Professional poker player Phil Ivey.
Phil Ivey has a bone to pick with Full Tilt Poker. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Ralph Unden/Flickr)

Phil Ivey, one of the most skilled professional poker players in the world today, is boycotting this year’s World Series of Poker, reports Big Lead Sports. After the U.S. Justice Department’s April 2011 crackdown on online poker, Ivey’s team and major WSOP supporter, Full Tilt Poker, locked all of its online U.S. accounts. As federal agents continue to work with online gambling sites to refund online poker players, parent company Tiltware, LLC, has held on to more than $150 million, a move that has inspired Ivey to take Tiltware to court.

Ivey is ‘deeply disappointed’ in Full Tilt

On his Facebook page, Phil Ivey argued that Full Tilt’s actions are not only embarrassing, they create economic hardship for skilled poker players who now cannot participate in buy-in tournaments to further their reputation.

“I am not playing in the World Series of Poker, as I do not believe it is fair that I compete when others cannot,” writes Ivey. “I am doing everything I can to seek a solution to the problem as quickly as possible.”

Damaging Phil Ivey’s reputation

By being closely associated with Full Tilt throughout his career, Ivey feels that the company’s lack of action in recent months has damaged his reputation. After a great deal of thought, he decided to bring suit against Tiltware, LLC, the founders of Full Tilt Poker. From Ivey’s Facebook statement against his (perhaps former) team:

“I sincerely hope this statement will ignite those capable of resolving the problems into immediate action… I will dedicate the entirety of my time and efforts to finding a solution for those who have been wronged by the painfully slow process of repayment.”

Full Tilt allegedly had no bank reserve account

A major allegation Ivey levies against Tiltware is that Full Tilt Poker did not maintain a bank reserve account through which money could quickly be refunded to players. International Business Times indicates that online poker sites like Full Tilt take player deposits and invest the money, in much the same way a bank invests depositor funds.

Federal regulators are aware of this, so there are laws governing reserves that must be maintained by individual banks (or online gambling sites). It appears that Full Tilt is either unwilling or unable to refund all the customer money at once. If it’s a matter of insolvency, players could be in trouble, as online gambling websites do not historically receive taxpayer bailouts and do not bear the kind of FDIC insurance that a bank does. The government would have to open the nation’s wallet for players to get their money back.

Phil Ivey’s complaint against Tiltware, LLC

Sources

Big Lead Sports: http://thebiglead.com/index.php/2011/06/01/phil-ivey-is-boycotting-the-world-series-of-poker/

Casino Scam Report: http://bit.ly/loVhfI

International Business Times: http://bit.ly/mR3mMV

Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704628404576265060852516194.html

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