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FAILED Online Poker Sites: List of Defunct Poker Rooms & What Went Wrong

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There are quite a few online poker sites that have stood the test of time and have endured for decades. However, there are many more that have, for one reason or another, had to close their doors in defeat.

While most of the pages on ProfessionalRakeback are dedicated to the best and most appealing online poker rooms that are active today, this article is devoted to taking a look back at rooms that are no longer around. We have decided to compile as comprehensive a list as possible of failed poker sites – good, bad, and indifferent.

Many online poker sites have failed and fallen by the wayside over the years

Why Do Internet Poker Rooms Close?

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Online poker sites go out of business for any number of reasons.

Sometimes, they're undercapitalized and come to market without a solid strategy for attracting new players. In other cases, successful operators are buffeted by unexpected legal or payment processing challenges, which end up spelling their doom.

Occasionally, formerly popular rooms start to fall behind their competitors in game selection and software. When this happens, market share tends to flow toward more nimble and innovative organizations to the detriment of companies that fail to adjust, leading to market consolidation (i.e., the failure of firms that are unable to keep up).

Every once in a while, changes in ownership result in a poker product that lacks the full support of the new owners. They may elect to quietly discontinue the poker room.

Finally, a poker site may be an exit scam whereby the principals of the firm have decided on purpose to deceive their customers and abscond with their money. This is not exactly a common occurrence although it has occurred from time to time.

What Happens When a Poker Site Shuts Down?

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Many defunct poker sites are bought over by other operators that fold the shuttered poker site's players and balances into their own platform. Others plan and execute a deliberate shutdown procedure, giving users a certain timeframe in which to claim their balances.

Least common are those online poker rooms that simply vanish into the night, taking their customers' money with them. Although rare, such instances tend to garner a disproportionate share of attention from the poker community and the press because emotions run high when everyone's money is stolen.

If you have experienced the closure of your favorite poker room, then you might be searching for a replacement. Fortunately, we have identified the best offshore poker rooms for Americans, and you can learn more about them in this comprehensive USA online poker guide.

List of Vanished Online Poker Rooms

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Below, we have provided a list of bygone internet poker rooms along with a brief description of when they were active and why they failed. This is by no means an exhaustive tally; we're continuously expanding this section as we research more information about historical poker sites.

Absolute Poker Logo

Absolute Poker

Absolute was one of the largest online poker sites available to Americans up until Black Friday in April 2011 despite being at the center of a major cheating scandal in late 2007. First opening its doors in 2003 as a standalone site, Absolute merged with fellow shady poker room UltimateBet in 2008 to create the Cereus Poker Network.

Black Friday proved to be the downfall of Absolute because it was one of the sites targeted by the Feds. The room was unable to pay its players, and it closed its doors for good in May 2011. Customers were eventually able to claim their balances years later through a remissions program overseen by the Department of Justice.

  • Absolute was licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission
  • Mark Seif was an Absolute Poker sponsored pro from 2004 until 2011
  • Absolute was well-known among bonus lovers for the frequency of its reload offers, often multiple reloads per week
  • The cofounders of Absolute Poker, Scott Tom and Brent Beckley, were charged with crimes as part of the Black Friday indictments
  • In 2017 and 2018, nearly 13,000 former Absolute/UB players were reimbursed more than $38 million through the DoJ's remissions process
Bodog88 Logo

Bodog88

Bodog88 was an offshoot of the respected Bodog brand. It was initiated in 2009 to capitalize on the expanding Asian gambling market. This organization accepted local currencies, like Japanese yen and Thai baht, in addition to U.S. dollar. The poker room was a partner of first Bodog then Bovada and Ignition on the PWL Network.

In September 2020, Bodog 88 (also known as Bodog Asia) revealed that it was shutting down “out of respect for local restrictions.” While this verbiage is rather unclear, it's likely that gambling crackdowns in China and neighboring countries were responsible. All users were able to withdraw their money without issue.

  • Bodog88 was licensed in Curacao
  • Among the attractions of Bodog88 were three separate Live Dealer Casinos
  • The countries served by Bodog88 were: Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and Australia
  • Despite the wide array of currencies accepted at Bodog88, all poker gameplay was conducted in USD
  • Bodog88 offered customer service in English, Mandarin, and Thai
Bugsys Club Logo

Bugsy's Club

Bugsy's Club was founded in 2003 as an adjunct to Poker School Online, one of the first poker coaching websites. Renowned for the quality of its tournaments, which were deepstacked and featured then-rare antes, Bugsy's Club struggled to maintain cash game liquidity. The fact that it took a rake from pots that ended before the flop didn't help.

The room stagnated over the years, and the software hadn't been improved much since its launch. In March 2009, Bugsy's Club stopped dealing cards. PokerStars reached an agreement to transfer over all users' balances although they were still subject to a playthrough requirement before making a cashout.

