Whispers from Full Tilt

By Matt Glantz

It’s been two weeks since my last blog about Full Tilt Poker. As expected, their public silence has continued. But, I can tell you since then I have been in contact (both directly and indirectly) with a number of the FTP shareholders. It was surprising to me that only one shareholder told me not to post any of our conversation in the blog and I will certainly respect those wishes. However, the other shareholders seemed to be in contact with me mostly to explain why they can’t speak publicly in response to my last blog. There was also a disconcerting amount of trashing of other shareholders and their actions.

The common theme is anyone making a public statement from the inside will be “at risk” in being blamed for the Tapie deal falling apart. This is why nobody is speaking publicly. Let me clarify: It is not because they are worried about the deal falling apart. It is because they are worried that if they say anything they will eventually be blamed for the deal falling apart. Even though most of the insiders seem to conclude that there is almost no chance of this deal going through at this point, they don’t want any perception that their words caused the deal to fail.

One key shareholder involved in the negotiations did assure me that to this day the deal with Tapie is still a favorite to happen and even if that deal collapses there are still more viable options past Tapie. I do hope this is the case, but I cannot help to think he is being overly optimistic and somewhat self-serving. He goes on to explain that this is FTP’s best chance to get the players paid back in full and that everyone, shareholders included, would serve best to stay silent on the matter. Anything said publicly will be neutral at best and negative at worst with regards to affecting the deal.

It’s important to note that this blog is my opinion. These are not facts. It is based on my conversations with members of Full Tilt Poker. I am piecing together what I can to produce the most accurate assessment of the situation. I am tasking myself with the idea to filter out the agenda driven statements among the actual facts. This is intended for the benefit of the thousands of players tied up in this debacle that deserve to have the information that to date they have not been given. I decided it would be inappropriate and unfair to relay the dirt that specific shareholders told to me about their own partners. One reason is that I don’t think it will benefit anyone. But, the most significant reason being that there is no way for me to know if what I am being told is the complete truth. I am going to stick to FTP as a whole and the Tapie deal. This is what’s important when it comes to the players getting their money back.

Without Tapie buying FTP there is little hope of the US players ever receiving their funds in their entirety. There are likely no other buyers on the horizon. Unfortunately I feel based on their recent actions, I believe it is inevitable that Tapie will be backing out. It looks to me that for whatever reasons they have no real interest in acquiring FTP. The reasons why they are hanging around giving the illusion that they are still interested are unclear. One can assume that Tapie has some ulterior motives for staying involved and they are just using the vulnerability of FTP to serve other purposes. They might think the publicity of them being a possible White Knight is positive for their own shady reputation. They also might be trying to use the publicity in the upcoming months to promote their stadium tournament in Europe, an event they have been working on for years. They have been publicly trashing the individual players who allegedly owe money to FTP. The truth is that some if not most of the players Tapie has outed do not have the money to pay the company back and it is not going to happen. One can assume that Tapie is only doing this to save face, so when they officially back out of the deal they will have public names to blame.

There is a ton of inner turmoil inside Full Tilt Poker now which can be expected from any company going through what it has in the past year. The company has divided into two distinct factions and some would say three. This became solidified when Ivey filed his lawsuit against the company last May in which some shareholders took this as a move to poison a likely deal the company had in place to sell itself. It was said that Ivey had his own potential buyer in place at the time that would serve Ivey’s interests better. Whether or not that was Ivey’s true intention, other shareholders feel as though this was the worst move any shareholder could have made at the time for the likelihood of a sale and thus for the players getting paid back. I am only referring to this one specific matter because the lawsuit in in the public record. I don’t know how as a group they will be able to get anything done and thus I fear the complete failure of FTP is inevitable. It’s going to be tough going forward for FTP and seeing the company fail will be no good for anyone. The legal troubles they face will be ongoing for many years to come.

There are many of you who have funds on FTP. While I think the company should have provided guidance at times to what players can expect back at some point, I will do my best with the information I have to bring some sort of clarity. Unfortunately, I personally do not expect any deal with Tapie to happen based on their recent actions. Tapie has had several months to perform due diligence. The Dept of Justice cleared the way for Tapie to take over the assets of FTP over three months ago. Also, with their latest leaks and public embarrassment campaign of poker players involved, it just seems implausible for them to move forward. These are not the actions one would expect from an impending or serious acquirer. I expect the company to shut down and for the US Government to eventually disperse the assets under its control. A reasonable expectation under the circumstances is for the players to receive between 20%-40% of their account balances back from the government somewhere down the line.

There is also a remote chance that the U.S. does not treat this situation like a poker site and sticks with its original assertion that it was just a Ponzi Scheme. In this case the account balances won’t matter. You would only get your deposits back. Any money won on the site would be fake profits from the government’s perspective. I doubt they would do this because it would open up the possibility of any losing players in the past to recoup funds from winning players civilly and would create an even bigger legal mess. But just like FTP, and Tapie, the U.S. Government has its own agenda and you never know what that may produce.

I truly hope a deal magically happens and the entire community is paid in full. However, based on the information I received, I have put together my view of the entire situation. The public has received enough 3rd party announcements in the past year that have given thousands of players false hope. I do see all the hatred out there in blog responses and forum posts. I am recommending that these players move on as if the their funds are gone. Think of any money you may receive back from the FTP debacle in the future as found money. If you start to look at things from that perspective you will hopefully feel a much needed weight lifted off your shoulders.

We can all hope that my opinion on the subject is completely wrong and there is some great or at least salvageable result that comes of this mess. As a fully invested member of the poker industry and a voice for the poker community I am certainly rooting for a positive outcome. I have spent a considerable amount of time on this difficult issue over the last few months in an attempt to find answers for all of you that have been so sorely neglected in this post Black Friday process. It needs to be stressed once again that this entire blog is just my opinion and not hard facts. Unfortunately, this is as informed as you will be on the situation because the only people who do have the facts are unwilling or unable to talk publicly.

Taken from mattglantzpoker.com

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