Black Friday shook up the online poker world like nothing else and one of the big aftershocks that followed was the announcement that Phil Ivey filed a lawsuit against Tiltware. There have been many opinions floating around about Ivey’s lawsuit. One of them comes from the outspoken head of PokerNews, Tony G, who recently shared his thoughts on QuadJacks poker radio.
For one thing, Tony G is calling for the head of Ray Bitar, who Tony thinks is the worst CEO in the industry. Due to the way Full Tilt Poker has failed in every way possible to address the Black Friday fiasco and pay their players the money they are owed, Tony believes the whole management team, especially CEO Bitar, needs to be replaced. Although he blasted Full Tilt Poker in colorful fashion, he saved his harshest criticism for Phil Ivey and his lawsuit.
Tony believes all of the Full Tilt pros have a liability and they all need to be upfront, ‘with everyone working together to get the job done.’ Tony admits Ivey is a decent poker player but his respect for him starts and ends with sports betting, calling Ivey ‘a shrewd and smart sports bettor’ but adding this whole lawsuit business is ‘BS’ and real ‘crap.’ According to Tony, Ivey is ‘the first rat to jump off the sinking ship’ and the lawsuit is solely to protect Ivey and ‘no way he is fighting for the players.’ Tony adds that Ivy has ‘thrown Full Tilt under the bus’ at a time that Full Tilt was trying to raise funds to pay their players. Tony thinks Ivey’s actions are ‘beyond low from someone you have been getting fed from’ meaning Ivey is trying to bite off the hand that has fed him for so long.
Tony doesn’t believe the lawsuit will ever see a courtroom because; Full Tilt has no assets in America and the lawsuit was filed in Nevada - a state where Full Tilt doesn’t do business or have bank accounts. To be taken seriously, the lawsuit needs to be filed in the place Full Tilt does business, not where Ivey lives. It is interesting that the $150 million Ivey is suing for just happens to be close to the amount owed to US players and according to eGaming Review, it is the exact amount Bitar and company have been wooing potential investors for.
The total amount Full Tilt owes all of their players is speculation. So far, they have remained silent, never admitting they didn’t have the money to pay their US players. And since Black Friday, even players in other countries have been complaining that they aren’t getting paid either.
A couple of weeks ago Tony G was the first to leak the news that Full Tilt Poker was for sale and put pressure on them to pay up. He has been criticized by many for sticking up for Full Tilt Poker – until recently. While Tony took the backlash as being deserved, he did apologize, saying his reasoning was to try to help find a solution and get the players the money owed them. When he supported Full Tilt Poker, he said he thought ‘it was the best thing he could do for the players.’ Realizing he was fighting a losing battle, Tony pulled the plug on Full Tilt Poker and PokerNews will no longer refer players to the poker room. Stating his reasons, Tony said, ‘The chances of players getting paid is extremely low unless the pros want to step in and pay the players. I am not dealing with a company who is unstable.’ Tony feels he has a responsibility to the players and he will not refer them to a poker site that is not safe.
Tony added what most online poker players believe, that ‘Good real regulation has to come into the online gaming space so players can feel safe. There is no winners in this. It is time for them (FT) to act and sort this out.’ As for Ivey, Tony believes he has put the ‘final nail in the coffin’ of Full Tilt by filing his lawsuit at a critical time when Full Tilt was scrambling to raise money.
What it comes down to though is - Phil Ivey wasn’t managing Full Tilt Poker. At best he was a reluctant spokesperson who was a minority shareholder. It is also more than likely that he was unaware of any of the misdeeds Full Tilt is accused of. That burden of blame belongs squarely on the shoulders of Ray Bitar and the upper management team. The sad part for the players who are still hoping to get their money from Full Tilt is that the latest fireworks have probably lowered the value of Full Tilt Poker even further, possibly causing potential investors or buyers to tuck tail and run. That would make the odds even worse against players with money on deposit at Full Tilt ever seeing a cent.