Black Friday: The Day that Changed Everything: Part Two
Once the initial panic had died down we were all able to start taking stock of the new status quo. US based customers on Pokerstars were getting their money back in a timely fashion, while anybody with an account at Full Tilt Poker or the Absolute network/UltimateBet was utterly dismayed with the prospect of never seeing their money again. In many cases we were talking about many tens of thousands of dollars.
Just imagine what the mid to high stakes players were going through. Many of these guys had chosen to keep their entire bankroll online in order to keep their taxation process as simple as possible. It sounded like the safest place!
Now, even if they found it palatable to play on some shady unregulated site that was happy to carry on flouting the law, there was the new reality of having to start from scratch again.
On September 2011 there was an afterthought amendment to the initial complaint by the DoJ. This was that Full Tilt Poker and its board had defrauded players in the style of a global “Ponzi” scheme. There was only $60 million in the company accounts, while $390 million was owed to its customers. $150 million to US based players. The likes of Howard Lederer and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson were now persona non grata wherever they went. This bad feeling still hasn’t died down six years later.
Moving into 2012, Pokerstars had been working hard to put together a deal with the US authorities to take over Full Tilt Poker. This finally came to fruition in a $731 million settlement. It was to take a further two years before Garden City Group were to complete the remissions process; better late than never I suppose. As it happens, GCG have recently been asked to repeat the process for Absolute Poker and UltimateBet in April 2017. Maybe this can all be put right, no matter how long it takes.
By 2013 Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware had re-joined the fray with fully legalised and regulated online poker. The only drawback, and it is a big one, was that they were in a totally ring-fenced player pool. The games were obviously terrible, and for some parts of the day weren’t even running. Just not enough players.
2014 saw Amaya Inc take over from the Scheinbergs, which was kind of a changing of the guard. By now the poker community had gotten used to how things were, and with the Scheinbergs out of the picture, Black Friday was now just a distant memory.
Online poker in 2017 isn’t much different from what it was in 2014. The games are a little tougher, as you might expect. Amaya Inc look to be on a crusade to milk every last cent out of the community with new low edge formats such as Spin and Go. The introduction of sports betting and casino games to the platform was enough to encourage sponsored pros to leave the company.
After Black Friday the online poker scene was awash with lucrative rakeback deals, some very close to 100%. As the numbers began to drop, the head honchos realised that it wasn’t worth fighting for in the same way, and so now even the rakeback scene has been crippled. Amaya then even went as far as screwing over their high stakes pros by killing off the Supernova Elite VIP level.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. The games seem to have stabilised, and the majority seem to agree that poker will be just fine for some years yet. The latest threat to the current domination off Pokerstars and 888 is the new site coming from Phil Galfond. Galfond is one character who is widely known as well as trusted. Can he raise enough capital to market his way to the top of the tree? We should certainly hope so, because a lot of good can come from it.
It’s not game over yet.