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Continuing to support Rafe Furst and Phil Gordon

Rafe and Phil

Rafe Furst and Phil Gordon will continue to have my support for everything that they've done in the fight against cancer.

Change can be a good thing sometimes.  It’s inevitable in life that as time goes on, things change.  After all, we’re not immortal, and we’re far from perfect.  As a result, things will be different.  Change can be tough, and it can be good.  But it’s an element of life that we must all cope with.

April 15th remains a landmark day for me in many ways because of the way that it changed my life.  Gone are the days that I spent playing online poker.  Gone is my online poker bankroll, seemingly tied up in what looks like a sea of mismanaged assets and misappropriated distributions among owners of a site that has fallen to pieces.  I can no longer play online the game that I’m passionate about, nor can I carve out the time or the bankroll to play the game live.  I’ve been forced to move on from poker, despite holding onto the love and the passion of the game.  Things have changed.

One of the other areas that has changed has been my involvement with charitable organizations such as The Bad Beat on Cancer.  I remember the day that Rafe Furst asked if I would like to join him and Phil Gordon, and several others on the Bad Beat on Cancer advisory council. The organization had been raising funds through poker for the Prevent Cancer Foundation, and since 2003, had been directly responsible for more than $3.4 million in funds raised for cancer prevention and research.  That number is simply astonishing.

As a husband who has had to watch the effects of what cancer can do to a human, it was an honor to have received the invitation from Rafe to serve as a member of the BBoC advisory council, and I am happy to have hosted several charity functions and done my small part in donating to the cause.  Together along with the Twitter Poker Tour, we’ve raised a sizable sum of donations from a group that plays for a $5 buy in, and I couldn’t be prouder to be associated with the group.

So when I received word that both Rafe and Phil were stepping down from their positions on the Board of Directors last week, I was immediately filled with sadness.  Their goal and their vision have built Bad Beat on Cancer to what it is today, and the fact that they’ve raised more than $3.4 million at the helm of the organization for cancer research is commendable, and I applaud them.

It saddens me that the actions by the Department of Justice has stricken my ability as an american poker player from playing the game that I love.  It devastates me financially as the subsequent actions have eliminated my sources of income.  But it simply sickens me that the recent actions taken have forced Phil and Rafe to take this course of action, to the point where it was in the charity’s best interest for them to take a step away.  It’s not too much unlike a spot in a tournament where a player moves all-in, and you’re forced to let go of a hand that might actually be the best at the moment.  The risk associated with Rafe and Phil staying in their positions at the top is great, so I agree with the two men that it’s the right move for the organization as they don’t want to cast any undue fallout on the situation onto their hard work.  But despite the change at the the top of the organizational ladder, I will not forget them, and I will continue to support them as men, and what they have worked for.

It was with that in mind that I sent out my public statement on twitter a few days ago, saying:

“Deeply saddened by the resignations of @RafeFurst and@PhilNoLimits from #BBoC. Both men have my complete support, admiration, and empathy.”

The tweet received more than a few negative responses from some of the people hurt by the actions of the Department of Justice and Full Tilt Poker.  I understand people’s hurt feelings, as I too have lost more than I can count.  My life has been completely altered.  But as a human being that has had personal interactions with both Rafe and Phil, and feeling the pain that they must be feeling, my heart dropped into my stomach.

I don’t believe that Phil or Rafe were involved in anyway with the day to day activities of Full Tilt, nor do I believe that they were the responsible parties for the negative bank balance versus players bank balances.  While the company was more than $330 million upside down when they were shut down, I have a difficult time holding these two people accountable in anyway, and I certainly don’t think that the financial distributions that they received from the site over the course of their involvement with Full Tilt should be in any way characterized in the same way as a felon.  Quite the opposite.  I believe that these men were more victimized by the entire situation than all of us.  But that’s another story for another time.

I’ve reached out to both Rafe and Phil in the last couple of weeks and they’ve both been encouraging through it all.  Rafe thanked me for the wishes and checked in on my family, and how Traci was doing.  It was good to hear from him.  And Phil, well he provided me a word of thanks in addition to a hope that for the BBoC, this change could mean a good thing, and I hope that he’s right.   His words continue to ring inside me and called me to do something more.  Phil said “I’ll be back.  Just trying to protect what took ten years to build.  Now it’s time for others to step up, including you!”

It’s time for change.  It’s a time to leave behind the travesty of Full Tilt Poker, and move forward.  It’s time to build a new life and continue to fight for the things that are important to us, and the people that we love and care about.  It’s time to get involved in being a part of the solution, in whatever way that we can.

I’ll miss having Phil and Rafe at the helm.  But I believe that Phil is right…this is just temporary.  And while they’ll be missed a great deal, I’m excited to see other people fill in and hopefully gain experience that will make us all better in the long run, and look at this moment of change while remembering all of the good that they’ve done.

