Archive for the ‘PokerStars’ Category

PokerStars Cuts US Pros

September 13th, 2011 by Kyle Silverberg

Sensible Decision

Black Friday altered the online poker world in the US, and I am sure that most people would agree that that is a huge understatement. And as we have all come to know, PokerStars was one of the very first sites targeted in the seizures made by the US Department of Justice. And even though it has become significantly more difficult to make a live playing cash games online, casinos still offer players a chance to keep up their income. And for those that played live to begin with, the Black Friday events will probably have affected you very minimally.

Cash players are still making money with all sorts of sites out there, whether legal online in the US or not. But because of Black Friday three members of PokerStars:USA are going to have to look for a new sponsor. Even though PokerStars has not made an official statement, Tom McEvoy, Bill Chen, and Dennis Phillips look to be ousted from the PokerStars team. It is no surprise that PokerStars is cutting players because they have clearly been missing out on a lot of revenue thanks to them having to close service to the US.

Since no statement has been issued the reason for the release of these three players the speculation is abundant. A thought is that these three players are not as flashy as some of the others on PokerStars:USA. Another thought is that because these pros are on the US team they are obviously going to mostly be appealing to American players, the only problem with that is that the American market is nonexistent for PokerStars.

Week In Review

September 12th, 2011 by Kyle Silverberg

PokerStars Bank Account Freed

The US Department of Justice has released one of the bank accounts that was seized on Black Friday. PokerStars will obviously take this as good news as they are able to recover all assets in the Luxembourg Bank Account in the name of Sphene International. One requirement that was made by the government was that the account must maintain a minimum balance of $5.5 million. It is no surprise that PokerStars is receiving decent treatment from the government because they were so cooperative straight from the beginning.

Indiana Gaming Commission Cracking Down

In the wake of Black Friday a lot of players were forced to give up the game they love. Not being able to play online games of poker, there was no where to turn for most players. What then developed were house games where friends and other local poker enthusiasts would get together for small cash games. The Indiana Gaming Commission made it clear that these house games were perfectly legal, and they actually supported them. Their issue comes when these small cash games turn into large poker operations.

The cross-over from legal to illegal is when the host of the game begins collecting rake. As long as no rake is collected, these poker games are still ok. Some operations become larger than most people anticipate but the IGC has seized multiple electronic casino games and has made several arrests relating to this subject.

Looking Forward

In the coming days and weeks a big story we will be waiting to hear about is how Merge is going to fare in the US. It is rumored that the network may be facing heat similar to the type of trouble that faced PokerStars, Full Tilt, UB, and Absolute Poker. At this point this story is mostly rumors, but as facts come in we will pass the information along.

PokerStars Bank Account Freed

September 9th, 2011 by Kyle Silverberg

Department of Justice Releases Account

For the first time in a long time PokerStars is getting a bit of good news this week. A long while after Black Friday the US Department of Justice is releasing one of the bank accounts that were seized. There is a requirement however, and that is that the account must always have a balance of at least $5.5 million. The number of $5.5 million is what the government decided was the amount from US players. At this point there has been no word of exactly how much money was originally in the account but at this point PokerStars is happy just to have one of their accounts back.

This move from the DOJ allows the prominent poker room to recover anything held in their account in a Luxembourg bank in the name of Sphene International, a former payment processor for PokerStars. SI still has many other accounts still frozen and under government scrutiny.

The official statement went like this:

“WHEREAS, the Government and PokerStars have reached an agreement pursuant to which PokerStars consents to the restraint of $5.5 million in the Account for the pendency of the above captioned case, and the Government agrees that it does not object to PokerStars’ use of the remaining funds in that account.”

We will see if this is the beginning of a string of actions from the Department of Justice and it is probably good for PokerStars that they have been compliant during the entirety of this investigation. That is going to help them in the long run.

Poker Pros Moving Elsewhere

August 1st, 2011 by Kyle Silverberg

Out of Options

With the dismal state of online poker in the US being as it is, many poker pros have run out of viable options for playing the game they love. Since the United States currently offers very limited options when it comes to online poker, pros are looking to Canada and Europe as potential safe havens. Daniel Negreanu is one of these vagabonds, but luckily for him he is a Canadian native and it is just a move back home. Unlike the US, Canada has experienced no sanctions as far as online poker is concerned. Like the pilgrims that migrated to North America in search of religious freedom, these players are migrating to Canada and Europe in order to have the freedom of playing online poker.

Negreanu is making the move because he wishes to participate in the World Championship of Online Poker that is sponsored by Pokerstars. And because of its sponsor, the WCOP is not able to be offered to players residing in the states. Negreanu announced his decision to move back to Canada via his Twitter page. He tweeted, “Can’t wait for WCOOP’s on in September! I’ll either be playing from TO or somewhere in Europe.”

