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Dan Igo

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Christian Harder adjusts to life after Black Friday

13 Jul 2011

By Dan Igo
LAS VEGAS -- Christian Harder knows he’s pretty fortunate -- especially in comparison to most American online poker players after Black Friday.

The Maryland-based professional, known by his online handle "charder30", has over $3 million in online tournament winnings, according to Bluff Magazine. And he is well known in the Internet poker community for playing high-stakes tournaments and cash games.

But unlike strictly online-based players, Harder has plenty of live tournament experience as well. That experience has made the transition into a world without online poker a lot easier for him than for his fellow professionals.

“I definitely feel bad for kids like that who have no experience and probably have most of their money tied up,” he said. “It doubly hurts. Luckily I enjoy live poker and I've played a lot of it. I've almost been playing all live poker in the last six months anyways.”

Harder’s first major live cash was at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in 2008, where he finished in seventh place in the main event and won $200,000. He’s cashed in events in Germany and England as well and is a veteran of the tournament circuit.
Christian Harder (right) earned more than $3 million playing online poker.

Christian Harder (right) earned more than $3 million playing online poker. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

Harder said that up until a few years ago he had done most of his poker playing online. He began focusing more on live play in the last couple of years, and has only been playing online about 20 hours a week for the past six months.

But despite spending more time in the casino, Harder says he still misses being able to play in the comfort of his own home.

"Two years ago I might have been playing about 40 hours a week but it's kind of been getting less and less,” he said. “I still like it. I still wish it was around, obviously."

Harder says he hasn’t really felt the full effects of Black Friday because he’s been traveling on the circuit the last few months. He finished in 17th place in the WPT Championship in Las Vegas in May and then flew back to Maryland for two weeks. He was back in Vegas on June 1 playing in WSOP events.

He’s had a solid WSOP so far. He survived the first two days of the Main Event with a healthy chip stack of 135,600. He’s cashed in three events this WSOP, including a fourth-place finish in a $3,000 Pot Limit Omaha event. That score earned him over $132,000. He has cashed in 12 WSOP events in his career, including a 100th-place finish in last year’s Main Event.

Harder says he hasn’t changed his tournament schedule because of Black Friday, but that all can change in the future.

“Pretty much as soon as Black Friday happened I played the WPT Championship,” he said. “I came home and then flew out to Vegas. So there's nothing really different that I would have added. But I guess from September to January I'll probably play some more tournaments and play some more cash games in Atlantic City.”

The sudden shutdown of online poker in the United States came as a real surprise to “charder30.” He had money on both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, two of the three poker sites that were targeted by the U.S. federal government.

“I was in shock. I guess I kind of expected it to come in the future but for it to happen so quickly and so all of a sudden. Things literally unraveled in a matter of hours. It was quite a shock because there was no warning," he said.

Getting money back has been a bone of contention for American players, and Harder is no exception. PokerStars has already paid out over $100 million to U.S. customers. However, Full Tilt has not repaid any American players and recently lost its gaming license from Alderney.

"I have a little bit tied up on Full Tilt, which is unfortunate,” Harder said. “But not nearly as much as most of my friends. Luckily most of my money was on PokerStars, which I got back.”

Friday will mark the three-month anniversary of Black Friday, with the long-term effects of that fateful day not even close to being realized. The World Series of Poker has seen no short-term effects as attendance has been up in nearly every event. And Harder hopes there will be serious long-term effects as more and more Americans get used to a world without online poker.

“In the near future this is probably what I want to do. Hopefully down the road [online poker] will come back, so it won't be a huge deal,” he said.

And Harder thinks online poker will come back to the United States, but not anytime soon.

“I don't think it will happen in the next six months or anything but I think it will happen,” he said. “I think it will come eventually.”
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