Monday, April 18, 2011

Good Mourning

Before I get any personal ranting and whining done, I'd like to first off say that my plight pales in comparison to a lot of other really good people. There are so many talented friends out there whose future is uncertain. I'd like to express to them that I wish them to best of luck as we all ride out the waves of uncertainty that follow from this past Black Friday. It may take a while, but my bet is that these folks will eventually land on their feet and be back up and running in a better spot than they have been the last few years. The transition will probably be painful, but the hard work and dedication that those folks have employed in the past will only translate into success in the future.


I was in the parking lot at Trader Joe's. My parents were in town and I had just taken them for Thai food at my favorite local spot (Sweet Basil) and we were picking up some odds and ends to snack on. I got a Google Chat message from Otis' friend T, which was vague. He doesn't play poker, but sent me a link to Pokerstars with the words Uh-oh. My phone (HTC Thunderbot, FTW!) browsed to the page immediately and found no problem. I asked him some more questions and he mentioned that the site had been taken down by the FBI. Off to 2+2 I went for the ugly confirmation.

Domain name seizures had happened before, so I didn't necessarily panic immediately. As the day wore on, more and more information came to light. With the .com domains hijacked, none of the Full Tilt client software's functionality NOT related to actual game play worked. No Iron Man status page, no Full Tilt store (not that there was anything good in there electronic-wise of late), no ability to transfer (sorry Drizz), nothing except an ability to sit at a table and play.

I realized making a withdrawal request was meaningless, so I took perhaps some equally meaningless screenshots of my account balance while I still could. How badly was I hit? A decent amount, probably about $4500 in cash and close to $900 in player point equity. Can I live without it if worst comes to worst? Yes, but I sure as hell don't want to. It is after all entirely my money and there is nothing I did illegally to acquire it. One thing I do know is that I'm not the person with the most at stake. There are others with much larger online balances to worry about. Will we ever get our balances back? Tom Dwan and Phil Galfond think so, having publicly stated their willingness to pay $1 million each if Tilt and Stars don't. As confidence inspiring as that is, it's still no guarantee. I think our most hopeful option is a Netteller-like payback time frame, 6-12 months of our money being in limbo and then a grace period where the players get their money back risk free. The alternative is that it vanishes forever.


Since my parents were in town, the pain of not being able to play online was somewhat minimized. But as reality sunk in, so did the withdrawal symptoms. What on Earth was I going to do with all this free time that I just acquired? I wasn't exactly sure. Most of my tech gadgets and buying decisions were centered around the ability to play online poker where ever and when ever I wanted to. Netbook, check. Ability to tether to my phone, check. Now what do I do with those things? I'm at a loss.

I'll obviously up my live play a bit. I had retired on Monday nights due to sleep deprivation and being over-tired for my weekday workouts. But now, with no online play to compensate for foregoing a live game, I'll find a way to struggle through. I'll also host more. In fact, I'm trying to host a game tonight as I type this. And if that doesn't go? Well, the PLO game I've blogged about runs on Monday's too. I have a sickness.


When all the dust clears, I feel that online poker will come back to the U.S. albeit in a slightly different form. It may take a year or more to do so, but there's too much money available for it not to happen. Dear Harrah's, get your shit together. You now have access to hundreds of thousands of players with no viable alternative option. I think we all knew that with Stars and Tilt offering services to American players, no U.S. company was going to invest a lot of money in developing a site knowing full well they'd be playing an unwinnable catch up game with respect to player base and marketing. Now, not only is the playing field leveled, it's stacked entirely in their favor. So much so that they can take their sweet time in providing the next alternative.

I just wish they'd hurry the hell up before my mouse-clicking finger withers with a sad, all too pathetic form of atrophy.

1 comment:

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