A few weeks ago, Doyle Brunson promised his followers on twitter that he would write his own thoughts on Black Friday and the Full Tilt scandal. Two days ago, just as promised, The Godfather of Poker posted a blog on the matter that has affected hundreds of thousands of players all over the globe.
When you are up your friends know who you are, when you are down you know who your friends are
There is really no reason to completely rehash all of the stuff about the Full Tilt debacle. Everyone knows MOST of the facts and are familiar with the proceedings. I feel I was privy to things lots of people weren't because my best friend Jack Binion, was interested in buying FT and did a lot of Due diligence. I want to stress that anything I say isn't written in stone and is just my opinion. This is America and everyone can believe what they want.
Was FT guilty of gross negligence and terrible mismanagement? Yes of course but what happened and why? It's my understanding that an unknown person to the poker world Ray Bitar, was a very good friend to FT's largest stock holder Chris Ferguson. Upon Fergusons recommendation Bitar was named CEO and put his name on all the documents, BANK accounts, different corporations, etc.
FT did an amazing job of advertising and marketing under the supervision of Bitar and Howard Lederer, Lederer held the position of President of FT and was very instrumental in helping FT's remarkable growth. But remember, this was 2008 and Lederer retired from management after a year. Bitar remained in power and knew all of the inner workings of FT.
There was a board of directors, I'm not sure exactly who was on it but it was FT stockholders. The bottom line was they were poker players, not corporate executives. I can tell you for sure that poker players including myself are terrible business men. Why didn't they step in and hire a top professional person to supervise and direct business? No one has ever answered that to my knowledge.
The site under Bitars directions started paying the stockholders huge dividends as the business grew. So the answer to the last question is that if you were a stockholder, would you question the management of a company that was sending you hundreds of thousands of dollars each month? I doubt you would, I know I wouldn't, I'd think life is good!
Exactly how FT lost their cash is not clear to me. Something about processors, electronic checks they couldn't cash, etc. They lost the WAY to get the money to the site. Bitar was in power and obviously made some bad decisions. He got into financial trouble and instead of telling his stockholders, thought that he could work his way out of the trouble. So, he continued sending out the large dividends to the people giving the illusion everything was alright. Bitar who is obviously a very smart guy might have worked things out but Black Friday happened and everything came to the surface.
Now the government froze all the bank accounts and took all available cash from the company. All of the stockholders said they knew nothing of the financial problems. I think most of them told the DOJ they had no knowledge of the condition of FT and the risk of perjury to a government agency would strongly suggest they ARE telling the truth.
Im not defending anyone nor am I wanting to persecute anyone. The question of how and why may never be explained to everyone's satisfaction. It seems inconceivable that the board of directors or some of the major stockholders didn't investigate the affairs of a billion dollar company. It looks like Bitar, Ferguson and Lederer are taking all the heat. Ferguson had a lot of faith in his friend Bitar. It is widely perceived that Howard Lederer was still heavily involved in running the company even though he retired two or three years earlier. I've been in contact with Lederer the last few months. When someone I've known for years, trusted and respected looks me dead in the eye and says he didn't know about the financial problems, call me a big old Texas sucker because I will believe them. I have not talked to Ferguson but I understand he says what Lederer told me, that they didn't know. There are at least 4 stockholders that own more of FT than Lederer. Where were they? The guilt should be shared IF its true Lederer and Ferguson didn't know of the financial mess.
The main question I've had through all of this is where was the Chief Financial Officer? Even though I had nothing to do with the management when I was the spokesperson for the internet poker site Doylesroom, I know there was a strict CFO in place who made sure there was 110% of the players money in a separate account from the operating account. So when Doylesroom closed there was immediate cash available to pay the players. Why didn't FT board of directors and stockholders realize THERE wasn't any financial responsibility in the company?
Another unanswered question is where was the Aldernay Gaming Commission? They issued FT a license and for sure they had the responsibility to see that the players finds were secure. Before Doylesroom closed they were trying to get a license from Malta and in order to get approved by them, funds had to be in place to cover the players accounts.
I remember FT put out a statement to the effect that they are working on a deal to sell the company and pay the players their balances. That deal is still being pursued so what else is there to say? If you have never been involved with a FEDERAL investigation, you probably don't understand. If you were looking at going to jail and your lawyers keep telling you to remain silent, would you say anything? When the government says "anything you say can and will be used against you", it means exactly that. All of the Federal Agencies have proved it over and over. Regardless of what you say or don't say. They are going to do a thorough and complete investigation. I believe the truth will finally come out when the DOJ signs off on the case.
I'm no lawyer but I remember from my college years the word intent was a very important word. If anyone thinks that FT was a "Global Ponzi Scheme", they might want to buy some Oceanside property in KANSAS. FT was a huge success and paying the stockholders millions of dollars each month. Can any rational person think they destroyed all this by using unauthorized moneys? Of course not, so there was no intent of wrong doing for years. Then when all the money problems came about, the CEO of the company tried to salvage his mistake by continuing to pay the huge dividends. Ray Bitar for sure knew about the cover up and has to answer for his actions. You can believe or disbelieve the fact that Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer knew about the problems. I know the majority of the poker world wants blood and believe they did know. I believe time will tell us the answer to that.
As far as I know, every member and stockholder of FT was my friend before Black Friday. Despite all the terrible mistakes and mismanagement I know the intent to defraud wasn't part of their plan. Despite a LAW suit against FT by a major stockholder that killed potential sales, despite the fact they tried to salvage their company by continuing to operate outside the US, they are the same faces as before.
