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Department of Justice: Full Tilt Poker a 'Global Ponzi Scheme'

Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Rafe Furst, Ray Bitar Allegedly Defrauded Players out of $440 Million

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Note: This article has been updated to include additional information retrieved from Full Tilt Poker’s Insolvency As a Result of Paying Owners From Players Funds Its Inability to Collect Deposits from U.S. Players which can be obtained, starting on page 71, on the United States District Court’s Amended Complaint here.

Howard LedererOn Tuesday morning the U.S. Department of Justice accused Full Tilt Poker’s board members Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, and Rafe Furst of working with CEO Ray Bitar to defraud poker players out of more than $440 million over the past four years.

After Tuesday’s amendments to April’s original indictment swept more names from the beleaguered site into the thick of legal trouble, Manhattan’s U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement that “Full Tilt was not a legitimate poker company, but a global Ponzi scheme,” while “insiders lined their own pockets with funds picked from the pockets of their most loyal customers while blithely lying to both players and the public alike about the safety and security of the money deposited with the company.”

The government is also alleging that on Mar. 31 Full Tilt only had about $60 million in the bank while owing about $400 million globally, including $150 million to U.S. customers.

At a rate of about $10 million per month, Full Tilt paid “distributions” to its board of directors, in addition to loaning money to various “professional” poker players. This summer Full Tilt alleged that Phil Ivey (not named in Tuesday’s amendments) had borrowed from the company.

Starting around August 2010, the company began noticing a difficulty in collecting funds from the bank accounts of depositors. The site secretly began to credit funds to players’ online gambling accounts that it had never actually collected. Full Tilt continued to operate as usual, paying millions to its stakeholders.

As players inevitably lost, $130 million in “phantom funds” existed within the site’s accounts. Despite concerns about what CEO Ray Bitar described as a “run on the bank,” by early 2011, the company was insolvent, but, again, continued making payments to the defendants.

After the indictments in April, Full Tilt allowed players to believe that its international business was separate from, and unaffected by, its United States operations. In early June, Lederer reported to others at Full Tilt Poker that there was only approximately $6 million left in the bank.

At the present time, Full Tilt Poker nor the individual owners who received more than $443 million in distributions have repaid any of the hundreds of millions the company owes to players around the world.

The aforementioned “FTP Insider Defendants” are liable to the government for a sum of money representing the amount of property, funds, or monetary instruments involved in the money laundering offenses in an amount that is no less than $41 million for Bitar; $41.8 million for Lederer; $25 million for Ferguson; and $11.7 million for Furst.

The site has publicly blamed various circumstances and scenarios for why it has not paid its players, as the company is allegedly looking for outside investors.

Full Tilt is currently in discussions with the Alderney Gambling Control Commission over its suspended license.


Update 1:30 PST: Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., President & CEO, American Gaming Association, statement on DOJ Action against Full Tilt Poker

I have two simple questions: ‘How much and for how long?’ How much money that we don’t know about is being swindled from U.S. consumers and how long will it take before we change laws to protect those consumers?

This morning we called on Congress to institute an effective online poker regulatory system to protect American consumers and released an online poker Code of Conduct that would ensure online poker companies are operated honestly, legally and responsibly.

This afternoon the Department of Justice (DOJ) accused one of the most well-known offshore online operators, Full Tilt Poker, of bilking players out of more than $300 million. The U.S. attorney who made the accusation called Full Tilt Poker, ‘…not a legitimate poker company, but a global Ponzi scheme.’

Tomorrow Congress should begin changing the laws to protect consumers from such schemes.

We applaud the DOJ for this latest action, but every time a shady website is shut down, an even shadier one pops up. The type of illegal activity the DOJ is accusing Full Tilt Poker of will continue to happen in the absence of the same tough, stringent regulations and enforcement that successfully govern bricks-and-mortar casinos. The Code of Conduct we released today details the type of measures that will help ensure American consumers are protected. The time to act is now, or millions of Americans playing online will continue to face a risky environment. Congress needs to establish federal guidelines so that states that choose to can regulate and license online poker, and bring the jobs and revenues associated with this billion dollar industry to the U.S.

 
 
 
 

Comments

notCIA
over 2 years ago

Online poker in the US is dead. Government regulation would give players greater confidence in the operation of an online site, but no online site can stop online players from cheating. If a site can't stop cheating, how many politicians are going to publicly support that?

 
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rdlv
over 2 years ago

Please read New york Times and Wall Street on 09/26/2011. Bombshell!!! . Get this , it seems that other poker pros were involved in money laundering, also arresst warants will be issued. From the way I read it Phil Ivey ,Howard , Fergerson, Mike the mouth , Harmen, and some other FTP pros were borrowing monies so they say? Also opening up investigation into what happened to poker player funds at UB and Absulote poker. I tried to paste , but it will not let you. Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth might be in the shit. Bank records show they deposited large somes of monies to ther accounts. Just before balack friday..

