• Podcast Update

    What They’re Talking About on Poker Radio

    By Rob “McVegas”


    Griffin “Flush_Entity” Benger

    The PocketFives.com poker podcast recently welcomed Griffin “Flush_Entity” Benger, one the world’s best online MTT players, to the podcast. This Canadian is quickly approaching $2 million in tracked online poker earnings. Benger final-tabled the Full Tilt $750,000 Guarantee in May for $112,000 and is fresh off another final table in a PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker event for nearly $100,000.

    Benger told listeners that playing in the WCOOP meant a significant increase to his volume: “I was coming off a pretty good August, but I think I put my volume up a bit too much in the beginning of September. I’m definitely going to try to bring down my volume a bit. I’ve been dabbling a little too much on the European sites, trying to play my rush.”

    His most recent WCOOP final table came in a $500 No-Limit Hold’em with rebuys tournament and, accordingly, he admitted that rebuys have been his sweet spot: “Any rebuy structures have been my bread and butter since I started getting into MTTs about a year and a half ago. I guess my favorite tournament now would be the $200 Rebuy since I’m playing more of the higher stakes stuff regularly. It’s just a tournament I’ve had a fair bit of success with… It’s a great rebuy structure with a lot of people who are taking shots, [as well as] regulars you play with every day.”

    Benger transitioned to poker from video games.

    “I used to be a professional video game player,” Benger said. “Everyone in the gaming community started transitioning to poker with the poker boom in 2003. After live events in gaming, people would play poker and you’d get interested in it. I remember depositing about $50 and built it up playing the lowest stakes sit-n-gos. I never really played cash regularly.”

    His video game career consisted primarily of “Counter Strike,” which, according to Benger, was a perfect segue to poker: “It’s a very similar community to the poker community in a lot of ways because it’s primarily based on the Internet. There were a lot of great people, but there wasn’t a lot of money to be made. It was on its way up and it has kind of dipped back down now.”

    When asked what is the best way to grow a bankroll, Benger said. “The best bankroll builders for me were sit-n-gos, but it depends what you have a knack for. [It’s also about] having people around you who are better than you. If there were anything I learned from Counter Strike, [it would be that] if I had an opportunity to play on a better team, I would always take it…That’s really important in poker as well.”

    Benger has only been a professional online player for a brief period of time. Consequently, his schedule has varied widely.

    He recalled, “It’s fluctuated a lot in the last six months. This has been a big learning period for me in the last year. I hadn’t really figured it out and wasn’t making a decent profit until 2011, and I had only been doing it about six months before that. I had been playing about five or six days a week from about 2 p.m. until 3 a.m. I was really going hard at it.

    “Since Black Friday, I’ve been taking it pretty easy. I’m only playing two, three, or maybe four days a week. With the WCOOP, I’ve been back to full grind mode.”

    ESPN – The Poker Edge

    Full Tilt Sold?

    Full Tilt Poker and Groupe Bernard Tapie have apparently inked an acquisition agreement in principal. Laurent Tapie, managing director of Groupe Bernard Tapie, announced that the group has signed an exclusive agreement with the Board of Directors of Full Tilt Poker to acquire the company and all of its associated assets. The agreement, which includes the repayment of Full Tilt Poker’s worldwide players in full, is subject to several conditions, the first of which is a favorable resolution with the United States Department of Justice, and these discussions with the DOJ have already started, according to several sources. So there is a long way to go.

    Groupe Bernard Tapie has over 30 years of experience in the salvation of financially distressed businesses, with over 40 companies acquired and managed to profitability – the most well-known being the sport equipment giant Adidas.

    Laurent Tapie recently granted an exclusive interview with iGaming France to discuss the acquisition of Full Tilt Poker. According to iGaming France, the agreement includes “repayment of Full Tilt Poker’s worldwide players in full, and is subject to several conditions; the first of which is a favorable resolution with the United States Department of Justice.”

    Tapie didn’t disclose how much money the acquisition would cost his company, but did say he “wouldn’t have undertaken such a project if he didn’t believe in its potential.”

    He also told iGaming France, “We have shown that we have the funds necessary to repay player debts. We want to find ways where we don’t have to put in all the money and will be talking to the U.S. Department of Justice.”

    t seems Tapie believes in the Full Tilt Poker brand and said he would keep it. “The brand is not in question, it’s a well-known brand and the technology is widely recognized as being possibly the best in the industry. The management of the company is being questioned and it will be changed (should the takeover be concluded). I believe we have the tools necessary to once again make the site one of the leaders in the online poker sector.”

