Former Full Tilt Poker CEO Ray Bitar, one of the most pilloried people in poker after the events following Black Friday, had a serious heart condition and was "unlikely to live more than a couple years and nearly penniless," former Full Tilt Pro Allen Cunningham posted on TwoPlusTwo in October 2014.
Whether that was the case or not is an open question after Charles Rettmuller of PokerUpdate reported that Bitar got married in October 2015 to one Jacquelyn Lucas. Rettmuller's report includes pictures that appear to be pulled from Lucas' publicly accessible Facebook page, in which Bitar appeals quite hale, and indeed healthier than he looked when serving as FTP's CEO.
Bitar found himself in hot water with United States law after the Department of Justice shut down major online poker sites that were still catering to U.S. players in April 2011, in violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. He pleaded guilty to a handful of charges and forfeited a reported $40 million but was sentenced to only time served due to an apparent heart condition that made him a Class IV heart transplant candidate.
It hasn't been reported whether Bitar indeed got the transplant.
"The driving factor in this sentence is Mr. Bitar's precarious health condition," a judge said at the time of his sentencing. "The Federal Bureau of Prisons is not able to provide the care that Mr. Bitar needs. Prison almost undoubtedly would kill him. The possibility of prison would make Mr. Bitar ineligible for a heart transplant, which would also impose a death sentence."
Online forums at TwoPlusTwo were predictably up in arms over the seeming leniency as many were still sore over the fiasco that ensued when Full Tilt players with funds on the site were unable to get their money for several years, until PokerStars purchased Full Tilt's assets. That's when Cunningham stepped in to assure posters that Bitar's condition wasn't a ruse to avoid prison time.
"I feel like that's not getting away with it in a karmic way at least," Cunningham posted on TwoPlusTwo after repeating that Bitar was broke and in failing health. "I would trade places with any of his victims over him. Some people still haven't gotten paid and it's mostly Ray Bitar's fault, but he isn't benefitting from it."
Photo courtesy of JeuxCasino.com.