Pokerstars Re-Entering US via New Jersey

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pokerstars to re-enter new jersey marketResorts Casino Hotel and The Rational Group, operator of PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site, have come to an agreement to provide online poker to the residents of New Jersey, the companies announced today. The agreement links the first casino to open in Atlantic City with the biggest online poker company in the world. “This is another blue chip partner for Resorts to complete a wonderful series of brands – Mohegan Sun, Margaritaville and now PokerStars,” said Morris Bailey, Resorts’ Company Chairman.

“Resorts is a fantastic partner for us and we are looking forward to launch PokerStars in the U.S. in association with the other quality brands Resorts has brought to Atlantic City,” said Mark Scheinberg, CEO of The Rational Group. “We are very happy to invest in New Jersey and we are excited about building a successful relationship with Resorts.” The agreement is pending approval by the New Jersey regulatory authorities.

Many online poker players have been hitting the poker forums and expressing their desire to now move to New Jersey. No word yet on whether Full Tilt Poker which is also owned and operated by The Rational Group will also be opening up to NJ poker players.

Full Tilt Poker Drops Red Pros

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Full Tilt Poker only just relaunched after its DOJ provoked closing in mid-2011, and already the recently beleagured poker site is showing sites of continued beleagurement. First the site traffic dropped off considerably after a well-publicized launch week. And now, the site has announced that it will be dropping its esteemed Red Pros from its official roster.

Prior to the April 11, 2011 closure of Full Tilt Poker, there were more than 200 pro players sponsored by the site, more than 160 of which were simply called Full Tilt Pros. Forteen of the 200+ were core Team Full Tilt members, like Howard Lederer and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson. About 34 players will called “Friend of Full Tilt” (including actors Mekhi Phifer and Don Cheadle, NFL Hall of Fam football player Emmitt Smith, and Jerry Yang, 2007 WSOP Champ. And 11 players are the Red Pros that this article speaks of. These are players culled from Team CardRunners and includes 6 “Team Limpers” as they were called and 4 members of the notorious Hendon Mob.

This past week, these former Red Pros (i.e. the Team Limpers and Hendon Mob-sters) all received an email from the new manager of Full Tilt’s Team Pro, Dustin Iannotti informing them that the newly relaunched FullTilt will not be continuing their sponsorship deals.

The newly streamlined Full Tilt Pro team dons the new name: The Professionals. And it currently features familiar names Viktor Blom, Tom Dwan and Gus Hansen.

Full Tilt Poker is now owned by the The Rational Group, which is also Poker Stars’ parent company.

Full Tilt Poker Launch Well Received

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This month, on Tuesday, November 6, 2012, while the U.S. reelected a president, the rest of the world got one of their favorite poker sites back. On that date, after 495 days off the scene, Full Tilt Poker returned. The formerly beleagured top poker site saved from oblivion by Poker Stars reopened its doors, accepting new players from (almost) everywhere (except France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Belgium and–most notably–the United States) and welcoming back players who still had an active Full Tilt Poker account (except from the United States) when Full Tilt Poker closed over a year ago.

The relaunch of Full Tilt Poker was greeted by the return of 400,000 of its previous players, with an average of 8,500 cash games taking place daily now at the site, at stakes of up to $400/$800. This also means former players at the site can log into their accounts to withdraw any funds they had locked up in that account as well. The site says it has $186 million to be returned to non-US players.

Aiming at the casual, recreational player more than the hard core professional (or amateur) trying to make a living (or a killing) online, the new Full Tilt Poker offers lower VIP rewards through its new Edge program than, say, Poker Stars’ VIP scheme, although FTP’s is currently offering a restricted 10-25% rakeback deal. PokerStars, incidentally, also doesn’t accept players from U.S.. Returning former Full Tilt Poker players may find that they haven’t been placed in the lowest, starter tier in the Edge program but rather, based on their play and certain promotions from prior to June 2011, they have been placed automatically into a higher VIP tier.

