Sometimes it’s good to be wrong and this is certainly one of those times. PokerStars has entered into agreement with the Dept of Justice to buy up the remaining pieces of Full Tilt Poker and pay a half billion dollar fine. In my last write up I had stated that a major FTP shareholder had told me the deal was done weeks ago but was being delayed for various reasons. I took that as more false hope as I have been accustomed to over the past year and a half from all the times I was told similarly that they were close to a sale and “it should be done soon”. But this time it turned out to be true. Good for poker. Great for the players.
The real issue for the poker community was always about getting paid back their FTP account balances. The continuance or the bankruptcy of FTP was never really that important. It seems now the best case scenario has been realized for non US players as Pokerstars is going to fully refund their account balances. That is great news for them. But we are still in wait to see mode on what will come of US player balances. The DOJ is handling that responsibility and while we all hope they will just continue with the fine precedent set by Pokerstars to plainly refund our full account balances, nobody knows if that will be the case. A total mess will ensue if they decide to keep up with the whole notion of FTP being a ‘ponzi scheme’. In that unfortunate scenario they could choose to only refund deposits and not feel the need or responsibility to pay out account balances. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen.
The ironic thing about this entire FTP mess is that had the DOJ not shut them down on Black Friday, the situation could have been much worse for FTP account holders. It is apparent that at the time of Black Friday FTP was at risk of corporate bankruptcy due mostly to their exuberant marketing budget, uncollectible deposits in the mutli-millions, and the consistent monthly dividends paid out to FTP shareholders at an alarming rate. It is important to realize that even though we haven’t been able to play online poker within the US for the last year and a half, if the DOJ had not shut them down, it is quite possible and even likely that FTP was going to crumble under its own mismanagement. Remember, basically every shareholder has since said they had no idea the troubles they were in and had no idea of what was going on. That being the case it was probably just a matter of time. The situation for account balances now is way better than what could have been.