Absolute Poker and UB Drop Poker Pros

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Earlier today Absolute Poker and UB decided to let go of all their sponsored pros. Joe Sebok who was an outspoken front man for the company immediately posted to his blog claiming among other things “The pro’s monies are still tied up on the site as well, so on that level we are all in the same situation as the general poker public.” The poker community at large, especially those on the 2+2 poker forums, have little sympathy for Sebok who used his status with the company and the poker community to make players believe that Absolute Poker and UB were safe places to play. Below is the Press release in it’s entirety.


Absolute Poker and UB Part Ways with Poker Pros to Focus on Non-U.S. Market
St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda (May 9, 2011) — Blanca Games Inc. (“Blanca”), operator of online poker rooms Absolute Poker and UB, issued the following statement today:

“Recently, Absolute Poker and UB ceased their U.S.-facing operations due to legal developments in the United States. To ensure the on-going viability of the business, it has been necessary to downsize certain aspects of Absolute Poker’s and UB’s operations.  These efficiency measures have been taken to enable the brands to continue to operate their non-U.S.-facing business.

“These actions are the result of the severe impact of ‘Black Friday’ on the business, and these efficiency measures have negatively affected not only the financial position of the brands, but also their staff and personnel.  Regrettably, the negative effect of ‘Black Friday’ has extended to the Company’s highest profile group of poker professionals, known as ‘Team UB’.  Consequently, Blanca’s executive management team today informed its roster of sponsored pros that, in accordance with the provisions of their agreements, their contracts have been terminated. Each of the ten Team UB pros, plus one player representing Absolute Poker, has received personal notification that their sponsorship arrangement with Blanca’s respective online poker room is now invalid.

“This was a difficult task for Blanca’s management, and we are very disappointed that we have been compelled to sever ties with our sponsored pros.  Over the years, the Company has been successful in gathering a group of young, extraordinarily talented and brand-appropriate poker professionals who have proudly sported its logos.  We are truly saddened that circumstances have dictated this course of action, and we regret that we are no longer in a position to partner with our sponsored pros, or to provide them with a source of income for playing the game that they love. We appreciate their significant time and dedication shared with us, and we thank them for the loyalty and patience they have continued to show us even during the unsettling events of the past few weeks. We respect and admire them for their many accomplishments, both at the poker tables and away from them, and we will always be grateful for their valuable contributions to building the UB and Absolute Poker brands and to creating a rock-solid community at the pair of online poker rooms.”

The full list of affected pros is as follows: Joe Sebok, Prahlad Friedman, Eric “Basebaldy” Baldwin, Maria Ho, Brandon Cantu, Tiffany Michelle, Scott Ian, “Hollywood” Dave Stann, Adam “Roothlus” Levy, Bryan Devonshire and Trishelle Cannatella.

Today’s layoff of all 11 American-based poker pros follows last week’s announcement by Blanca that its workforce had been significantly reduced. Both actions form part of a strategic restructuring of the company that will enable the business to focus its resources on consolidating its non-U.S., rest-of-the-world operation and software business. Absolute Poker and UB continue to operate their non-U.S. facing business around the world.
The company’s legal counsel continues to move forward in ongoing discussion with the U.S. Attorney’s office with the ultimate objective of reaching an agreement with the Department of Justice that would facilitate the return of funds to U.S. players.