PokerStars Finalizes Deal to buy Full Tilt Poker

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PokerstarsReliable sources have informed Holdem Poker Chat that PokerStars has finalized a deal with The Department of Justice to take over the assets of Full Tilt Poker.  Details  remain elusive but the happy news for poker players is that any deal with the DoJ always had to include the return of funds stuck on the defunct Full Tilt Poker.

The waiting game has begun, but we have never been this close to players getting paid, and at long last there is real hope. To quote Sir Winston Churchill:  “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

UPDATE: It’s now official

AGCC Tells British Full Tilt Players to Call Police

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British online poker players who had funds tied up in Full Tilt Poker’s accounts when the site was closed down and its assets seized were told in an official statement released by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission that if they feel they’ve been the victim of any crime and / or if they think Full Tilt Poker still owes them money that is rightfully theirs, then they should file a report with their local police department.

Full Tilt Poker was closed as part of the events of Black Friday, April 15, 2011, when fellow sites Poker Stars and Absolute Poker were raided as well. Since that time, the AGCC has revoked Full Tilt Poker’s license and the site, at last count, owes dislodged players from the U.S., U.K. and Canada around $150,000,000. Poker Stars is the only one of the three sites closed on Black Friday that has paid back is dislodged players and reopened in its legal markets with its reputation intact. Not so for Full Tilt Poker or Absolute Poker, both of which are the subjects of numerous class action and civil lawsuits.

The AGCC has also advised Full Tilt Poker’s former players residing in Britain to take one of two other actions besides calling the police if they feel so compelled, those being to join or start a civil action against Full Tilt Poker or wait for Full Tilt to make good on its promise of releasing contact information for someone specific whom concerned players can contact.

Full Tilt Poker Going French?

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Full Tilt Poker may not be wiped off the face of the online poker map after all. A French business tycoon by the name of Bernard Tapie appears to be buying the beleaguered site, despite its financial and legal troubles.

Full Tilt Poker is the defendant in at least two class action lawsuits, one from U.S. complainants and one from Canadian complainants. It allegedly owes dislodged U.S. players funds to the tune of $390 million, only $60 million of which it actually possesses, according to statements in New York by federal prescutors. The site’s owners face criminal charges of money laundering and allegations by prosecutor Preet Bharara of being a Ponzi scheme. Most recently Full Tilt Poker had its gambling license revoked by the Alderney Gaming Commission in the British Isles. Yet Tapie is willing to take all this on.

Besides being a big business tycoon, Bernard Tapie is also a French actor, Addidas sportswear tycoon and former government minister. Laurent Tapie, managing director of Groupe Bernard Tapie, announced that the group has already signed an exclusive sale agreement with the Full Tilt Poker board of directors. The purchase includes both the company as well as all of its assets.

For its part, Full Tilt Poker announced that part of the sale agreement included plans to reimburse those U.S. players their seized funds. Full Tilt pointed out how Tapie bought Adidas in 1990 and then turned them around to profitability. Tapie plans to do the same thing with Full Tilt Poker.

Full Tilt Poker Purchase Agreement Signed

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In a stunning release, Full Tilt Poker has announced an agreement with Groupe Bernard Tapie which includes the sale of the company and all assets.

Laurent Tapie announced this morning that the long-rumored purchase by the investment group has finally been signed, but is predicated upon numerous conditions, which most notably includes a promising disposition with the United States Department of Justice. It is the hope of the investment group that this situation is resolved immediately.

The most notable piece of the agreement is one that is bound to shake the poker world: all US players will have funds reimbursed, in full. Between the fines due to the DoJ and the net amounts owed to US players, the rumored number has floated around in the $1 Billion area. While this is an incredibly large number, this group is definitely one with the capital to do so.

Keep in mind that this is a purchase agreement but it is by far a done deal. Next up the Groupe must meet with the US DoJ to get things in motion.

Stay tuned as more information is bound to break on this story.

Was Full Tilt Poker a Ponzi Scheme? Feds Say Yes

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As if Full Tilt Poker’s troubles weren’t huge enough, now there are allegations floating around that the online poker site was actually…get this: a Ponzi scheme. On September 20, 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors are claiming that Full Tilt Poker was a global Ponzi scheme and not a legitimate online poker company at all.

