Absolute Poker, UB Drop Sponsored Pros

Joe Sebok
Joe Sebok.

Absolute Poker and UB have dropped its stable of sponsored pros in the wake of online poker's Black Friday.

"Recently, Absolute Poker and UB ceased their U.S.-facing operations due to legal developments in the United States," reads a statement from parent company, Blanca Games.

"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.'"

Management at Blanca Games has informed the team of ten UB pros and one player representing Absolute Poker their contracts have been terminated.

That list includes Joe Sebok, Prahlad Friedman, Eric "Basebaldy" Baldwin, Maria Ho, Brandon Cantu, Tiffany Michelle, Scott Ian, "Hollywood" Dave Stann, Adam "Roothlus" Levy, Bryan Devonshire and Trishelle Cannatella.

"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," the statement reads.

"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 creating a rock-solid community at the pair of online poker rooms."

April 15, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney charged the principals of three of online poker's biggest sites with bank fraud, illegal gambling and laundering billions of dollars.

In all, 11 defendants were charged, including PokerStars' Isai Scheinberg, Fill Tilt Poker's Ray Bitar and Absolute Poker's Scott Tom.

PokerStars, Full Tilt, Absolute Poker and UB have all since pulled out of the U.S. market and began the process of defending themselves against the charges.

Absolute Poker issued a statement in late April claiming it had retained council and Blanca Games Inc. said Wednesday it has downsized and streamlined operations significantly at both UB and Absolute.

The company now claims its legal counsel is moving forward in ongoing discussion with the U.S. Attorney's office with the ultimate objective of reaching an agreement to facilitate the return of funds to U.S. players.

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