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Johnson won’t fight extraditon; Full Tilt Poker’s Hail Mary got intercepted

TAGs: Black Friday, full tilt poker, Jeremy Johnson, PokerStars, Rounders

full-tilt-hail-mary✖ Utah businessman/philanthropist/degenerate gambler Jeremy Johnson waived his right to an extradition hearing on Wednesday, following his arrest in Phoenix on Saturday. Johnson faces mail fraud charges relating to a $289m consumer scam allegedly perpetrated by some of his financial processing companies. Johnson has significant ties to Black Friday payment processing figures but as yet faces no charges related to online poker. Johnson will now be flown back to Utah to formally face the mail fraud charges.

✖ The revelation that Johnson lost $1.5m playing on Full Tilt Poker between April and October 2010 raised a lot of eyebrows. The question is, did that money ever leave Johnson’s bank account? Sources within FTP told Subject: Poker about a particular problem FTP has in getting its financial house in order, and how much of it can be blamed on FTP’s long-held desire to close the player liquidity gap between itself and PokerStars.

Indicted payment processing figure Bradley Franzen told the feds that he was approached by FTP early in 2011 because the company had a $60m shortfall it needed to make right. Between Sept. 2010 and Feb. 2011, the company had great difficulty ‘pulling’ money from US players’ accounts, so it had essentially begun fronting customer deposits until the transactions could go through at a later date. Trouble was, the war against online poker eCom was well underway at that point, and the only thing FTP could pull was their dicks, leading to the $60m of red ink.

So why had FTP continued fronting their customers for so long? Allegedly because they knew PokerStars was having the same problems, and FTP hoped its financial flexibility would help poach some of Stars’ frustrated traffic. A bold strategy, provided no other variables changed before the money taps started flowing again. Oops… Compounding matters, the deal FTP signed with the DoJ to reimburse their US players funds is a one-way street: FTP can only pay out, it can’t collect. Oy…

Brian Koppelman, co-screenwriter of hallowed poker movie Rounders, has written an op-ed on Grantland.com entitled The Beauty of Black Friday, in which he suggests that the effects of the DoJ crackdown aren’t entirely negative. (Not for him, anyway.) Koppelman hopes Black Friday will help restore some of poker’s outlaw image and roguish charm, attributes he believes the game had lost via the mass television exposure of the past few years. Ironically, Koppelman fingers TV as the chief culprit yet cites nothing but film characters as evidence of poker’s former rough glamour. (Myoppelman?)

Who’s to say whether Koppelman really believes this or whether he’s just making lemonade. Speaking of, perhaps Koppelman also thinks a lot of the charm has gone out of the alcohol industry, what with all these Bud Light commercials and wine spritzers available at convenience stores and such. Far better for us to revisit Prohibition days. Think of it, standing there in your tuxedo, drinking bathtub gin in some speakeasy, flirting with some gorgeous flapper chick, the thrill of knowing each of you could be arrested at any second, or, if you’re really lucky, blinded by the rubbing alcohol in your martini glass. Meet you at the time machine, Brian…

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