Poker Sites for US Players

Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice assert that the owners of Full Tilt Poker used the website to illegally take money out from player accounts and paid that money to themselves. The Justice Department alleges that Full Tilt Poker took $444 million out of player accounts and gave that money to the members of its board. While the company protested with assurances that player accounts were secure, when the feds seized FullTilt’s bank account they found it contained only $60 million. That leaves more than $380 million left to cover the funds players legitimately deposited or won and had left to use or withdraw. According to the lawsuit, one of Full Tilt Poker’s top execs, Raymond Bitar, currently under criminal indictment for these and related charges, received $41 million illegally from player accounts and celebrity poker pro Howard “The Professor Lederer allegedly received $42 million while fellow poker pro and one of the original founders and principal owners of Full Tilt Poker, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson supposedly got $25 million with another $60 million promised.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was the one making the accusation that the company was nothing more than a Ponzi scheme, not only defrauding the banks but cheating its own members as well.

Rafe Furst Sends Open Letter to Public About Full Tilt Poker

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While the ongoing allegations against Full Tilt Poker will continue for weeks at a minimum, and a few of the bigger names in poker who are involved will continue to have negative reports come out about them (Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, and Rafe Furst); one player has decided to post an open letter to the public about the situation.  While most people would assume that a letter posted to the public about this situation would simply be towards players from the site, and possibly friends and family to apologize; but Rafe Furst decided to tell everyone to not jump to conclusions right away.

The letter is another interesting topic to come out regarding Full Tilt Poker, and one that should grab the attention of quite a few people in the poker world.  Furst is one of the Full Tilt Poker pro’s, and also a board of director for the “poker site”, which has been dubbed as a Ponzi scheme this past week.  He decided to post a letter to speak about the allegations against him, as well as give people as much information as he possibly can without actually giving information on the pending litigation.

This letter essentially stated that people should give it time to work out before they do decide to jump to conclusions, as everyone is innocent until proven guilty.  He also stated that he is struggling to deal with the “potshots” that have been taken at him on social networks to this point when he can’t defend himself.  He closed the letter by thanking everyone who remained close and supportive of his situation, and said, “may you never have to endure something like this, but if you do, I hope you have friends as good as mine.”

Fursts’ statements most likely won’t help people who still have money locked up Full Tilt Poker feel any better, nor will it make them any less upset than they are now.  The idea behind his letter is to basically state that things aren’t always what they seem, and that he believes this situation could be misjudged.  It’s tough to imagine that all of this was made up out of the blue, but only time will really tell what the situation at Full Tilt Poker with big names like Ray Bitar, Lederer, Ferguson, and Furst really is.

Hendon Mob Drops Full Tilt

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The latest fallout of the Full Tilt Poker debacle has taken shape in the form of a farewell from one of the disgraced site’s formerly most fond supporters. The Hendon Mob, the first group of players from Europe to sign on as Full Tilt Poker Pros, is no longer.

At first following Black Friday, the Hendon Mob came out in a June statement as standing behind Full Tilt Poker despite being “shocked and dismayed” by the site’s closure. But on Monday, September 19, 2011, the Hendon Mob released a new statement on their website that announced their decision to sever all ties with Full Tilt Poker.

One of the UK’s most popular poker portals, the Hendon Mob website was a major affiliate of Full Tilt Poker, signing up many real money players through their site, including players from America who still have funds tied up in FullTilt accounts despite being unable to use those funds to play poker on the site.

In their recent statement, the Hendon Mob expressed interest in finding new sponsorship from a different online poker site, preferably one that benefits the Hendon Mob’s fan base and users of its active poker forum.

The Hendon Mob is Barry Boatman, Ross Boatman, Joe Beevers and Ram Vaswani.

Full Tilt Poker was shut down following the events of Black Friday when the U.S. Department of Justice seized the websites’ .com URL and froze U.S. player accounts. Since then, Full Tilt Poker has not reimbursed dislodged U.S. players the funds held in their accounts. At least two class action lawsuits, one in the U.S. and another in Canada, are currently underway.