 
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rdlv
over 2 years ago

Please read New york Times and Wall Street on 09/26/2011. Bombshell!!! . Get this , it seems that other poker pros were involved in money laundering, also arresst warants will be issued. From the way I read it Phil Ivey ,Howard , Fergerson, Mike the mouth , Harmen, and some other FTP pros were borrowing monies so they say? Also opening up investigation into what happened to poker player funds at UB and Absulote poker. I tried to paste , but it will not let you. Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth might be in the shit. Bank records show they deposited large somes of monies to ther accounts. Just before balack friday..

 
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pokerbucket
over 2 years ago

If this really is true.. then FTP is seriously dead. Nobody will buy them out. I hope all the pros go to jail, especially Howard. I hope they seize all of their assets and divide them up among the U.S. players.

 
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alansmithdc
over 2 years ago

Wow. This scandal is like Tiger Woods except it is legends Ferguson and Lederer. How much money does a man need?

 
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RuptureAchilies
over 2 years ago

This is, by far, worse than tiger woods!

 
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bmpek
over 2 years ago

legends in whose minds????

 
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notCIA
over 2 years ago

No one needed to hear today's news to know FTP is dead. Nobody was ever going to buy out FTP. For 250,000 pounds, that laughable gaming commission sitting in the English Channel was the only one to find that story credible.

 
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Bswww
over 2 years ago

If that is why how come Poker Star gave all there money back to there players. I never had any issues before then but always did with Full Tilt that is why I stoped and only played on stars

 
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Reece2003
over 2 years ago

HAHAHAHAHA.

Is anyone really believing this nonsense?

Listen, I am an avid online poker player.

I have been playing online at many many different sites for the last 10 years. I like to jump around to keep getting sign up bonuses.

I have never been shorted a single dime by the poker sites.

When the government froze neteller I had to wait a year to get my money.

Now another government attack has everyones funds on hold again.

And now the DOJ is telling us that it is the poker sites fault that we can not get our money?

HOLY JEEEZE!!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS????

The only two times I have had trouble getting my funds for the last 10 years it was because of the government, and they want me to blame the poker sites now?

Sorry. I am not as dense as the rest of the general public.

I know exactly what has happened here.

The goverment attacked these sites, froze their funds, hence they do not have the money to pay us right now.

Think about it. These sites would have paid out after April 15th, just like they had been paying out before April 15th, if it was not for the government.

Do not let the government shift the blame for this onto the poker sites.

 
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bparmalee
over 2 years ago

I do think online poker will make a comeback in US but it wont be FTP, Pokerstars or UB. They made their bed when they kept operating after the first laws were passed. I think the major casino companies (Harrahs..MGM) and Party Poker will be the only licensed online poker providers. With stuff like this its always "follow the money" and there is just too much money to be made operating online poker sites. It will be taxed, regulated (really only through controlling who will be licensed)and open to everyone. I think the main thing we have learned in this.... and really its something everyone should already have known.... a lot of poker players... pros or otherwise... cant be trusted. I mean they make a living by taking other players money... so its prob not a good idea to give them access to everyones bankroll. I know I know... most poker players are 100% trust worthy and wouldnt ever take a dime from anyone. I actually agree with that but the trustworthy players are never the ones in these positions. Its always the scumbags asking to borrow money and thinking up inventive ways to "get rich quick". In closing.... there will be online poker in the future and dont let poker players hold your bankroll.

 
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disarmingly_charming
over 2 years ago

This is a careful game being played by the United States government in an attempt to shakedown money both immediately, from the "FTP insider defendents", and later, through taxation. Never did I feel my money on Full Tilt Poker (FTP) was unsafe, and neither would I be worried if I was told privately that the company has only $60 million in cash while holding obligations to players in the amount of $400 million. The site was viable and making money daily.
First, consider a bank. It gladly accepts cash from everyone and offers them an IOU in the form of an account. The bank then takes this money and loans it to others for a fee. At any point in time, the bank most certainly cannot pay everyone it owes. Why should we be concerned if FTP is in the same position? Does anyone think that every player will request a cash out simultaneously? The shattering of confidence caused by the US government's actions resulted in European players performing a run on the FTP bank. Without the US ban, the site would have continued to run profitably, gaining cash daily and able to pay players off at an expected rate of withdrawals. Lederer et al would want nothing less than that, especially if they were receiving portions of the profits, and on that note, why does it matter who was given money from the FTP bank? Is it really the government's role to tell businesses who they can and can't loan money or give profit shares to? There is no evidence that the site was attempting to funnel money to select players and then declare bankruptcy, stiffing everyone else. To make that jump based on a company's on-hand cash and recent activities prior to the inability to honor a cashout request is an offensive and inappropriate assumption.

Unfortunately, the US government's actions have forced an otherwise profitable company from being able to keep its promises to the thousands of FTP members. I hope the US government is forced to pay restitution to FTP.

