Poker players expect big payout from online Ponzi scheme

Some online poker players are expecting a big payout soon, thanks to a multi-million dollar settlement between the Justice Department and two online poker companies. The companies were accused of running a Ponzi scheme.

Faraz Jaka contemplates a move at his first table of the NAPT Mohegan Sun Bounty Shootout.

Some online poker players are expecting a big payout soon, thanks to a multi-million dollar settlement between the Justice Department and two online poker companies. The companies were accused of running a Ponzi scheme.

We called up professional poker player Faraz Jaka to learn more about the settlement. He's going to get a big payout: "I've had a decent amount locked up in there. I don't want to say the exact amount, but it's a six-figure amount."

And you may recognize Jaka's nickname... take a listen.

Kai Ryssdal: To continue with a theme then, some online poker players are expecting a big payout soon, thanks to a settlement between the Department of Justice and two of the world's largest online poker companies. The companies were accused of running a Ponzi scheme, in essence, using money in player's accounts to pay off others.

Faraz Jaka is one of the players that stands to get his money back. Faraz, thanks for being with us.

Faraz Jaka: Thanks for having me.

Ryssdal: So this settlement is on the order of a couple of hundred million dollars. What do you suppose your cut's going to be?

Jaka: I've had a decent amount locked up in there. I don't want to say the exact amount, but it's a six-figure amount.

Ryssdal: And you say 'locked up' -- I mean, is it stuck on this site?

Jaka: It's literally been frozen -- can't access it, can't trade it, can't sell it, can't do anything with it.

Ryssdal: You play online and real cards as well, right?

Jaka: Yes.

Ryssdal: So which one's more satisfying for you?

Jaka: Well, to me, the live is more satisfying for me. It's fun, I get to travel, there's more money in it. But realistically, to do this as a career, you need online poker, because the sample size is just too small live. You know, you could play 50 to 100 tournaments a year live, but online you can play thousands. I mean, just think about a trader. If you told a trader you could make 100 trades this year -- you could be the best trader in the world, but there's no guarantee you're going to make money.

Ryssdal: Of course you know how Wall Street works out sometimes, right?

Jaka: [Laughs]

Ryssdal: So you do then, don't you?

Jaka: Not too different from poker.

Ryssdal: So now what happens? Are you satisfied you're going to get your money back from Full Tilt?

Jaka: Well, I'll tell you what -- a lot of my friends are celebrating this week. I'm going to wait until the money hits my bank.

Ryssdal: If you get this six-figure sum back, does this then become your biggest win, your biggest payout?

Jaka: No, it doesn't become my biggest payout, but it becomes one of the more emotional ones.

Ryssdal: I'm in the wrong line of work. All right, I have to ask you before I let you go: My producers told me you had an unusual nickname?

Jaka: My online poker screenname was The Toilet. When I first started playing poker in college, I'd get a bunch of flushes, and you know, my roommates and dormmates would get frustrated and were like, 'The Toilet flushes again!'

Ryssdal: Faraz Jaka, also known as The Toilet. Faraz, thanks a lot.

Jaka: Thanks for having me.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

Faraz Jaka contemplates a move at his first table of the NAPT Mohegan Sun Bounty Shootout.

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