Virtual Felt with Snoopy

Virtual Felt with Snoopy

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Adam Goulding rounds up all the latest online news.

Ultimate Breakthrough

Just over two years following the hell, fire and brimstone of Black Friday, poker in America has risen from the flames to witness its first regulated hand since the Armageddon of that dark and gloomy day.

Despite the player-hostile time of 9.00 local time and the perhaps shortsighted prefix (Ultimate Bet casualties may still be licking their wounds), players in Nevada tuned in their monitors to Ultimate Poker on the morning of April 30 for the birth of what is destined to be an imminent barrage of legal online cardrooms.

Those with a nervous disposition will be relieved to note that Ultimate Poker is a majority owned subsidiary of Station Casinos LLC and will offer a secure platform and cashier, meaning you won’t have to sweat that first cash-out or a sudden raid from the local SWAT team. What's more, players will be able to deposit and/or withdraw from any of the 16 Station Casinos located within the State.

Already the cardroom has sealed two formidable partnerships in the demography-matching Vegas-centric UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and One Drop king Antonio Esfandiari, who despite his prior association with the tarnished -Bet name, will likely make both his quick-talking charm and prestige as the game’s biggest ever tournament winner a key element to the promotional success of the brand.

Ultimate Poker isn’t without its restrictions. Although outsiders can play upon visit (the “Win a Free Trip to Vegas” promotion, however, baffles me), play is confined to those within Nevadan borders, thus limiting numbers/traffic to the poker-affectionate segment of the 2.7 million population and posing the unavoidable question as to the demand for online poker in a state that boasts so many live distractions.

The technology is understandably undeveloped, currently offering solely Hold’em games with no initial sign of a Mac version. Yet, on the flip side, primitivism also brings an exclusion of HUDS and other parasitic technology, while – on the condition fees aren't extortionate – the lack of any mention of rakeback can only be a good thing for the prospects of the industry.

Regardless of the aforementioned pros and cons, Ultimate Poker is a long-overdue first step on the journey to national regulation in America and, hopefully, the rebirth of online poker as a respectable, reliable and commercial industry that can finally escape the many scandals that have blackened its image and prevented it from spreading its wings to full capacity.

Ultimate Poker won’t be undergoing the trip alone. is expected to follow in the summer with a near-20 others similarly approved. If Ultimate Poker is successful, and can lead the way, then it will undoubtedly be a good example to others and showcase both the profitability and credibility of the industry to the other states. Money and votes. If these two elements can be guaranteed, then the future of online poker in America will be brighter than it’s ever been before.

Purple Patch

Black Belt Poker is excited to announce some major changes to Purple Belt, one of the steps on the unique Belt-Up Reward system. Reaching Purple Belt is now more accessible with players required to earn just 1,500 Belt Points in order to reap the rewards.

At Purple Belt, not only do you earn points quicker than before but you also get to take part in two new exclusive freerolls with prizes ranging from training packages to entry into live tournaments such as the recent East End Live. If that’s not enough, players will receive shares each and every week of a Black Belt Poker pro in the 200K GTD, with any cash prize being distributed equally between all Purple Belts.

If you like a bit of fun and frolics with your poker, then check out now for more information.

Ray Bitar

On the two-year anniversary of Black Friday, former Full Tilt Poker CEO Ray Bitar pleaded guilty to conspiracy and was sentenced to time served and alleviated of all assets including homes and a reported $40 million in cash.

On April 15, 2011, Bitar was one of 11 poker company owners/employees indicted by the Department of Justice and charged with fraud, money laundering and violation of federal gambling laws. In July of 2012, Bitar gave himself up when he reentered the country via JFK Airport and was subsequently arrested upon arrival.

Although many of his victims will be rejoicing and fist-pump-chair-swivelling, the news will be bittersweet to some as it emerged that Bitar is a Class IV heart transplant patient and allegedly “coin-flipping” for his life if they’re unable to find a suitable donor within the next 12 months.

Bitar has since apologised for his actions, yet his remorse seems irrelevant currently, with the wider focus fixed on two more ardent issues: when will American players be reimbursed for their losses, and did Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer receive too light a punishment for their involvement in the temporary downfall of Full Tilt Poker?

Phil Galfond

OMG 10 Million!

Just beating me to the punch, Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond has become only the third player to surpass $10 million in winnings on Full Tilt Poker (both pre- and post-BF) from 2007, joining Messrs Ivey and Antonius on the bling-bling podium.

The 28-year old pro currently residing in Vancouver is one of the most respected poker players in the game, and in April managed to pull out a profit of $632K in the space of just one week.

In the same month, The Professionals, Viktor Blom and Tom Dwan, rekindled their battles of yesteryear by locking horns in high stakes PLO. The encounter was back-and-forth with durrrr edging out his Swedish foe and finishing the month with a profit of $387,183 to Isildur's $221,317. Meanwhile, the biggest winner of April was the enigmatic 'jama-dharma' who enjoyed a $683,736 upswing.

Locked Out

Perhaps cementing the importance of Ultimate Poker's arrival is the recent issue surrounding Lock Poker, an unregulated online cardroom now on the struggling Cake Network that remained open to American players in the wake of Black Friday.

Continuing to operate post-UIGEA is always going to come with a risk, and many believe Lock may be the next cardroom to close its cyber doors following a plethora of reports regarding cancelled withdrawals, removal of advertising, and several sponsored pros selling shares of their action through rival sites.

Transactions have always been slower than a snail in treacle, but players were aghast when Lock recently confirmed that they were prohibiting withdrawals from player-to-player transfers, and money won from those transfers, effectively freezing these funds and making them unavailable to the player.

While Lock are claiming that this decision was made due to fraudulent affiliates money laundering and abusing the transfer option, the critics’ consensus appears to be that this is a cover-up excuse for more severe financial issues caused by a recent drop in traffic, a struggling reputation (remember the Girah scandal?), and, according to some rumours which are far from confirmed, government-raided accounts in Cypriot banks.

For the time being, however, the wheels still seem to be in motion, although only time will tell if Lock poker can prevent a visit from the RAC, or worse, a total write-off.

Father of Deceased Poker Player Blames Black Friday

A sad story emerged at the tail end of April as Matthew Roth was found dead in the car park of Wild Wild West Gambling Hall in Las Vegas, having committed suicide with a handgun at the age of 26. A former poker pro from Fairbanks, Alaska, Roth had suffered from depression in the aftermath of Black Friday, which led to him having to give up the game.

Fuelled by sadness, his father later commented that the federal government “took his son”, adding, “They took his livelihood, self-esteem, drive. They took his focus.” Although an isolated case, it serves as a reminder as to how important online poker was to many of the young American players pre-Black Friday.

Tags: Adam 'Snoopy' Goulding, virtual felt, online news