This response is generated from months of frustration, frustration with both the US government and people who feel that FTP has been robbing players. I'm sure the same people who want to cast blame at FTP are the ones who went bankrupt due to their own poor decisions, and as ironic as it sounds, those who are the first to slander FTP have probably never cashed out. As for "credentials," if anyone can really have regarding this matter, I started playing online poker back in the days of PartyPoker. I moved to Vegas five years ago to play professionally. Any cashouts that I have requested from FTP, as well as any other site, have always been honored without ANY trouble.

 
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RuptureAchilies
over 2 years ago

I didn't realized I opened a FTP Bank account. Why did I not receive interest on my deposits?

 
 

bigherron2
over 2 years ago

You people who are actually insinuating the government is attacking these site are really lost in the head!!! READ THE INDICTMENT!!! It's called FRAUD!!!---You guys are clearly tools for FTP or friends of the con-artists who basically destroyed the on-line poker community with their greed and CRIMINAL activity!!.---Google Tom Dwans 2+2 posts!! he admits --the pro's eventually knew they were playing with un-backed deposits!! The pro's were playing on loaned money!!! Why do you thing Ivey, Lederer,Fergeson, Et al. won't show their faces--they know they are facing serious prison time!!!!Even the T.V--cash -games sponsored by FTP will all be revealed as glorified play-money games---they all played with fronted money from players deposits in order to generate more play--and keep feeding the cash cow!!!

 
 

bigherron2
over 2 years ago

You people who are actually insinuating the government is attacking these site are really lost in the head!!! READ THE INDICTMENT!!! It's called FRAUD!!!---You guys are clearly tools for FTP or friends of the con-artists who basically destroyed the on-line poker community with their greed and CRIMINAL activity!!.---Google Tom Dwans 2+2 posts!! he admits --the pro's eventually knew they were playing with un-backed deposits!! The pro's were playing on loaned money!!! Why do you thing Ivey, Lederer,Fergeson, Et al. won't show their faces--they know they are facing serious prison time!!!!Even the T.V--cash -games sponsored by FTP will all be revealed as glorified play-money games---they all played with fronted money from players deposits in order to generate more play--and keep feeding the cash cow!!!

 
 

bmpek
over 2 years ago

i will make a small wager the you beleive in santa, the easter bunny, and the tooth fairy also

 
 

keeentd
over 2 years ago

You, sir, are an i d i o t !

 
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exOmorfia
over 2 years ago

Exactly what I was thinking, and a breath of fresh air to see someone pointing the finger where it should be pointed.

Full Tilt deserves criticism, but they have been demonized ridiculously these last few months by people who seem to be forgetting/downplaying those most directly responsible for the actual mess.

And to see the DOJ dragging them through the mud for "victimizing their customers", when everything was fine until they came along, is beyond enraging.

"Funds picked from their pockets?" What in God's name are they talking about? Has a single player ever had money "stolen" from them by FTP, or not had access to it, until Black Friday?

 
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RuptureAchilies
over 2 years ago

It is silly to blame the DOJ for FTP's inability to repay players funds. PS is still running offshore and US players funds have been returned. Why is that? PS was under the exact same circumstances as FTP. The reason is FTP misappropriated player funds, and that's putting it nicely. In reality they stole players funds and lied when they could no longer function as a business. This is no difference than Berny Madoff. If the DOJ did not intervene, the scheme would have just grown larger until it collapsed in the future.

 
 

bigherron2
over 2 years ago

Reece2003 --you either are a total tool trying to somehow make the full-tilt people not look like the scum-bag criminals they are---or you are complete idiot-your comments-"Is anyone really believing this nonsense?" "I know exactly what has happened here." "The goverment attacked these sites" "Think about it. These sites would have paid out after April 15th, just like they had been paying out before April 15th, if it was not for the government.--??? are you really serious when you say this garbage?

"Do not let the government shift the blame for this onto the poker sites."----those are the most insane remarks I've ever heard----Did you actually read the DOJ(which by the way stands for the Department of Justice, in case you weren't aware) documents that have been released? The DOJ does not begin an indictment process based on made up information!! These things actually happened you moron, These people will be going to prison, and will most likely lose everything they have--and rightfully so!! to even imagine that the DOJ some how made these things up to "shift blame"---from who?To who? for what reason? Is totally ridiculous. Your comments are absolute nonsense--No my friend there were actual crimes involving millions and millions of dollars!! FTP ruined online poker essentially for everyone now. Tom Dwan, who was a sponsored pro, has been just one of FTP's employees now coming out about knowledge of shady loan practices within the company, and his knowledge that the site was allowing players to play with funds that were not actually backed by the real-$ bank deposits that should have accompanied them!!!And that's just the beginning. "Think about it"-what a statement!!-The government didn't attack these sites, they prevented these sites from further scamming the entire poker community any longer!

 
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brum747
over 2 years ago

dude you need to wake up have you ever heard of the phrase"steal from peter to pay paul" its cliche but thats exactly what was going on watch the show American Greed on msnbc and youll see exactly how it works they stopped receiving deposits from peter as of black friday so now they cant pay paul wich whom is YOU

 
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emonieizalia
over 2 years ago

while they are investigating cheating in poker, they need to go straight to the W.S.O.P and the W.P.T and every casino poker room because they all are cheating, and been cheating for years, the I.P,R,A is a great company for the player's, together we the player's can make poker a honest n clean sport for all to play, this is the poker's chance to come together and organize our sport, POKER, if we don't the Government will, www.pokerrights.org

 
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keeentd
over 2 years ago

WSOP WPT cheating for years? Run down your case for the readers here please...

