Last Sunday, April 15th, marked the one-year anniversary of Black Friday – the day when the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) shut down the three biggest online poker sites – PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker. Not a joyous occasion, however, a reminder that nothing is permanent, especially in the world of poker. Some may say that the poker sites brought this on themselves by running an illegal operation, yet others may argue that the United States' government overstepped its power boundaries by making online poker illegal and depriving American citizens of their rights in the first place. Still, the standing fact is that online poker has been absent in the United States of America for more than a year now. The good news is that new legislation allowing at least some parts of the American population to play poker online should soon take effect in the state of Nevada with a number of other states expected to follow the good example. For more on Black Friday and the new legislation read the latest edition of the Inside Shuffle.
Black Friday: One Year Later
On April 15th, 2011, Black Friday hit the American online poker market without warning - and it hit hard. Hardly anyone in the poker world was prepared for such a scenario and millions had to face the consequences. But the question that still remains unanswered is whether the United States government had the right to release the legislation sending online poker to the outskirts of the law. Poker players knew the answer all along, however, their voice was not heard, or was ignored to be more precise.
However, it wasn't just the players – thousands of people were left jobless and without their source of income. The government's “morals” hit them right in the face without asking. The U.S. government decided that it was in a position to decide what's good and what's bad for the American people instead of allowing them to make the decision themselves. Fighting for the right to play poker online means fighting for the freedom of making your own choices in life.
Read the Black Friday anniversary recap: Black Friday Burns Bright.
Another Lawsuit Against Ferguson and Lederer
Two Black Friday indictees and major shareholders of Full Tilt Poker, Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson, are facing another lawsuit. The same group of poker players who filed a class-action complaint against Full Tilt Poker back in June, 2011, have now filed another one claiming that Lederer and Ferguson “exercised unlawful dominion and control over players' funds that were held in Full Tilt Poker accounts before and after Black Friday.”
The first lawsuit filed by the same plaintiffs, Steve Segal, Todd Terry, Robin Hougdahl, and Nick Hammer, was denied by U.S. District Judge Leonard B. Sand claiming that the charges in the class-action complaint had nothing to do with the seizure of player funds.
However, the claimants didn't give up after hearing the unfavorable decision and are now planning to win the case with new demands. The plaintiffs require that Full Tilt Poker return funds to their players and pay $150 million to cover the damages. They argue that Full Tilt executives misled the players by saying that their money was safe and they could trust the site by making deposits. As it turned out, the money was not safe, not safe at all.
Read more in: Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson Named in New Lawsuit.
Aussies on Black Friday
And talking about Black Friday, PokerNews' Lynn Gilmartin caught up with some of the top poker pros in the Asia-Pacific and asked them about their impression of the affect America's one-year online poker absence, and Full Tilt and Absolute Poker's crash have had on the poker world and on them personally. Watch the video to see what Darren Yoon, Dennis Huntly, Daniel Neilson, Brendon Rubie, Grant Levy, Aaron Benton, and American refugee Dan Kelly had to say about it.
Laak Counts Big Game Winnings
Playing poker for more than two days non-stop can really affect your senses as well as your ability to make the right decisions. Phil Laak was a good example of it last week when he mucked the winning hand and lost a 60,000 Euro pot during the Big Game V in Vienna. Despite this he still came out with the biggest digits in the winning column - 162,100 Euros. However, he wasn't as happy about it as he could have been. He wanted to beat last year's Big Game record set by Tony G when he netted 150,400 Pounds which according to Laak's calculations equals 183,000 Euros. Still, Laak comforts himself with the fact that he won more Big Blinds than Tony did in 2011.
