“The next lot is 5,076 Full Tilt Poker-branded ‘cat stress relievers.’ Shall we start the bidding at $100?”
Yes, folks, you, too, have the chance to get your hands on some of the slightly more bonkers merchandising efforts of the disgraced old guard at Full Tilt Poker at an auction on Saturday, August 2; $3.5 million worth of it if you’re interested.Â Full Tilt was shut down by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) on Black Friday, April 15, 2011, its owners charged with fraud, money-laundering, and the violation of United States federal gambling laws.
Chronic mismanagement had seen the company pay out $444 million to its immediate owners while failing to ensure it had enough money return the $390 million-odd to its players if, say, the DOJ happened to … er … shut it down for fraud, money laundering, and the violation of United States federal gambling laws.
Of course, PokerStars subsequently bought out Full Tilt and settled the allegations with the DOJ to the tune of $731 million, after Full Tilt agreed to forfeit almost all of its assets to the US government. But, while PokerStars quickly agreed to reimburse FullTilt players outside the US, many US victims were left in limbo, unsure whether they would ever see their funds again. Some even sold their accounts for a fraction of their true value. The victims were hundreds of thousands; bankrolls were destroyed, livelihoods lost, careers derailed.
But, hey, you have to hand it to them; despite their greed and catastrophic irresponsibility, the old guard at Full Tilt were pretty creative when it came to marketing cool merchandise, which would be offered in the Full Tilt shop, exchangeable for hard-earned frequent player points. In fact, towards the end, it was getting a bit silly, with Full-Tilt branded dog coats, barbecue utensils, bar stools, golf bags, and who knows what else.
Anyway, somehow the Jay Sugarman Auction House has got its hands on hundreds of thousands of such items and is auctioning them off to the highest bidder (we do get to the point, eventually). It’s a bit like just after the fall of the Soviet Union, when everyone was going around wearing the tatty old Red Army coats that were streaming out of Russia.
OK, maybe that was just us.
Anyway, naturally, there are thousands of the obligatory hoodies, polo shirts and baseball caps up for grabs, as well as, for example, 12,802 packs of plastic playing cards, 42,300 red pens, 1,500 luggage tags and, of course, the aforementioned “cat stress relievers,” which we assume are executive stress toys in the shape of cats, rather than Full Tilt-branded catnip, although nothing surprises us very much anymore.
There’s also an intriguing 7,000 “miscellaneous items,” which presumably includes the dog coats, et al.
Of course, this auction is nothing to do with the new Full Tilt, which is about to be acquired, along with PokerStars, by Amaya Gaming as part of their Rational Group buyout, as the auction house makes painfully clear.
“PLEASE NOTE,” screams its website in bold, blood-curdling capital letters that we simply could not to be bothered to transpose into lower case for this article (time is money). “THIS AUCTION IS NOT SPONSORED, ENDORSED BY, OR ASSOCIATED IN ANY WAY WITH FULL TILT POKER OR ANY OF ITS AFFILIATED COMPANIES. THE MERCHANDISE IS OFFERED BY AN INDEPENDENT THIRD PARTY.”
Independent third-party? Is that you, Howard?
The good news is you can bid for items online, using all major credit cards, so roll up, roll up: depending on how you view the world, you could be getting get your hands on some living history from the glory days of online poker, or a testament to the folly of a company that would ultimately cannibalize itself through its own greed. Up to you.
Now, how much do I bid for this Full Tilt Poker-branded gold-plated fondue set, signed by Clonie Gowen?
Do I hear $20?