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Ryan McLane

Ryan  McLane
Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news.

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Sunday tournament numbers starting to stabilize

13 Feb 2007

By Ryan McLane

Sunday tournament numbers have seemingly stabilized one month after the NETeller arrests and the NFL playoffs took a large toll on player participation.

PokerStars and Full Tilt (running their Full Tilt Online Poker Series - FTOPS) easily met their guarantees Sunday with no televised-football and new e-wallets allowing American players to stay in the game.

PokerStars drew its largest crowd since Jan. 14 and FTOPS III is shaping up to be the most successful event in Full Tilt history with 3,976 players competing over the weekend.

Ultimate Bet and Bodog, two rooms that experienced heavy overlays after the NETeller arrests and during the NFL playoffs, also saw their numbers return to early January figures.

Sunday tournament participation levels were at record levels to start the year.

PokerStars, the leader in guaranteed-tournament size, broke a non-special-event-tournament record on Jan. 14 when 7,632 people played for $1.5 million.

Full Tilt's numbers were large enough to warrant a $100,000 increase in their weekly guarantee and a $250,000 increase for their monthly guarantee. Consecutive $400,000 guaranteed tournaments on Jan. 7 and Jan. 14 drew 2,576 and 2,473 respectively.

But things changed once the FBI arrested NETeller co-founders Stephen Lawrence and John LeFebvre and charged them with money laundering.

NETeller pulled out of the U.S. market after meeting with officials from the U.S. Department of Justice, leaving many players with no way to fund their online accounts.

In the weekend following the NETeller arrests, PokerStars' Sunday participation dropped 12 % and Full Tilt failed to meet their guarantee for the first time since the 2006 World Series of Poker.

Numbers continue to be down 10-12 % at PokerStars and Full Tilt from early January, but they seem to be leveling off now that the NFL playoff games and the SuperBowl are over.

New e-wallets keep U.S. gamblers in the game

Since NETeller's departure, ePassporte has experienced an overwhelming number of requests for new accounts that has dramatically slowed their response times. But it is still allowing transactions, which are accepted at Poker Stars, Full Tilt, and Ultimate Bet.

Full Tilt is also supporting for U.S. players. Currently available only for Full Tilt, this e-wallet allows players to fund their accounts via online banking methods for a series of fees.

Bodog has its answer in the financial processor Nucharge. Bodog depositors need to buy a phone-card at this Web site, then transfer the minutes into their Bodog accounts in exchange for e-dollars. Nucharge is for deposits only. U.S. withdrawals for Bodog customers are available by check or money transfer.

The new e-wallet options are allowing former NETeller customers to trickle back into the online poker mix, but the long-term affects of NETeller's departure from the Sunday tournament scene will take more time to decipher.

Mucking McLane
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