Online Poker Room Ghost Town
Online poker is a brutal business where hundreds of poker rooms compete for a relatively small number of players. So it’s not surprising to find the road to poker success littered with the burned out remains of the poker rooms that didn’t make the cut.
Here’s few of them that should stir your memories.
Founded back in 1999 (and well before Google EMD penalties), PokerRoom.com was in the right place at the right time to find poker success and were eventually absorbed into the Bwin family.
The site did booming business right up until the UIGEA killed their US player base in 2006. But by 2009 it was clear that they just couldn’t compete and Bwin pulled the plug.
Well before Black Friday, Absolute Poker had its share of controversy, but plenty of successes, too.
Many players remember the Super-User scandal that rocked the site back in 2007. That’s when a disgruntled employee hacked into company servers and found a way to look at other players’ hold cards.
Absolute came out of that scandal unscathed, but they couldn’t weather the next big hit. When Black Friday came down, Absolute Poker was square in the sites of the Department of Justice and that proved to be their undoing.
By 2011, creditors and lawyers were picking apart the piece of the once might poker room and Absolute Poker’s glory days were just a memory.
Full Tilt Poker
If there’s a success story to be had in these grim tales, it’s going to come from Full Tilt Poker (FTP). The FTP story was packed with drama and inflated egos that were ripe for a major downfall. After Black Friday, high fliers like Ray Bitar and Chris Ferguson went from the executive suite to the defendant’s table in a very short time.
Despite everything that happened, FTP remained an enticing commercial property and earlier this year, PokerStars struck a deal to purchase the troubled company. As part of the deal PokerStars is paying around half a billion dollars to the US government to pay back players and settle fines.
The good news is that everything is on track for a Full Tilt relaunch as soon as November 6.
Unfortunately, not closing has a happy ending like FTP’s. Expekt is a Malta-based company that’s still very much in the poker business, it’s the affiliate business that they’ve left behind.
In their haste to pile up profits, they shuttered their affiliate program, but kept the players. Along the way, they pulled just about every rogue trick in the book and lost any supporters they might have had in that affiliate world.
It’s been a tough year for Merge Gaming Network rooms and it got off to a rough start early on with Poker Nordica gave up the ghost in April. The six-year-old site was a popular destination for players who liked plenty of action, but not a lot of newbies.
As is often the case with a poker room closing, there were a few signs of trouble well ahead of the final death throes. On affiliate forums, plenty of posters reported difficulties getting a hold of anyone at the company for several weeks before the closing was officially announced.
Unlike so many other abandoned online poker sites, the folks at Poker Nordica did pay off their players and most of their affiliate partners.
Unfortunately, not every online poker room closing goes as smoothly as was the case when Purple Lounge went under earlier this year.
While the site’s closure was abrupt and confusing, it looked pretty orderly compared the company’s jumbled attempts at an explanation. According to a statement they made at the time, Purple Lounge shut down because it was:
trading materially behind the same period of the previous financial year which will result in increased losses for the division and, as a result, the Company as a whole.
Got it? That’s corporate speak for, “the site was losing money and bringing down the whole company.”
A month after the closing, player and affiliates were still waiting for their money.
Online poker rooms are businesses so it’s no surprise that owner/operators go out of their way to try to put off closures as long as possible. That was the case with CasinoCoins, a brand that had long enjoyed a pretty good reputation in the affiliate world.
In May of 2011, the company announced that they would no longer be accepting new players, but would continue serving their current customers. It was a desperation move that left affiliate partners wondering what the heck was going on. Sadly, the move only bought a short amount of time.
By July of that year, they were just another online ghost town. They did, however, pay off their affilate partners, which is nice.
Lots of poker rooms and casinos fight the good fight and still wind up in the graveyard and that’s exactly what happened to the Swaziland-based Piggs Peak Casino. While their operations were perfectly legal in Swaziland, they weren’t legal in South Africa; which surrounds the tiny country on all sides.
Unfortunately for Piggs Peak, about 90% of their customers were based in South Africa and that led to a very long legal battle with the government there. After years of bickering, a judge ruled that even though the company’s servers were in Swazliand, they still violated SA law and shut the whole thing down.
Not every poker room closing is necessarily bad news, in fact Bodog.uk and Bodog.eu’s recent closings are part of some much bigger plans by the company.
Bodog has made no secret of their desire to grab a bigger share of the booming Asian Pacific market and that’s exactly why they shut down the poker rooms on Bodog.uk and Bodog.eu.
The newly redesigned site is going to focus on games like Baccarat that are popular with Asians and Asian expats.
We said it’s been a tough year for Merge Gaming rooms and BluffRoom.com’s recent closure is more proof of that dynamic. In fact, this stop on the Online Poker Room Ghost Town Tour has just about all the elements we’ve seen in all the other sites in one place.
As the BluffRoom ship began sinking a couple months ago, affiliate partners stopped receiving payments and company officials were tough to get hold of.
Eventually the announcement came that BluffRoom was being shut down due to liquidity problems. More corporate doublespeak and another shuttered poker room.
Do you have any memories of these closed down poker rooms? Share them in the comment section below.