Stars/Tilt deal silence wearing on poker community

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Jul 21, 2012 Posted in Op-Ed | No Comments »

PokerStars versus Full TiltApril 15, 2011 seems like a lifetime ago for most poker players, but for a small percentage of players who have a considerable amount of money trapped on Full Tilt Poker, Black Friday is not simply a distant memory, it invades their thoughts every day. We’ve now passed the 15-month point since Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and UB/AP Poker were attacked by the US department of Justice, and we are now passed the one-year point when Full Tilt Poker’s operating license was suspended, and there are still very few answers for the affected players.

First it was Full Tilt Poker, promising funds were safe and that US players would be repaid as soon as a few details were ironed out with the DOJ. When poker players realized this was simply not going to happen the hopes of the community fell on Groupe Bernard Tapie, and their deal to acquire the beleaguered site and repay its players.

The Tapie deal was strung-out for well over 6-months before finally crumbling, but as always seemed the case throughout Full Tilt poker’s post-Black Friday existence a new suitor arrived on the scene to clean-up the mess that had been left, this time in the guise of Full Tilt Poker’s chief rival, PokerStars.

Since the first rumors hit the poker forums and Twitter it seems everyone was already counting their money; virtually anyone who might know anything about the deal called it a done-deal, and we were looking at the beginning of the 2012 WSOP as a possible target-date for an announcement.

Instead we have been left with silence, deafening silence. The closest thing we have to a deal even being on the table is a fairly innocuous tweet by ESPN’s Andrew Feldman who quoted PokerStars Head of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser as saying a Tweet saying there was no deal was false. That’s the official word on a PokerStars/Full Tilt Poker deal after nearly three months of rumors: The Tweet that a deal was never discussed is false.

That’s IT! That’s what the poker community is resting their hopes on. Granted there have been many times throughout this long process that I felt an announcement could indeed be forthcoming, but more times than naught I’ve been concerned with the silence, and it seems like when the silence has become too much to bear, and the poker community is going to crack and grab their pitchforks and torches a major advancement occurs in the process, always with the caveat that there is still more work to be done and hurdles to be cleared.

But how long will the poker community continue to be appeased by these infrequent updates? How long can Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and the DOJ continue to play Lucy to the poker communities Charlie Brown before we simply stop kicking the ball? The chance that PokerStars is any closer to a deal than Groupe Bernard Tapie is frightfully low, and we all saw in the details of the proposed Tapie deal how that would have worked out for players.

What we seem to have is a lot of people with money tied-up on Full Tilt poker who are hoping for a deal, and trying to find the silver linings on what appear to be ever-growing black clouds. Ideas, suggestions, and small glimmers of hope seem to turn into notarized stamps when they are relayed to the masses. Inside sources seem to be a dime a dozen (unless it’s the same person relaying the same information to everyone, either by themselves or through surrogates, which may very well be the case) and the information always positive… right up until the very end.

One matter has bothered me from the outset: The idea that the DOJ is concerned about returning player funds. This has been cited by a number of people as one of the reasons the DOJ will be interested in cutting a deal. But frankly the DOJ has about as much interest in seeing Jungleman get his Full Tilt funds as they do in making sure every Madoff investor is compensated. Sure if there is some coins left in the piggy bank they will dole them out, but the idea that that PR will drive the DOJ to a deal is nothing more than wishful thinking.

 

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