Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bad Cell

Battery testThis week I found myself experiencing some inconvenience thanks to a faulty car battery. All’s well today, but it did cause a headache or two.

Actually the problems with my car extend well beyond the battery. Nearly 15 years old and with almost 200,000 miles on it, just about every non-essential part of the car is broken or malfunctions in some fashion. I won’t bore you with details of the vehicle’s many issues, other than to share that the very old battery finally became unresponsive to jump starts this week and had to be replaced.

In truth, the battery hadn’t completely crapped out, but rather had developed one bad cell, meaning it couldn’t produce enough voltage to get the sucker started. There are six cells in a 12-volt battery, and when one goes that means the others have to work harder. My radio and lights worked, but with the bad cell there wasn’t enough juice to start the engine, and so a change had to be made.

The metaphor of a “bad cell” seems apt for describing the United States’ current status relative to the world of online poker.

When Black Friday happened and suddenly Americans were all but shut out of the online poker game, it was a little like one cell had gone bad, and for a while the others had to work a bit harder in order to keep the game going. Of course, online poker has survived these last 16-plus months without the U.S., and you might say the whole system has by now been replaced with a new one.

Meanwhile comes this week’s news that a second amendment has been made to the original Black Friday civil complaint adding new charges against the so-called “Full Tilt Insiders” named in the first amendment from September 2011. The idea behind the new amendment is to bolster the case for getting the FTPers to forfeit assets by adding in the Travel Act as another law the accused have violated.

The new amendment provides details regarding what Howard Lederer and Ray Bitar were doing with the millions they’d funnelled from FTP to their own personal accounts from 2006 to 2011. Sounds like both were doing a lot of home-buying and/or renovating. Lederer also apparently bought himself several nice cars, including a sweet 1965 Shelby Cobra.

Apparently some of the cars were in need of repairs, too, as the new amendment spells out. Not seeing any references in the complaint noting whether any of the cars needed batteries replaced.

2012 Audi A8 L QuattroSome of the expenditures apparently took place after Black Friday, if you can believe that. For example, Lederer is said to have completed his purchase of a 2012 Audi A8 L Quattro for $156,549 on June 30, 2011. (There’s a picture of one to the left.) Of course, the Professor did knock a good chunk off the list price by trading in his 2008 Audi and selling his Maserati to the dealer (both vehicles also purchased with funds traced back to FTP).

Again, none of it looks good at all for Lederer and Bitar in particular, nor the other FTP “Insiders” more generally speaking.

You could call the whole FTP saga yet another kind of “bad cell” that essentially helped ensure that online poker in the U.S. would end up getting pushed to the curb. (Others contributed to that development, too, of course.) We’ll see what happens in November when the new FTP launches and once again becomes part of the worldwide online poker machine.

Meanwhile, we Americans will sit parked a little while longer, hoping roadside assistance arrives soon.

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