Online Poker Kings Get Cashed Out

Killing livelihoods and a $2.5 billion industry, the feds attack Internet gambling

Says Mogelefsky: "It's month to month, but the game plan is, hopefully, I can make enough playing live to survive until that day comes, whenever it may be—Five years from now? Two years from now? Ten years from now?—when I can go back to playing online."

Vanessa Peng is a vivacious, engaging young woman from Singapore. She came to the U.S. with her newly remarried mother when she was eight, settling in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

It was a culture shock, to say the least. Peng and her brother found comfort playing video games as they slowly assimilated, and the seed of competition was sown. She would eventually study law in little Lexington, Virginia. Her eureka moment came when she watched a friend play poker online. "I was completely fascinated."

Before the government crackdown on online gambling, Maxwell Fritz made $100,000 over 18 months of playing—all while still attending Princeton.
Photograph by Will Rice
Before the government crackdown on online gambling, Maxwell Fritz made $100,000 over 18 months of playing—all while still attending Princeton.
Vanessa Peng moved to Canada to gamble online after it became illegal in the States.
Courtesy of Vanessa Peng
Vanessa Peng moved to Canada to gamble online after it became illegal in the States.

It wasn't until her third year of law school that Peng found the time to dive in. Slowly learning the game, she started with $25 in her account and played the penny tables. She was thrilled by the competition and the mental challenge.

"The thing about living in a very, very small town is you get bored pretty quickly," Peng says. "Since I didn't have much of a social life in that little town, I was able to play a lot of poker in that six months. By the time graduation came, I was supposed to be studying for the bar and that good stuff, but I was so wrapped up in poker, that was kind of what took over my life. On top of everything else, the legal market had sort of crashed at this point."

Peng found a job working with a divorce attorney in Chicago but discovered she didn't have much of a stomach for it. Then she failed the bar. It was something of an omen.

"I was able to take a step back and really re-examine my life," Peng says. "Around that time, poker was going really well for me. I had my first five-figure month, and I just really started re-evaluating, thinking maybe this is what I was meant to do."

Peng made $40,000 that first year. By 2010, she was pulling in six figures annually.

When Black Friday hit, Peng was one of the top moneymakers on Ultimate Bet, with $30,000 in her account. She had also just won $12,000 in a Full Tilt tournament. All told, she saw $80,000 frozen in the crackdown.

Peng was better situated than most to weather the storm. She and her boyfriend—who also plays—moved to Windsor, Ontario. The Canadian town sits just across the river from Detroit, allowing her to play online while still traveling to live tournaments here and abroad.

Nearly a year after the feds froze her money, Peng, who planned to use it to start a used-jewelry business on eBay, still hasn't seen a penny of it.

Within a month of the federal crackdown, PokerStars returned $100 million to U.S. players and continued to operate abroad.

Full Tilt was cleared to offer returns but never did, since it doesn't have the money. It owes $150 million to American players alone. In September, the feds accused owners Howard Lederer and Chris "Jesus" Ferguson of running a "global Ponzi scheme."

"Banks fail for not having sufficient revenue to cover customer deposits all the time," the company's lawyer, Jeff Ifrah, said at the time. "No one refers to such failures as Ponzi schemes. And there was no Ponzi scheme here." The court battle rages on.

Last fall, the French company Group Bernard Tapie stepped in to buy Full Tilt for $80 million and promised to pay off the debts to international players. The feds have assumed responsibility for paying American players. They've announced no timetable for repayment.

Absolute Poker—originally formed by four frat brothers at the University of Montana—wasn't liquid enough to continue, either. None of its players have been reimbursed.

In December, Absolute Poker co-owner Brent Beckley pleaded guilty to lying to banks about the nature of his transactions. He's expected to receive 12 to 18 months in jail.

Beckley's accomplice, Ira Rubin, ran a payment-processing company in Costa Rica that disguised gambling proceeds through fake merchants and suppliers. He pleaded guilty in January and is expected to receive up to two years.

Rumors have been circulating that Absolute Poker will be repay players soon, though payoffs might be as little as 25 cents on the dollar.

"If you had a federally state-regulated system, that wouldn't happen," says Congressman Joe Barton (R-Texas). He's also pushing a law to legalize online poker. "This is one of those rare congressional bills that's not a Republican-Democrat issue. There are people for it and against it on both sides, but there are much more people for it. If it came up on the floor of the Senate on a majority vote wins, it would pass. Whether it has 60 votes, I just can't tell you."

The general sentiment, from players to politicians, is that something will get done . . . eventually.

In the meantime, poker has gathered some powerful advocates. Casinos that once guarded their turf are hoping to get in on the online action. They're pushing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) to get something done, but the prospect of new revenue sources is anathema to many Republicans. They squashed Reid's attempt to pass an online-poker regulation in 2010.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
19 comments
leillin.travertski
leillin.travertski

Who knew that one could make poker online a steady full time job.  At least wright was able to use his skill and earn a decent living.  

-Ms.Leillin

meruja owo
meruja owo

I am Doris used every single spell worker on the internet, spent untold amounts of money and discovered they are all fakes…i was the fool though; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In the end, I decided that I wanted a tarot reading to know what my future held for me; I contacted a woman who lives locally to me and she told me about a man named (priests meruja); he does not advertise on the internet, has another job for income, has no set prices, makes no false promises and refuses to help anyone that cannot be helped and even helps for free sometimes, he will give you proof before taking money. He is a wonderful man and he was the only person who actually gave me real results. I really hope he doesn’t mind me advertising his contact on the internet but I’m sure any help/ extra work will benefit him.contact him as nativedoctor101@live.com He travel sometimes.love marriage,finance, job promotion ,gambling voodoo,lottery Voodoo,poker voodoo,golf Voodoo,Law & Court case Spells,money voodoo,weigh loss voodoo,any sicknesses voodoo,Trouble in marriage,it’s all he does Hope this helps everyone that is in a desperate situation as I once was; I know how it feels to hold onto something and never have a chance to move on because of the false promises and then to feel trapped in wanting something more.

