DOJ Makes It Official: PokerStars Paying Back Full Tilt Poker Players

UPDATE July 31, 2012: As we published yesterday, now it’s officially 100% a done deal. Main details:

  • PokerStars now owns Full Tilt Poker
  • FTP software to relaunch within 90 days, employees still headquartered in Ireland, licensed by the Isle of Man
  • Non-U.S. player accounts will be reinstated with their full balances and withdrawals allowed
  • U.S. players must petition the DOJ for their money ($150 million has been allocated for this – so start petitioning!)
  • Lederer and Ferguson (along with Isai Scheinberg) won’t ever be allowed to be employed by PokerStars
  • PokerStars will be allowed to operate in the U.S. market once it re-opens for business, and doesn’t have to admit to any wrongdoing
  • PartyPoker and the rest of the industry players who left the U.S. in 2006 must be kicking themselves or throwing up

Yesterday’s story is below

An official announcement will be made imminently by the Department of Justice stating that its negotiations with PokerStars regarding Full Tilt Poker have finally been concluded, and that players will be credited in full. Poker Player newspaper’s Wendeen Eolis, a former senior adviser to NY Mayor Giuliani and NY Governor Pataki (and the first woman to cash at the WSOP Main Event back in 1986), is credited with breaking the official story.

Another tidbit to emerge from Eolis’ Twitter feed is that the (same exact) Full Tilt Poker software will likely be up and running by November. Thus, “getting paid” will in all likelihood actually mean that players’ money will once again be accessible to them (let’s hope you all remember your passwords!). Certainly, it would stand to reason that if any player would ask for a cashout, it would be duly processed immediately. With PokerStars at the helm, there wouldn’t seem to be a reason to worry about that anymore.

In all likelihood, the official DOJ announcement will be made by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, who notably called Full Tilt Poker a “Ponzi scheme” last year when leveling accusations against its founders and executive board of directors.

My, How Far We’ve Come!

Here’s a brief timeline of some events relating to this story that we’ve covered over the last 16+ months

The Former Faces of Full Tilt Poker

Many of the professional poker players who used to represent Full Tilt Poker emerged from the scandal with reputations unscathed. These include Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen, Patrik Antonius, Tom Dwan, Erik Seidel, among others.

The Former Faces of Full Tilt Poker

On the other hand, the whereabouts of Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer remain a mystery, and nobody’s seen either of them playing poker anywhere around the world since Black Friday.

Final Thoughts

Issues that remain unanswered at the moment include:

  • the precise payback date
  • if and how taxes will be paid by U.S. players
  • what this means regarding PokerStars entering the U.S. market upon official legalization of online poker

At this point all that’s really left for us to do is sit back and start making plans for what we’re going to do with our Full Tilt Poker money. Many online poker players moved abroad to keep playing. With legal U.S. poker on the horizon, and Full Tilt Poker money, once thought lost, finally on the way back, perhaps it’s time for those players to begin making plans to return stateside.



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Written By.

Robbie Strazynski

Robbie founded in 2009. A veteran member of the poker media corps, in addition to writing and video presenting, Robbie has hosted multiple poker podcasts over the years, including Top Pair, the Red Chip Poker Podcast, The Orbit, and the CardsChat Podcast. In 2019, Robbie translated the autobiography of Poker Hall of Famer Eli […]


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