KC Poker Pro Recovers $1m in PokerStars-FTP Deal

Blair Hinkle
Blair Hinkle is one of the biggest winners in the recent PokerStars/FTP deal.

Yesterday Kansas City's Blair Hinkle woke up to the news that PokerStars bought Full Tilt Poker and that player funds would be repaid, including the more than $1 million Hinkle's had frozen since Black Friday.

On February 20, 2011, roughly two weeks after his 25th birthday, Hinkle had the biggest score of his career. He chopped the FTOPS main event on Full Tilt Poker for over $1.16 million playing under his screenname "blur5f6".

That’s more than double what he got for winning a WSOP gold bracelet in 2008.

Less than two months after Hinkle’s FTOPS victory the US government brought legal action against the world’s three biggest online poker rooms and started the chain of events that resulted in Full Tilt Poker being shut down completely.

Hinkle had not been able to get one dollar off the site in the intervening weeks and he’s spent the last 15 months wondering if he’d ever get his hands on the money he thought would change his life.

“The best way to describe the feeling I have right now is just a lot of relief,” Hinkle told PokerListings.com the day the news was announced.

“It feels so good to know that everyone’s going to get paid now. A lot of people went through a lot and it’s so good to know everyone’s going to be alright now,” said Hinkle.

Life on Hold after Black Friday

In the weeks following his million-dollar win Hinkle had been making long-term plans with his girlfriend Angela. Those plans included buying a house in the Kansas City area.

Grant Hinkle
“It turned into this crazy waiting game where I really just wanted an answer one way or the other."

But when Black Friday hit and Full Tilt Poker went belly-up a few weeks later, Hinkle was forced to put those plans on hold.

“It turned into this crazy waiting game where I really just wanted an answer one way or the other. I was scared to make any big commitments,” explained Hinkle.

Hinkle said that in the beginning he wasn’t overly worried about his money, assuming like most that Full Tilt Poker was a successful, well-run company that would have no trouble covering the money with which its customers had been playing poker.

But in the months following Black Friday, evidence surfaced that painted a much different picture. In fact Full Tilt Poker had been operating at a shortfall totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Previous to this discovery many in the poker world had been selling their Full Tilt money but, luckily for Hinkle, it never came to that.

“In the beginning while everyone was busy selling at like 80 percent or whatever, I was just thinking it’s no big deal, Full Tilt’s such a big company. How could they not have the money?” said Hinkle.

“Then when everything came out about how the company was being run and the trouble they were in, the discount on selling Full Tilt money was just too big. I didn’t see the point in selling,” he added.

So while circumstances conspired to make the last 15 months difficult on Blair Hinkle, it appears the same conditions helped him hold on to his account in full. And now, with the news that PokerStars and the DOJ will be making him whole again, Hinkle can finally breathe a little easier.

But according to Hinkle he won’t be able to put this ordeal behind him entirely until the money is safely deposited in his bank account.

Blair Hinkle
“I’ve been telling myself not to celebrate until the money hits my bank account.”

“For more than a year I’ve basically just been going through life telling myself not to get too up or down about the whole situation, so even now in the back of my mind I’m telling myself not to get too excited about it,” laughed Hinkle.

“I’ve been telling myself not to celebrate until the money hits my bank account.”

Confidence in New Full Tilt Poker Despite Experience

Blair Hinkle has endured more than most in the months since Black Friday. But despite the trials of the last year he said he’d have no trouble opening an account at the new Full Tilt Poker.

Unfortunately for Hinkle, as an American he has access to neither Full Tilt nor any other online poker room.

But if that changes in the future he’s ready to deposit money on a site that carries the FTP name.

“I would be happy to play on the new Full Tilt and I think everyone should be confident playing there if PokerStars is running it,” said Hinkle. “PokerStars will run it the way an online poker site should be run and quite honestly, you should just be printing money if you’re running a site like that.”

“I would have no problem opening an account on the new site if it’s available in the US sometime in the future."

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