Thursday, October 03, 2013

Two-and-a-Half Years Later (Withdrawing from Full Tilt Poker)

This week I submitted my petition to the Garden City Group, the Ohio-based claims administrator charged with facilitating U.S. players’ claims for the return of their funds from Full Tilt Poker. Finally, two-and-a-half years later, I’ve begun the process of withdrawing the funds I had left on the site back in April 2011 when “Black Friday” came along.

Submitting my petition wasn’t too hard, although there were a couple of “WTF” moments along the way.

The GCG has reported that it has delivered 1.4 million email notifications to FTP account holders in the U.S. I did receive such an email in mid-September, the generic one announcing that the Full Tilt Poker Claims website was finally ready to begin accepting petitions. I did not receive a notice containing a “Petition Number” and a “Control Number,” however, as some have (and many have not).

Getting that second email apparently would have saved me a step as I could have then entered those two special numbers and gotten started right away with filing my petition. Without those, I had to create a new petition associated with my FTP account, which wasn’t that hard to figure out how to do.

Once clearing that hurdle, I then had to enter some more information (including my Full Tilt Poker username) and soon was presented with a screen listing my current FTP balance -- $0.00.

Oof. I’d heard many others have discovered something similar when reaching this page, and so after clicking around a little further realized I could enter what I thought was the correct balance on that page and proceed with my petition. I also figured out that in order to support my claim for a different balance than “$0.00,” I had to provide some supporting documentation. Here’s how that step is described on the GCG’s “FAQ” page:

“If you agree with the FTP Account Balance displayed through the online filing process, you are not required to submit documentation. However, if you dispute the balance, you are required to submit supporting documentation, such as complete unaltered copies of cancelled checks, wire transfers records, bank or credit statements or similar official transaction records. This supporting documentation must show the account holder’s name, date, transaction descriptions, amount, and financial institution information.”

Again, oof. Obviously I have no cancelled checks laying about, and while I could possibly go back into my bank records to find information about deposits I’d made after withdrawing from FTP, none of that really has anything at all to do with my current balance.

However, I did find a solution (I hope). I searched around online a little further and realized that one can in fact request transaction records within the Full Tilt Poker client. And it turns out that while the process takes a few steps to complete, it is surprisingly easy (and quick).

I actually found it necessary to download the FTP client again because the version I had on my laptop -- unopened for several months -- seemed to get stuck during the updating process. Once I did I was able to log in without a problem, then clicked the “Requests” tab up top and then “Account History (Web).” That opened a browser to an “Account History” page.

Once there I was able to click a date range as well as whether I wanted to see just real money transactions or also tourney dollars/tickets. I went back in my own records and found the exact date I opened my Full Tilt Poker account (in 2006) and made that the start date, then made 4/15/11 the end date, and submitted my request.

Doing that triggered an email to be sent to me which told me my account history was ready to be downloaded. To get to it I had to retrace my steps back through the FTP client -- i.e., hit the “Requests” tab, select “Account History (Web)” again, and be sent back to the web page. (I had to close the browser first, by the way, and let the page be reopened again.) This time there was a new “Download” tab which I clicked to get to a .zip file containing an Excel spreadsheet with my transaction history.

I downloaded that file, unzipped it, and gave it a looksee. Was kind of interesting to see every single transaction for almost five years listed in full detail, ending with 4/15/11 and my final balance listed to the right.

Now I had some supporting documentation to submit to go along with my claim that $0.00 isn’t in fact my balance. I am hopeful that this transaction history will be sufficient given how Full Tilt Poker was its source. Obviously I could doctor the Excel file, but such could be easily cross-referenced and I assume that will be done in every case as part of the petition-checking process. I uploaded the Excel file, went through a couple more steps including one last “are you sure?”-type page, then submitted my petition.

Afterwards I realized I might have added my personal information to the Excel file, or perhaps done something further to associate myself more obviously with the username. So I called the toll-free number at GCG and spoke with a representative who explained to me that as part of the process to review every petition, each petitioner will be contacted to provide any additional, needed info or to update their claim in any way.

I don’t know if my petition is sufficient as is or not, but I’m somewhat assured to know that I’ll have a chance to update it if there’s anything lacking. For those thinking about submitting their own petitions, know that it has to be done by November 16. Also be aware that once you submit a petition you cannot go back and add to it or revise any of your information, so it’s worth triple-checking things before you actually hit the button to submit (even though there will be that opportunity later on to submit further info or update anything).

Am I confident that I’ll get my money back? Not so much, but a two-and-a-half-year waiting period to withdraw is probably a reasonable cause to make a person skeptical.

Still, there’s obviously a better chance today that I will get my money than had been the case from April 2011 to late July 2012 when there was no clear solution to the problem of getting back money the jokers then running FTP had already squandered, or even during the year-plus since after PokerStars’ acquisition of FTP and the agreement was forged to help settle these debts.

And at least I’m not trying to withdraw money from Lock Poker.

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Blogger TripJax said...

Hrmphf. I haven't gotten an email yet. Thanks for the detailed info though. It will help for when I do.

10/03/2013 3:49 PM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

I had a problem completing the form on Internet Explorer. No problem when I switched to Chrome.

10/03/2013 7:20 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

TripJax... like I said, all I got was the generic email, but I did leave my addy on the GCG site back in the spring when it first launched. The message doesn't really explain too much other than to direct you to the site to create a petition.

lightning36... I completed mine using Safari and it worked fine.

10/03/2013 7:24 PM  

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