In April 2011, the FBI and the Department Of Justice changed on-line poker for good. Where do we stand nearly three years down the line?
This is the sight that greeted American poker players after the Black Friday domain seizures.
Poker has changed dramatically since the Black Friday domain seizures; true, there have been winners as well as losers, but some of those losers have literally disappeared.
Among those that are no more are UltimateBet and its sister site Absolute Poker.
The site where the stars come to play is now the site where the stars came to play. The collapse of Hollywood Poker does not appear to have been related to Black Friday, but it is gone nevertheless, and its players have been transferred to another site.
Ladbrokes used to have its own network and its own unique games, in particular it was the only place anywhere you could play pot limit razz. There was the magnificent nightly E5.00 + E.50 limited rebuy tournament, which was simply razztastic! Ladbrokes has now joined the iPoker Network along with Betfair, William Hill and a host of others. It was nice while it lasted though. Sigh.
Party Poker is the second biggest poker site in the world, but its new look leaves much to be desired. However, it has recently brought back stud tournaments, so there is hope for it yet.
This leaves PokerStars as top dog. Not only is it now the biggest site by far with the widest variety of games by far, but after a great deal of rumour and speculation about other potential bidders, it took over Full Tilt Poker, which was relaunched in November 2012. The prognosis did not look good, but although the site is not what it used to be, it has survived and is thriving.
As for PokerStars proper, as stated, it has the widest variety of games by far including some new ones but sadly no pot limit razz. In addition to its usual promotions, it will be running another world record attempt on February 23. In December 2011, 200,000 players competed in a special $1 buy-in No Limit Hold ’Em tournament with a guaranteed $50,000 first prize. This month will see (if all goes to plan), 230,000 players competing for a $300,000 prize pool.
In May 2011, the future of on-line poker looked at best uncertain. Now, although some sites have sadly gone to the wall - UltimateBet and Absolute Poker in particular will be sorely missed - it seems to be back on a firm footing, in particular the uncertainty and the occasional scandals are without doubt a thing of the past, and that can only be good for players worldwide.
[The above article was published originally February 8, 2014].
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