DO NOT PLAY ONLINE POKER! (For the moment at least)


Here is an article that I found cruising around that irritated me:

The future of online poker: life after Full Tilt

There’s only been a few times in my life where something completely remote to my loved ones and surroundings has left me extremely disappointed. To name a couple; Futurama being cancelled, the Rabbitohs being kicked out of the NRL and when my favourite online poker site ceased to exist.

Halfway through the last week of both June and the 2010-11 Financial Year, Full Tilt Poker (FTP) closed its doors – probably for good.

I appreciate that it seems somewhat frivolous in mourning the demise of what was ultimately just another online poker website, but bear with me.

Since midway through 2009, I’ve been a regular user on FTP.

By no means a high roller, but there were times when winning a small amount of money came at just the perfect time for me; If I wasn’t getting enough hours at work, or I had to splash some money out on an out of the ordinary cost (Football registration fees, a new Xbox…the important things), I could usually rely on poker to supplement my income, at least a little bit.

Through the past two and a half years I made a tidy profit of around a few thousand.

Not enough to retire on but hey, a broke uni student can use all the help they can get.

Particularly in the summer months when there was no university, I found little greater pleasure than getting up on Monday/Tuesday mornings, going for a run and then coming home to watch the NFL and play poker.

Of course, I had a life outside of my computer but typically, I’d schedule my social life around these two mornings because a) I love the NFL and b) I loved Full Tilt Poker.

It wasn’t the first online poker website I’d sampled and thanks to the U.S Attorney General, it won’t be the last. But for whatever reason, FTP was my drink of choice in the poker world.

I’m not sure if it was the glitzy display and interface, the array of my favourite players that played exclusively on FTP (Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey and Gus Hansen to name a few) or the fact that I had the option to choose a cute little turtle as my online avatar when I played.

My girlfriend seemed to love the feature that you could change its little face depending on your mood (…so did I).

Whatever the reason, with Full Tilt out of the equation I’ll either have to return to pastures less-greener at PokerStars, or sample something new and hope it takes my interest.

For the non-poker savvy reading this, you could compare Stars and Tilt to the Old Firm in the SPL. You either choose Celtic or Rangers, that’s it.

I could go out and try PartyPoker (Hearts) or Cake (Motherwell) but I can guarantee the lack of tournaments and big money prize pools in comparison to the two big boys would leave me and the hundreds of thousands of other FTP users looking for something different in no time.

But enough about me – I was fortunate enough to not get caught in the eye of the storm which currently sees thousands of players unable to access the money they still had in their Full Tilt accounts.

One of my friends worked hard enough to grind his bankroll up from $10 to $500…which he now can’t get to because the site has been shut down.

You would like to think that there’s a solution around the corner, and that all the players that have been affected will be able to claim the money that is rightfully theirs.

There are plenty of people who look to online poker as their primary or only source of income. If their account remains frozen out they’ll be without a livelihood for an indefinite amount of time.

A prime example is Phil Ivey, who is the most popular and probably best poker player in the world. He has over $5Million USD tied up in his account which he can’t access.

He, along with dozens of other pros, is in the process of filing a class-action suit against the owners of FTP.

In addition, Ivey boycotted this year’s World Series of Poker as a result. Surely a situation that nobody ever saw coming.

There is no denying the amount of luck involved in poker is significant. Of course, you can play a hand perfectly and lose. You can play a hand downright horribly and win.

That’s the nature of the beast – but this doesn’t put poker in the same category as slot machines, roulette or any other table game. There is a skill factor to poker that cannot be understated.

That’s the reason that professional poker players exist, but professional roulette players don’t. And despite what your average problem gambler or pensioner at the local RSL will tell you, professional poker machine players are also a non-entity.

Poker pro Mike Matusow once sited Ivey as evidence that poker is a game of skill. A man who has won 8 World Series of Poker Bracelets (Usually outlasting fields of hundreds or thousands of players) as well as making it into the top 25 at the WSOP Main Event four times in the last nine years. The size of the playing field in each of those tournaments? 631 in 2002, 839 in 2003, 5,619 in 2005 and 6,494 in 2009.

All of this at the age of 35. Such feats cannot be put down to sheer luck (if you want the other side of the coin, Google an online player who plays under the name ‘tomastomast’)

But who’s to blame for all of this? The short answer is the United States government, who have made online poker a target for all of their ire in the past few months.

Online gambling is illegal in the United States and despite it being impossible to argue that poker is a game of skill, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Preet Bharara. has taken it upon himself to be the white knight against the evil empire of online gaming.

For whatever reason, Bharara, a man who had been commended in the past for his handlings of an array of white collar crimes in the United States, turned his attention to the poker world.

Known as “Black Friday” to poker players, the case of United States v. Scheinberg was officially launched on the 15th of April, 2011. Drawing upon an archaic anti-gaming statute in New York State Law, PokerStars and Full Tilt were both closed down temporarily (along with other websites of less significance).

Both were later reopened but for many, the writing was on the wall as players nervously began to withdraw their hard-earned bankrolls.

Last week, a gambling commission in Britain’s Channel Islands visited the offices of Pocket Kings Ltd.; the Dublin based software developers for Full Tilt, and made it clear that the gaming license for FTP had been revoked for the time being.

All software support, marketing and maintenance for the site were revoked, and as a result, Full Tilt Poker ceases to exist at this point in time.

So yesterday evening when I sat down and played PokerStars for the first time in three years, and dealt with an unfriendly and cluttered interface, a less responsive table setup and an overall product that just felt sloppy and half-baked, all I and thousands of others, can do, is hope that when an appeal on behalf of FTP to regain its gaming license takes place on July 26, that all parties involved can reach an amicable solution.


Let’s be clear: NO ONE should ever play on Full Tilt Poker again, even if it comes back. The company was quite obviously shoddily run and all in all, nothing but a scam.Why?

Because Full Tilt cannot pay their players. Even though the US government acted in an asshole like manner, much as they usually do, could the DOJ have actually been right?

No, I’m not talking about online poker being illegal or not, I’m talking about the fact that Full Tilt has been totally exposed in their inability to pay players. That makes it a scam, not matter if you won, lost, loved it, hated it, whatever. If an online site cannot pay the players back their bankrolls that the site has been entrusted with, then it simply proves the US governments case.

Plain and simple.

And for the time being, I am recommending to all players that I have talked to and coached, past, present, and future, to stay away from online poker until it is properly regulated. ALL online poker. Your money is not safe.

For any questions, concerns, or opinions,  please email Chris Wilcox at
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