In the following article we’ll revisit PokerStars.com's failed attempts to re-enter the US, the disappointingly slow Full Tilt Poker remission process, a group of pros arrested for illegal gambling and the underwhelming reception of the year's biggest poker movie.
10. Poker Pros Indicted in International Illegal Gambling Ring
In April the FBI arrested 34 people in an international poker and gambling ring that was reportedly run by the Russian mob and catered to Hollywood celebs and Wall Street fat cats.
Among the 34 people arrested were a number of well-known poker pros including Vadim Trincher, Abe Mosserri, Justin Smith, Peter Feldman and Bill Edler.
The FBI's investigation uncovered a gambling and money-laundering operation that had been running since at least 2006 out of Kyiv, Moscow, Los Angeles and New York. According to the indictment they had laundered at least $100 million.
In September Justin Smith pleaded guilty to accepting a financial instrument in connection with unlawful Internet gambling, an illegal sportsbook. Smith will forfeit $500,000 and could face as much as five years in prison. He will be sentenced in January of 2014.
In November Vadim Trincher pleaded guilty to operating an international gambling ring. According to the plea deal Trincher will serve between 21 and 27 months in prison and forfeit significant assets including 13 properties.
9. Runner, Runner Underwhelms
The poker world has been starved for a legitimately great poker movie since Rounders dropped in 1998.
When we learned about the new thriller Runner Runner from the writers of Rounders we were careful not to get too excited.
It starred Justin Timberlake. The trailers told of fast-paced action scenes stretching from Costa Rica to Wall Street. It had Ben Affleck on a yacht, basically all the key ingredients of a summer poker blockbuster.
The end result, however, broke our hearts and underwhelmed even our cautiously optimistic expectations.
The only way we were able to make it through the year was the news that Rounders 2 is real and it is spectacular (they tell us).
8. Full Tilt Poker Remission Process Drags On
Before PokerStars bought Full Tilt Poker and coughed up the roughly $150 million owed to US players it was unclear if anyone would be paid back, but after a year and half Americans still don't have their cash.
US players had until the middle of November to submit their petition to get reimbursed for what was in their FTP accounts all the way back in April of 2011 but there's no hard and fast timeline for when they'll actually see the money.
The US government is also trying to sort out the $80 million in “phantom deposits” made by FTP players leading up to Black Friday.
7. Bill Perkins Pays $550k for Tattoo, Seems Homophobic
Poker players have a reputation for misguided frivolity but Bill Perkins took things to dizzying new heights this year when he paid Jeff Gross $550,000 to get a small gay pride rainbow tattoo on his upper back.
The kicker? Perkins was free to choose the most embarrassing thing he could think of and he came up with a gay pride flag.
The whole bet reeked of homophobia from Perkins but on the bright side Gross was spared the experience of having something truly terrible tattooed on him for life.
Gross pocketed more than half a million and was quick to explain that he was “totally cool” with the tattoo and supported gay rights.
Perkins won't feel much of a sting from the six-figure payout, he manages a vast hedge fund, but might have to put up with a few raised eyebrows about why he finds gay rights so embarrassing.
6. PokerStars Does Not Get NJ Approval
2013 saw the return of online poker to the US, albeit in only a few states scattered across the country.
For the most part it's been land-based casinos getting their hands on licenses, but poker players were secretly hoping to play on the site they were happy playing on before Black Friday: PokerStars.
New Jersey, the biggest state so far to dip its toe into online poker regulation, crushed that dream for players in their state when they passed on PokerStars' license application.
New Jersey said that unless PokerStars made some serious changes, including cutting ties with company founder Isai Scheinberg, the application won't be reviewed again for at least two years.
Although a small market on the global poker scale, NJ Governor Chris Christie has estimated that online gambling in New Jersey could generate $1 billion in its first year.