The Orbit: Black Friday edition drops Thursday

Geoff Fisk
Published by:
Posted on 04/15/2021

A roundtable of poker veterans discuss one of the darkest days in the history of poker

All of the guests that gathered for the latest episode of The Orbit saw poker’s “Black Friday” from a different angle.

Today marks the tenth anniversary of perhaps the biggest turning point in poker’s modern era. On April 15, 2011, U.S. federal authorities seized the domains of the nation’s three biggest online poker sites.

The poker boom era was gone after that day, as PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker were frozen out of the U.S. market.

The latest episode of The Orbit pulls together a group of personalities whose lives were drastically affected on Black Friday. Poker pros Blair Hinkle and Mike Matusow join former PokerStars executive Eric Hollreiser and poker media veteran Steve Ruddock on Episode 10 of The Orbit, which debuted earlier today.

Each episode of The Orbit brings together a roundtable panel to discuss poker’s most pressing topics. Hosted by Cardplayer Lifestyle founder Robbie Strazynski, Thursday’s new episode goes through Black Friday from four different and unique perspectives.

Matusow says Black Friday cost him millions

Not surprisingly, Mike Matusow emerges as the most outspoken member of the panel on the Black Friday edition of The Orbit. Matusow contends that his run as a Full Tilt pro put him on the losing end of a series of promises that the company didn’t keep.

“They kept lying to me,” Matusow said. “I had a contract where I was supposed to be making around $200,000 a month. We went up like 500% in like two years, in 2008 and 2009.”

“My pay wouldn’t go up,” Matusow said later in the segment. “This is like literally a month before Black Friday. I went in with my lawyers, I threatened to sue them. I went to Howard (Lederer’s) house.”

Matusow goes on to say that Lederer and Full Tilt Poker co-founder Ray Bitar were the figures most responsible for the ponzi scheme behind Full Tilt Poker. The scheme blocked some players from retrieving funds from the site for several years after Black Friday.

“That why when Howard would say he didn’t run anything, Ray ran everything, that’s a f***ing lie. Every time I went over, it was always Howard and Ray making the decisions.”

Matusow said that Black Friday resulted in unresolved payments from Full Tilt Poker, and also cost him millions in revenue on future projects.

Poker’s Black Friday from four perspectives

Hinkle, an online poker pro at the height of the game’s golden era, tells Strazynski that he made a mistake keeping too much money on his Full Tilt Poker account. After winning his biggest career payday, a $1,162,950 cash in a March 2011 tournament on Full Tilt, Hinkle didn’t withdraw any funds before Black Friday.

“I hadn’t taken any of my money off,” Hinkle said. “So then things got real.”

Hollreiser joined PokerStars as an executive shortly before Black Friday and talks about PokerStars’ reaction to the U.S. shutdown from his perspective in that position.

For Ruddock, the “poker boom” era of the mid-2000s through 2011 produced an equal era of prosperity in the field of poker media. That era came to a sudden end for poker writers and content producers in the U.S. on Black Friday, and Ruddock goes through how he and others on the media side of the game had to react.

Episode 10 of The Orbit is available on-demand at the Twitch Poker channel and also the Cardplayer Lifestyle YouTube channel. The hour-long episode offers a fascinating glimpse into a dark day that still lives on in poker lore.

Featured image source: YouTube