    Here’s hoping…

    Full Tilt Poker…a “Global Ponzi Scheme?”

    Just weeks before the Tapie Group announcement, the DOJ accused owners of Full Tilt Poker of stealing funds and “lying to and deceiving” players. In an amendment made to the civil complaint stemming from Black Friday, the DOJ claimed that FTP paid “distributions” to its owners without sufficient funds on hand to cover players’ deposits. According to the amended civil complaint: Full Tilt Poker used player funds, among other things, to maintain a steady flow of payments to its owners – more than $443 million over the last four years.

    As a result, by the end of March 2011, Full Tilt owed approximately $390 million to players around the world but had less than $60 million in its bank accounts. In addition, the DOJ alleges FTP “lied to and deceived” its players by concealing the fact that the players’ funds were not segregated and leading them to believe that the company was solvent with the ability to honor their withdrawal requests at any time.

    After the indictments of Black Friday, FTP continued to operate its business outside the U.S. and continued to accept player deposits even though it knew they were unable to cover over $300m in deposits currently on hand.

    In a statement, Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, called FTP “a global Ponzi scheme.” He added that the company, “cheated and abused its own players to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars” while “insiders lined their own pockets with funds picked from the pockets of their most loyal customers.”

    The amendment also revealed ownership details publicly for the first time. According to the amendment, “approximately 23 individuals owned shares in Full Tilt Poker.” The individuals named in the amended civil complaint had their ownership percentages in Tiltware LLC disclosed as being, “Ray Bitar (7.8%), Howard Lederer (8.6%), Chris Ferguson (19.2%), and Rafe Furst (2.6%).” The DOJ considers these “Insider Defendants” to have been members of the Board of Directors of Tiltware LLC at all times relevant to the charges. It lists Ferguson as the “Chairman of the Board of Directors” with Lederer and Bitar as managing members of the board and Bitar also serving as CEO.

    Full Tilt Poker Licenses Revoked By AGCC

    And to make matters worse…the Alderney Gaming Control Commission (AGCC) has revoked the already-suspended licenses associated with one-time industry giant Full Tilt Poker. The decision comes after a hearing in September that spanned six days. Full Tilt has been offline since end of June when the AGCC originally suspended its licenses following an investigation in the wake of the Black Friday indictments.

    The original hearing was suspended for 54 days to allow time for Full Tilt to pursue outside investment opportunities.

    The AGCC alleged that Full Tilt Poker filed inaccurate financial reports and concealed the existence of seizures by the U.S. Government. Jeff Ifrah, widely believed to be Full Tilt CEO Ray Bitar’s personal attorney, pleaded with players to petition the AGCC not to pull Full Tilt’s licenses. The reason he cited was “A negative AGCC ruling will cause all efforts that have been undertaken to secure this investor group to fail and leave customers in the cold.”

    The AGCC also released an updated statement further distancing itself from Full Tilt Poker. The statement announced that since it no longer licenses the poker room, it will not be mediating disputes between the site and consumers further. The AGCC directed those who “[believe] they are a victim of crime, as a result of their dealings with Full Tilt” to report the incident to their local authorities. They also announced that a “specific player contact” has been requested from the site but has not yet been provided, and that numerous class action lawsuits have been filed against Full Tilt.


    Ready? Fight! – Veldhuis vs. ElkY

    Team PokerStars Pros Lex Veldhuis and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier have been training for a kickboxing match for nearly two years, and it appears that the long-awaited prop bet will happen very soon. Veldhuis (currently dating Evelyn Ng) commented in his blog that the two will fight on Nov. 22, 2011, in front of television cameras for all to see. Veldhuis and Grospellier will step into the ring for an “official” three-round kickboxing match with judges and no protective gear.

    Veldhuis mentioned that he’s suffered several injuries leading up to the fight, but he still considers himself a favorite over Grospellier.

    “I have been getting injured a lot, and it sends me on the darkest tilt possible,” he wrote. “I think because it also shows me how much my body has deteriorated, while I was in awesome shape when I was younger.”

    Rob “McVegas” is an avid writer and poker player. You can usually find him playing at The Great Blue Heron Casino in Port Perry, Ontario, and you can also follow his poker ramblings on Twitter @Rob_McVegas.