Diamond Flush Poker has leaked a surprising and quite peculiar e-mail that Laurent Tapie sent to the “key staff” of Full Tilt Poker (FTP). He mailed it out just hours before Groupe Bernard Tapie (GBT) officially stated that they had dropped out of negotiations to buy FTP.
What was made crystal clear in the e-mail is that GBT had full intentions of remaining in the online poker market.
What is strange about Tapie’s plans is the degree to which he wished to make this online poker room (essentially) a rebranding of Full Tilt Poker without having to go through the US Department of Justice. For one, Tapie intended to “attract ALL OF the Pocket Kings KEY STAFF to join me [emphasis unchanged from original email].” Even more confounding, though, was Tapie’s explicit intentions to use this site to “repay” FTP accounts, using the same exact plan that Tapie had proposed to the DoJ.
So Tapie was going to launch a poker site with all of the head honchos of FTP at the helm, and then, this site was actually going to honor FTP money.
The e-mail quickly outlined some other ways that Tapie has attempted to circumvent the influence of the DoJ on Full Tilt’s fate. He said that he tried to convince Ray Bitar to—without the approval of the Department of Justice—accept a temporary license in order to be able to relaunch the site. Bitar insisted on asking for permission and was subsequently denied approval. Tapie also tried to have Bitar place FTP in insolvency and let all employees know that their jobs were at risk, but it seems likely that Bitar sought DoJ approval on this as well, and no action has been reported of this nature.
As with all of the other statements that Tapie has made regarding Full Tilt Poker, this e-mail continues the rhetoric that he is acting in the interest of unpaid accounts, saying “I continue to believe that our plan for repayment was fair.” This premise was once “good enough” for poker players to consider GBT the hero in this situation. Just so long as players felt that GBT gave them a chance at seeing their money again, they were going to side heavily with Tapie through any dubious reports that might have been made on his reputation, intentions, tactics, etc.
This crucial premise is now thoroughly clouded, though, as Diamond Flush reported two weeks ago some shocking details about the proposed repayment plan. Without going into too thorough of details on what was a lengthy and dynamic proposal, Tapie’s repeated emphasis on the fact that his plan paid back almost 95% of players was pretty clearly disingenuous. These player accounts only made up a fraction of 1% of the entire amount due to players, and the 5.1% of players who made up more than 99% of the money were getting—to be very brief—a bad deal.
Essentially, those players could earn their bankroll back by playing poker on the site for 18 months. The plan sounded like if a store were to refund a customer, not with cash and not even with store credit, but with a 25% discount—one that would expire once the total amount of money saved equaled the amount that was owed to the customer. It would, in fact, be even worse than that because the store, in this case, would be paying back in services (facilitating a poker game) instead of goods with a tangible value.
The short of it is this: with Tapie’s intended repayment plan becoming unacceptable to the poker community, his moves to work around and against the Department of Justice are growing unpopular. And these latest implications, of launching a FTP-esque site without having to work with the DoJ, certainly seems to fall distinctly into this category.