Category Archives: Black Friday 2011

Marking 10 Years in Online Gambling

This month marks my 10th year in the online gambling industry:

Oh, how things have changed since 2005.

Thinking back over the past 10 years, here’s my take on just some of big shifts that have happened in the industry. In no particular order…

  • Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 : A rider on a “must-pass” port security bill, the UIGEA resulted in the banning  of US players by 100s of online gambling sites. There are still several dozen online gambling sites that accept US players, but only a fraction of the number that were available prior to this act.
  • In 2008, Kentucky attempts to seize gambling site domains in an effort to stop illegal online gaming. Sites are down for at most a day or two; most just redirected to a .net or .eu domain. However, many online gambling sites now specifically ban players from this state.
  • Absolute Poker / Ultimate Bet Online Poker Cheating Exposed on 60 Minutes in 2008 : Savvy players analyzed online poker hand histories and discovered statistical anomalies that alerted them to the cheating. Former owner Russ Hamilton has since admitted his guilt in this scandal, having stolen around $17M.
  • Online Poker’s “Black Friday” of 2011 : Online poker in the United States is decimated as PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker were indicted on charges of bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling. It still has not recovered. Settlement talks are ongoing, some agreements have been reached, and some of the brands are attempting to make a comeback as US states begin to legalize and regulate intrastate online poker.
  • 2012 to present, states are moving to legalize and regulate intrastate online gambling. Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey all have some form of legal, regulated online gambling, with California, Washington, and other states not far behind. States are essentially claiming that online gambling, like lotteries and land-based casinos, are the purview of the states and not the feds — and it seems like no one is going to challenge that.

Some recent trends include:

  • The rate at which new online gambling sites come online has rapidly decelerated. Years ago, there were several new sites a month; now, I rarely hear about a new site coming online.
  • Many of the disreputable sites have gone out of business. Of the online gambling sites that remain, the vast majority are reputable, have been around for years, and have all the hallmarks of being in business for years to come.
  • Online gambling sites have adapted their sites to tablets and mobile phones; more and more players are playing on their iPads, iPhones,  and Android devices.
  • Just recently in the United States, some online gambling sites are paying out winnings to a player’s credit card. An all-electronic deposit and withdrawal system is necessary for widespread adoption of online gambling. Pre-UIGEA, NetTeller filled this role, but they were busted, paid fines, relocated from Canada to another jurisdiction, and currently steers clear of all United States markets.

Online Casino Gambling Directory Search Improvement

I recently upgraded the Search capability at The Online Casino Gambling Directory. The upgrade allows users to search the directory for online gambling sites that allow players from a specific US state. Prior to Black Friday 2011, online gambling sites’ policies were pretty straight-forward: they either accepted no players from the United State, all players from the United States, or barred KY and WA only. Recently, sites’ policies have gotten more complicated and varied, and so the search upgrade was needed so that anyone can determine all sites that accept new registrations from any state.

  1. Start from any search result, like for “blackjack“.
  2. From the left column, check the “US players OK from” check box.
  3. Select a state from the drop down list, like “Arizona“.
  4. Viola! The search results now shows only those sites that accept players from the selected state.

Good luck!



Doyle’s Room Merges with Americas Cardroom

Doyle’s Room online poker site is no more. The site that was plagued by frequently-changing software, occasional payout issues, and other problems announced that all of its players are being moved to Americas Cardroom, an online poker site that is on the same network (Yatahay) as was Doyle’s Room.

Surely this move is a direct result of Black Friday 2011, and the site’s namesake — the multiple-time WSOP champion world famous Doyle Brunson — wanting to distance himself from online poker.


Online Poker Freerolls – A thing of the past?

Back in the day, every US-facing online poker site worth its salt ran regularly-scheduled online poker freerolls with real cash prizes and no entry requirements. Before Black Friday in April 2011, the least amount of time that you would have to wait before another online poker freeroll started somewhere was maybe 90 minutes.

I just reviewed the top US-friendly online poker sites, and online poker freerolls seem to be a thing of the past. Only one of the four top online poker sites, Poker4Ever on the Everleaf Network, runs regularly-scheduled freerolls any longer, and the prize pools are as small as $5.

And while Doyle’s Room does have their “Freeroll Fridays in September“, this is a special promotion and isn’t a part of their regular freeroll tourney offerings. Finally, Cake Poker and BoDog have freerolls, but only for their new players.

It’s too bad that freerolls appear to be a thing of the past. I think newbies looked forward to getting their feet wet with these types of tourneys.


Online Poker in the USA – Making Sense of Fees and eWallets

Since Black Friday in April 2011, online poker players in the United States have been struggling with not only where to play, but also with how to make deposits and withdrawals from their accounts in a way that minimizes the fees to conduct these transactions. Granted, medium-to-high-stakes players probably worry less about these fees, but for recreational, low-stakes players, fees make a difference.

I’ve written previously about the few online poker rooms that are still accepting new US-based real-money players. As a quick review, they are:

This is a 5 star site. Click to read more about star ratings. This site accepts US players from only 49 states. Barred states are: WA MD. Doyles Room Poker100% bonus on initial deposits between $25 and $1000!

This is a 5 star site. Click to read more about star ratings. This site accepts US players from all 50 states. Bodog Poker110% bonus on initial deposits between $20 and $1000!

This is a 5 star site. Click to read more about star ratings. This site accepts US players from only 49 states. Barred states are: KY. Cake Poker110% bonus on initial deposits between $25 and $545!

This is a 4 star site. Click to read more about star ratings. This site accepts US players from all 50 states. Poker4Ever100% bonus on initial deposits between $10 and $500!

