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Thread: Full Tilt Poker = Ponzi

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    Danger is my business! oneupper's Avatar
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    Full Tilt Poker = Ponzi

    I know we have some poker players around here.

    What do you guys think of this?
    Big Names involved. Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/AP5fce...10e20e238.html
    "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it."

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Full Tilt Poker = Ponzi

    Furgeson and Lederer were involved, that we know of, in only that they got paid via money from the scheme. That doesn't suggest that they were knowing participants at all. They were board members, but that doesn't mean that they knew what all was going on, especially when it came to moving money around.

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    Re: Full Tilt Poker = Ponzi

    Quote Originally Posted by oneupper View Post
    I know we have some poker players around here.

    What do you guys think of this?
    Big Names involved. Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/AP5fce...10e20e238.html
    Its not that hard to pull something off like this (especially when you consider how many of these networks are over seas), its why I only played the free side of Full Tilt. If I am going to put real money on poker I am going somewhere that I play in person where there's more assurances that it is legit.
    Quote Originally Posted by moewan View Post
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    Waitin til next year bucksfan2's Avatar
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    Re: Full Tilt Poker = Ponzi

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    Furgeson and Lederer were involved, that we know of, in only that they got paid via money from the scheme. That doesn't suggest that they were knowing participants at all. They were board members, but that doesn't mean that they knew what all was going on, especially when it came to moving money around.
    The problem is with a ponzi scheme is that the money they were paid does not belong to them. So while they may not be guilty of anything, the amount of money paid to them illegally will have to be returned. Its similar to the situation the Wilpons face with Madoff. They didn't do anything illegal but they received funds that didn't belong to them and they will have to be repaid.

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Full Tilt Poker = Ponzi

    Quote Originally Posted by bucksfan2 View Post
    The problem is with a ponzi scheme is that the money they were paid does not belong to them. So while they may not be guilty of anything, the amount of money paid to them illegally will have to be returned. Its similar to the situation the Wilpons face with Madoff. They didn't do anything illegal but they received funds that didn't belong to them and they will have to be repaid.
    Well sure, but I read your post in a way that to me at least, implied that they had something to do with creating the scheme/knowing it was going on. We simply don't know that, so I wanted to point that out.

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    Re: Full Tilt Poker = Ponzi

    I'm curious to find out how the DOJ is going to proceed with the case if they are able to prove that FTP was actually a Ponzi scheme, particularly when it comes to player cashouts. While the original indictments were targeted at the site operators and not the actual users of the site, this news could have serious ramifications for long term winners on the site because it opens the door for clawbacks against winning players.

    This is really bad news for high stakes / large MTT players because not only do they have a lot of "money" stuck on the site, now they have to worry about the cashouts they made before the company got exposed.

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    Danger is my business! oneupper's Avatar
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    Re: Full Tilt Poker = Ponzi

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    Well sure, but I read your post in a way that to me at least, implied that they had something to do with creating the scheme/knowing it was going on. We simply don't know that, so I wanted to point that out.
    Any money they received will be clawed back, whether they knew or not. However, the amounts are just too large: $444 million in payouts over 4 years.

    Ferguson and Lederer know (I'd assume), the financial aspects of poker including what the house takes. I'd like to know where they thought the money for their fees was coming from.
    (Also if it was declared on their 1040s).
    "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it."

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    Re: Full Tilt Poker = Ponzi

    its possible they could take that kind of money and have no idea if the company was legit or not. Its doubtful they were involved in the everyday business of full tilt poker. I assume they were brought in early, perhaps given part ownership so the web site could use their likeness to promote the business and generate new players each time they were seen on TV sporting a Full Tilt Poker hat, shirt, whatever.

    As such, I could see where they were regularly told, hey we're doing great, here's your cut of the profits, we've got more users than we could ever imagine. How much were their lawyers, accountants involved? Perhaps the upfront arrangement promised them a certain amount of profits each year, w/ the $44mil over 4 years as a minimum that they would reap from putting some start up money in up front. Then the guys who run the site cry that the economy is hurting them, but things are OK and here's your minimum amount per our agreement, we'll take less profits as the operaters of the site, just keep sporting our gear and pimping the site.

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    Danger is my business! oneupper's Avatar
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    Re: Full Tilt Poker = Ponzi

    Quote Originally Posted by medford View Post
    its possible they could take that kind of money and have no idea if the company was legit or not. Its doubtful they were involved in the everyday business of full tilt poker. I assume they were brought in early, perhaps given part ownership so the web site could use their likeness to promote the business and generate new players each time they were seen on TV sporting a Full Tilt Poker hat, shirt, whatever.