 
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pppcw
over 2 years ago

I very much share the skepticism expressed by emonieizalia. WSOP & WPT may not be cheating in large scale like FTP but by nipping here and there a little bit in fees dishonestly. I am not sure how honest or legitimate is the staff fees charged by the WSOP/Rio. If you just take the WSOP main event tourney, The casino deducted about $1.2 million from the prize pool and this is just one event, imagine how many millions & millions of dollars has been deducted from the prize pools of 58 events as staff fees. Does RIO/WSOP needs millions & millions of dollars to pay the staffs ? Wonder how much they are paying the staff and how much WSOP/RIO is keeping for themselves.
Similarly on the east coast every casinos has this BAD BEAT jackpot promotion. Who is overseeing or regulating this bad beat jackpot’s collections & Payoffs ? And how honest & truthful are the casinos.

 
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Cardplayer911
over 2 years ago

Comparing FTP to a bank that is insured by the FDIC is ridiculous. When you take new money from clients to pay the debts of existing clients whose money has been "embezzled," it is a crime. The virtual poker chips that all players purchased through FTP had no value. Players trusted that the funds that they won and lost to other players remained in escrow until the winner eventually cashed them out. If the bank defaults, and it is insured by the FDIC, you get your money up to the insured amount. I agree that there was never the feeling of impropriety at FTP before Black Friday but it was easy to get lulled into a feeling of confidence from exposure of the brand in the various media outlets. If all the assets were in the bank that were owed at the time the DOJ stepped in, then I think you could fairly blame the government for the delay but at this point, it is going to take government action to extract the additional funds owed if players ever see a return of their funds. Criminal liability for the wrongdoers does leave a small hope for U.S. players if there is some sort of structured settlement and more of the money can be traced and recovered like in the Madoff case.

As this story unfolds, it will be interesting how many players/employees will be scrutinized. Now that it is out there that some top players may have had unclean hands, it would seem that if the money that was derived from the Ponzi scheme was used to pay the pros-- this could get pretty messy in trying to trace and determine potential criminal liability. In addition, if there is a shortage of cash and you need to extract a little extra and you have already compromised integrity, who is to say that the software could not be manipulated to favor the house players? Just a question...

 
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keeentd
over 2 years ago

Of course the software favors the in-house players. But people kept pumping it in there in hopes of themselves becoming a FTP pro. And "pros" they are not if they stole or cheated to build their rolls. I mean, when was the last time any of those so-called "pros" had a meaningful big buy-in cash? Phil Ivey at the 2007 WPT LA Poker Classic. Wow, if they're truly "pros" then that's pretty pathetic.

 
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texbrian
over 2 years ago

There is so much money to be made (and tax revenue to be generated) if the Feds would just let it happen legally. And provide COPIOUS oversight. Can you imagine, 1000 cash tables, spreading 60 hands per hour, raking $0.10 per hand? That's $6,000 per HOUR, or $144,000 per DAY. PLUS interest on $300 million at 0.5% annually is $15 million. Just in rake and bare-minimum interest it's a $65 million dollar annual profit - IF YOU DO IT LEGALLY. We have got to convince the feds (PPA is one good way) and get this moving in the right direction. I agree, FTP, Stars and UB are done in the US but any legitimate US-based entertainment company could make this work with NO problem, if we can get the Feds to wise up.

 
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bparmalee
over 2 years ago

@Texbrian No one has to convince the feds... the casino lobby has been working on this for awhile. The only way to insure the major casinos would have a strangle hold of the new market was to kill the old market. They had to jettison the player bases of Pokerstars, FTP and UB. Once the legal matters are being wrapped up you will see new regulation. The PPA is a joke and has no pull Washington. The money they spend is wasted. The casino lobby is flush with cash and has been at it long enough to know their way around. Just look at all the new places that have opened gambling in the last few years.....these guys are good. People just have to be patient...let the court cases clear and MGM/Harrahs will deliver. They are not going to miss an opportunity to let us ship 100's of millions of dollars to them over the net. There will be direct buy ins and sat's to the WSOP.. its going to be sick. I wouldnt take action on next summer but in two summers we should be there. I would say Jan 2013.

 
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Reece2003
over 2 years ago

so most people think that even though FTP paid every single customer for its entire existense up until april 15 when the government froze a large portion of their funds, most of you still think that FTP is at fault for you not getting your money??? THE US GOVERNMENT FROZE FULL TILTS FUNDS ON APRIL 15. THIS IS WHEN THEY STOPPED PAYING CUSTOMERS. HOW IS THAT FULL TILTS FAULT????? FULL TILT NOT BEING ABLE TO PAY WAS A DIRECT RESULT OF THE GOVERNMENT CRACKDOWN!!!!!!!

