I ended my last post with some prophetic words… “our game seems to be entering into a new era.” I had no idea how true that would turn out to be!
By now it’s not breaking news anymore that the Department of Justice shut down the three biggest online poker sites in the US… Pokerstars, Full Tilt, and UB/Absolute. I’ve been posting blog posts for years saying that online poker is illegal and that all the US goverment had to do was seize the domain names of these guys to shut them down overnight. That’s what happened. Hours after the DoJ handed out the indictments and seized the .com domain names from these sites, Pokerstars and Full Tilt made the decision to exit the US market and stop allowing US players from playing poker for real money online. Interestingly, Ultimate Bet decided to keep running. Now all the money I have online is stuck in limbo and everybody who used to pay their rent from grinding online is going to have to go outside again. There have been a bunch of good content out there about this and I’m not going to repeat it here.
Instead, I want to share with you how to actually get back on Full Tilt and sit down at a table with the money you have in your account. The solution is simple enough… virtual private networks, or VPNs. A VPN is basically a way for you to bounce your internet signal off of another computer. Kind of like calling a buddy and having your buddy call someone else on a different phone and putting the two phones together. I can confirm that right now FTP is only blocking access to US players by IP address. I know this because right now, while I’m writing this, I’m sitting at a .25/.50 razz game on Full Tilt.
It makes sense that the online sites wouldn’t just block everyone who has a US address because if an American is actually playing somewhere like England or the Netherlands or somewhere where online poker is legal, than allowing the American player to play online is perfectly legal. It may be that in the future online sites will have to use stronger geo-location methods than IP tracking… maybe something like an iPhone or Android app that uses the GPS on the phone. For now, though, the sites have plausible denial if they just block all US IP addresses from accessing the site.
It’s pretty easy to setup an account at a VPN. I recommend BlackVPN.com. Follow the steps on how to bounce off the VPN that they will give you on the site. You basically just have to create a new network connection and connect to it after you are on the Internet. Then just load up your Full Tilt client and play.
Now in all honesty, I can’t really say that I think it’s a good idea to continue to play on Full Tilt or Stars. Right now, with FTP not processing cashouts, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to keep playing on the site. It’s basically monopoly money and we may never get it back. If we do, it will probably take a very long time. I do think it might not be a bad idea to login and try to spend some FTP points on some schwag. Probably a better chance those get sent out than cashouts. I just bought some Full Tilt sunglasses off the store.
So instead of bouncing off of some VPN in the Netherlands and grinding up some monopoly money against Eurofish, I’m actually going to go down to the strip and try some live cash games.
Important Update : Full Tilt and Stars have recently made an agreement with the DoJ to reclaim their domain names. Pokerstars has since stated that using a VPN to access your account and play for real money games may be grounds for an account suspension. I’m not sure if Full TIlt has stated the same thing, but for now I’d strongly recommend not even trying a VPN to access these sites. Use this blog post for educational purposes only.