GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 16 - May 2011

The aftermath: Victory Poker leaves U.S. while others jockey for position By Aaron Todd T he fallout from April’s indictment of the owners of the three largest online poker rooms that accepted U.S. players continues as poker rooms across the in- dustry are surveying the new landscape, evaluating their own policies regarding American players and jockeying for posi- tion for new players. Two of the companies named in the indictment — PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker — have shut down their U.S. operations. The third, Absolute Poker, was still allowing U.S. play- ers with existing balances to play real-money games as of press time, but was not allowing new American players to sign up or existing players to make deposits or withdrawals. Victory Poker CEO Dan Fleyshman, who was not named in the indict- ment, announced that his site is voluntarily leaving the U.S. mar- ket, and all of the site’s American players will be migrated to Cake Poker. Fleyshman said one-third of Victory’s players were Americans. “[Cake has] blocked U.S. players [on Victory Poker] already and are working on the switch now,” said Fleyshman in an e-mail. “[Cake Poker] will continue to ac- cept U.S. players as a network as long as they like, but I have made a personal choice not to have Victory continue.” Fleyshman is one of just a handful of identifiable online poker executives in the industry. Since his site’s launch in February 2010, he has aggressively promoted his brand through online vid- eos, advertising and professional player sponsorships. Despite recent actions taken against online poker site owners, Fleyshman says he is not concerned that he may become a target of law enforce- ment officials. “I don’t have XYZ shell companies or shady processing,” said Fleyshman, referring to the bank fraud and money laundering charges facing the big three online poker rooms. “Victory is a poker skin on a network, so we have no ac- cess to merchant accounts, credit card processing, wire transfers, etc. The sec- ond I heard that the government was crushing the top three, I blocked U.S. players for Victory even though none of the other skins on the Cake, Merge, Everleaf and Yahatay [networks] did. It’s a personal choice. I don’t want to battle with the government; they are relentless and almighty.” Fleyshman had been in talks with the CEREUS network about a possible move to join what had been the third-largest network to allow U.S. players, but has stopped those talks and looks to be stay- ing with Cake for now. In addition to Cake Network sites, Merge and Yahatay Network sites as well as Bodog continue to accept U.S. players. Meanwhile, sites that have not allowed U.S. players since the UIGEA passed in October 2006 are rolling out promotions in an effort to take advantage of the weak- ened position of former market gi- ants PokerStars and Full Tilt. Party Poker’s home page now boasts a large graphic reading “Prompt Payments Guaranteed” in what could be considered a jab at the two online sites being unable to pay American players, and having some temporary issues with pay- outs to players in other jurisdictions as well. Titan Poker’s lead promotion, mean- while, asks players, “Recent changes on Stars and Tilt got you on edge?” The site has doubled its deposit bonus to 200 percent up to $1,000, is offer- ing $1,000 first depositor freerolls, four $5,000 freerolls for all deposit- ing players, and is giving away $200 in prizes every 100,000th hand. Playtech CEO Mor Weizer told the Financial Times that his iPoker network had grown in the wake of April’s indictments. “There is no longer trust in unregu- lated operators,” Weizer told the newspaper. “There are millions of non-U.S. players now looking for trusted operators to place bets with.” Victory Poker CEO Dan Fleyshman Special Report 27