IF THE GOVERNMENT HAD NOT ATTACKED THEM THEY WOULD STILL BE PAYING OUT JUST FINE JUST LIKE THEY ALWAYS HAVE.

how are so many of you fooled by this???? i have to assume you just do not know the story as well as me / are not involved with online poker as much as me.

thank you diarmingly_charming. at least there are a few people seeing this how it really is besides myself.

 
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pokerbucket
over 2 years ago

Just cause they were paying out doesn't mean they had all the cash in the bank to cash everybody out at the same time.

 
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bigherron2
over 2 years ago

That's how a Ponzi scheme works you tool!! Once the $ stops flowing in, the house of cards collapses!!!

 
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bigherron2
over 2 years ago

The indictment revealed--that even when FTP was unable to secure the actual real $ transfers from the Banks--they still put the deposited "money" into play--this created a flood of "money" that wasn't really there, in the hopes that they could just keep the rake coming in and pay off any withdraws. How can anyone not say that is criminal!!!!

 
 

exOmorfia
over 2 years ago

Don't have the resources to support a mass cashout? Created a flood of money that wasn't really there? "How can anyone not say that is criminal!!!!"?

You just summarized how banks work.

 
 

Cardplayer911
over 2 years ago

You can blame the government if you want but if you read the 100+ page DOJ's Amended Complaint, you will see that there was less than $60 million on hand to pay the $300+ million including $150 million to U.S. Players alone. Part of the "scheme" was to bet on the fact that every player would not cash out at once. Anyone who played and deposited on a regular basis would know that while players were paid before April 15th, it was not unusual for long delays in deposits to be withdrawn from your bank account, and occasionally not be deducted at all. With a steady stream of rake revenue, FTP could get meet the demand for withdrawals...worse case scenario, they delay the payout. In a Ponzi Scheme, many people do get paid and it is not until new revenue dries up or someone investigates that they are generally discovered. In all likelihood, FTP could have continued under the radar for years had the government not moved in and I think the government was surprised by what they found in FTP's financials. Whether some want to admit it or not, it is only going to get worse for the parties involved.

 
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notCIA
over 2 years ago

I wanna know what Dr. Roy knew and when he knew it.

 
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dare2
over 2 years ago

What is wrong with you people? You took it up the ass from bunch of low life hustlers and cheaters. And even now you're still defending them and clamoring for more online poker? Nothing funnier than a mark who, even after he gets swindled, still wants back in the game just because it's the only game in town. Too pathetic.
Do you really think the government will OK online poker just to collect taxes? If you do, then you're an idiot. It would be a drop in the bucket toward the deficit and the negative political fallout would far outweigh any benefit.
Do you really believe the websites don't manipulate the computer programming for their own benefit? Even a small 2% cheating variance makes them millions of dollars and you'd be a fool if you didn't think every single website does it.
And you can forget petitions and writing your congressmen.Do you really think the mainstream world gives a shit about a few thousand poker players wanting to sit around in their underwear, playing a game? If you're confused ,I'll help you out. They DON'T.

This will undoubtedly start a domino effect which will eventually collapse the entire Euro online poker market. Might be a good time to get that money out while the getting is still good.

 
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Fever
over 2 years ago

Does everyone remember Ocean's Eleven? The casino must have in cash the dollar value amount of every chip on the casino floor. Now I do not know if this law/regulation is still in place today but it makes sense to me that it would be. These poker sites were not banks and should not have been allowed to touch the players money in any way. They make money on the rake and the tournament fees as it is. The argument that they should be allowed to keep going and comparing them to a bank is ludicrous. Banks are heavily regulated and your money is insured. If the poker sites kept this same attitude and made sure they had the money for every dollar in the players accounts then they would not be in the trouble they are in now.

 
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chisoxfan51
over 2 years ago

PokerStars was closed to US players on 4/15 just as FTP was yet they had no problems paying out the US players. No sure the government was the only issue here. Obviously FTP was not in a position to pay their players and it was more than just Black Friday being the cause.

 
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LisaJax
over 2 years ago

In the long run, this is the best thing that ever happened to 99.5% of the online poker players. Now they can go out and try to get a real profession or job and maybe contribute something to society. Thank you US Govt. for cleaning out this cesspool of thieves, con-men and low-lifes.

By the way, when will Phil Hellmuth be indicted? Last time I checked, UltimateBet has defrauded players out of millions of dollars also.

 
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Reece2003
over 2 years ago

ok, did a little research before this post this time. i am not going to quit posting on this issue because i feel so strongly about it and i really want to try to change some minds here.

lets just do facts of the case on this post.

indisputable facts of the case.

1. full tilt poker created in 2004

2. full tilt poker has no trouble paying out any players until april 15th, 2011.

3. the us government freezes the funds of FTP on april 15th 2011. also shuts down their web site...

4. on april 16th 2011 FTP is unable to pay its customers for the first time ever.

5. way later on sep 20 2011 the government starts saying that FTP was trying to rob its players all along.