    As such, I could see where they were regularly told, hey we're doing great, here's your cut of the profits, we've got more users than we could ever imagine. How much were their lawyers, accountants involved? Perhaps the upfront arrangement promised them a certain amount of profits each year, w/ the $44mil over 4 years as a minimum that they would reap from putting some start up money in up front. Then the guys who run the site cry that the economy is hurting them, but things are OK and here's your minimum amount per our agreement, we'll take less profits as the operaters of the site, just keep sporting our gear and pimping the site.
    Maybe. But its $444 million not $44 million. Personally, I'd throw the book at them.
    "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it."

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Full Tilt Poker = Ponzi

    Quote Originally Posted by oneupper View Post
    Maybe. But its $444 million not $44 million. Personally, I'd throw the book at them.
    Not quite. Lederer got 42 and change, while Furgeson got roughly 25 of something like 87 "owed" to him. The entire scheme of course was for $444M, but not for those two guys.

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    Danger is my business! oneupper's Avatar
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    Re: Full Tilt Poker = Ponzi

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    Not quite. Lederer got 42 and change, while Furgeson got roughly 25 of something like 87 "owed" to him. The entire scheme of course was for $444M, but not for those two guys.
    Right. Maybe because of sports and celebrity's salaries (or CEO's), those numbers might seem normal, but they're not. That's an insane amount of money to make for "lending your name".

    I found the rake rates for Full Tilt (their website is down).

    http://www.unknownpoker.com/full-tilt-poker/rake.htm

    For Full Tilt to make this kind of money in operations, they had to operating TENs of Thousands tables with BILLIONS being wagered. Incredible.
    No wonder it was easier just to steal their customers banks.
    "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it."

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    Box of Frogs edabbs44's Avatar
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    Re: Full Tilt Poker = Ponzi

    Quote Originally Posted by oneupper View Post
    Right. Maybe because of sports and celebrity's salaries (or CEO's), those numbers might seem normal, but they're not. That's an insane amount of money to make for "lending your name".

    I found the rake rates for Full Tilt (their website is down).

    http://www.unknownpoker.com/full-tilt-poker/rake.htm

    For Full Tilt to make this kind of money in operations, they had to operating TENs of Thousands tables with BILLIONS being wagered. Incredible.
    No wonder it was easier just to steal their customers banks.
    Yeah, I'd "wager" that these guys either knew or didn't want to know.

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    Re: Full Tilt Poker = Ponzi

    And isn't Lederer some kind of math genius? You're telling me at some point he didn't calculate what oneupper posted above?
    "three dimes, a one hundred dollar bill and and 87 ones..."

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    Member ervinsm84's Avatar
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    Re: Full Tilt Poker = Ponzi

    Quote Originally Posted by oneupper View Post
    I know we have some poker players around here.

    What do you guys think of this?
    Big Names involved. Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/AP5fce...10e20e238.html

    this whole thing has been one giant clusterfck for me since this all went down on what is now known as black friday.

    I'll start with some background. I really havent mentioned it before on here, bc it was never really relevant to anything, but I actually was playing online poker full time for a living since the beginning of 09. Im not one of the guys making 7 figures that are rich ballers that youll see playing the high stakes nosebleed cash games like a Tom Dwan, Phil Galfond, or even the deucescracked guys that were on the show 2 months 2 million.

    What may surprise some people, is that a lot of the "tournament" players youve seen on ESPN are not nearly as wealthy as you may think. Prob 90% of the guys playing the 10k events are backed (staked where they get a % cut of profits) with many of them having racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in makeup. Makeup, is basically I stake you for a 10k event and you bust. I stake you next week for a 10k event. You cash for 25k. you only get 2500$ if youre on a 50/50 cut (and some dont event get that good of a cut %) bc 25k cash-20k buyins=5k profit then split in half for your 2500$. So, when you consider that a lot of these guys are playing every single 10k event plus tons of others ranging from 1500$ to the 50k event at the WSOP its not uncommon to see a guy spend well over 500k in buyins for the year. Then ESPN will show "omg hes cashed for 378,000$ in his career. Uh...cool for him. Hes still not even able to eat, nevertheless making a ton less money than the small to midstakes grinders that were like myself.

    Im not someone youve seen on tv, and probably never will. If that discredits what Im bringing to you and you think im just a phony or whatever, then ok. Thats not really my problem. Ive never had a desire to play mtts. My desire was to make as much money as possible with as much freedom to do what i wanted whenever I wanted while playing a game I enjoyed. I rarely played mtts, due to a few reasons.

