A year ago today, I woke up at 10:00 a.m., reached for my phone that had been charging on my bedside table and began reading through my emails. I was struck by an email I received from PokerStars. I had been accused of collusion and had 48 hours to write a formal response in order to keep my account from being barred from future play. Enraged, I hopped out of bed, made myself a cup of coffee, then sat down at my laptop to gather evidence in my defense and prepare my response.
You see, on April 13th, I had won a seat into the weekly PokerStars Sunday Women's Tournament through a satellite.
As so many of us do, I had been playing poker at my desk at work, multi-tabling as I was multi-tasking. Probably not optimum behavior for the senior Paralegal at the law firm I worked at, but then again, with seniority comes leeway and it was a slow day at the office. Anyway, long story short, I had accidentally folded my big blind to the Small Blind, who had only limped. Although the Small Blind did not cash in the satellite, someone at the table reported me for collusion because I folded my Big Blind, allowing the Small Blind to take the pot. Keep in mind, I had personally pealed off a large portion of that Small Blind's stack in many pots prior...I had been the chipleader all the way through the satellite and maintained a very aggressive style to keep that status.
I had actually been chipleader in an earlier satellite on the same day to the same event, but ended up cashing in 5th place (and bursting the satellite bubble) in absentia, after being blinded down due to a two hour long power outage caused by the accounting firm on the same floor that had been in the process last minute tax filings. As you can imagine, a decade of being a paralegal had armed me with the tools to write a detailed response to the accusation, and, quite frankly, a scathing opinion as to PokerStars' business practice of asserting such a serious allegation based on one sore loser's complaint, when my record of game play spoke for itself. So, I was nose-to-the-grindstone, tapping away at my keyboard for the better part of an hour and a half, determined to preserve my account's good standing so that I could continue to play on PokerStars.
I clicked the "Send" button to transmit my email to PokerStars on Friday, April 15th, 2011 at 11:46:05 a.m. Pursuant to email@example.com, my email never made it.
Immediately after sending my email, I logged into Twitter...and OMG! It was like watching a stock ticker during a market crash! The stream was moving so fast that I simply couldn't keep up. Post after post, 4 or 5 posts per second, about on-line poker. I was confused, so the first thing I did was the first thing that all of you did when you first heard the news...I tried to log into my on-line poker accounts.
Although the websites were blocked, I was able to log in to both PokerStars and Full Tilt applications, but neither would not let me access any tables or withdraw funds from the Cashier. (In a fit of rage about three months prior, I had withdrawn all of my funds from UB and uninstalled it. I could not access the UB site or download the software so I didn't know that they were still allowing game play.) Needless to day, I was in shock.
I had such high hopes for Sunday, April 17th, but rather than playing in the Women's Sunday event on PokerStars, I found myself at The Hustler Casino, playing in a live deepstack tournament, along with so many other Los Angeles poker players that would usually be playing in the high guarantee Sunday internet tournaments that had been hurting the brick and mortars since the mid-2000's.
I can't deny that I had heard rumors that it was coming. I had been responsible for The Bicycle Casino's social media accounts since January 2010 and been involved in the relaunch of Live at the Bike since November 2010. I had a large hand to play in the re-marketing of "The Big Event" (also known as the "Fake PokerStars NAPT Series"), and as you can imagine, it was my job to quell the gossip about the reason(s) for the tournament series name change. However, as a social media independent contractor, I'm the last person that the higher-uppers at the Bike consult regarding matters of law, so I am never "in the know" about their day-to-day business operations. To this day, I have no idea what pressures The Bike and PokerStars were under during the organization process of the second Los Angeles NAPT event, nor do I know what the DOJ had communicated to them.
After the April 15th seizure, PokerStars converted my satellite seat into cash and I was eventually able to withdraw the meager funds I had left on the site. I had won a small tournament on Full Tilt as well as a seat into the FTOPS $2M Guarantee on April 22nd, but... well, that money is stuck in nowhere-land just like your's, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, I woke up at 10:00 a.m., reached for my phone that had been charging on my bedside table and began reading through my emails. I made myself a cup of coffee, scrolled through my multiple twitter feeds and got caught up on my social media games. Later this evening, I'm scheduled to make a guest appearance on QuadJacks.com.
I'm no longer a Paralegal. I'm now scraping by playing live $2-3 NLH and $5-5 NLH ring games and working as the Host of "Live at the Bike." I'm also an independent social media consultant and internet marketing contractor for The Bicycle Casino, Poker Netcast and World Team Poker, among others.
The 2012 World Series of Poker is fast approaching. Last year, there were less media folks covering the Series than in years prior. I've tried to keep up with my fellow poker writers, photographers and bloggers over the past year, and I'm sad to report that lots of good people have either lost their jobs or are changed direction in their careers and will not be returning to the Series this year. In fact, I expect the U.S. media presence at the Series to be just the major publications and less than 10 independents. For those of you who followed my media career, you've probably noticed that I too have all but stopped writing Op-Eds.
I still have high hopes for the industry, I'm still holding on to the faith that it won't be long before internet gaming is back in business in the United States - bigger and better than ever. But for now, I'm just going to continue grinding it up in live games, one chip at a time, and do my best to bring live poker to you on a weekly basis via PokerNetcast.com.
(If you'd like to see how the rest of my April 2011 went, check out the Archive.)