I don't want to take a baseball bat and crush their grapes and I don't want to keep them from rejoining the poker world. Where do you stop the level of responsibility? I don't know, I only know all of the FT people were my friends and they still are.
I also recall I read in the most widely read book in the world where it says something like this, "Let someone with no guilt cast the first stone,"
Doyle Brunson´s statement is very interesting. When he introduces the way of working in Doylesroom, he clarifies that there was a working capital to prevent the worst if the company shuts down. I believe that a billion dollar company like FT must have had, in some time of its life, a fund or a working capital to prevent a situation like this. But, like Brunson says, having pro poker players, who dedicate their entire life to the game that it was their job, taking care of the business instead of hiring a group of top managers to do the work well done, it’s really strange. Ok, a manager is very well paid, but that happens because their functions are vital for the health of the institution.
Doyle is a cool guy, great player, but why open his mouth about something he clearly knows nothing about, comparing FT to his room, first his faild, FT were not given the chance to fail as such, and they will be back, second, companies are run in diffrent ways thats why some work some don't, third he compared a local cake maker to Mr.Kipling, you would be suprised how many well know respected companys run close to bankruptcy whilst the world thinks they rake it in. Perhaps he is getting a little too old...contradicting and playing a guessing game here, though he does admit he knows little what went on or understands, missing out on some of the very basic errors of FT that are now very public. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer huh Doyle.
i believe ferguson,lederer and all those on the board had to know something was going on,there on the board of a billion dollar company and they want us to believe thet had no knowledge of the finances of their company...try pull the other leg ffs if i had invested a lot of money setting up a company id want to know every last detail of what goes on in my company
I´ve been looking around, and his statement is NOT well received on most forums. and by me.
Obviously a reaction to Daniel´s recent video blog. On Twitter he says he will clarify, but I prefer he not say anything more to add to this. He´s just trying to defend his friends. Quite enough info has come out to make a number of things clear. My opinion.
i think there are some interesting thoughts in this statement- one thing that caught my eye is that there were bigger shareholders than lederer and ferguson, but there is no info about them- why so and who the hell were they- i think it is important to know their identities
Very impressive details this whole deal I must say thank you Doyle. And, I have this feeling in my heart that your words are of truth. I also believe if something or I should say if someone would have at the very least came forward and explained to the people what this information expresses it would have lightened peoples bad feelings or wants to blame sommeone.
Things would still be going on down that happy road if it weren't for the DOJ wanting to get their cut of the money. I will always believe that this is what the real deal is, the U.S. Gov. /DOJ just want the money they feel their entitled to. And, what's bad is, they will get their's before we get ours. So who's the real crooks here?
Thats why I am studying management! If I were CEO at FT those things would never happen... Seriously, how could you paying dividends with the money you didnt earn? They was making millions from rake, and they let this happen... Irresponsible! PokerStars is now larger then ever, and I was watching their high-stakes table, those guys are not kidding at all, their rake is multiple times higher than it was at FT. :O Billions of $$$, think about it. Ofcourse they will do everything to keep it, and I am sure that this COMPANY is not lead by poker players...
@kwasac, you do well in dreaming that high and concentrate on your studis very well, one never knows when the opportunity to get to a company or a place like this can appear. I started studying management too, but my accounting perception never found the same line of thought of the knowledge discussed in the classroom, so I quit.
Posted by Macubaas: Doyle Brunson has nothing to do with the full titl poker deal, of course he is allowed to comment on any subject but he is not involved in this.
One thing is sure, the situation there it's a lot more complicated than we know...
Sure, I just hope government other country make wise decision, not just closed poker site ! But this case make other site be careful and money's player will be safe . Anyway, Brunson's explanation really clear !
These guys Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer didnt know a thing about black friday and you believeing them Mr.Brunson no disrespect,but get your head out of the sand buddy.They should never be allowed in the poker cummunity.never.
Ferguson and Lederer are guilty by association and their inaction and ingnorance - who tries to run a billion dollar company with no experience whatsoever????
It means you cannot question ANYTHING that you are told from someone that does know business.
Bitar bluffed the biggest bluff and they bought it - the money they were getting as shareholders was way too good for them to pass up obviously.
"Bitar is clearly a crook." "Ferguson and Lederer are guilty by association and their inaction and ingnorance"
I remember watching a game on Sky TV (ESPN or one of sport channels, Ozy Millions, or some High Roller game, if remember right, as there was FT & PS shows), which there game poker where, ferguson & Bitar and others and there was some friction in game , this was just before Black Friday. I remember thinking that Bitar was idiot, and I had feeling there was something going on but i wasn't sure what! I have tried to find footage of it, but can't find yet PS; or was it Daniel Tzvetkoff instead of Ray Bita im not 100% sure in-till i seen footage again!
I came across this in news just after Black Friday too, very interesting
"TITLE; Poker scam hit as Gold Coast whiz turns FBI super-grass AUSTRALIAN internet whiz Daniel Tzvetkoff, who has become a prized FBI informant in a bid to avoid a 75-year jail sentence in the US, may have brought down the multibillion-dollar American online poker industry.
The FBI announced on Friday that it had charged 11 people, including the founders of three of the largest internet poker companies in the US, with bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling offences. The poker sites PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker have been shut down.
It is believed Gold Coast entrepreneur Tzvetkoff's decision to turn super-grass and reveal the secret schemes used by poker companies to illegally launder billions of dollars via phony bank accounts and shell companies helped the FBI and New York prosecutors build their case."