With today marking the one-year anniversary of Black Friday and the ensuing ramifications that forever changed the world of online poker, many former players at Full Tilt, Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet who were hoping to eventually be reimbursed may be getting that much closer to kissing their unpaid account balances good-bye. All may not be lost, however, depending upon your outlook regarding the events of the past year.
The rumor mill has certainly been grinding regarding the sale of Full Tilt Poker to Group Bernard Tapie and the eventual reimbursement of Full Tilt players. Reports of negotiations reaching their conclusion have been dragging on for some time. And although we won't know if the rumors are true until players start actually receiving payment for their frozen account balances, it indeed is a good sign that Pocket Kings, the parent company of Full Tilt, has been posting job openings for customer service positions.
Should the Full Tilt acquisition deal go through, players have speculated on various online poker forums whether Tapie may change the Full Tilt name, seeing how the tremendous amount of bad publicity in the last year has made the Full Tilt brand name subjected to an overwhelming amount of scorn, ridicule and lack of trust among the poker-playing public. But a name change doesn't seem likely, as the company description placed on the recent employment postings says, “Founded with the goal of creating the best online poker experience anywhere, Pocket Kings provides Technology and Marketing consulting services to the online poker industry and one of the fastest growing poker sites, Full Tilt Poker.”
How's that for positive marketing? Calling a dormant poker site that lost its primary license, hasn't been up and running for more than half a year, and owes millions of dollars to players "one of the fastest growing poker sites." Also, ask players with money frozen on Full Tilt Poker if playing there has been "the best online poker experience anywhere.”
In any event, at least there are ongoing negotiations and the possibility of reimbursement does exist. Players at the CEREUS Network sites of Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet seemingly have less hope than former Full Tilt players. As a regular AP player since 2006, my money is frozen in CEREUS cyberspace. I can only wish that a gentleman such as Bernard Tapie will step in and purchase the AP/UB sites, with plans to reimburse players all around the world. However, with the odds of that happening slimmer than the likelihood of a Daniel Negreanu weekly rant going by without anybody being dissed, I choose to move my optimism elsewhere.
I happen to be pinning my hopes on the U.S. Department of Justice doing their best to pay back players. Although this view may be regarded by some as being completely naive and loaded with misguided optimism, there is currently no where else to turn. Though certainly not an expert in legal matters and forfeiture proceedings, I firmly believe that the DoJ will take on some responsibility of reimbursing the millions of dollars owed to AP and UB players. This may take years, as one year has already come and gone, and the wheels of justice do grind ever so slowly. But I think that some reimbursement will eventually take place.
Whether you're a Full Tilt or AP/UB player still waiting to be paid, the one-year anniversary of Black Friday without yet seeing any cash certainly is not the best scenario. My latest cashout request at AP was on May 30, 2011. My account lists the request as still pending. However naive it may seem to some, as long as it is still pending and I have not received notification such as "We cannot honor your cashout request due to the fact that we have no funds to pay you," I will continue to hold onto hope that reimbursement will someday occur.