Friday, August 26, 2011

On the Exodus

On the ExodusThese tweets, blog posts, articles, and other items relating how players are leaving the United States in order to play online poker elsewhere are starting to become increasingly prevalent. With the WSOP in the rearview and things like the World Championship of Online Poker on PokerStars coming up soon (in a little over a week), more and more players are announcing that they have either already made the move or are intending to do so soon.

In just in the last few days I’ve read articles or have seen messages alluding to more than a dozen different players who have either left or are about to, among them Justin Bonomo, Steve Gross, Isaac Haxton, Jason Koon, Phil Galfond, Tom Marchese, Daniel Negreanu, and Steve O’Dwyer.

The newly-enganged, WSOP Main Event-crushing couple David “Doc” Sands and Erika Moutinho are heading out of the country as well. “Up early tomorrow lots to do before Vancouver!” tweeted Moutinho earlier this week. “Excited for a new adventure :)”

PokerStars has now added to its Frequently Asked Questions page for U.S. players a section addressing those who are moving elsewhere and trying to set themselves up with non-U.S. addresses. And you probably heard something about that “Poker Refugees” player relocation service launched by Pocket Fives a couple of weeks back.

We also keep hearing reports of the smaller online sites choosing to leave the U.S. This week it was the Poker Pros Network (PPN), one of the Cake Poker skins, that announced it was cutting loose.

Looking at PokerScout, the Merge Network of sites (including Carbon, Hero, and others) currently ranks highest as far as U.S. facing sites/networks go, although they still aren’t accepting new U.S. sign-ups at the moment. Word is they will soon reopen their doors, although with each passing day that seems increasingly uncertain. And I know Hero Poker, for example, is not planning to open things back up to U.S. players (though I’m not sure what the plan is for those of us still playing over there). Incidentally, I believe I read something else from PokerScout noting that something like 90% of the U.S. players shut out following Black Friday have not moved to play on any of these remaining sites.

The party's overFor those of us remaining behind, it’s hard not to feel some misgivings about all of this poker-related movement away from the U.S. I mean, it’s all perfectly understandable, but it still feels a little like being at a party that started out awesome, then a big ugly fight broke out and now everyone is suddenly leaving.

But, well, I live here. Somebody’s gotta stay behind and clean up and deal with all this.

So I can’t really say I’m enjoying hearing all the stories of folks leaving too much. But I certainly wish them well as they embark on their new adventures.

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