Black Friday left many online poker players’ money stuck online. Two of the sites that stranded the some of the highest number of players out there were Absolute Poker and UB Poker. Since April 15th it has pretty much looked like any players on these sites were pretty much out of luck when it came to getting their money back, until just this week. It was reported that both sites will be liquidated, which not only spells the end of the sites in the online poker world, but also means that players could potentially be getting repaid soon from these sites.
Excellent news for players out there, but it unfortunately comes with a catch. While they will be paying players back, it is only look like it will be about 20% at most of the total amount of money in each players’ account. The statement that was released said that it would be around “15 to 20 cents on the dollar” to be exact. These two sites were two of the more popular in the game before Black Friday, but found themselves behind the two other big named sites who were hit by the drama in Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars.
The liquidation situation with the same means that they are completely done in the online poker world, and the reason for them doing this is apparently to appease the United States Department of Justice. Since Black Friday these sites have struggled to get any realistic type of real money poker traffic, which led to this final decision. They have made major layouts among their staff, and while the two sites closing down doesn’t come as a complete shock, it is still an interesting bit of news.
As far as the founders behind the sites, there was also some mention of the two men involved in creating Absolute Poker. One of the two, Brent Beckley, decided to plead guilty to a few different charges relating to their online poker site, and his plea deal will get him between one and 15 years in jail. If Beckley had decided not to agree to this plea deal, he would be looking at a maximum of 30 years of time. Scott Tom is the other co-founder, but no one is quite sure exactly where he is currently.
The Poker Players Alliance just posted a guide to what poker players might try, to get their money back from Full-Tilt, Absolute and the other operators who won’t, or can’t, return deposits. Although I don’t agree with everything the PPA’s say – for example, I think many U.S. courts would throw out claims by players as debts associated with gambling – they raise the important and immediate point: If you are going to file a claim for part of the millions of dollars seized by the U.S. federal government in bank accounts around the world on April 15th, you only have until July 15, 2011.
You don’t need a lawyer to file, but you should get one. The PPA’s lawyers were worried that a player might be hit with fines if the court decides the claims are frivolous. I’m more concerned that you have to file the claim form under oath, swearing that you have an ownership interest in an account you may not have even known existed. Perjury is a real crime, with real penalties. And both I and the PPA attorneys agree that the additional papers you will have to file within 21 day after filing the claim form, should be written by a lawyer.
The reason you might have the right to file a claim is that the Department of Justice decided that at least some of the bank accounts would be seized under what is known as a civil forfeiture. Criminal cases are limited to the government and the defendants. Civil cases involving the seizure of the poker operators’ and payment processors’ bank accounts are open to anyone who has a good faith claim on the money.
But there is a tight time limit. The DoJ published its notice of intent to seize the online poker funds on May 16, 2011. Claimants have only 60 days to file their verified (meaning under oath) claim with the U.S. District Court Clerk in Manhattan; that means before the end of the day on Friday, July 15, 2011. You can file electronically.
Extensions are possible, but they would require either getting a court order or an agreement with the prosecutors. In fact, the PokerStars companies, Absolute and Full-Tilt all were given until September 30, 2011, to file their claims. But I doubt either the DoJ or federal Judge Leonard B. Sand would agree to give more time to a mere player.
Some claims have already been filed. The first was by Chad Elie, who claims an ownership or possessory interest in a third of the accounts seized. Chad is the Las Vegas defendant who married former Playmate Destiny Davis the day after he was arrested in connection with Black Friday. He is out on $250,000 bail.
Other claims have been filed. The second was by LST Financial, Inc., which calls itself “a full-service, third-party financial processor and service bureau.” It is claiming an interest in five bank accounts in Texas and North Carolina seized from Four Oaks Bank and Trust. MAS, Inc., claims money seized from Hawaii National Bank. And, Ultra Safe Pay says it is the owner of the funds seized from Umpqua Bank in Roseburg, Oregon.
Should you file a claim? You probably don’t have much chance of success, unless you have a communication that mentions one of the bank accounts listed in the Complaint. They are on the pages immediately preceding the claim form in the PPA paper. You want to find a name or number that matches an email from a payment processor or online poker operator.
Even then, there are some risks. I don’t think the judge would punish a player if the claim failed. But the DoJ will now have your name and identifying information. There is no federal crime against playing poker online. But you can be sure that if you are claiming hundreds of thousands of dollars that you will have your taxes audited.
UB.com is sending at least three lucky online poker players to sunny Los Angeles to be part of the prestigious World Poker Tour (“WPT”) L.A. Poker Classic at the famous Commerce Casino. The leading online poker site has added a series of low stakes buy-in qualifiers from $2+.20 to their tournament line-up from February 6th through 13th, leading to a Super Satellite that will award the top three players with a $12,000 WPT L.A. Poker Classic prize package.
The annual WPT L.A. Poker Classic is a $10,000 buy-in tournament that will award the winner with hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money, along with a $25,500 entry for the 2011 WPT Championship. To get there for less, players need to outplay their competitors at the UB.com tables in a $500+30 buy-in Super Satellite on Sunday, February 13th at 17:05 ET, which guarantees to award three $12K WPT prize packages, each including a $10,000 seat for the WPT L.A. Poker Classic (Feb. 25th – Mar. 1st), along with $2K towards travel expenses that will see them heading to the City of Angels.
Plus, starting from this Sunday, February 6th, the UB.com Cardroom has frequent WPT L.A. Poker Classic qualifiers available, a Rebuy format from as low as $20+2, and $66+6 freezeout feeder satellites that will give away entries for the $500+30 WPT L.A. Poker Classic Super Satellite. Finish in the top 3 in the Super Satellite to earn one of three guaranteed $12,000 WPT L.A. Poker Classic prize packages. For those looking for more of a challenge, make your way through the STEP tournaments, with STEP 1 running from as little as $0.11.
So, log onto UB.com.com and compete for one of three L.A. Poker Classic WPT packages from February 6th through 13th — it could be your ticket to some thrilling high-stakes action and your ‘fifteen minutes’ of TV poker fame.
Though the move has been rumored for some time, it is now official. Liv Boeree has left team UB.com. Rumors swirled as the 2010 WSOP Main Event began and Boeree was not wearing any UB.com logos. Still almost a month went by before anyone could nail down the truth. There is no mention of her on the UB.com site now.
Always attractive, Liv’s stock recently went up tremendously with her win in the EPT San Remo Main Event just before the WSOP. Since that victory she has been featured on industry publications and has been a prized interview for anything poker. She has come a long way from reality show contestant.
Liv gained fame initially on a UK television show called Ultimatepoker.com Showdown. Her looks and personality then led to a TV presenter job for GutShot TV. All the while the physics major from Manchester University was studying and learning the game of poker. She began to have mild success at the tables until her big breakout in San Remo.
Naturally, speculation as to which poker site she might sign with next has run rampant. No concrete news on that front is attainable at this time. She has tweeted about a deep run in a Pokerstars tournament recently, so do not be surprised if she lands on their doorstep.