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The Man Who Killed the Big Four Poker Sites in the U.S.

By Ian Hiaring, Rakeback.com Poker News Staff Writer

daniel-tzvetkoffSay hello to the man who’s an integral part of Friday’s U.S. online poker shutdown…aka…Black Friday.

Australian Daniel Tzvetkoff provided United States Department of Justice authorities with key background information that led to the indictment of eleven people involved with PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and UB. The fallout from the indictments led to what is essentially the shutdown of those four poker rooms in the United States for the foreseeable future.

Payment Processors

Tzvetkoff was the mastermind behind the payment processing schemes that allowed the biggest poker sites in the world to continue operation in the United States even after the UIGEA was enacted in 2006 which made the transfer of money to be used for gambling purposes illegal (in a nutshell).

Tzvetkoff’s method of getting around this roadblock was to set up dummy companies that had names that made them appear to be legit, non-gambling entities, thus avoiding labeling the transaction as gambling related and circumventing bank rejection. PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker signed on, and it was business as usual in the United States for millions of online poker players.

A funny thing happened along the way though. Tzvetkoff found himself in the middle of a lawsuit against the same poker companies who were originally on board with his idea of falsifying transaction codes to hide the gambling intent behind them. The poker companies claimed he had bilked them for more than $100 million and wanted it back, or at least wanted Tzvetkoff to suffer.

Jailbird Cuts a Deal

A quick visit to Las Vegas last April and suddenly Tzvetkoff found himself behind bars, charged with money laundering and both bank and wire fraud. The authorities were rumored to be tipped off by one of the poker companies that Tzvetkoff was being sued by. With bail denied, he turned against Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars and opted to assist the FBI in their ongoing investigation against the poker companies.

Fast forward to the events of April 15, 2011. The same people that Tzvetkoff worked for, namely Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, are now charged with money laundering and both bank and wire fraud. In the meantime, Tzvetkoff is out on bail and reported to be a key contributor of information in the case that brought online poker to a grinding halt in the United States.

While Daniel Tzvetkoff’s name isn’t mentioned in the 50+ page indictment, or in the civil suit filed against the poker companies, you can be sure that he had a significant part in building both cases.

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