INDISPUTABLE FACTS OF THE CASE

i am seriously just trying to figure out why anyone would believe that FTP was trying to rob people all along given the INDISPUTABLE FACTS OF THE CASE LISTED ABOVE.

 
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Reece2003
over 2 years ago

time for another post pick apart.

dare2, your turn.

here is my question for you sir.

why do you think that FTP has my money right now?

FTP is close to losing, or has lost it all because of this.

the government is the only one involved who stands to gain monetarily since my money has not been available.

lets see, my money gone.

goverment gaining, who has my money??? hmmmmmm.

i really do not think it is the completely broke and out of business FTP.

it is the one who has gained from this situation. the US gov.

by taking full tilt pokers money, the government has pretty much directly taken my money.

is this so hard to figure out, i feel like i am teaching a kindergarten class right now.

 
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bigherron2
over 2 years ago

You are suggesting that the DOJ, or "the government" really needs to steal a few million from a poker site? But yet professional gamblers making millions, it is impossible they engaged in criminal activity??? You=insane
If you really think we don't know you are a tool for FTP you are even more crazy!!

 
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Reece2003
over 2 years ago

ok, time to pick apart someone elses post and show them why they are really not as smart as they think they are.

chisoxfan51, you are up buddy.

you concluded that since pokerstars could pay right away that FTP was not in a position to pay at all.

this makes no sense. they were both in a position to pay their players pre april 15th. they both were paying their players pre april 15. yes, as the biggest and best poker site in the world pokerstars was in a better position to pay its players than FTP. this does not mean that FTP was not in a position to pay. it simply means they were not in as good of a position to pay as pokerstars was. and i do not see why that is a problem as long as they were able to pay, and they were, until april 15th.

now i will make a fictional example to show you how this could possibly happen. totally fictional example math here. pokerstars has 20 million cash available on april 15h. FTP has 10 million cash on april 15th. the government freezes 12 million in funds of both companies. leaving pokerstars floating fairly well but mortally wounding the smaller FTP.

they were both in a position to pay before april 15th. they both were paying before april 15th.

 
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Reece2003
over 2 years ago

LisaJax, please, spare me the moral stuff.

us poker players should contribute to society?

poker is a competition for money. just like a lot of other things in life. unlike everything else though, it is a totally fair competition for money. anyone with 1500 bucks can enter the world series of poker. anyone who enters gets dealt two random cards just like everyone else. anyone! with 1500 bucks! it is the greatest thing ever. no discrimination and a fair fight for all the cash! what is not to love?

as a poker player i think of myself a lot like a pro athlete does. the best get paid. that is how it works.

do you get mad at pro golfers when they dominate and take home all the cash?

 
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LisaJax
over 2 years ago

Bottom-line Reece2003, FTP has your money and isn't giving it back. For this I am happy, and I hope that you learned a relatively inexpensive moral lesson. Yeah right (lmao), you're like a pro athelete except that they get paid by their sponsors and the fans who support and attend the events. A more apt comparison would be that you're the "john" paying the "whore" the $1500 for a few hours of purient pleasure. Either way, you certainly got SCREWED!

 
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Reece2003
over 2 years ago

bigherron2, the dollars did not stop flowing in to FTP.

the us government froze a large portion of their funds.

having a large portion of your already existing funds frozen is something totally different from not having any more money flowing in.

but what the heck right, just say whatever comes to mind in a quick second. doesn't have to make sense or be part of the real story at all.

try harder next time.

 
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Reece2003
over 2 years ago

ok, let me switch sides now, i really can not do it obviously, but i will switch teams here for one post.

FTP stinks. big ponzi scheme. they robbed everyone. it was clearly a coincidence that the exact same time the government froze FTPs funds was the exact same time FTP could not pay out their customers for the first time ever. just a crazy coincidence.

is that the other side of it? wow.

 
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chicagotrs
over 2 years ago

Do a little research. There are insider memos floating around that show the mgmt team was very worried about any news that would cause any sort of mass withdrawal. The statements they made to the public/players about funds were knowingly blatant lies.

 
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Reece2003
over 2 years ago

was going to be done for a few minutes, but i thought of one more thing.

i think the fact that pokerstars has paid its customers inspite of all of this actually works for my side.

it shows that the government cracked down on the poker sites whether or not they were able to pay their customers.

 
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chicagotrs
over 2 years ago

Reece...they had a total of 60 million in funds and 400 million in active player accounts. There was no way possible they could continue to pay out winnings without new money coming in. This was a house of cards that was going to come tumbling down eventually...the government just hastened the end.

A legitimate company like Poker Stars was able to refund their players almost immediately.

Imagine that scam artist gamblers...big surprise...not.