Poker players that were at one point mostly based in the US have already been moving out and that will not be stopped until there is some type of resolution to the legality of online poker in our country. Until then, players will migrate to much easier to deal with countries, as far as online poker is concerned.

Week In Review

July 4th, 2011 by Kyle Silverberg

Full Tilt News

This past week has been pretty eventful for Full Tilt. First they find out that their online poker license has been suspended and that they are essentially going to cease to exist. Then they go on to find out that they are going to need to sell a majority of the ownership in the company in order to pay back the $150 million that Full Tilt owes to its former players. And to top it all off, there has been a civil complaint filed in a New York court. The complaint basically lays blame on the owners and operators of Full Tilt as well as spelling out the fact that they still owe their former players a very large sum of money.

As you can clearly see, it has not been too freat of a week for Full Tilt. But bas news for them means good news for the thousands of players who have been out of money since the middle of April. The deal that will help create the money that is owed to players is not finished quite yet, but is expected to be completed in the next couple weeks. And to make things clear; Full Tilt is no longer an operating poker site. Not only are it’s services relinquished in the United States, they are also unable to be a working poker room anywhere else in the world.

Other News

This news about Full Tilt is great and will make a lot of former players very happy. But with that news, we realize that half of the indicted sites still have shown almost no sign of paying players back. Ultimate Bet and Absolute have remained silent on the topic for some time now. You would think that with the breaking of this Full Tilt story that the other sites would offer some sort of insight as to how they plan on paying players back.

Even PokerStars released a statement in lue of the most recent Full Tilt news. They announced that their payouts are still running smoothly as well as the day to day operations of the site, for those that are still able to play online. Seeing a site that is on top of their game really makes sites like Absolute and UB look awful.

Stay tuned for more Black Friday news and of course if there is any new happenings with payouts you will be sure to hear it here.

No More Tournament Fees At Party Poker

July 4th, 2011 by Kyle Silverberg

Unexpected Change

Party Poker is one of those sites that has been in the online poker industry for as long as most of us can remember. It is a great site and in my opinion is a bit underrated. But to make them look even better, they recently announced that they would be doing away with all fees for multi-table tournaments.

The reason that this move comes as being so unexpected is because Party Poker earns a lot of their money from the entry fee that comes with tournaments. But the hope is that this promotion will bring players in to the site and keep them there after it has ended. It is a sign of a poker site who is on the move upwards, trying to become the poker room giant that it once was.

Party Poker ranked third in the industry as far as cash games go last year. So it is safe to say that they are not in dire straights and are most definitely not desperate for players, and with the pending collapse of Full Tilt, Party Poker will have the second highest cash game traffic behind only PokerStars. They are quite a ways behind PokerStars though. To put it in perspective, Party Poker averages about 4000 cash players every seven days, in that same amount of time, PokerStars brings in about 21,000 people. Party Poker has a long way until it is on the level of PokerStars, but promotions like this are going to help increase their traffic.

PokerStars’ Most Recent Announcements

June 30th, 2011 by Kyle Silverberg

Press Release

In a press release, PokerStars made an announcement regarding its current operations and player refunds. The press release read like this:

“In light of today’s news that Alderney Gambling Control Commission has suspended Full Tilt Poker’s license, PokerStars wishes to assure our customers that their funds are completely safe and that our operations are completely unaffected. The Isle of Man Gaming Commission today reaffirmed that PokerStars’ worldwide licensing is intact and that our operations are in full compliance with all of its requirements. PokerStars’ online operations continue as normal and all funds in players’ accounts are safe and available for withdrawal as usual with no delays.

PokerStars also remains in full compliance with our licenses in other jurisdictions where we are regulated, including France, Italy and Estonia.

As provided under our licensing, PokerStars has always maintained the integrity and security of our players’ funds, by keeping all such funds in segregated bank accounts, always available for immediate withdrawal.

Since the actions of US Department of Justice in April, we have returned more than $120 million to US players and continue to act upon requests as they are received. Players outside the US have not been affected and all cash-outs have been processed without delays. Further, PokerStars entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice which expressly confirmed the company’s ability to operate outside the US.

We will continue to operate as a responsible corporate citizen and are committed to serving the needs of our customers in complete compliance with our regulatory requirements.”

It is nice to hear that PokerStars is reaffirming its followers and former player’s thoughts in these unsure times. It is also nice to see that they continue to pay their players back and are and have been positive since the end of April. As we see the collapse of one of the remaining three sites, it is now a mystery as to how Absolute and Ultimate Bet will respond to this situation…that is if they even offer a response.

Week In Review

June 27th, 2011 by Kyle Silverberg

Pro-Poker Bills

In the last week we saw the development and introduction of a pro-poker bill from Representative Joe Barton from Texas. Many are saying that his bill, which would leave up to each and every state whether to legalize online poker, is the best poker bill to come out so far. It is receiving support from all different spectrums and if any bill was going to give the average player some hope, this one is it.