I’ve just spent several hours running down as many details as I can about their deposit and withdrawal options, and their associated fees. It is frustrating to say the least. Often times, the information that they have on their sites is out of date, unclear, or is contradictory to information that they have published elsewhere.

So, as far as I can tell, only DoylesRoom offers online poker with no fees for certain deposit and withdrawal methods. Specifically, DoylesRoom offers no-fee Visa deposits ($20 minimum); in addition, they will credit to your account any fees incurred when depositing via Western Union or MoneyGram (both $200 minimum). On the withdrawal side,  they offer 1 free check-by-mail per month ($20 minimum), as well as debit cards ($5 monthly fee + per-load and per-use fees).

Remember the good old days of  the free (or nearly free) e-wallets like FirePay, NetTeller, eWalletXpress, EcoCard, Click2Pay, QuickTender/UseMyWallet? Me too. 🙁  The current e-wallets that are accepted by various online poker sites all have 5% or more fees by the time you perform one deposit and one withdraw. The online poker site itself does not charge any fees to use these e-wallets, but the fees to load the e-wallet and then make a withdraw are substantial.

  • BoDog Poker supports MyPaylinQ, which loads via credit cards at 7% fee, or for free via Western Union (WU). But the only payout option is WU with a $20 MyPaylinQ fee + WU fees.
  • Cake Poker supports MoneyLineWallet (MLW), which charges $4 per load from your linked checking account. However, Cake Poker cannot payout back to your MLW account. Even if they could, there are MLW payouts fees — via a check for <$1000 (the fee is $10) and via a Bank Wire for larger amounts (with a $55 fee (plus your bank may charge an incoming international wire fee)).
  • Poker4Ever supports PICCLUB, which has the same load and payout fees as MyPaylinQ.

DoylesRoom Review – Most US Players Welcome

Real money online poker players that reside in the United States have fewer options for their online poker play since Black Friday of April 2011. As I am sure you are aware, many online poker rooms have left the United States market in light of the FBI’s actions on that day. has decided to keeps its online poker room open to US players. They are even allowing new accounts to residents of the United States (except WA and MD residents). They have recently moved to the Yatahay Online Poker Network, joining a half dozen or so other online poker rooms on the network. In addition, they are offering a LIMITED TIME initial deposit bonus of 100% when you deposit between $50 and $1000.

Doyle’s Room deals Hold’em, Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, 7 Card Stud, and 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo tournaments (both normal and turbo) and cash games in fixed limit (FL), pot limit (PL) and no limit (NL) formats. You can easily find your favorite game using the filters provided in the poker lobby.

The easiest way to make a deposit at Doyle’s Room is with your Visa card. Otherwise, you can deposit via a Bank Wire or a Person-to-Person transfer; however, these deposit options are obviously less convenient than depositing via your Visa credit card. There is a $50 minimum deposit — this is perfectly reasonable, in my opinion.

Your best withdraw option is probably a bank draft / check. Checks can be requested for between $25 and $2500 once per week and have no fee! You can also choose debit cards as your withdrawal method, but there is a $5 monthly fee, plus a load fee of $2 each time that you load the card. Debit cards usually also have a per-transaction fee when you use the debit card to make a purchase.

Your online poker options are limited if you live in the United States. Doyle’s Room is a solid online poker room that you should consider for your online poker play.


A Good Online Casino Alternative for US Players

Due to online poker‘s Black Friday in April of 2011, the number of online casinos that continue to accept real money players from the United States is shrinking every day. Often, this decision is made not by the online casino operator itself, but rather by the online casino software vendor. Rival Gaming is a recent example of an online casino software vendor that has recently informed its licensees that they are no longer permitted to accept players from the United States.

Not all online casino software vendors have pulled the plug on the United States market. One vendor is BetOnSoft, which powers several online casinos, including Grand Eagle, a reputable online casino with a generous welcome bonus of 100% up to $400 when you use bonus code GEWBDB.
I’ve been playing on and off at Grand Eagle online casino for several months now. And while withdrawals were certainly easier when QuickTender/UseMyWallet was available (it isn’t any more), they do offer three withdrawal methods:
  • Courier Check via FedEx with a cost of $30 which takes between 3 – 5 days
  • Check sent via regular mail with a cost of $17.50 which takes 21 business days
  • Bank Transfer to player’s checking account which costs $20. Please note that external fees from bank clearing houses may be added.

I have made one withdrawal via FedEx and two via regular mail — all three arrived within the time frames outlined above. I have not tried the Bank Wire.

Depositing has never been a problem using my Visa. I also tried and succeeded using a Visa Debit card that I purchased at my local Kroger’s supermarket.

The odds that are offered on Grand Eagle‘s online Video Poker are among the best that you are going to find for any online casino that still accepts US players. In fact, their Jacks or Better and their Double Double Bonus Video Pokers offer the absolute best odds that you can get for any online casino that still accepts US players — paybacks of and 99.94% and 98.98%, respectively. Their other Video Poker varieties are close to the best in terms of payback. (I’ve calculated paybacks for all varieties of online Video Poker on a single, easy-to-use page.)

As for table games, Grand Eagle has what you would expect — several varieties of blackjack, American roulette, European (single-zero) roulette, baccarat, craps, and three card poker.

Finally, Grand Eagle boasts an impressive variety of more than 30 online slot machines. Here are just a few.

  • Dream Wheel – A Wheel of Fortune knock off
  • Pieces of Eight – A pirate-themed online slot machine
  • NASCAR – Based on the wildly popular auto racing organization
Don’t wait to download Grand Eagle online casino today. The welcome bonus of 100% up to $400 when you use bonus code GEWBDB is due to expire at any time.

Online Poker in the United States as of July 2011

There a few choices these days for US-based real-money online poker players. There are less than a handful of online poker networks that are still accepting new player accounts from US citizens.