Black Friday Affects Brunson But Not WPT Championship

Shock waves from the April 15 DoJ poker site seizures continue to ripple through the industry, affecting players and other poker brands in a multitude of ways, but early reports that the site shutdowns would hurt major live tournament numbers may have been exaggerated. After all, the WPT Championship kicked off its first qualifying day of competition yesterday, and the 188 players present were just seven short of last year’s total field of 195. With Main Event registration extending through 3:30pm today, the WPT World Championship appears to be experiencing another year of positive growth in spite of all the online controversy.

Still, it’s not all sunshine and roses for the poker industry. Living legend Doyle Brunson (who also just happens to be in Las Vegas for the WPT Championship this weekend) released a statement this week confirming that he is officially parting ways with his poker site Brunson has been endorsing the room for seven years, but in the press release he states that he does not want to be affiliated with a site that continues to cater to U.S. players without the approval of the government.

Brunson goes on to say that he hopes to return to the world of online poker when it is officially legalized by Congress, but then the statement takes a sour note when the pro remarks that he has asked the site to stop using his name and likeness, but that DoylesRoom management has thus far refused his request. Brunson showed up to the WPT Championship in his usual DoylesRoom garb, leading many to believe that he must still be under contract with the brand, but apart from his recent press release Brunson has refused to comment further on the situation.

In other Black Friday related news, PokerStars also made an official statement Friday on the progress of their mass American cash outs. The company claims that they have returned more than $100 million in U.S. player funds. Though Full Tilt Poker and now Absolute Poker and have also reached agreements with the DoJ, thus far PokerStars appears to be the only site that has actually started processing withdrawals.

None of the American pros that once worked for the affected poker sites have officially commented on the situation, or their potential residency plans. But last week TIME published an article in which a handful of unaffiliated American pros – Isaac Haxton, Vanessa Peng and Justin Bonomo – all expressed a firm desire to move to more online poker-friendly countries.

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