Griffin To Be Given Freedom After Full Tilt Poker Deal
Poker Pro Deciding Between School And Travel
High-stakes cash game professional Ashton Griffin won more freedom with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker reaching a settlement agreement with the U.S. government — a deal which will provide victims of Full Tilt’s fraud with money back. More than $300 million was siphoned off from players, of which several hundreds of thousands belong to Griffin.
According to the HighstakesDB, he was up nearly $5 million on Full Tilt over his three-year career on the site, which makes him one of the most profitable players in web-poker history.
When asked if he’s going to reclaim his money as soon as possible, Griffin said simply: “You aren’t going to see theashman103 [his screen name] at the $200-$400 tables anytime soon.”
Since he’s an American, the 23-year-old will rely on the Department of Justice for his cash out. PokerStars forfeited $547 million to the feds as part of its settlement and acquisition of defunct Full Tilt. That money will be used to pay U.S. players, while PokerStars is responsible for refunds to all other countries. There’s no timetable yet for U.S. players.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in Tuesday’s press release that the deal “allow[s] us to quickly get significant compensation into the victim players’ hands.” As reported by Forbes, some questions remain on the level of compensation.
Competition runs through Griffin’s veins, and poker has served him well at times. He said he will continue to play in some capacity throughout his life, but it won’t be online poker.
“In the long-term, poker can only be played live, in person,” Griffin said. “I see myself playing with people who are enjoyable to sit with. It’s fun to play with people who are willing to share their life knowledge and who can make you laugh. We all could use a personality boost.”
Online poker is a rite of passage, according to Griffin. Poker enthusiasts these days, he said, accept the digital version of the game, but there’s always that yearning for face-to-face interaction. Under the Griffin philosophy, live poker will never die, even as its cyberspace counterpart evolves technologically and expands globally over time.
For Griffin, Internet poker will always be a part of him — a component of his past that changed him for better and, in some ways, for worse. Even when he abandons it, he won’t write off the kind of appeal that it will have to the next generation of young players.
“I’m not going to judge those who are willing to pay the price for the chance to make a large sum of money, but I imagine that there’s the tiniest part of soul getting sucked out of those who chose to play every second that goes by,” he said.
Griffin suffered through the ups and downs that are consistent with a life of high-stakes poker. He didn’t inherent a multi-million dollar bankroll. He built it from scratch, but his skills on the felt didn’t come with the composure to keep his fortune safe from himself.
“The combination of success, money and a lack of discipline at a young age is a one way street towards pain,” Griffin said. “I was just another victim of being too undisciplined. I let a lot of money slip away. Luckily, I did things to prevent losing it all.”
His wherewithal came post-Black Friday. Just two months before Full Tilt was closed off to American players, Griffin had the majority of his bankroll on the line in a running prop bet. He had to run 70 miles in a 24-hour period or he would lose $900,000. If he accomplished the feat, which was to be performed on a treadmill, he would win $300,000.
He won the bet with just 45 minutes to spare, and his bankroll was saved.
“My mind has evolved over the past year, and I’ve gathered self-control and patience,” Griffin said of how he has learned to not be as reckless with his money.
The anxiety that he endured at times while his money was locked up on Full Tilt has also forced him to be more skeptical of his surroundings. He said he’s not as “naive” as he once was.
With the upcoming return of his money and the wisdom he has gained since April 2011, Griffin has the freedom on multiple levels to pursue other things that interest him. He has a few weeks left to decide if he’ll go back to school at the University of Central Florida. Griffin has one year of eligibility left for wrestling. He has two years worth of courses left, if he wishes to continue.
“Graduating isn’t really a priority,” Griffin admitted, “but I enjoy the social and discipline benefits, and of course wrestling is a huge factor.”
He’s also pondering a nomadic lifestyle. He said he’s “ashamed” that he doesn’t have a higher level of knowledge of the world. He wants to grow culturally, as well as spiritually.
Right now, Griffin is in Toronto, Canada playing cards. He said he’ll be there for at least another week and that it’s a coin flip between school and travel. Despite his love for flexibility and adventure, Griffin aspires to one day settle down and start a family — plans that also became more realistic after Tuesday’s announcement from the DOJ.
“I’m at a point where the only value in making money is to provide freedom for future me and my future children,” Griffin said. “It’s a duty and desire of mine to raise talented, disciplined and children of character. However, the dust hasn’t settled enough for this to happen just yet.”
Griffin is highly respected within the poker community. He’s selfless and honorable, and he had the plight of others on his mind, more so than himself, in the wake of Tuesday’s news.
“Ultimately, I’ll be most happy to see all my friends get paid,” Griffin said. According to Griffin, dozens of players have six-figure sums on Full Tilt.
Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus
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