Throw into the mix as well the fact many players no longer had the usual qualification avenues to win their way into the big tournaments.

In reality though the actual participation at many live tournaments across the country have remained relatively unchanged.

There’s the usual fluctuations up and down but on the whole there are no drastic differences between now and this time last year.

Sam Trickett is an English professional who’s played on the WSOP for four years.

The 25 year old is a specialist when it comes to live play no limit hold’em and this year he’s already notched up around $3 million.

He says there’s a noticeable difference in the tournaments this year, it’s not in the actual numbers but more the type of people that are there.

He says there’s plenty of people coughing up their own cash to get into the games either because they can’t play online or because they’ve already made the switch to live play.

“A lot of people did choose to take a shot and play off their own bankroll and only get staked if it didn’t go well,” Trickett said.

“It was good to see all these online players turning up who maybe aren’t as strong at certain elements of the game, and the fields were still big weren’t they?

“On a personal level I entered a few tournaments where I knew I wasn’t a favourite over the field, just to get experience and try to win a bracelet.”

Indeed there’s been a flood of new poker players in 2011 with names many people have never heard of making big inroads in some of the top tournaments.

Making it even harder to separate the pack is the fact the usual sponsors logo’s and patches are either different or no existent altogether.

Pokerstar’s patches, once a mainstream, are now rare and Fulltilt patches barely exist at all.

Not all online poker websites have disappeared though, in fact Trickett himself still sports the insignia of Titan Poker Titan Poker, a website we personally promote as one of the safest and best.

“It’s obviously a sign that the whole online poker market isn’t just Full Tilt and Pokerstars, even though that was the majority,” he says.

“Full Tilt flooded their pro market in the past and I can’t see how what they did is profitable, whereas the likes of Titan having smaller teams with well-respected players works well. Hopefully the Italian market opening up for cash games will help with sponsorship by improving liquidity for sites.”

He said that smaller teams such as Titan Poker Titan Poker could grow though with many European based players now left in limbo after Black Friday.

He says many have been offered new sponsorships but there may not be a big enough share to go around.

“I’m not sure how much that can offer you in the long-term,” he says, “[but] It’s probably a good idea to get on TV as much as possible at the moment.

“Still, we relied a lot on the patch deals before, so I’m not sure what direction we’re going to go with that now. Even though the industry isn’t dependent on Full Tilt to stay alive it is quite a big thing if they end up folding.”

For Trickett on the playing front the next big test will come in the Epic Poker League in Las Vegas.

He says this is a good example of an event where non-poker related companies are starting to come on board with financial backing.

He says it’s a trend that will only continue as the popularity of poker continues to blossom.

“I think it’s only a matter of time before non poker-related businesses get involved in poker, whether its energy drinks or sunglasses who start investing in sponsorships. Considering how big poker’s got, with thousands of people still playing online, it’s beginning to look like a good way for people to advertise.”

He says investment of this nature can only be a good thing for himself and poker in general as it will open it up to an even wider audience and in turn create further marketing and advertising opportunities.

That’s not completely discounting the importance of online poker websites though, Trickett says their survival is still directly tied to the growth of the game.

“The last thing you want to see is companies folding and not paying out players, as that will lead to players becoming paranoid and concerned that other companies might start folding as well,” he said.

“It doesn’t look good, in general, if Full Tilt ends up not paying its players does it?”

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