  1. September 29th, 2011 at 03:49 | #1

    I for one could not possibly be happier that these two are having to finally experience a little pressure from us. I was shocked that they both continued to tweet as if all was right in the world as the company they represented was silent and falling to pieces. Their reputations are ruined forever, and it is completly their fault. Had they not remained silent through this whole debacle, and at some point bothered to come forward and tell us what was really going on, they would be looked at as white knights. Instead, they chose to be silent and ignore us, and now they’ll get what they deserve. To lose everything they have, just like they have done to us.

    I disagree with you that they are innocent and oblivious to the day to day operations of FTP. Rafe was a board member! Do you really expect us to believe he was so stupid as to not attend these meeting, or know that FTP was paying dividends with our money? Its impossible.

  2. Paul Ellis
    September 29th, 2011 at 16:07 | #2

    While I don’t know the day to day dealings of the men, I do know what the results have been from their charitable contributions to cancer. That part of me lends my support their direction, and will be unwavering.

    I get the hate. I get the anger. I get that you want blood. I’ve also never been THAT guy.

    While I have been hurt tremendously from the debacle (lost income from playing and writing), I can’t see myself filled with rage, or ever being happy that someone is going through what these guys are. It’s not a time to celebrate their trials and tribulations and suffering. But rather to extend our compassion.

    In times of legal turmoil, attorneys instruct their clients to keep everything silent. It’s the best way to win. While I too was desperately searching for something, anything in the form of news, I can understand their silence. And I can also easily tell you that it was killing everyone to have to remain silent as well.

    Bear in mind, there are no criminal charges filed against these men either. Zero. The government has simply gone after the money all along. They don’t want jail time…they just want cash. I find that part of this despicable.

    But as for my support of the two men specifically and what they’ve done for Cancer, something that hits squarely home, I’m proud of their actions there. And I won’t ever forget that or change my opinion there either.

  3. September 30th, 2011 at 00:21 | #3

    Yes, but I was referring to the both of these men posting on twitter multiple times a day, acting like nothing was wrong, and ignoring the fact that there company was in the process of defaulting on milions of players WORLDWIDE. If they were going to remain silent, at least remain silent on twitter as well, see Howard and ivey’s examples. They’re not flaunting there lifestyles in our faces while OUR money is being used to pay their electric bills and attorney fees. Gordon does not get that he was paid with OUR money, as were the rest. They took dividends and payments that were funded by player deposits, no disputing that, that $$ needs to be frozen, and seized and given back to us. I meant I was happy to hear that Howard and the rest had their assets frozen, as they now know first hand what we all have been going through. I just sold my wifes car, we are down to one vehicle, why? Because Howard, Rafe, and Phil have illegally paid themselves with my money. I don’t hear stories about rafe Howard, Phil or anyone else looking to sell their belongings just to be able to pay rent. They all need to man up, and give back everything they were paid, and follow Mr. Tom Dwan’s example.

  4. you don’t get it
    September 30th, 2011 at 14:30 | #4

    I have consistently heard friends of these scumbags coming to their defense by citing their generosity. How f’ing hard is it to be generous when you are skimming off the top of a billion dollar company? yeah…real honorable.

  5. Paul Ellis
    October 1st, 2011 at 15:47 | #5

    @dion renno
    I don’t know how much life they were living since April 15th. It’s impacted us all differently. We’ve all had to make sacrifices since that day. I’m still not sure how I’m going to do things like Christmas for my family AND pay rent in January. Hopefully it’ll be worked out by then.

    And for the record, I’m still waiting to see Tom make good on his promise of giving back the money that he was paid. Don’t get me wrong…I think he will. But there’s still a lot to be worked out before that happens. We’ve still got a long road to hoe before we find a resolution, and I for one am hopeful that it happens eventually…despite the fact that it has dragged on longer than anyone expected.

  6. Paul Ellis
    October 1st, 2011 at 15:54 | #6

    @you don’t get it
    There are plenty of people who “took the money and ran.” What has Ray Bitar donated back to?

    Point being, I’m extremely happy that good work came of the situation. Since 2003, Phil and Rafe have raised a TON of money for Cancer Prevention and Research. As a husband to a wife that was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and Leukemia, it would be impossible for me to NOT recognize their efforts in working with cancer.

    But it wasn’t just cancer research either. When Rafe finished in 3rd and Phil finished in 6th at the 2009 Ante Up for Africa Charity event, the respective $72k and $30k won by both of them (more than $100k total) went straight back to the charity. When Phil then won the event in 2010 for $129k, the entire amount went back into the charity. More than $230k right back to charity. That’s commendable.

    There are those that took the money they earned and left with that. I understand that. But at the same time, you have to recognize their charitable efforts too. Point being, not all people are charitable with their money. There are plenty that just take the money, and get out of dodge.

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