    1. After finishing college, I chose online poker bc it gave me way more freedom than anything else. Playing tournaments takes up so much time. Playing cash games allow you to come and go whenever you want, set your own schedule, and lead to a much more fun, productive and enjoyable lifestyle imo.
    2. I made more $ per hour playing them so, ya tough call LDO

    Fortunately with this situation I always was extremely conservative in the $ amts that i kept in the bank compared to on the sites. As well as always having a year or more of living expenses liquid in the bank. Still, this has hurt me financially a lot. Im currently out a 5 figure amount due to full tilt not paying out yet, nor looking like they ever will, as well as all the future income not being able to play online in the US has cost me. No I dont want your pity, I understand I took a significant risk choosing this as a profession. It was the best time of my life while it lasted, and I wouldnt change it for a thing. Besides, no one knew this was going to get blown up like it did, nor was this corrupt. I often see comparisons to playing online poker to dealing drugs, "bc it breaks the law" which fwiw, i still dont agree it does but w/e, I think this comparison is absolutely insane. Drug Kingpins dont advertise on national TV to come buy their product at www.getyourcocaine.net but stars and FTP advertised a ton. They were all over ESPN, FSN, NBC, and youd see them on espn.com and other sports related websites as well. So before anyone might try to compare what I did to dealing coke, Id ask that person to show me the constant advertising on TV of dealing said cocaine. (off my soapbox)

    Yes there are still a few sites serving US customers on the Merge network (RPM poker for example) but the payouts take so long and require so many shady steps, coupled with the fact that its just not worth the risk anymore that I cant justify playing online anymore. Furthermore, playing live isnt really an option either bc to get the hourly $ amt remotely near the same as I was making online, I would have to amp my stakes up so high that I cant afford to be properly bankrolled for those limits nor play comfortably at them (let alone the cost of gas, travel time, lack of convenience, no rakeback, higher rake, tipping dealers, and in general I really dont like casinos and spending that much time in them isnt appealing).

    But, thats enough about me. Im clearly outraged by the mess that this has become, and just wish FTP had paid out like Pokerstars, but thats just not what has taken place. I dont think FTP is technically a "ponzi scheme" by definition (at least the wiki definition lolwikivalidsourceiknow)and the quote for the DOJ is a bit of hyperbole and sensationalism to draw some attention to the case.

    Im not a lawyer so this may be no where near the legal defintion
    FRom wiki :
    An operation that pays returns to its investors from their own money or the money paid by subsequent investors, rather than from any actual profit earned by the individual or organization running the operation. The Ponzi scheme usually entices new investors by offering returns other investments cannot guarantee, in the form of short-term returns that are either abnormally high or unusually consistent.

    Operation that pays returns to its investors is the part that really doesnt add up. None of the players invested in FTP. No one put money on FTP with an idea that FTP would then invest that money in their best way possible to get them a return on their investment.

    The enticing of new investors with promises of false returns, I dont think really applies bc no one playing was "investing" with full tilt poker. None
    of the players had "shares" of FTP.

    The stuff that has come out so far, really isnt a Ponzi scheme to me, but rather just outright theft of funds.


    Also, if youre wanting to get the best up to date source of information on this, Id recommend checking out www.subjectpoker.com They most of the official DOJ documents there that you can check through and read through, as well as tons of interviews, and do a great job of fleshing out the rumors and bull**** thta has surrounded this clusterfck.

    Here is the best Cliffs Post from NoahSD on 2+2 of the timeline and of whats happened regarding this situation. I took no part in writing these cliffs. Thanks to the guys from www.twoplustwo.com usenames EYESCREW, AnAnonymousCoward, and Prospace for providing cliffs. Please PM me if you think that something should be added or changed.

    Cliffs and Timeline with LINKS

    April 15th Black Friday - The Department of Justice shuts down US operations of FTP, Pokerstars and UB. http://www.pokernews.com/news/2011/0...ment-10224.htm

    April 26th - Pokerstars allows US players to cash out but Full Tilt Poker does not allow US players access to their funds. As reported by Pokeraddict.net.
    http://www.pokeraddict.net/i-receive...s-apub-update/

    May 31st - The WSOP starts and a few team FTP pros showed like Allen Cunningham, John Juanda and Erick Lindgren but notably absent were Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer.

    June 1st - Phil Ivey sues Full Tilt poker in an effort to get out of his non-compete clause. It was reported by Wicked Chops that Ivey was particularly upset because he had brought in an investor that would have got FTP out of their financial mess but the deal was nixed by Bitar and Lederer.
    http://wickedchopspoker.com/phil-ive...uing-tiltware/

    June 26th - It's reported Phil Ivey is in Dublin meeting with FTP executives.
    http://wickedchopspoker.com/phil-ive...-deal-back-on/

    June 29th - Alderney Gambling Control Commission suspends FTP's gaming license and in effect shuts FTP down worldwide.

