Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tilt and the Poker Media

With the news today that full tilt has been shut down globally after losing its license to run its online gaming operations, I find myself thinking, as I have often as I've read the increasing number of anti full-tilt posts out in the blogiverse over the past month or so, about the free pass that a great many bloggers and other members of the poker media gave full tilt for the first several weeks following the U.S. online poker ban, and even in many cases that is still happening today. As the full tilt saga continues to take affirmative steps that seem headed for the site collapsing under its own weight and not ever being able to find sufficient funds to pay back the full deposits of at least its American players, I can't help but think how funny it is that basically everyone we know in the poker media, among our blogger crew and everybody else in between out there is now taking credit for having been right all along in their predictions regarding full tilt poker ever since the events shortly after April 15. When meanwhile, in actual reality, six weeks ago, it was just me, one or two other bloggers, and a small handful of posters on 2+2 decrying full tilt (they deserved it), stating that the site had commingled funds and did not have sufficient money on hand to pay out their players (they did not), and predicting that things would get a lot worse for our chances of ever seeing our money before they get better (they most certainly have).

Go check it out. Over the past few weeks, I have read no fewer than five poker writers, bloggers or other posters trying to take credit for having been right all along and seeing this coming with the full tilt situation, when in reality you can very easily look and verify that they were there back in late April, swimming right along with the masses of fish all proclaiming that hey, this is full tilt, owned by the poker pros themselves, they won't screw everyone over, especially not with the WSOP coming up. What a joke. Even when the shit is right there to be proven false, linked right there on these people's own blogs, just inches of screen space away from their lies, they all still want to take credit now for having seen this avalanche coming. Right.

Everybody has to claim to be an insider, in the poker media more than anywhere else. Where six weeks ago it was "I know the full tilt guys, full tilt will come through, full tilt would never commingle our funds with their own, of course full tilt has the money", now with the very same people it's all "I always knew something was up, I could smell a rat from the beginning." Nice try, but no. I smelled a rat right from the beginning. You blindly backed your "friends" in the industry, while day by day, chess move by chess move, your rosy expectations and over-trusting naivete showed themselves more and more clearly for just that. You put your faith in a collection of some of the least trustworthy, most shady people out there, and boy did you ever get burned.

It's one thing to be getting screwed by full tilt here. We're all getting screwed, every minute of every day while we do not get our funds back. I wrote here in black and white a good eight weeks ago now that we all already had been screwed, from the moment it became clear to the unbiased and open-eyed among us that full tilt had in fact commingled our poker funds with their own, to such an extent that they could not now come up with enough money to pay all the U.S. players back our own money. So it's one thing to recognize and admit that you've gotten screwed. But to try to take credit for being out in front of this whole full tilt mess now that your "friends" involved with the company have shown their true colors -- when it was so painfully few of us who actually got it early on -- really adds insult to injury. Just own the fact that you got duped like 99% of the country, and maybe try to learn to be a little more open-minded and objective next time.

It was tough for a while back in May, being one of the only people I could find out there suggesting that full tilt might never pay us back our poker funds from their coffers. That our funds might not even exist. People have a lot of money tied up on full tilt, and many make their very livelihood from the availability of full tilt, so I took quite a lot of shit a couple of months back from the bitterest among the blogging community. Many said I was being needlessly pessimistic. A few attacked my lack of knowledge, or my lack of written substantiation for any concerns I was voicing (as if anyone supporting full tilt back then had any such "evidence", obviously). And many simply insulted and attacked me, without any real reason, for having a view that did not jibe with what they desperately wanted to be the truth, even though their view of the truth never sat well with me or seemed all that likely to happen.

For what it's worth, I don't only chuckle at all those people now who should have seen the truth coming like I did a couple of months ago but whose own world view could not allow them to see the forest for the trees so they are now vainly trying to take credit for having seen this all along when in fact they were major contributors to the lack of seeing this problem for what it really was. I actually think the poker media, bloggers, etc. contributed in a small way to the current state of full tilt's business. Most of the major poker media sites, the bigger poker bloggers and other poker outlets on the Internets basically gave full tilt a pass for the entire first month or more after April 15 of this year, and that I think gave the powers that be at tilt the idea that they could maybe actually get away with screwing everyone and live to tell the tale. When you've got some of the biggest and most widely-read writers about poker, many of whom have written or otherwise worked for full tilt or their largest competitors over the past few years, either remaining more or less silent while one of the biggest heists in online poker history was playing out its first act, or outright coming out in blind support of full tilt with obviously no actual reason to do so, it sent a terrible message to the founders of the site, one that I think has stuck with those people right up to now, as we near the seeming bitter end for what was once everyone's favorite site to play at. Of course nobody out there will own up to having done that now, but that's exactly what mostly everyone out there in the poker media in fact did, and I'm telling you, that collective pass and the rush to trust for everything full tilt was doing for 4-6 weeks after Black Friday contributed to where we're at today.

