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    The FTP/AGCC Hearing on the 26th of July. The View through the Hippy.

    Posted by Quad Jacks July 27, 2011

    The feelings of hope and nervousness rose as we had our names ticked off the list of Press Attendees, and entered the well lit basement conference room in the Victoria Park Plaza Hotel.
    We sat, and from our seats we could see the formal layout, reminiscent of a Court Room, with a top table, Witness Stand, and a pair of tables, one for the “defence”, one for the “prosecution”.
    Just in front of us was a bank of seats reserved for Full Tilt Poker, and to our right, 2 rows for the AGCC. Obviously witnesses were ready, prepared, and expecting to be called, but as the room filled, the FTP seats remained worryingly empty.

    The AGCC quota was filled quietly, and yet the only FTP presence we saw was 3 elderly well dressed gentlemen, and their assistant. Obviously this was FTP’s legal team.
    This left the only spare seats in the packed room ominously empty, with the signs marking them as FTP territory.

    Most people rose as the commissioners entered, seating themselves when asked to do so.
    The chair of the hearing, Isabel Picornell, explained the process that the hearing would follow, which was news to most of us, given that this type of event has never happened before.

    Isabel also allowed the legal representatives to introduce themselves to the court at large, but it was obvious from their familiarity that these people had been talking to each other in the previous weeks.
    The FTP legal team had a Pre Hearing Motion they wished to have heard, but before that they wished for a Pre Pre Hearing motion (really, that’s what they called it) for this Pre Hearing Motion to be heard “in camera.”
    Some of us had heard rumours that the FTP legal team were going to ask for a postponement as the phantom FTP investor we have been hearing about for weeks had not finished its audit of the FTP accounts, but the fact they wished to ask for this to be heard in secret was both a shock, and a disappointment.
    Martin Heslop, lead counsel for FTP, outlined his case for this to be heard away from the prying eyes of both the Press, and interested public.

    It was, he stated, a matter of Justice. To expose these issues to public scrutiny would have been against the interests of justice. What he actually meant by this is not clear, but as he went on to include vague details of investors, and commercial sensitivity, he must have be alluding to the natural justice of paying the players what they are obviously owed.
    He even went as far to invoke Alderney’s version of the Human Rights Act (a little over the top from my point of view) and its requirement for someone to be given a fair trial.

    The AGCC legal reps did not object to this, but neither did they acquiesce. They said, very cleverly in my opinion, that the decision on whether FTP’s legal team had made a case was for the hearing to decide. They also highlighted that part of the case against FTP was the outstanding payments owed as part of the licence, which amounted to over £250,000.
    Martin Heslop, after confirmation from the legal advisor to the commissioners, added that if his motion was approved, this payment could be made inside 7 days, thus winning the prize of the most obvious bribe in recent history.
    The commissioners retired to consider their decision on this, leaving us in the public seating to twiddle our thumbs for the next 30 minutes while they deliberated.

    We were allowed to remain in the “court”, but several of us took the chance to mingle, grab a smoke, and relieve our coffee filled bladders.

    About 45 minutes after the commissioners had retired to deliberate over Mr Heslop’s motion, the commissioners returned to the hearing, again with most people rising as they entered.

    They announced that FTP’s motion for their Pre-Hearing motion to be heard in private had been agreed to, but would remain under constant review. This brought rumblings forth from the attending poker players and media, culminating in the explosion of Harry Demetriou with the cry of “what about the interests of the players, why should you do anything for this corrupt site?!” as he exited through the door, flanked by 2 security guards.

    This was not the end of the outbursts. Harry was applauded by many in attendance, and several people shouted questions to the commissioners, but these we ignored, and we were asked to leave.

    We left the chamber of horrors this room had become, and returned to street level. Delaney and I discussed what had happened on the air, with Marco, Zac, and Thomas.

    My phone become a hot potato and was passed from hand to hand, from opinion to opinion, hopefully adding value to the Quadjacks live show as my battery was slowly running down.

    We retired to a patisserie over the road from the hotel, along side such media giants as the EGR team including Tom Victor, Pokerati’s representative Joe Ewens and Jake Pollard from iGamingFrance.

