PokerListings Blog

american justice 2

April 15, 2011 has become one of the “where were you when” moments of poker.

Seemingly just another day, players instead woke up to DOJ seizure notices on the big three websites available to US players – PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute/UB.

Panic immediately took hold with players scrambling for information.

Shortly after a statement was released explaining that 11 defendants had been charged with band fraud and money laundering including PokerStars' Isai Scheinberg, Fill Tilt Poker's Ray Bitar and Absolute Poker's Scott Tom:

"As charged, these defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

"Moreover, as we allege, in their zeal to circumvent the gambling laws, the defendants also engaged in massive money laundering and bank fraud.

"Foreign firms that choose to operate in the United States are not free to flout the laws they don’t like simply because they can’t bear to be parted from their profits.”

Suddenly PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute/UB were cut off from the massive U.S. online poker market.

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Cash Flow

When the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act hit in 2006 many online poker sites, including industry-leading PartyPoker, decided to vacate the U.S. market as a precautionary measure.

And when those online gaming giants pulled out, it left the door open for sites like PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute/UB Poker to dominate.

And dominate they did.

In the years following UIGEA, PokerStars, Full Tilt and the CEREUS Poker network sucked up over 60% of the online poker market share and brought in hundreds of millions in profit.

Here is a closer look at the so-called big three in their prime from 2006-2011:

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black friday history week how it began

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." – George Satayana

One year ago this Sunday, the US Department of Justice brought charges against Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and the Cereus Poker Network (Absolute Poker/UB).

Every day this week we'll be taking a closer look at the events that led to poker's Black Friday.

Today we reveal the origin stories of Black Friday’s three principal characters.

For a full history of what's happened since Black Friday, see our Black Friday Bulletin Board.

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pokerstars home page

The catch-all, one-stop shop for everything related to poker's Black Friday and the ongoing development of online poker in the US.

We'll be updating this with news and links whenever something significant occurs in relation to PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and AP/UB's ongoing dealings with the US Department of Justice.

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kevmath

Please welcome new guest writer Kevin Mathers, aka Kevmath, poker forum guru and all-around fount of information.

Earlier this month, PokerListings posted an article listing the ten biggest social media players in poker. The list was provided by Klout, a company that measures social media influence by tracking users' Tweets, Facebook posts, FourSquare checkins, etc.

If you've taken a look, there are several interesting choices. The obvious #1 choice is Daniel Negreanu, surely the most powerful professional poker player today, but when you look further down the list, a few names stand out.

Howard Lederer? Phil Ivey? Andy Bloch? Maybe they're using some super-secret accounts only Klout knows about.

When the list was rediscovered earlier this week on Twitter, discussion centered on who should actually be considered.

PokerListings decided to ask me for some guidance, so here's my attempt at the top ten social media players in poker, not necessarily in numerical order.

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In September, PokerListings contacted me about possibly doing some work for them on their site. I was the first person filmed for The Circuit during the WSOP in Las Vegas in July, and had received a lot of positive responses. Considering the fact that I had plenty of free time, I jumped at the opportunity.

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rainbow unicorn

In This Day in Poker we take a look back at poker history. Today we crank the dial all the way back to 2006.

On this day in 2006 Party Poker released a statement announcing massive growth and a very optimistic forecast for the future.

Oh, the clarity of hindsight.

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forexmonitors 1

The jury’s still out on what happens next for online poker players in the United States.

Some, like Phil Galfond, have already left for Canada to keep playing. Some have started the transition to live poker.

Most are still in limbo though. And despite a more optimistic outlook for legislation lately, there’s still no definite timeline for online poker’s mass return to the US.

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BOOM, a poker documentary about, you guessed it, the poker boom, is coming out soon. Produced by Jay Rosenkrantz and company, the film looks good and should cover pretty much everything from 2003 to present.

The production values look good, it seems to have credible sources, and Krantz really hasn't done anything we hate so far, so we're pretty optimistic about this doc.

Check out the trailer and tell us what you think in the comments below.

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DestinyDavis88001www.MegaWallpapers.org

The Department of Justice has taken a page out of a poker strategy book as it maintains its uber-aggressive prosecution of the 11 individuals indicted on May 1.

Their latest move came in the form of a supplemental forfeiture filed yesterday in Manhattan's federal court, outlining the seizure of a 7,200 square-foot home in Las Vegas belonging to Destiny Davis, Playboy's Miss January from 2005.

The DOJ also plans to seize four homes owned or connected to Ray Bitar, principle owner of Full Tilt Poker.

The seizure of an innocent Playboy model's home may seem confusing since she wasn't indicted on Black Friday, and as far as we know she has no actual involvement with the poker sites in question.

The move must have something to do with the fact Davis married Chad Elie, one of the indicted payment processors, just one day after the federal charges were announced.

Something tells us that house was bought with money earned through Elie's payment processing, and can therefore be classified as proceeds of a criminal enterprise, subject to forfeiture.

Federal prosecutors are also moving on four homes in Glendora, California thought to be owned by Ray Bitar. The flagship of these properties seems to be a 5,100 square-foot mansion on an estate with clear views of Los Angeles and even a private vineyard.

Given the scope of Full Tilt's operations we don't think these seizures are going to cause Ray Bitar all that much pain. And if Destiny Davis needs a place to stay PokerListings is renting a house in Vegas for the WSOP.

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