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  • Top News – Black Friday for Online Poker in the States, Selbst and Mercier Score Back-to-Back in Mohegan Sun

Top News – Black Friday for Online Poker in the States, Selbst and Mercier Score Back-to-Back in Mohegan Sun

Top News – Black Friday for Online Poker in the States, Selbst and Mercier Score Back-to-Back in Mohegan Sun

The biggest poker news of the week came on Friday, unfortunately this was not happy news. The United States Department of Justice along with the FBI and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York have banned four of the biggest online poker sites operating in the US – PokerStars, Full Tilt, UB and Absolute Poker. In addition, the founders of these websites have been charged with serious criminal activities – two of the defendants were arrested, the warrants for nine more have been issued. In not so depressing news we have Vanessa Selbst and Jason Mercier who both went back-to-back at the NAPT Mohegan Sun for the second year in a row and Kemal Ferri who won the LAPT event in Lima for a $207,400 cash prize.

Online Poker's Black Friday

Last Friday, April 15 was named Black Friday by the online poker players – the US Department of Justice had seized three biggest online poker sites in the United States – PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker (along with UB.com). In addition to that 11 warrants were issued to arrest the founders and the owners of the three poker sites as well as their payment processors. The defendants were charged with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses based on the Illegal Gambling Business Act of 1955 and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. Two suspects were arrested the same day – John Campos of SunFirst Bank and Chad Elie, however just a few days later both were released on bail. Elie's freedom cost him $250,000 whereas Campos' was valued at $25,000.

For almost a week the .com domains of the poker sites in question were overtaken by the US Department of Justice and the F.B.I. showing only the following message: “This domain name has been seized by the FBI pursuant to an arrest warrant in rem obtained by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York… Conducting, financing, managing, supervising, directing, or owning all or part of an illegal gambling business is a Federal crime.” It didn't take long for the poker companies to restore their websites under .eu and .co.uk domains, however, the main problem (which remains until today and will continue for an indefinite amount of time) was that they could no longer accept real money players residing in the United States.

Yesterday (April 20th), PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker have both reclaimed their .com domains, however, real money play for US residents is still prohibited. The U.S Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara issued the following press release explaining the situation: “On April 15, this Office and the FBI took specific legal action against 11 individuals who allegedly engaged not merely in the operation of illegal gambling businesses, but in massive wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering, despite repeated warnings and clear notice that their conduct was illegal in the United States. No individual player accounts were ever frozen or restrained, and each implicated poker company has at all times been free to reimburse any player's deposited funds. In fact, this Office expects the companies to return the money that U.S. players entrusted to them, and we will work with the poker companies to facilitate the return of funds to players, as today’s agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker demonstrate.”

The above statement identifies U.S. Attorney's for the Southern District of New York aim for the online poker sites to return all the funds deposited by the American users back to their accounts. On their part, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker have declared that returning US players' funds is their top priority at the moment, however, the sites' authorities also claim that the funds in question were seized by the US government and that the companies have no access to them and are not able to send the money back to their users.

Yet the third poker site – Absolute Poker have not made any statements on the issue and their .com domain is still unavailable (the sites can be accessed at ubpoker.eu and absolutepoker.eu).

OnlinePoker10 will bring you more news on this as the story develops. However, at the moment US online poker players are not able to access real money games or withdraw money from their accounts. Should the current situation change and real money games for the US residents are to be allowed, we will be the first to spread the news.

Selbst and Mercier Go Back-toBack in NAPT Mohegan Sun

In just the second season of the Northern American Poker Tour Vanessa Selbst, one of the Top 3 female poker players in the world has achieved the record which is going to be very difficult to brake for any poker pro – she won the same NAPT event for the second year in a row and became the first player ever to score back-to-back NAPT titles. It all happened last week at the NAPT Mohegan Sun Main Event when Selbst outplayed all the competition and collected the title as well as the first place cash for the second time in a row.

However, one thing is not the same as it was last year – the money. In 2010 when she first won the inaugural NAPT Mohegan Sun Main Event, Selbst also won a significant amount of cash – $750,000. However, the year after she had to go with an almost two-times smaller prize – $450,000. Still, this didn't seem to matter to Selbst as she enjoyed her title and was uplifted by her achievement. Selbst became only the second player in history to win back-toback international live events hosted by PokerStars. The first one was Nacho Barbero who won two LAPT events in 2010.