    Delaney wrote a factual account of the 1st part of the day using the local wifi, and I enjoyed a nice coffee and Danish. I also started to assemble my thoughts for this blog.

    As we had access to free (well, only free with a rather pricey coffee and Danish) internet I decided to call into the show before we headed back to the dungeon to await the pleasure of the commissioners.

    It seems my hands free kit combined with skype really does cut out a lot of background noise!

    We headed back over, met up with Barry Carter of Pokernews fame, and descended back into the depths of the hotel.
    We were met by one of the counsels who had been representing the AGCC in the hearing, who advised us that the commissioners had just gone on lunch, and had yet to deliberate on the motion put forward by FTP.

    Being hardy souls, we legged it.

    We found a nice quiet spot, and as Barry and I replenished the power in our laptops, we started to write our respective articles, and discussed the issues at hand.

    With Joe comfortably seated in an armchair, and Barry, Delaney and myself just about squeezed onto a black leather sofa, we speculated about the situation, and got to know each other a little better.

    After we had let our machines partake their fill of the free energy, we returned to the depths of the Park Plaza Victoria, to wait for more information.

    After some time, the same counsel from the AGCC, who appeared to have drawn the short straw of being the press liaison for the day, let us know that the commissioners had requested further information from the FTP legal counsel, in the form of 9 questions. We had no idea what these questions were, but we did spend a pleasant 15 minutes throwing back ideas what they might be. We concluded that one of them had to be “I’m dealt Pocket 5’s late in an MTT, while on the button. What do I do?”
    As you can probably tell, a combination of excess coffee, lack of sleep, frustration and extreme boredom was taking a toll on the collective media presence.
    The funny thing was that in a room full of poker players, no-one had thought to bring a pack of cards. Total fail or what?

    Now the grind began. Our hopes were raised, dashed and raised again by possible interaction with the commissioners or the AGCC counsel. To be honest, at this point most of us would have talked to a stuffed toy if it gave us any information on the day. I have heard some did, and there are pictures of a little Howie Lederer floating around the internet, showing him posing at the hearing. The one with Howie and the “Get Rich Quick” seminar display is priceless.

    Now we were speculating on what this lengthy process meant. Why had we been allowed to twist in the wind for nearly 7 hours? Were we coming back tomorrow? Had the motion been passed? Had it failed? Were we sure that no-one had a pack of cards?

    Then we saw an interaction between the previously mentioned unlucky AGCC counsel, and the legal advisor to the commissioners.
    Some of us with sharper hearing than others heard some timeframes mentioned, and within 10 minutes, the Commissioners had summoned the 2 sets of legal counsel to the hearing room, and had gone back into closed session.
    We were still in the dark. Had the commissioners come to a decision on the motion? Had they said yes? No? Were they having to come back tomorrow with this answer?

    Then, we saw both sets of counsel leaving the hearing room, and go to another room, obviously to discuss something. Again, we speculated. Well, what else were we going to do? No-one had brought any cards!
    What were they talking about? Had both teams really gone into the same room?
    After about 10 minutes, they returned to the main hearing room, and returned into closed session.

    After 5 minutes, we mere mortals were allowed back into the presence of the giants of poker regulation.
    Isabel started by welcoming us back, and then moved to address the issue that had kept us entertained (lol) for the past 7 hours.

    Basically, FTP was granted an adjournment in the best interest of Justice and FTP customers. This was granted to allow advanced discussions between FTP and potential investors for player interests.

    So, 2 minutes after we were allowed back into the hearing, it was all over until September.
    At the end of the day, while we had gained friends, speculation, coffee poisoning, and the desire for alcohol, the Full Tilt Poker Situation hadn’t really moved forward. All we had was a new date, the 15th of September. By this time, we will be back in an AGCC hearing, hopefully hearing more information than we heard today.

    And next time, I’m bringing a pack of cards…

    There is 1 Comment

    1. - July 27, 2011
        -   Reply

      Good try at getting the inside scoop on an obvious attempt by the AGCC at a debt collection. I only hope that if FTP has 250K in euro laying around they can pay us all our three fiddy back.

    Write Your Comment

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