Yesterday we were drinking margaritas and tomorrow we'll be sipping mint juleps hoping our horse comes through. Today though, it's a work day, so let's get to the news. The OIJ, the Costa Rican equivalent of the FBI, raided the offices of PokerStars on Friday. We'll give you the scoop on that, bring you an update of the EPT Grand Final High Roller where Galen Hall leads, and more.
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The Spring Championship of Online Poker kicks off Sunday on PokerStars, but the guarantees have been dropped and field sizes will more than likely be smaller than in years past. Here's How Black Friday Changed the 2011 SCOOP.
Friday morning, reports started flying that the PokerStars offices in Costa Rica had been raided by the Department of Justice. Soon after, the reports were confirmed by PokerStars Steve on TwoPlusTwo, but we found out that it wasn't in fact the DOJ, it was the Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ), Costa Rica's version of the FBI.
"PokerStars continues to operate the world's largest poker room, business as usual. It is true that the OIJ is currently at the PokerStars Costa Rican office and has sent employees home temporarily, but employees will be able to return in a few hours. PokerStars expects the office to return to business as usual in short order as this action was most likely taken as a response to problems experienced by other local companies in the same industry."
Twenty minutes later, Steve gave the all clear, saying that PokerStars employees were already returning to the office.
According to Costa Rican news outlet Teletica six offices and residential homes were raided. The outlet also has a video of the OIJ actually barging through the doors of the offices.
EPT Grand Final High Roller
The PokerStars European Poker Tour Grand Final High Roller began with 58 players, creating a €1,435,500 prize pool. First place will take home €525,000, and the top eight players will get paid. Eugene Katchalov, Mike "Timex" McDonald, Viktor "Isildur1" Blom, Vanessa Selbst, Tom Dwan, and Jonathan Duhamel were part of the 58-player field.
At the time of writing, nine players remained and Galen Hall was leading the stacked field. Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Vanessa Rousso, Peter Jetten, and David Sands are all still in the mix, as well.
You can check out updates from the High Roller on the PokerStars Blog, and don't forget that the Main Event kicks off Saturday and the PokerNews Team is there and will be bringing you all the updates straight from the felt in Madrid.
Full Tilt Poker Update
This bit is going to be short and sweet. If you head over to the Full Tilt Poker FAQ page, you'll find that the question "When will I be able to withdraw my account balance?" has been updated with an announcement of an announcement. The waiting game continues.
"Full Tilt Poker is diligently working on facilitating the withdrawal of funds for US Players - this is our top priority. We are sorry for the delay and will update you with any progress made by Sunday, May 15th."
See what else has been updated on the FTP FAQ page.
In the wake of Black Friday, ClubWPT is generating a bit more press. The San Fransisco Chronicle has profiled the subscription-based online poker site.
"ClubWPT.com offers real poker players a chance for real poker because something's at stake," World Poker Tour CEO Steve Heller said. "If something's not at stake, it's not real poker."
If you're not familiar with ClubWPT, the subscription fee is $19.95, and players play for prizes. Heller described the club as being like the lottery where members pay a monthly fee to play but don't wager anything.
WPT spokesperson Justin Simon said that the club is "drawing players from all over the country," but no figures regarding the time period after Black Friday have been given.
Find out more at SFGate.com.
World Poker Tour Five Star World Poker Classic
The World Poker Tour Five Star World Poker Classic kicked off Friday at the Bellagio. There are 16 events scheduled prior to the Main Event, which kicks off on Saturday, May 14.
One of the more interesting events on the prelim docket is the $500+$40 Position Poker event with $10,000 added to the prize pool. What is Position Poker?
It's a new poker variant that adds a second button to the table. There will be one button that determines where the dealer begins pitching the cards and where the small and big blinds are. That's standard. What's new in this variant is the second button that will be placed in front of the player who won the previous pot at the table. On each street, the player with that button will act last, giving him the ultimate position in the hand. We don't know which notable pros will be showing up for this event, but we can confirm that Tony G will be playing.
Check out the entire lineup of prelim events in the Las Vegas Grinder.
PokerStars FAQ Update
The PokerStars FAQ was updated recently to address the question, "What will happen to my FPPs?" According to the FAQ page, "PokerStars has obtained an approval from the US Department of Justice that will allow former US players to use their FPPs in the PokerStars VIP Store to purchase VIP Reward Bonuses. These VIP Reward Bonuses, once purchased, result in cash being instantly deposited into the account of the purchaser. These funds will immediately be available for cash out."
Can you buy merchandise in the VIP store? No, you can't - but hey, cash is never a bad thing.
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