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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

Poker Plus: Show Me My Money

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It will be three months this week since the doom and gloom of Black Friday hit online poker players. On April 15th thousands of players were shut out of playing online but that wasn’t their main concern – they wanted to know how to cash out.

The only poker site to come forth right away and make sure players could cash out and get their money was PokerStars. Not only did they set up a system for US players to cash out but they also converted player points and tournament tickets to cash value. This move made PokerStars seem like the only reputable and honest poker room out of the big four and will probably place it in a good position for a US license if online poker is ever regulated and licensed in the US. On the other hand, former powerhouse Full Tilt Poker kept shoveling out either empty promises that ‘players would be able to cash out soon’ or they said nothing at all.

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) is the organization that continues to go to bat for poker players and work at getting online poker legalized and regulated. They are very aware of the problems players face trying to recoup their funds and have outlined possible steps players can take to get their money back. On their website, the PPA has posted a legal guide for players who are considering filing a lawsuit which states all the facts - pros and cons. 

We have read hundreds of news stories about what has been going on with Full Tilt Poker, but what about UB and Absolute Poker (AP)? Both sites are under the same Cereus network umbrella, and therefore are in tandem about what they do and how they do it. Neither site has addressed their former players since they posted a statement on their .eu websites on April 21, 2011:

Absolute Poker( including UB, formerly Ultimate Bet) has retained Blank Rome LLP as United States counsel to provide legal advice in relation to civil and criminal matters filed in federal court in Manhattan and made public on April 15, 2011. Absolute Poker is aware that on April 19, 2011, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York entered into separate agreements with FullTilt Poker and PokerStars. These agreements concern the use of the respective and domain names. The US Attorney, in a press release dated April 20, 2011, stated that the government is willing to enter the same agreement with Absolute Poker and UB.At this time, Absolute Poker’s top priority is, and must be, the refund of balances to its and UB’s US players. However, given the far-reaching consequences of the US Attorney’s actions for Absolute Poker and for the entire poker community, Absolute Poker believes that the responsible course of action is to review with its attorneys the relevant court filings before taking any action.Absolute Poker believes that the US Attorney shares the view that refunds to US players are an immediate and pressing concern, and Absolute Poker wishes to make clear that it wants to work cooperatively with the US Attorney to safely and efficiently return its players’ funds. To that end, Absolute Poker’s counsel has initiated communications with the US Attorney’s office and plans to continue proactively advancing those discussions.Further information and timely updates will be provided to Absolute Poker/UB’s players as we move forward.

A Shady Past

No ‘further information’ has come forth in almost three months, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who remembers just how long it took the Cereus Network/ Kahnawake Gaming Comission to address the cheating allegations when the Superuser scandal hit them in 2007. And speaking of that scandal: Has anyone ever been prosecuted for that mess? According to a 60 minutes episode aired back in 2008 the mastermind of the scam made a deal and walked away.  At the time, Kahnawake declined to name the cheater or turn his name over to prosecutors. Rumor spread quickly that one of those cheaters was a former World Champion who still rides the tournament trail with no apparent remorse or shame. The saying ‘cheaters never prosper’ evidently doesn’t apply to former bracelet winners.

When the cheating occurred, it started at AP and progressed to UB which were operated out of a shopping mall in Costa Rica. Then as now, the games were run on computer servers on an Indian reservation near Montreal and are licensed by the Kahnawake Mohawk tribe. The tribe had no background or experience in casino gambling, nor do they also have to answer to federal or provincial regulators yet they licensed 450 sites run by 60 permit holders. To make those dealings even more interesting, the new Tribal Chief and others claimed they had no idea that UB and AP was owned by Joseph Tokwiro Norton, the former grand chief of the Mohawk tribe whose reputation is shaky at best.

In spite of the silence, the Superuser scandal, non-payment of funds to US players and European players having problems withdrawing – people continue to play on the Cereus network at UB and AP. Although the sites have no dot-com presence anymore, both are running dot net and dot eu sites. Of course the .net sites are for free play only and no risk, but you have to wonder about why real-money players are still playing at UB and AP.
As we all keep hoping that in the not too distant future online poker will be legal and available to those of us in the USA, we have to wonder what sites will make the cut. In this writer’s opinion, it obviously should not be any site licensed by or remotely associated with Kahnawake. And Full Tilt Poker? The brand name is valueless. They have destroyed their reputation among online poker players to the point of no return.

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