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Absolute Poker and UB Sever Ties With 11 Sponsored Pros

Blanca Games Lays Off 11 Team Pros In Restructuring Effort


Former Members of Team UBOn Monday, Blanca Games released a statement explaining their decision to sever ties with 11 of their U.S.-based sponsored pros on both UB and Absolute Poker.

Due to the negative impact Black Friday has had on the financial situation of the company, Joe Sebok, Eric Baldwin, Prahlad Friedman, Adam Levy, Bryan Devonshire, Brandon Cantu, Maria Ho, Trishelle Cannatella, Dave Stann, Scott Ian and Tiffany Michelle were all laid off. Former team members Phil Hellmuth and Annie Duke left the company last December.

Last week, in a statement to address bankruptcy rumors, Blanca Games explained that they were currently in the process of restructuring the company after ceasing their U.S. facing operations. The company has already laid off approximately 95 percent of their employees at their Costa Rican operations center.

Take a look at the press release below.

“Recently, Absolute Poker and UB ceased their U.S.-facing operations due to legal developments in the United States. To ensure the on-going viability of the business, it has been necessary to downsize certain aspects of Absolute Poker’s and UB’s operations. These efficiency measures have been taken to enable the brands to continue to operate their non-U.S.-facing business.

“These actions are the result of the severe impact of ‘Black Friday’ on the business, and these efficiency measures have negatively affected not only the financial position of the brands, but also their staff and personnel. Regrettably, the negative effect of ‘Black Friday’ has extended to the Company’s highest profile group of poker professionals, known as ‘Team UB’. Consequently, Blanca’s executive management team today informed its roster of sponsored pros that, in accordance with the provisions of their agreements, their contracts have been terminated. Each of the ten Team UB pros, plus one player representing Absolute Poker, has received personal notification that their sponsorship arrangement with Blanca’s respective online poker room is now invalid.

“This was a difficult task for Blanca’s management, and we are very disappointed that we have been compelled to sever ties with our sponsored pros. Over the years, the Company has been successful in gathering a group of young, extraordinarily talented and brand-appropriate poker professionals who have proudly sported its logos. We are truly saddened that circumstances have dictated this course of action, and we regret that we are no longer in a position to partner with our sponsored pros, or to provide them with a source of income for playing the game that they love. We appreciate their significant time and dedication shared with us, and we thank them for the loyalty and patience they have continued to show us even during the unsettling events of the past few weeks. We respect and admire them for their many accomplishments, both at the poker tables and away from them, and we will always be grateful for their valuable contributions to building the UB and Absolute Poker brands and to creating a rock-solid community at the pair of online poker rooms.”

Today’s layoff of all 11 American-based poker pros follows last week’s announcement by Blanca that its workforce had been significantly reduced. Both actions form part of a strategic restructuring of the company that will enable the business to focus its resources on consolidating its non-U.S., rest-of-the-world operation and software business. Absolute Poker and UB continue to operate their non-U.S. facing business around the world.

The company’s legal counsel continues to move forward in ongoing discussion with the U.S. Attorney’s office with the ultimate objective of reaching an agreement with the Department of Justice that would facilitate the return of funds to U.S. players.

Some of the pros affected have already taken to their twitter accounts and blogs to voice their frustrations.

Joe Sebok — “When I signed with UB, I really thought I could change the world. I worked harder than any of you will ever know to try to do just that. In the end though, it seems that I was more naive than I thought I was. I want to apologize to the poker community for where I may have failed you all. I worked hard to try and accomplish a bunch of goals, more than perhaps I ever had any chance of doing. Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew, and I may have done exactly that in this situation.”

Bryan Devonshire — “UB released me today, has promised return of funds. Go **** yourself DOJ. We beg for tax and regulation and you claim we’re criminal. FFFUU. We don’t need our morals legislated. We don’t need you to protect us from ourselves. Let gay people get married. Leave us alone.”

Adam Levy — “I’m a free agent suckahhhs! Wombat Poker where ya at???”

Scott Ian — “Not gonna stop me from playing.”