Black Friday in Poker


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Online poker was effectively the backbone of the poker boom. But, on April 15, 2011, the world of internet poker faced such a drastic blow that it changed the online poker scene for years to come. The day thus came to be known as poker Black Friday in the poker community. This year marks the 10th anniversary of black Friday 2011 in poker. Therefore, we have detailed the world of online poker as it existed before the events of poker black Friday, what happened on poker black Friday and how different are the things today in online poker.

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What was the scene before poker Black Friday

Prior to black Friday 2011, poker online sites such as Full Tilt poker, PokerStars, Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet were the Holy Grail for thousands of experienced poker players who actually made a living playing poker. In fact, you can gauge the extent of the online poker boom from the fact that in 2003, a mere 839 people attended the world series of poker main event. But the same number literally grew to 8,779 in the year 2006. The growth of the online poker industry was so unprecedented that even notable high stakes poker players such as Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu and Tom Dwan openly promoted some of the prominent online poker sites. By 2010, the top online poker sites were catering to thousands of customers and poker in itself had become a billion-dollar industry.

Black Friday 2011 in poker

Things were about to go downhill on 15 April 2011, Friday. On the morning of Black Friday 2011, poker customers of PokerStars, Full Tilt poker and Absolute Poker received ominous news that the poker world’s most prominent online sites have been found violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). As per the UIGEA act which was enacted in the year 2006 none of the online poker sites were allowed to process real money from customers. Moreover, the executives, founders and payment processors of at least 11 online poker sites were charged with bank fraud, money laundering and violation of UIGEA.

The legal action forced all the major online poker sites to stop their operations in the US and sites like Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars immediately stopped offering real money games to player in the US. During the Black Friday 2011 in poker, the FBI also seized the domain names of all above-listed poker sites effectively shutting them down. The players who had already invested millions of dollars in their virtual accounts were left with pretty much no access to their money.

However, the FBI later gave a green signal to the websites to open, on the condition they will first pay back the real money to the players and henceforth will only offer games with play money in the United States.

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What happened after Black Friday 2011 in poker?

Since the events of Black Friday, only people from 4 states namely Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey and Pennysylvia have access to legalized and licensed online sites. Players from these states are allowed to compete with players within their own state and with the players from the states where legal online poker is allowed.

In the wake of poker Black Friday, the players from the majority of US states who earlier made a living playing poker have now turned to unregulated sites such as Bovada and Cardroom. Now, a major problem with these sites is that they are unregulated, which means the players who opt to play on these sites basically take a huge risk.

Today, many poker organisations and online gambling sites are pushing for online poker legalization in a bid to make poker much more safe, accessible and regulated for the population at large but the process is slow.

To conclude, the poker Black Friday was a memorable day in the history of poker that affected millions of people, put billions of dollars at stake and ultimately changed poker forever.

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