DOJ settles Absolute/UB’s Black Friday debt, but only for some

Jon Pill
Published by:
Posted on 01/05/2021

After nine years of fighting, players with money in Absolute and UltimateBet accounts are finally getting some compensation.

When the axe fell on Friday, April 15th, 2011, the big headlines were about Full Tilt’s creative bookkeeping. And about PokerStars’s hail Mary deal to stay in business and “save” online poker. Somewhat lost in the shuffle were the smaller sites of the Cereus network. Primarily UltimateBet and Absolute Poker.

Ever the slippery types, UB and Absolute trundled on until May the next year before they finally rolled over and died. With some $50 million in players’ funds still on the books, there were a lot of people put out.

Though the situation could have been worse. The UB and Absolute “Potripper” scandal — think Postlegate for the noughties, but all online play and with a clear guilty verdict — had driven many players to other platforms. Even Phil Hellmuth’s endorsement couldn’t restore confidence after letting multiple super users run riot over their highest stakes tables.

When it went belly up, the Cereus network, like Full Tilt, did not have enough money on hand to cover it’s player balances. The result was the whole money pile was locked up until a fair distribution system could be determined.

Now players have finally started receiving their checks. But not all of them.

Claiming funds

After Black Friday, anyone with cash stuffed under the UB mattress was out of luck for years. Then a glimmer of hope came in 2017.

In 2017, the DOJ announced a claims procedure for victims. They had determined that “players of Absolute Poker who were unable to recover their funds from Absolute Poker are similarly situated to the eligible victims of Full Tilt Poker, in that Absolute Poker, like Full Tilt Poker, did not maintain funds sufficient to repay all of its players.”

This similarity led directly to the decision to use confiscated funds to make players whole in a similar fashion.

The claims process has taken 2 years, and the entire process has dragged on for almost a decade.

After two years of waiting, “Major161” on 2+2 reported in September 2020: “Check received today out of the blue / no email notice / 44k total. I immediately jumped in the car and deposited it via ATM as fast as I could before anyone changed their mind. Over 9y since it disappeared, and I can finally close that chapter in my life.”

Another player tweeted about getting a cheque for $0.17.

Many people still seem to be waiting though. And many others were unaware of the process. The claims page links are now dead.

However, there does seem to be some hope for late applicants. “Naera” on 2+2 reported that they had “Filed the petition late (may 2018), […] asked by mail like two, three times since. always pretty meaningless answers until when I asked a few weeks ago. No mail this time, just money.”

It is unclear if the DOJ will still consider applications dated 2021. Anyone who’s still waiting on funds should probably give it a try though. Can’t hurt to ask.

Featured image source: Twitter