How Full Tilt handled player funds
Sponsored pros were given player money as "loans"
Created at 31.07.2011 18:19
How much do you think Team Full Tilt members and FT's pro players were paid? According to an undercover report ran by a poker page called Subject Poker, the answer is a lot. According to the information from Phil Ivey's poker account, he borrowed at least $10,715,000 from Full Tilt Poker from 2009 until 2011. He repaid at least $5 million of the loans. During that period he was also paid more than $1 million in marketing payments and bonuses.
A Full Tilt pro David Benyamine earned at least $800,000 in salary and marketing payments during the same time period. He also borrowed substantial amounts of money from Full Tilt and repaid at least $750,000. The above mentioned transactions are only those stated in their Full Tilt Poker accounts, excluding potential bank wires and cash deals.
Phil Ivey was regularly taking large loans from Full Tilt Poker, typically between $500,000 and $1 million. After the events of Black Friday Phil Ivey filed a lawsuit against Full Tilt Poker, saying that the poker site has damaged his reputation. Tiltware, the company behind Full Tilt Poker, responded saying that Phil Ivey actually owns the company a large amount of money. By that they might have meant the multimillion dollar loans that have now been discovered. Most of the loans were approved by Rich Bitar, Ray Bitar's brother who handles payouts to sponsored professionals.
Ivey kept repaying the debts whenever there was plenty of high stakes action at Full Tilt and he was on the winning edge. For example, Ivey borrowed $3 million in six $500,000 installments spread throughout July and August 2009. He then repaid $1 million on October 29th, borrowed another $500,000 on November 13th, and then made two separate $1 million repayments on November 20th and 22nd respectively. Ivey’s results on the datamining site HighstakesDB suggest that he earned approximately $5 million in cash games on Full Tilt Poker in October and November of 2009, so this success may be the reason that he repaid. (Ivey went on to borrow $1 million on November 29th.)
Ivey stopped paying back his debts in 2010. After that he received 8 more loans totalling $3,200,000. According to the data available, that increases his unpaid debt to more than $6 million. It might be possible that he repaid by other means, such as bank transfers. However, if he didn't pay back, Tiltware has a valid point saying Phil Ivey owns them a lot of cash.
The absurd side to this story is how irresponsibly Full Tilt Poker handled players funds. Full Tilt has 14 Team members and around 160 sponsored players. If the same applies to managing FT's relationship with all the other players, the amount of missing "loaned" money might be overwhelming. There is reason to believe that these shady practices were spread throughout all their financial operations. It now makes perfect sense why Full Tilt was unable to repay its players right after Black Friday, while PokerStars did it with ease.
It seems that sponsored pros could borrow any amounts of money by simply talking to the CEO or his brother, with no repayment deadlines. The sad part is that the money they loaned was ours and yours.
We'll keep you posted.
Copyright: Full Tilt Poker News