April 16, 2011
A few personal traits:
- I rarely, rarely get upset.
- Almost nothing bothers me
- I have an incredibly positive outlook on life
On Friday, April 15th, 2011, a lot of that was shaken. After working exceptionally hard at a hobby that turned into a business for more than four years, online poker in the United States as we know it is dead, for now.
Turn out the lights, the party's over.
A lot of friends and colleagues have asked for my opinions over the last 24 hours, so I'll try to give you my thoughts on how I see everything unfolding:
First, this is definitively the end of online poker as we know it. Poker Stars, Full Tilt, and UB/AP will likely never recover or be allowed to pursue business in the United States again. I find it likely-to-quite-likely that Poker Stars and hopefully Full Tilt have enough capital to cover player accounts as they continue to operate internationally. The fact that the US only has jurisdiction in, well, the US, means continued operations in all other countries, and Poker Stars said, "Business as Usual." What's the silver lining here? With operations continuing for these sites internationally, they *must* honor the player account balances of United States players in order to hold confidence levels with the distraught international community. Poker Stars has announced that all player balances are safe. I believe them.
As for Cereus, that's another story...and I'm not holding my breath.
How long until we can actually get our money? Good question, probably months, maybe into "years." Is there anything you can do right now? Probably not.
A lot of you are also asking "why" this is happening now. Let's be clear: this indictment isn't about moral compass, it's about money. A few thoughts:
1) The poker sites are almost certainly guilty of the charges (bribery, bank fraud, money laundering). This case is *not* about online poker itself being illegal, it's about the way money is moved due to it.
2) The Department of Justice doesn't file charges unless they know, with certainty, that they will win the case.
3) With all of the recent flirtation with legalizing instra-state online poker, it's clear that the legislators have realized that the tax revenue from legalized and regulated online poker is substantial, and could be as much as $40 billion over ten years.
4) This is a political play to punish those operating beneath the covers, and also make way for domestic sites to be licensed and participate without competition, while creating jobs in America and keeping the tax revenue here, while stimulating the local economics.
5) I firmly believe there will be licensed and regulated online poker in the United States, in some form, in the next 3 years. Perhaps sooner.
6) I firmly believe that Poker Stars, FTP and Cereus will, unfortunately, not be part of that model.
The last four years have been an incredible ride: I've grown so much as a person, learned so much about myself as a competitor and businessman, embraced advanced mathematics for a cause, and most importantly - made some of the best friends I could ask for.
I'm sad today not because I'll miss playing online poker or the money involved, but I'm sad for my friends who do this for a living and will have to change their lives completely - at least for a few years. I'm sad because I won't be able to root on teammates deep in a tournament and not caring if it's the Sunday Million or the 1r turbo, and rooting just as hard either way, calling cards on the rail with a 85% accuracy rate. I'm sad because a game, openly and admittedly played by our President, that I love will be tied up and suspended for years because of political and financial nonsense.
I'm sad because poker is a true community, and this community we have has been attacked. I look forward to remaining active in the poker community as we make our way towards a licensed and regulated environment. Let's get there as fast as we can and coming out swinging when it happens. It's going to be a bumpy ride - but I'm excited to get there.
I wish the best to everyone out there, and if there's anything I can do to help - from reviewing resumes to making reference calls, let me know. I'm here to help.
Special thanks to Daaaaaaang16, THEOSU, tbremer99, DeucesCracked, and all of Team MVP - you guys are the best and that's all there is to it. We'll all be back.