 
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drago619
over 2 years ago

"reece2003"

im sorry but your just not getting..i know you want to believe FTP was all good and upstanding but its not the case...heres an example for you in the simplest form. when you go to a casino to play live poker..you buy casino chips with your cash and play the chips on the poker table. your actual cash you traded in for the chips is still at the cage. if you turn around and get up from the table not having lost a a single chip, you can carry your chips back to the cage and trade them back in for cash...now what FTP was doing and what you dont seem to understand is..lets say Howard Lederer was the cashier at the cage now of your local casino..you walk up and hand him 200 to get your chips to sit and play live..howard gives you casino chips, then takes your 200 and proceeds to hand to say phil ivey to play it as well...howard believing he can just replace your 200 deposit with the next player who walks up to buy chips...poker stars was able to pay out its players because they essentially ran the casino correctly and made sure they had the cash on hand for every chip in play on their site. FTP did not follow that same practice.

 
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exOmorfia
over 2 years ago

PokerStars has no choice but to run things that way. It's part of their license/regulations.

If they weren't forced to keep player accounts separate, who knows? They might have used player money for operating costs too.

The truth is, it's a more efficient way to run a business like this. (Oh, and also, it's THE WAY OUR BANKING SYSTEM WORKS.)

That Full Tilt lied about keeping player accounts separate is a black mark, but it's not a "lie" anybody ever suffered from, or ever WOULD have suffered from, if the feds hadn't come along and screwed everything.

If not for Black Friday, we never would have known that Full Tilt was borrowing and lending our money internally, and it wouldn't have made a difference. This is not some great evil. It's wrong, but not evil.

Fine, they weren't truthful. In the real world though, most companies aren't 100% transparent and honest about how their businesses are run, and who cares, when what we don't know doesn't hurt us.

Bottom line: Full Tilt never "stole" anything from anyone, almost certainly had no designs to do so, and cashed anyone and everyone out when they asked. That is, until April 15th.

*The party most directly responsible for separating us from our money is the US government.* Period. It is absurd that people are pointing at Full Tilt when they are a distant second to the DOJ in terms of culpability for screwing us all (to say nothing of the BS freedom-invading travesty of democracy UIGEA that got the ball rolling to where we are now).

 
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bigherron2
over 2 years ago

no one said they were guilty of theft---it's fraud!!!!!

 
 

EagleClaw29
over 2 years ago

You say it's more efficient to run a business like this....and use the example of how our Banking System Works? Our Banking system hasn't fared well lately either....and "The Fed" is basically a criminal enterprise.

But you are right that our Banks work as legal Ponzi schemes.

And it's wrong, but not evil. I think evil is the better word. Full Tilt took in big sums of money from players who now will have it tied up for who knows how long & then eventually maybe get a little of it back.

Bernie Madoff = Full Tilt!

Bernie paid off all his customers too for around 20 years.....much longer than Full Tilt....until a circumstance came about when too many people wanted their money at once & he didn't have it. Told blatant lies about what he was doing with their money. He was obviously using it for a Ponzi scheme.

Full Tilt Poker was a Ponzi scheme just like Madoff's.

It is amazing how many people STILL buy into these things and probably always will.

By the way...of course this is just my opinion & 2 cents regarding this issue.

 
 

JohnAGA
over 2 years ago

This is John from the American Gaming Association. We just released an Online Poker Code of Conduct with measures that would help prevent alleged schemes like this one. It’s our belief that the best way to protect American consumers is to give them access to licensed and regulated American sites. Check out our YouTube video “Online Poker: The Wild West” for more information on government action or visit our website for the full Code of Conduct.

 
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Arturo_Fuente
over 2 years ago

Dear Reese2003. I am a big supporter of online poker - the game of skill, not gambling. I used to play on FTP and loved the site. I liked the software, the avatars, the game selection etc. I left several messages defending FTP after Black Friday and I was their big supporter. 5 months later they still did not pay back what they owe to US players. And if you like facts - this is the fact number one. I now see the things little different. I am sure money was not stollen, it was missmanaged. Unappropriatly huge advanse payments were made to some professional players. Players accounts were not kept separately from operating accounts. I can go on and on and on. I don't care. What I do care is that an honest company SHOULD HAVE FOUND a way to re-pay its debts by now. But long negotiations so far went nowhere, there are no investors and still no money. The other thing that bothered me - FTP based its aggressive promotional compain on big poker names (Fergusson, Lederer, Ivey etc) The rat Ivey was the first one to abandon the sinking ship. Two others dissapered in a thin airand never said a word, nor DID anything to defend the site. I never knew who was Mr. Bitar. But the big poker guys - hello, where are they to defend their own child. I am sure they are set for life financially and they DON'T GIVE A SHIT about a game of poker in general and $150M lost for their fellow Americans. Ivey went even further. You know what I am talking about. What a major Asshole. I am glad he didnot show up at WSOP.
Sorry for a long comment. Please answer my question: If everything settles down and Government's law suit is thrown out tomorrow - will you play again on FTP or Stars? Or better yet - if the new site is open under Harras/MGM management, which one would you choose?

 
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tdda32
over 2 years ago

Give/Lend me 400 Million, I will hold it for you, promise.