Play online casino
Play online casino

One of my friends has made the $836 on just the two days that's why Online Poker is the booming game for them who are contributing for making money at there.

AA
AA

Payo Pow, You are a fool. There is a world of difference between probabilities and "fixes", and it's people like you that effectively pay out to those who understand it.

I suppose you could call that a fix, or alternatively a wealth transfer from the stupid to the clever.

Payo Pow
Payo Pow

Everyone know's that Poker it's a fix game. However, ppl should have the right to throw away the few pennies they might have in their bank account even if its through gambling.

Uu
Uu

Stop the insanity. Let people and businesses transact business. And online gambling is a business.

twolaneflash
twolaneflash

Gambling is not a business, it's a drug, just as deadly as meth to some people. There's a good reason its called "Lost Wages", NV - they didn't build those gambling palaces on winners! Online gambling is just main-lining the drug directly to the brain, eliminating the competition for the addicts' money from the travel industry, hotel and restaurant businesses, and tourism-related benefactors of people seeking their fix, often at the expense of family and others. I'm glad Congress made a stand. Want your drug? Go to the desert.

missing_poker
missing_poker

Online poker is an entertainment option for many just as going to the movies. Whether someone chooses to blow $20 at @ the cineplex or online (with the chance of winning or breaking even) should be person preference. 90% of online players were casual player at .05-.10 or lower stakes.

This is very much a personal liberty issue.

Twiz1986
Twiz1986

This is a terrific article that highlights the rise and fall of online poker in America. The truth is this is just another example of what a joke it is to call America "the land of the free". We pretend to live in the worlds greatest democracy but ever since Sept. 11, 2001 we've allowed our government to seize more and more control of our rights and freedoms.It's happened slowly over time so most of us don't even bat an eye when we are violated at an airport or our television shows are censured. When you look at why our economy has struggled over the last decade and we don't have the spirit and drive we use to because we are now being controlled by the wealthy few who have the power, money and influence to mold our country in a way that benefits only their agenda. Until we as citizens stand up and demand that our freedom and liberty be returned to us we shouldn't be surprised that stories like these will continue to occur in the so called land of the free! Until we wake up with our eyes wide open there will continue to be an assault on the truths that we use to associate with being an American. Finally to Gospace's comments below, you are absolutely right that this article doesn't highlight the millions of dollars lost and the families effected by online poker but couldn't you say the same about casino gaming, drug addiction, criminals?? How can take away the freedoms of all to protect those who can't control themselves. If the people you speak of can't handle their gaming addiction shouldn't they take responsibility for their own actions? Is online gaming responsible for their losses? Were they forced to play? Where do we draw the line? If you are old enough to be sent to foreign lands to fight for this country then you should be old enough to decide if you want to participate in online gaming and old enough to know when to stop.

Gospace
Gospace

Great job of showing the gambling success stories. But-and this is a big but- unlike retailing, trading, producing, farming, where value is added and wealth is produced, gambling is a zero-sum game- and less. For teh casino/online-poker/whoever operator skims a profit off the top. Money does indeed exchange hands, but no value is added, nothing is produced.

Where's the article showing all the people who have lost heir houses, their jobs, their wives and kids because they lost all their money to easy access gambling? That;s the flip side of the story.

BustyVeronica213
BustyVeronica213

my roomate's sister brought home $19257 last week. she is making an income on the computer and got a $313300 house. All she did was get lucky and put into use the advice reported on this site www.CashMany. com

Marine52
Marine52

Disgusting that even the Commies in northern Korea and mainland China could gamble online while former soldiers like me have to shepherd bigasses in gated communities.

Mormovies
Mormovies

Our country sucks!! More freedom, not less!! Vote all the bastards out of office now!!!

Sheryl J
Sheryl J

Thanks for this informative article about online poker and what the government did to it. An entire industry was destroyed last year. This is the first article that really illustrates the situation. We need federal legislation that licenses and regulates online poker in the U.S. and brings back an industry.

mysue20
mysue20

nativedoctor101@live.com MERUJA OWO... SCAM ARTIST,,,BEWARE,,, USER Doris or
goes by jannet ( post on this forum) is a scam artist who advertises for this
nigerian scam artist NATIVEDOCTOR101@LIVE.COM.. .. Meruja owo scammed me for
650$ canadian dollars. HE IS A SCAM ARTIST FROM NIGERIA. MERUJA OWO will ask you
to send him money western union and than he will haggle you for more and more
money and he is fake with no results. HE IS A SCAM BEWARE,, HE IS BEING
INVESTIGATED FOR FRAUD AND WILL BE GOING TO JAIL. DO NOT USE THIS MAN BC HE WILL
STEAL YOU MONEY!

http://cashhuge.com
http://cashhuge.com

my co-worker's mother made $20302 last week. she is getting paid on the laptop and moved in a $397900 condo. All she did was get fortunate and put into use the steps laid out on that site top of this comment

Davidseawa
Davidseawa

It's poker, moron. You don't play against the house, you play against other people.

David
David

The people that are complaining are the people jealous !!! I understand you envy us...We are in our PJ's with no boss in front of our computers playing Poker and making more money then you . I understand ... I'm home more with my wife and kids.Your out working 40 + a week and probably working weekends. I'm sorry your mad about ONLINE POKER ! It's a skilled game, remember that ! Stop crying and let it be. There's more and bigger things in the world to worry about .

 
Loading...