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The Reality of the Online Poker Shutdown/FTP/Stars

by Josh Brikis |  Published: Aug 24, '11


I have seen just over the past week a bunch of posts on facebook and twitter of friends and other poker pros that are actually moving to another country in order to play the WCOOP on PokerStars that is starting very soon. It isn’t that I am surprised by this at all but it is more sad than anything else that it really has come to this. We are supposed to be “The Land of the Free” but yet multiple hard working successful poker players that rely on online poker to pay their bills, are moving to other countries! They want to do what they have been doing for the past however long and they don’t have a choice to do it from the comfort of their own home here in the United States. The live circuit is not cheap and it is way different than online…alot of winning players can’t quite afford to travel and play the live circuit and these players along with other players with different reasons are moving and it is becoming a reality 4 months after this sad sad day in the poker world. I have no choice but to stay as my family and everything I have is here…it isn’t even something I ever considered for one second. Recently I have been just itching to play a session on Stars and seeing all these people going to play it just made me want to write about it. I think mostly everyone in the poker world realizes how this has changed all of our lives drastically but I don’t think people outside the poker world really understand.

One of my really good friends Brian was a heads up sitngo pro and really didn’t care for multi table tournaments or cash or anything else poker for that matter. He stuck to heads ups and grinded everyday and made solid money every month and that was good enough for him. He had a routine and stuck to it everyday and that was his life. He was one of the nittiest bankroll management guys I ever met but that’s just how he was and that is what was comfortable for him. He did however have most of his life roll on Full Tilt Poker and as we all know, we not only haven’t seen a penny of our $ from these cowards, we haven’t heard a peep from any of the main guys involved, including top respected players of our game. Brian has a kid here and doesn’t have the option to move to another country to continue making $ the way he was. He also doesn’t have the $ to travel and play live poker. He was basically left with one option and that was to get a different job and is doing very well working a sales job now and I am happy for him. It isn’t the end of the world for someone to get a career change but to be forced into it because our government can’t figure out a way to allow us to play poker online but we can go to the nearest casino and bet sports/play slots/blackjack or go to the gas station and play the lottery, is pretty absurd if you ask me.

I want to speak on Full Tilt a little bit more. I don’t want to say that I knew anything more than anyone else did, but I do want to point out that I spoke out loud and clear when they decided that Multi Entries was their new genius idea. I even got a txt from my agent the morning after I tweeted about it because one of the Full Tilt guys saw my tweet and told my agent I shouldn’t be saying that stuff. I didn’t stop there though because it was blatantly obvious that this was good for no one but the shady people running the company. It costs me thousands for the one double guarantees week and some of the FTOPS on that big Sunday but I quit playing on there after blowing thru a ton of $ and running horribly bad…somehow managing to bust 4-6 entries in every big buy in and not winning any tourney for a year but winning tournaments on Stars weekly and monthly with less volume. I am not suggesting anything else was actually going on but I had that feeling each and every hand I was dealt on that site. The Multi Entries just put it all in perspective and showed what that company was all about. I even found out since Black Friday that apparently Full Tilt was accepting deposits from people and never actually taking the $ from those peoples accounts for whatever reason, hence the reason they don’t have our $ to pay us. It does however amaze me that you can have such a goldmine of a company and be that greedy and really take such a cash cow and run it right into the ground. I also realize they made tons and somehow are living lavishly somewhere while us little guys just accept the fact that we got owned by some shady bracelet winners and so called faces of poker. It’s hard to completely understand who to actually be mad at and who to believe that they knew nothing…It’s hard to believe that we play with and talk to guys that made fortunes from a company that can’t pay us but that’s the reality of it. Realizing the legal battles that Ivey, Howard and Ferguson are facing, I can understand why they have never said anything but if those 3 let the poker world down in the long run after the legal stuff is over, that would be a huge huge let down and I would hate to be any of them. With the $ those guys have made, all of us expect to be paid even if it isn’t thru the company and it comes right from their pockets. The only good thing is that it isn’t actually over with and there is still some hope. Looks like as of now, Sept. 15th is the date to keep an eye on…until it gets extended again that is…

I must say that throughout the years of online poker and even through this mess of a time period, PokerStars has absolutely handled everything like complete professionals and they have all of my respect in the way they handled everything from payouts, to FPP points to continuing to be the biggest site worldwide and helping get the U.S. players that move back on and playing. It is absolutely amazing the differences between the 2 sites. You could tell over the years though why they were always #1 and it continued with the way they handled black Friday. With that being said, I am extremely disappointed that when online poker does come back to the states, PokerStars will almost surely never be a part of it and that isn’t cool.

I don’t know anything more than the next guy, but I do take this career seriously and am glad to give my opinions. I worked extremely hard the past few years to build a name for myself with the hopes of eventually breaking into the sponsorship deals that everyone in this business hopes for. Not everyone can win every tourney they play, so there are other ways to brand yourself along with still winning and I have done alot of things to do that but the government has also taken any shot there ever was of that happening too and its really sad. As all of us do, I hope someday soon online poker is back in full swing, even though I don’t miss most things about it, I do miss the freedom to play when I want and that outside shot of one day getting sponsored.

I have only played 2 tourneys since coming back from the WSOP and I cashed them both for small amounts but I could not be any more excited to get to Borgata in Sept. for the open! In the meantime, my absolute favorite time of the year…Fantasy Football Time! 4 drafts coming up! Then its time for some football! HERE WE GO STEELERS, HERE WE GO!!!

Thank you all for reading!

Josh Brikis was 25th in Player of the Year in 2009. He is a member of Poker Players International Elite. Josh has amassed over 1.5 million in career earnings playing live and online under the name Brikdog24. Brikis won the $1500 WPT Prelim at Borgata for $119k in Sept. His biggest score was in 2009 at the WSOP. Josh took 2nd in the $5k 6 Max NL Event #56 for $619k. Josh has 11 cashes in the past 3 years at the WSOP including a 55th place finish in the 2010 Main Event! He has final tabled a WSOP event 3 years in a row! Check out his professional website at and follow him on Twitter @Jbrikis.

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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