Just imagine if all the same people who have, say, devoted countless hours, day and weeks of their lives to investigating, reporting on, and just generally telling the world the truth about the UltimateBet / Absolute scandal, had spent the first three or four weeks after Black Friday working just as hard to look into the financial situation at full tilt and to make the truth known to the world, with the same fervor and devotion that they accorded to the UB cheating matter. Or, remember when a couple chips went missing during the WSOP Main Event a few years back? We had two or three professional poker bloggers and writers out there covering almost nothing but that story for days and days on end. And you know what? The shit works! If enough people jump on an issue or a story early enough, if they dig deep enough, and if they stay at it long enough, we've seen cold, hard proof that they can really make a difference. Not just in uncovering the truth when they do, but in actually helping to frame the issues and ultimately contributing in some way to the eventual resolution of the problem.

With full tilt, the poker media in general dropped the ball in my view. Not to blame the media in any way for what ultimately is 100% full tilt's own doing here, but the poker media has done a better job in the past on other issues, and should have followed the lead of the very few such as myself who publicly never thought full tilt's story smelled exactly kosher, and done a similar job here right from the getgo in digging to the bottom of the issues and starting to suggest ways to influence full tilt management to do the right thing. Instead, while all your favorite bloggers publicly came to full tilt's defense and told you over and over again for several weeks that of course full tilt will return everyone's funds, attacking all the while those few voices out there suggesting that maybe all was not roses for the former second-largest U.S. online poker site, management at full tilt saw an opportunity to do things clearly against the U.S. players' interests like turning down Phil Ivey's "White Knight" deal and a few other deals that were offered that would have secured the return of player funds in exchange for giving up control of the full tilt asset, and they jumped on that opportunity with the understanding that the poker media was simply not out for bear from them like they clearly have been for AP/UB, the WSOP and others when other similar controversies have arisen in the past. And I can't help but notice the correlation between that unbelievable (to me) level of trust right off the bat for full tilt, and the fact that now it appears more and more almost daily that full tilt could have gotten us back our own money, but now they probably cannot.

This is one story where I can honestly say, it hurts to have been right all along.

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8 Comments:

Blogger KenP said...

Congrats on the victory. Pyrrhic success isn't the best victory but taking what's there is a poker truism.

4:09 AM  
Blogger Josie said...

It sucks, it sucks, it sucks. I blame myself for leaving so much money in my FT account but I was *sure* it was secure. I was also *sure* I'd be using that FT money for a trip to Vegas this summer. Totally pisses me off. I worked hard to build that bankroll.

10:01 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

"I worked hard to build that bankroll."

The stuff I could say ...

10:49 AM  
Blogger Josie said...

What could you say Lightbulb?

8:06 PM  
Blogger HighOnPoker said...

I agree that a lot of people gave FT the benefit of the doubt at first, but why shouldn't they? Then, when the payments weren't made within a couple of weeks, I think the media coverage turned and it was more about why FT was not paying people. As more info came out, I thought the focus of the story then turned into what FT was doing wrong.

So, I agree that at first, most people wanted to give FT the benefit of the doubt, but I also think that eventually when payments were not made, the media coverage turned and we were told openly about some of the backstage shenanigans. I think that once the media realized that payments were not coming, the coverage has been appropriate and not all pro-FT.

11:44 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Jordan, I don't disagree with your general characterization of things all that much. However, I still believe that if the poker media -- and other parts of the poker universe out there, like 2+2ers, other forum geeks, etc. -- had jumped on this from the getgo with the same furor as they attacked the UB scandal, I do not believe it would have been nearly as easy for ftp to F everyone over as appears increasingly likely to be happening. I think that first month or so of mostly everybody giving them a pass emboldened the company to make some terrible decisions during those first few key weeks that now everyone is paying the price for, and I seriously doubt they would have felt they had the same freedom to make those decisions back a month or two ago if they did not feel like they had the support of the majority of the poker world behind them. When they should not have.

12:47 AM  
Blogger Learn Poker said...

I have my reservations about the whole FT issue, and I sure have heard a lot- "rigged," "scam," "thievery," and a lot of other stuff. Since every media outlet's ganging up on them, perhaps what I have to say wouldn't matter.

But whatever. I just hope they fix this and learn poker online is also a business, wherein even your most loyal customers will bite you if you do them wrong.

1:01 AM  
Blogger Nicu said...

I am not a poker fan, but ever since I discovered Unibet Romania I have stopped thinking about anything else.

12:16 AM  

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