    June 30th - Phil Ivey voluntarily dismisses his lawsuit against FTP. http://www.subjectpoker.com/2011/07/...uit-dismissed/

    July 1st - Todd terry files a class action lawsuit against FTP. (this date is approximate. Sorry for not being sure of exact date) http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/591...95uek7muqweknr

    July 22nd - Poker News Daily reported that Phil Gordon was dismissed with prejudice from Todd Terry's class action lawsuit against FTP. Phil Gordon's attorney claimed he didn't take part in the day to day operations of FTP.http://www.pokernewsdaily.com/phil-g...lawsuit-19621/

    July 26th - As reported by Pokernews there was a hearing between FTP and the AGCC to determine whether FTP's gaming license should continue to be suspended. It was supposed to be a public hearing but in private lawyers for FTP asked for an application to adjourn the meeting until a later date which was granted. The new hearing date was set to be September 15th. http://www.pokernews.com/news/2011/0...ring-10747.htm

    July 29th - Subjectpoker.com releases a statement talking about some of the financial dealings between David Benyamine, Phil Ivey and FTP. http://www.subjectpoker.com/2011/07/ivey-benyamine/

    July 29th - Mike Matusow does an interview with Quad Jacks and talks a bit about the FTP situation.http://www.quadjacks.com/2011/07/30/...day-july-29th/

    August 1st - As reported by Subject Poker the Kahnawake gaming commission agreed to renew FTP's secondary client provider authorization. http://www.subjectpoker.com/2011/08/...s-ftps-permit/

    August 18th - As reported by Stayonpoker.com a second class action lawsuit against FTP has been filed by two Canadian players. http://www.cardplayer.com/poker-news...action-lawsuit

    August 22nd - FTP's silence is finally broken when attorney Jeff Ifrah speaks out and gives some minor details about the FTP situation. Certain 2+2ers have spoken with him on the phone and been corresponding back and forth through emails with the attorney. Ifrah reported he was finally able to speak about the situation because an exclusivity agreement between a potential investor and FTP expired. http://www.pokernews.com/news/2011/0...tors-10893.htm

    August 30th - FTP releases another statement, including details about $115M they claim has been seized over the past two years, that there are indeed investors who are actively examining FTP for purchase, and that any deal will result in new management at FTP. http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/29...stors-1091866/

    August 31st - FTP lawyer Jeff Ifrah and his firm files a motion with the court asking to be relieved as attorneys for the defense due to an "unreasonable financial burden" on the firm. http://www.subjectpoker.com/2011/09/ftp-pro-se/

    September 14 - FTP releases another statement which includes references to upcoming personnel cuts and that negotiations with investor(s) is ongoing.
    http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/29...ement-1098746/

    September 15th - Scheduled hearing date between FTP and the Alderney Gambling Control Commission to determine whether FTP's gaming license will be renewed and allowing them to again service non-US based customers. On Sept. 5th, the hearing was announced for September 19th (a four day delay) due to logistical issues.

    September 19th-20th - Scheduled hearing began behind closed doors ("in camera") and was adjourned until the next day. Hearing resumed on the 20th. On the 20th, multiple news agencies broke the story that the DOJ had amended their civil complaint to include charges against Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, and Rafe Furst in relation to running a "global Ponzi scheme". While FTP was originally told the hearing with AGCC would reconvene on the 22nd, on the 21st it was released that the hearing was concluded; FTP must now wait for the AGCC's decision. http://www.subjectpoker.com/2011/09/ftp-civil-amended/

    September 21st - Mr. Ifrah and poker news sites revealed that there is a potential investor for FTP currently interested. The results of the AGCC hearing are not yet released. http://www.subjectpoker.com/2011/09/french-investors/
    Last edited by ervinsm84; 09-28-2011 at 06:23 PM.
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  16. #15
    Danger is my business! oneupper's Avatar
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    Re: Full Tilt Poker = Ponzi

    Quote Originally Posted by ervinsm84 View Post
    The stuff that has come out so far, really isnt a Ponzi scheme to me, but rather just outright theft of funds.
    Thanks for all the info. I'd have to agree with your assessment above.

    If I'm reading correctly, the site was shut down in April, didn't return the money people had in their accounts but then it wasn't until September when it was determined that it was a fraud?
    "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it."

    http://dalmady.blogspot.com

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