 
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LisaJax
over 2 years ago

Bottom-line Reece2003, FTP has your money and isn't giving it back. For this I am happy, and I hope that you learned a relatively inexpensive moral lesson. Yeah right (lmao), you're like a pro athelete except that they get paid by their sponsors and the fans who support and attend the events. A more apt comparison would be that you're the "john" paying the "whore" the $1500 for a few hours of purient pleasure. Either way, you certainly got SCREWED!

 
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pokerbucket
over 2 years ago

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday accused the operators of the online site Full Tilt Poker of operating like a Ponzi scheme, siphoning more than $440 million in gambler winnings to board members and owners.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York also charged PokerStars and Absolute Poker, as well as poker celebrities Howard Lederer and Christopher Ferguson, of taking part in and profiting from the scams, according to an amended version of a forfeiture and civil money laundering complaint that was originally filed in April.

According to the complaint from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Full Tilt Poker and its board, including Lederer and Ferguson, "defrauded players by misrepresenting that their funds on deposit in online gambling accounts were safe, secure, and available for withdrawal at any time."

"In reality, Full Tilt Poker did not maintain funds sufficient to repay all players, and in addition, the company used player funds to pay board members and other owners more than $440 million since April 2007," the complaint read.

The prosecutor is seeking money laundering penalties against the poker champs and is also seeking to forfeit money gained from the alleged scheme. The original complaint from April charged board member Raymond Bitar and 10 other defendants with bank fraud, illegal gambling and money laundering offenses.

"Full Tilt was not a legitimate poker company, but a global Ponzi scheme," said Bharara, in a press release. "Full Tilt insiders lined their own pockets with funds picked from the pockets of their most loyal customers while blithely lying to both players and the public alike about the safety and security of the money deposited with the company."

Barry Boss, the attorney representing Full Tilt Poker, was not available for comment. An e-mail sent to Absolute Poker's media staff was not immediately answered.

The sites for Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars have been shut down as gambling sites, embossed with the seals of the U.S. Department of Justice. They exist only as a means to pay back scammed gamblers, according to settlements signed with the U.S. district attorney in April.

But the sites for Lederer, the self-proclaimed "Poker Professor," and Ferguson were still up on Tuesday, with links to the Full Tilt Poker site. Ferguson's site invites gamblers to "play me online at Full Tilt Poker," even though the site is shut down. Lederer's site offers a similar invitation. Attorneys for Ferguson and Lederer could not be located.

The prosecutor said that, as of March 31, Full Tilt Poker owed about $390 million to players around the world, including $150 million to U.S. players. But the company only had $60 million in bank accounts to pay them back.

Full Tilt paid more than $443 million in player funds to the board of directors and other owners, with $41 million going to Bitar, $42 million going to Lederer, and nearly $12 million going to another board member, Rafael Furst.

The company paid $25 million to Ferguson, and said that it owed him another $62 million, according to the prosecutor's office, noting that much of the money was transferred to Swiss and overseas accounts.

"In order to maintain its false image of financial security, Full Tilt continued to credit player accounts without disclosing its inability to fund those credits," the prosecutor said."When players gambled with these phantom funds and lost to other players, a massive shortfall developed."

The feds have come hard, naming names and giving dollar figures. Bitar, they say, got paid $41 Million into his NatWest account. Lederer received $42 Million in his Wells Fargo account. Records show that Chris Ferguson was due $85 Million, with $25 million already paid out to his CitiBank acccount, and a large sum owed to him. The other unnamed 19 owners received the remainder of the $443,860,530.
The prosecutor said "this scheme continued even after the original complaint was filed and the criminal indictment unsealed in April."

As time went on, the poker site had even less money to pay its customers. By June, Full Tilt owed $300 million to players around the world but only had $6 million to pay them, according to the prosecutor's office.

 
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Philly_Aces
over 2 years ago

All this fuss about who's who and who did what is a joke. Full Tilt was pulling crap from the git-go. Way before Black Friday, EVERY TIME I cashed out at FT, there was some screw-up which delayed getting the funds put back into my account. They always sent some b.s. e-mail to cool me out and eventually I got the cash-out. But months before the stoppage I pulled everything out. On the other hand, I played at PokerStars and got cash-outs almost immediately AND after 4/11 got my bankroll back within days. Full Tilt was a scumbag organization before and criminal enterprise after. I hope all these profiteers hang by their balls, literally or at least figuratively. Lederer and Ferguson look like sleazy bastards, don't they??

 
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bmpek
over 2 years ago

you players want the feds to run things huh. obama and his chicago gang just pissed off 528 million to a company that went bankrupt shortly after getting the money. you really think you can beat what the fees will be on government run sites . give me a break. they will start off reasonable maybe. but will rise very quickly when they relize they have the suckers hooked. check out all the lottries payout goes down every year as a percent of purchaces.like lisa says get a real job .

 
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grilldoggy
over 2 years ago

Don't believe this lie - the US DOJ, the US Government, they want you to believe that Full Tilt was a scam. The scam is the United State Government seizing Full Tilt's assets because of their greed. Full Tilt was the most reliable and trustworthy poker site to date.

 
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