Poker's Top 5 Most Wanted of 2011 - Poker Junkie
Believe it or not, despite Black Friday poker has still seen some high points in 2011.
Attendance at the WSOP was the largest ever, record-breaking fields are popping up all over Europe and even online, and more progress has been made towards legislated, regulated US poker sites than ever before.
That being said ... there have still been some lowlights.
Chief among them, of course, is the Full Tilt debacle.
But there have also been a few other moments that have reminded us while poker is moving more and more into the mainstream, it will likely always have a touch of the dark side.
Much like the banking industry - or any industry, really, where there's large amounts of money to be had - there will always be greedy people trying to get as much of it as possible.
It was a tough selection process, but below are Poker Junkie's picks for the Top 5 Most Wanted of 2011.
#5 - Michael Divita
Divita, a convicted sex offender in California, won a $20k seat in the second Epic Poker League main event via the Pro-Am in September but when he showed up to play the next day he was "forced to withdraw."
It wasn't entirely clear who the authority behind the decision was as the EPL denied it forced him to leave and suggested he withdrew on his own.
Divita said he was bullied out the door by casino staff and it was clearly after someone else in the field reported his past to the EPL higher-ups.
Divita was refunded his buy-in to the Pro-Am but not the $20k for the seat in the main event.
While some felt sorry for him, Divita then went on QuadJacks Radio and proceeded to creep people out more than endear himself and his cause to the poker-playing public.
Divita blustered about a lawsuit to get his 20k, but nothing has been heard from him since.
#4 - Al Krux
Pro poker player Al Krux was arrested in October on first-degree criminal possession of marijuana.
He had 25 lbs in his car when he was pulled over and at his home in Dewitt, NY, and authorities found 40 additional pounds and 90 marijuana plants in his house.
The sixth-place finisher in the 2004 WSOP Main Event, Krux was last reported to be at the Onandaga County Justice Center in Dewitt on a $20,000 bond.
Krux apparently gambled in the wrong pot and lost.
#3 - Jose "Girah" Macedo and Haseeb Qureshi
Portuguese prodigy Jose "Girah" Macedo was in the news twice in 2011 for cheating.
First, he was disqualified from the Lock Poker Bluff Pro Challenge for multi-accounting and it was later revealed that he gained his chips in the Challenge via chip dumping.
Second, he apparently scammed over $30k out of fellow online players via a TeamViewer coaching grift.
Qureshi, known as DogisHead on the 2+2 forums, was the guy that chip dumped to Girah on Lock Poker.
He also admitted to helping Macedo cover up the incident and for multi-accounting himself.
Some feel that Qureshi and Macedo are actually the same person and Girah is a made-up persona devised to get action, although a video interview and professional sponsorship for Macedo disproved that notion for most.
Qureshi has now "taken a break from poker," which is pokerese for going underground and hoping people will forget about him.
Girah has also not been seen on the tables.
#2 - UB
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
When the Black Friday indictments hit, UB was the first site people pointed to as the candidate least likely to pay back players.
US player withdrawals never restarted and eventually worldwide withdrawals ceased as well.
Now the site is virtually dead and Blanca is looking to sell off its minimal assets to pay back players.
RIP UB. About time.
#1 - Full Tilt Board of Directors
This is, of course, a no-brainer and a runaway "victory" for Ray Bitar, Howard Lederer, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson and Rafe Furst.
After the Black Friday indictments, it became painfully obvious something was wrong when the DOJ released the domains back to the companies to begin repaying US players and Full Tilt failed to deliver.
In September, a modified amendment filed by the Department of Justiceagainst FTP explained why.
Full Tilt failed to segregate depositor accounts and the Board continued to pay out owners Bitar, Lederer, Ferguson and Furst plus 19 other minority shareholders despite knowing they couldn't pay back players from FTP's reserve funds.
Statements from Full Tilt have been elusive and vague, not to mention amazingly petty at worst (see Phil Ivey PR in May).
Not surprisngly, Howard Lederer and company are still in hiding - although they have all filed claims to be reinstated as proper owners of several seized bank accounts.
The FTP four are easily the Most Wanted of 2011 - anointed by poker players, for poker players.
Not that that helps anything. But still.