Recent Poker News Dump: Instability Edition
THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2011-09-18, by OzoneConvicted Sex Offender Booted from Epic Poker League $20,000 Event
The poker world has not been without controversy this year. The newly-launched Epic Poker League has had to deal with placing the winner of their inaugural event, Chino Rheem, on probation for the outstanding debts he owes to various members of the poker community. Prior to their second Main Event, which was won by Mike McDonald, the league disqualified convicted sex offender Michael DiVita after he won a $20,000 seat in their Pro/Am event.
While it's nice to see a tournament organization holding players to a code of ethics, the EPL messed up the DiVita situation pretty badly. After discovering that he had served time for sexually assaulting a minor, the EPL disqualified DiVita from the $20,000 event and awarded his seat to the player who finished below him in the $1,500 qualifier. The EPL claimed that DiVita withdrew voluntarily, but DiVita claims otherwise saying that he was told by the league that if he didn't withdraw from the event, he would get nothing back, not even his original $1,500 buy-in from the qualifying event.
To an extent, it's understandable that the EPL didn't want a convicted sex offender winning their second event after their first event was won by a player notorious for his bad debt. But like it or not, DiVita won his $20,000 seat fair and square. While it's agreed upon that sex crimes against minors are basically the worst offense one can commit in most societies, the EPL is putting themselves on a slippery slope by depriving DiVita of the value of the seat he won fair and square. One would not begrudge them from prohibiting DiVita from playing any of their tournaments if they so choose. But the fact of the matter is, he won his seat fair and square in the Pro/Am event and at the very least deserves $20,000 for his efforts.
If the EPL is as serious as they appear to be about heightening ethics and standards in the poker world, they should consider casting an eye towards their members who owned and profited from defunct online poker rooms. Of course, we're unlikely to see this happen; Annie Duke, founder of the EPL, former shill for UB, and sister of Howard Lederer, isn't exactly in a position to start slinging mud at anyone who cashed in on the FTP or UB poker world fleecings.
The sad reality is, the poker world is filled with all sorts of former convicts, scumbags, cheaters, and angle shooters. Trying to present a clean image of poker, while noble, is just unrealistic.
Full Tilt Releases Statement, Hearing Tomorrow
Full Tilt Poker released a statement last week through PokerStrategy.com. They have released their last two statements through that site allegedly because they owe them substantial advertising commissions.
Like everything from the Full Tilt camp since Black Friday, the statement offered little in the way of informing players when they might expect to get their money back. They stated that they have adopted a cost optimization program that could lead to 250 jobs being eliminated in an effort to save €12 million annually.
On the eve of their hearing with the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC), it is clear that Full Tilt has failed to secure capital with which to repay players. On July 29th, AGCC agreed to postpone their decision on whether to restore Full Tilt's gaming license and also agreed to hold all future hearings in private. It is hard to say what the result of tomorrow's hearing might be. And due to it's closed-door nature, it could be some time before the result of the meeting is entirely clear. However, it's hard to envision the AGCC allowing Full Tilt to resume their operations without forcing the site to clearly demonstrate they have player funds held in a segregated account. The longer Full Tilt is in a state of shut-down without their gaming license, the more their brand value decreases. Players with money stuck on Full Tilt should be hoping for some good news quickly; the longer the status quo remains, the less likely it seems players are to see their money again.
Poker Refugees Spotlighted in Bloomberg BusinessWeek
A recent article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek put a spotlight on the lives of two American poker refugees, Matt Stout and Joey Cappuccio, who have relocated to Costa Rica to continue their careers as online poker players. Stout and Cappuccio relocated with help from P5's Poker Refugees service which helps American players relocate to Canada, Costa Rica, or Panama by finding them apartments, bank accounts, and reliable Internet service. The site charges a fee of $1,000 for their relocation services which seems like a rather small price to pay for any U.S. player who expects to generate a handsome income playing online.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly how many Americans have relocated out of the U.S. to play online poker, but the number appears to be into the hundreds. I will be joining the ranks at the end of this month by relocating to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, where online pros Jon Aguiar, Shaun Deeb, and Chip Ferguson, just to name a few, have already made home.
The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.
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