Author: Marc Weinberg
When you pay a casual visit to Fulltiltpoker.com and see that the domain has been seized by the US Federal authorities it sends a chill up the spine. You then rush to Fulltiltpoker.co.uk and with relief see that the world's self-appointed policeman has not yet been able to crush everyone's liberties. But the damage has been done.
There is a shell-shocked response from the company pledging to stand behind the CEO. It reads like a statement of full confidence from a football club regarding their manager. One is reminded of the sort of release with the headline "Chelsea Stands Behind Ancelotti 100%" and the bookies immediately offer 1/20 about him being fired before the month of May.
That's not to say that Full Tilt's CEO will be extradited or even tracked down by those brilliant sleuths at Interpol (never the same crack squad without Jackie Selebi at their helm) - psst, he's in Ireland (not Selebi, he's in jail). But the FBI and the DOJ have dealt a hammer blow to the major US-facing online poker companies by instantly demolishing any confidence their users had in playing there.
By the way, has there ever been a better time to be Doyle Brunson? You're so old that prison doesn't scare you; so ornery that anyone who tries to take your money as part of a "fine" better be wearing a protective cup; and so ballsy that your illegal online poker room that accepts Americans is cunningly named "Doyles Room".
The Feds didn't go after Doyle's online poker room or Calvin's or any of the smaller entities that are out there. So don't pen any elegiac poetry on behalf of the fresh corpse of online poker, I mean just in case you were inspired or something. It isn't even dead in the USA.
Online poker is a global passion, enjoyed by sedentary millions who enjoy being able to fold AT under the gun while sitting on the loo. You're really only denying this because you'd never fold AT from any position in an online game, where anonymity privileges this method of playing poker (badly, like a donkey, but free of any embarrassment in doing so) and makes it literally indispensable.
I lived through NETELLER arrests, UIGEA written into law in the dead of night, watched Party Poker fold like a house of 27 off-suits, chuckled as founder billionaires groveled at the heels of Uncle Sam and paid to make him go away (the only way he will ever leave an individual or a country alone), and I know you're frightened by the media right now but this too shall pass.
Take comfort in this observation if nothing else: What else can an entire generation of American college-dropouts reinvented as "online poker professionals" do now? They can barely leave their shared rental digs let alone interact in person with others or contribute to society. They will wash up on the shores of another online poker room. For the guys who built and ran Poker Stars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker it truly was a "Black Friday". But for the rest of us who like to play online poker eventually it will just be remembered as an irritating inconvenience.
Feel free to panic though and stampede don't run to withdraw all your funds from Stars and Tilt. They sort of deserve it for being so arrogant these past five years. Thank goodness there's one bloated Australian out there who had the time to step out of his black Lambo (vanity license plate "BALLER") and rat them all out for bank fraud. The good news for Full Tilt is that if they end up playing Prisoner's Dilemma for realies they have the Professor and the Jesus as co-defendants to tell them perfect game strategy for doing the least amount of time. Zing!
Posted by Marc Weinberg at 07:12 on 18 April 2011