It is about time we start seeing these kind of bills because poker has reached a critical point in America. Seemingly everyone is against poker, or at least that’s how the law looks at it, but in reality we find that a lot of members of our government are completely behind the idea of legalized and regulated poker. It makes so much sense in the grand scheme of things. For one, it makes the general population happy because as we can clearly see, most people tend to take the side of online poker. The government will see large benefits because of the revenue that they could pull in thanks to taxes on the games. And another reason these bills make so much sense is because the game of poker has been working on the internet for some time and this whole time it is running unregulated, and an unregulated market is a scary market.

WSOP Still Running Strong

The World Series of Poker, which has been going on for almost a month now, is seeing some of the best ratings in its history. Coming into the tournament almost everyone would have bet money that this year’s attendance would be greatly affected by the events of “Black Friday.” But showing the same fortitude that it showed last year when everyone thought attendance would be low because of the economic status we found ourselves in, the WSOP is running as strong as it ever has.

Attendances are as high as they ever have been and in most cases, this year’s tournaments are breaking attendance records that were set last year. Event organizers are glad to see that yet again poker proves to be able to stand up to almost any type of hardship. Even if that hardship is the closing down of the 4 biggest sites around.

No Cash Out News

As is customary, we check in with the cash out situation as it stands currently. Unfortunately the news is the same as it has been for a while now. PokerStars is the only site of the big four that have been returning player funds. UB, Absolute, and Full Tilt all remain at the starting gate as far as refunds go. There has been very little in the way of press releases and public statements from who I am coining to be the “Unreliable three.” It is a much different story than the final weeks of April and May when those sites were sending out emails of assurance and all that jazz. The truth of the matter is that a majority of the players that lost money due to these sites are coming to grips with the fact that they will probably never see any of that money ever again.

No Cash Out News

June 25th, 2011 by Kyle Silverberg

PokerStars Still Working Alone

It has been over 2 months since Black Friday now and the news remains the same. PokerStars is the only site out of the big 4 that has begun making payments to their former players. Full Tilt, Ultimate Bet, and Absolute Poker still assure their ex-players that paying them back is their first priority, but with the lack of any tangible results, it is becoming harder to believe that their priorities are how they say they are.

On Black Friday a very large number of people were not only put out of work, but they were also banned from having access to the money that they worked incredibly hard to earn. We have talked about how this is completely unfair numerous times, but having to wait over 2 months for what is rightfully yours is even more outrageous. It would even be a bit better if PokerStars had not started returning money because then it would not seem like the other 3 sites were doing nothing. It is confusing to most, myself included, as to why one site was able to resolve their money situation in a little over a week, and the other three have seemingly made no progress in a little over 8 weeks.

When Will It End?

The question that still lingers on the top of everyone’s minds is, when will it end? When will the players receive their money or at least hear a final completed solution?

Since mid April a majority of the online poker community has been on an emotional roller coaster. Not only are they not receiving their money, but they are also no really receiving any real information as to what has happened to their money. Full Tilt, Absolute, and UB should really keep players informed and provide them with all the relevant info they can. As always we hope to hear a good ending to a story that has been nothing but frustrating for so many.


Why Some Sites Still Operate in the US

June 15th, 2011 by Kyle Silverberg

Individual States

With indictments like we have seen on April 15th and May 23rd, most people are left wondering how any sites are able to keep operating in the US. And the answer is that unless the state you reside in has explicit laws against online poker, you really are not breaking any laws. What the government is really cracking down on is money laundering and bank fraud. Of course in order to pay players, some sites were left with no other option than to commit these crimes which is really an unfair situation to be put in. But because of these state laws, this is why you will see certain sites pulling out of only a select number of states. Some of the states that are toughest on online poker are New York and obviously Maryland. In fact, PokerStars, Full Tilt, UB, and Absolute were all being prosecuted from New York and the May 23rd indictments were from Maryland.

But because our government is and never really has been pro-poker, they are using these criminal cases to scare poker players and their owners. The government is making it look like the every day poker player is some kind of thief, when really all they are doing is playing the game they love. As this story has been broken open in the past 2 months, it seems as if we can already see some people in the government warming up to the idea of online poker, seeing it as a revenue opportunity as a opposed to the devil’s game.

Looking Good

Some sites, just to protect themselves pull out of certain states even though they are facing no immediate threat. The reason behind this is to make it look like they are trying to abide by the law and decrease their chances of being sought out by the government. Nowadays in the poker industry it is like the floor is lava and anywhere and anything poker sites do, they are in danger of facing some serious criminal penalties. It should not be like that which is why so many people have recently been pushing so hard to make our government at least assess the idea of legalized poker. Even though no official rulings have been made yet, a lot of progress has.

The future is bright for the online poker industry in the US, because right now it cannot get much worse.