Check this video to catch up with Big Game V winner Phil Laak and his thoughts on the win:
Morten Christensen Victorious in WPT Vienna
Two weeks of poker festivities in the Austrian capital Vienna wrapped on Sunday, April 15th, along with the final hand of World Poker Tour Vienna Main Event. Danish pro Morten Christensen came out a winner collecting a cash prize of more than €300,000 and his first World Poker Tour title. Christensen was second in chips before the start of the final table with 2.5 million in chips just behind Ognjen Sekularac holding almost 3.5 million. However, the Serbian wasn't able to maintain his lead and was knocked out of the game in fourth place by Konstantin Tolokno who finished in the runner-up position.
WPT Vienna Results:
Full Tilt's Website Showing Activity
Yesterday, April 16th, a number of players noticed some interesting action going on at Full Tilt Poker's website. For a few moments the site showed 411 players online playing at 14,451 tables. The site then went off again, but a while later it was on again with the same 411 players at the online tables. The action was first reported on the TwoPlusTwo forums with more and more players noticing that something was actually happening at Full Tilt. Still, no one was able to access the poker software and actually play, so the general thought was that Full Tilt was testing their system. However, the reasons for doing that remain unknown.
Full Tilt Poker was shut down on June 29th, 2011, after the suspension of the site's e-gaming license by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) for its inability to refund players’ money. The license was completely revoked in September and Full Tilt has been inactive ever since. Despite various news and rumors of the new investor, Group Bernard Tapie, purchasing the site and repaying the players, no official deals between the two sides have been made and the players are still waiting to get their money back.
Online Poker Expected in New Jersey by Fall
New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak still believes that the state legislation for licensed and regulated online poker will take effect this fall. Although the process is taking a little longer than he expected, Lesniak remains positive and says he will make the necessary arrangements to push the bill through the Senate and State Assembly in time. One thing that needs to be taken into account are Senators' vacations.
“We have to make sure we have all the Democratic votes there, so we have to schedule around people's vacations,” Lesniak said. “Things like this happen. A year ago, the governor vetoed the first attempt. This time, it looks like we're going to reach the finish line. It's just taking longer than I hoped for.”
Although a similar bill passed the Senate last year, it was rejected by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. However, things changed since then with the Department of Justice's ruling that the Wire Act only applies to online betting. The decision changed Christie's approach to internet poker and it now looks like he is going to approve the new bill.
Lotteries Looking for Winners
CalvinAyre.com reports the Lottery news – one lucky Sky Vegas casino player collected a cash prize of more than £500,000 when playing slots,. “When the amount I had won popped up on screen I started shaking uncontrollably and felt utterly sick,” the lucky winner said. “It was late at night but I had to tell someone immediately so I called my partner and woke him up. Neither of us slept a wink that night!”
In the mean time the Mega Millions' officials from the Pennsylvania Lottery are still looking for one ticket owner. The $250,000 prize ticket was drawn last year. However, there are only two weeks left to claim the prize and the lottery officials say they really want to give that cash away to the winner. The same lottery has also announced the locations of the purchase of the two lucky Saturday's Powerball tickets worth $1 million each. The tickets were bought in Montgomery and Franklin counties and the Pennsylvania Lottery will reward $5,000 bounties to both retailers that sold the lucky tickets.
Go to CalvinAyre.com for more.
Betfair Poker Gives Away $4,000 WSOP Packages
Betfair Poker joins the list of online poker sites rewarding their players with packages to the World Series of Poker this summer. One package worth $4,000 will be given away to one of the players who sign up to Betfair Poker through PokerWorks! An exclusive freeroll will take place on June 10th and reward the winner with a $4,000 package to WSOP Event #59.
The package includes:
- Buy-in to the World Series of Poker Event #59: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em
- Travel and accommodation
- Access to Betfair's exclusive parties and other events
To win the WSOP package all you need to do is download Betfair Poker through PokerWorks, register a new account and make your first deposit using the bonus code PNE250. Then play Betfair Poker cash games and tournaments to collect 100 Player Points until June 5th. If you complete the qualification requirements, you will receive a ticket to the special freeroll tournament taking place on June 10th and will get to play for your own package to the 2012 World Series.
For more information visit this Betfair Poker page.