by Tom McEvoy
2012 was quite a year for the poker world. The greatest scandal in poker history occurred when the owners of Full Tilt not only had their site shut down, but made no effort to repay their customers, and (except for Ray Bitar) avoided criminal charges—so far. They all belong in a jail cell as far as I am concerned. On a much happier note, PokerStars, the true hero of online poker, took over ownership of Full Tilt and immediately promised to repay all their customers worldwide. The only thing slowing things down for the U.S. customers is the turtle like pace of our justice department in permitting people to reclaim their money. This is the government’s fault, not the fault of PokerStars.
2012 ended on a sad note when Lou Kreiger died in early December of cancer. He was a very positive person and fought this dreadful disease with courage and dignity. About a month before he passed away I was on his radio show and you would never have known he was fighting for his life. Lou was one of the best poker authors around and made many outstanding contributions to our beloved game. I am proud to call him a friend and will miss him like many others. John Sutton, another long time casino executive, also passed in 2012. He made many positive contributions to the poker world and always had a smile and friendly attitude to everyone. He had a great sense of humor and was easy to talk to.
My hope for 2013 is for the Full Tilt customers in the U.S. to get paid in full, and I predict they will before the end of the year. I also hope to see Internet poker legalized by congress, but alas, I predict it will not happen. The Republican-led house of Representatives is too busy bashing President Obama to think about what a great revenue source this could be. The government is desperately searching for new tax revenues, and continues to ignore the obvious. Some of the more conservative religious groups also oppose the extension of online poker as do many of the Indian casinos. Legislating morality never has and never will work.
I would like to salute two of my closest friends in the poker world. Wendeen Eolis has written many terrific articles for this newspaper. I especially enjoyed her articles on Howard Lederer, who, along with Chris Ferguson, founded Full Tilt. She mentioned that Lederer was seen playing in high stakes games in two of the major strip casinos. Many well known poker players played with him and treated him like a long lost buddy. Shame on all of you. I don’t think Lederer or Ferguson should ever be allowed to set foot in a poker room again. Another dear friend of mine who has led a quiet life by poker standards, but has held to a high standard of conduct throughout his entire career is Vince Burgio. He has written two books, won a WSOP bracelet as well as numerous other tournaments in his long career. He has been a good example for the poker world his entire life and I can only hope that others in the poker world are as much of a class act as Vince.
Tom McEvoy is an author, teacher and representative of Faceup Gaming as well as a four-time WSOP champion.