“I don't know, I'm speechless,” said Selbst when asked if there would be a three-peat next year. “I didn't win this in my typical fashion. I didn't steamroll the table. I had some luck on my side and I played a pretty good heads up game against a formidable opponent. This is seriously the most special thing in my career. Maybe last year wasn't a fluke.”

These are the standings after 2011 NAPT Mohegan Sun final table:

1. Vanessa Selbst – $450,000
2. Dan Shak – $254,000
3. Tyler Kenney – $170,000
4. Thomas Hoglund Jr. – $120,000
5. Vincent Rubianes – $90,000
6. Joe Tehan – $70,000
7. Aaron Overton – $50,000
8. Steve O'Dwyer – $32,330

In fact, this was not the only déjà vu at this year's NAPT Mohegan Sun – Jason Mercier has also scored his second consecutive title at the High Roller Bounty Shootout event. In the final heads-up battle for his second Mohegan Sun title in a row Mercier defeated his fellow team PokerStars member, the Ukrainian-American poker pro Eugene Katchalov and collected the shiny NAPT trophy along with the $246,600 cash prize.

These are the final standings:

1. Jason Mercier – $246,600
2. Eugene Katchalov – $68,000
3. Michael Pesek – $70,000
4. Jonathan Jaffe – $54,000
5. Taylor von Kriegenbergh – $44,000
6. Jimmie Guinther – $42,000
7. Scott Blackman – $44,000
8. Micah Raskin – $46,000
9. Joe Sweeney – $52,000

Winning Mohegan Sun events not only complemented Selbst's and Mercier's poker trophy collections, but also gave them a significant lift in the all time money rankings. Selbst has reached the carrier-high 2nd place in the women's all time list with $4,290,824 outrunning Annette Obrestad and Annie Duke. Mercier, on his part, had increased his lifetime winnings up to $5,572,438 and now ranks #47 among the poker's best live performances.

And this is a short video of Vanessa Selbst winning the Northern American Poker Tour Mohegan Sun Main Event made by our friends the PokerNews live reporting team:

Kemal Ferri Wins LAPT Lima

Another big winner of the week was Kemal Ferri who won the PokerStars LAPT event in Lima. The Peruvian player, who did not intend to play the tournament in the first place, did not seem as the favorite when coming into the final table, but a couple of good hands and adequate play allowed Ferri to go all the way and win the title.

Ferri was not under the spot during the whole event and even when he made it into the final table in 7th place with only 16 big blinds, it did not look like he was the guy to get the first prize. However, Ferri did prove everyone wrong after he finally outplayed his last opponent – Raul Pino from Panama and collected his carrier-first poker title – the LAPT trophy along with the $207,400 cash prize.

These are the final 2011 LAPT Lima standings:

1. Kemal Ferri – $207,400
2. Raul Pino – $120,000
3. Pablo Gonzales – $73,540
4. Michel Barham – $54,180
5. Samar Hodali – $38,700
6. Leonardo Zepeda – $30,960
7. Daniel Ospina – $23,220
8. Karlo Lopez – $15,480

888 Give Away Free WSOP Packages

And last, but not least is the news about 888 Poker giving away 2 packages to this years World Series of Poker event #54 valued at $4,500 each. And the best thing about this promo is that it's absolutely free. The only requirement is for you to download 888 Poker via OnlinePoker10 – and that's it, you're good to go. You don't need to make a deposit or anything of that sort – no. However, what you need to do is win one of the numerous freerolls that are taking place on 888 Poker 2 times a day every day until May 27. The freeroll series started just yesterday (April 20th ) which means you still have plenty of chances to win.

All the winners of these qualification freerolls will meet on May 28th in the final freeroll of the series to determine which two of them are the most worthy to collect the two WSOP packages and go play the World Series event #54. Here's what the packages include:
  • $1,000 entry to the WSOP event #54 on July 2 or 3
  • $1,100 for travel
  • 8 nights at the Palazzo Hotel
  • 888 Poker Live Event Merchandise Kit
  • Special VIP event on July 7
The special freerolls giving away seats into the final tournament run every day on 888 Poker at 0900 GMT and 1830 GMT up until May27. On May 28 all the winners will gather to play for the two WSOP packages @ 1800 GMT.

So if you want to get into the 2011 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas for free – download 888 Poker now and start playing poker online!

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