  • Bugsy's Club was named after infamous mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel
  • The slogan of Bugsy's Club was “the best poker games in town”
  • Bugsy's spread unusual ring games, like $0.50/$1.00 PL Stud Hi-Lo with uncapped buyins
  • Bugsy's Club was one of the first online poker sites that hosted its own community forums
Delta Poker Club Logo

Delta Poker Club

Delta Poker Club was one of the first internet poker rooms to appear, dating all the way back to November 1998. It prided itself on its personal touch, maintaining a small, club-like feel with friendly regulars. Unfortunately, it never achieved the critical mass needed to succeed long-term, and it left the market in 2008.

After six years as an independent room, Delta moved first to the You Poker Network in 2004 and then the MyPoker Network in 2005 before heading to Ongame and then closing altogether. We were unable to find any record of whether or not this room finally paid outstanding balances when it stopped doing business.

  • Delta Poker Club's slogan was “the friendliest little poker-room on the web”
  • Delta used to boast about the fact that there were no more than three games simultaneously active
  • The headquarters of Delta Poker Club were in Sydney, Australia, but it was licensed in Costa Rica
Fair Poker Logo

Fair Poker

Fair Poker was a Bitcoin-only online cardroom that was proud of its provably fair shuffling algorithms, which meant that users didn't have to trust in a centralized server but could verify for themselves that the deal was fair. It opened for business in May 2019 and didn't require any ID or personal verification from prospective players.

Unfortunately, Fair Poker was not able to grow a sustainable user base. Most players either didn't care about or couldn't understand the provably fair system, so this site was basically just another upstart BTC room with little to distinguish itself. Fair Poker closed on March 30, 2022 after giving users several weeks notice to withdraw their funds.

  • Fair Poker was based in Costa Rica
  • Fair Poker's algorithms relied on elliptic curve cryptography
Gamesgrid Poker Logo

GamesGrid

GamesGrid was already an experienced backgammon provider since 1996 before deciding to dabble in the burgeoning world of online poker by opening a cardroom in 2005. It used a bespoke poker client from Cyberarts and was never able to attract a sustainable level of traffic despite aggressive promos like a 1,000% up to $5,000 deposit bonus.

The passage of the UIGEA led to the decision to stop serving the United States in February 2007. This had an understandable negative impact on traffic levels, and the site elected to shut down altogether, including the backgammon division, which it did in April 2008. All players were paid their balances owed in a timely manner.

  • GamesGrid used unusual circular tables as opposed to the standard oval shape
  • GamesGrid was the first online room to offer Dealer's Choice games.
  • GamesGrid was regulated by the Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority (now the Malta Gaming Authority)
Jao Poker Logo

Jao Poker

When Jao Poker first appeared on the scene in early 2017 as a U.S.-friendly online poker site based in Cambodia and accepting PayPal transactions, members of the poker community were quick to point out the numerous red flags inherent in this organization. Few were shocked then when it shut down in February 2018.

Jao relied upon a sketchy affiliate model whereby would-be affiliates had to pay $250 upfront for the privilege of representing the room. This displayed all the hallmarks of a classic MLM scheme. Not only did Jao Poker fail after just a year in operation, but it also took all user funds with it when it closed its doors.

  • Al Spath promoted Jao Poker and streamed his play on the site to his fans
  • Among the misdeeds of Jao Poker were stealing content from one of our pages at ProfessionalRakeback.com
  • Many Jao Poker affiliates took to spamming social media with their signup codes
Lock Poker Logo

Lock Poker

Lock Poker opened for business in October 2008 and made a big marketing push, allowing it to become one of the most prominent U.S. offshore poker sites within a few years. However, its overly generous promotions ran afoul of network rules, and it didn't make many friends by poaching users from its sister sites either.

After being kicked from several networks, Lock decided to start its own network in 2013. By that time, cashout delays of sometimes longer than a year and lies from management had already set alarm bells ringing in the minds of customers. Lock finally threw in the towel in April 2015, owing customers an estimated $15 million.

  • Lock's CEO, Jennifer Larson, bought luxury items, like champagne, and booked 5-star hotel rooms even while her company owed players millions
  • Larson worked for Bodog and started Lock Poker with two of her Bodog coworkers: Derrick Maloney and Brendan Young
  • Lock was embroiled in several cheating scandals involving Jose “Girah” Macedo
  • At one point, Lock Poker “bought” the Cake Poker Network, rebranding it as Revolution Gaming
  • Lock Poker was licensed in Curacao
PKR Logo

PKR

PKR was an innovative 3D poker room that was much hyped around the time of its launch in 2006. However, it was dealt a serious blow when the UIGEA passed the following year and in 2010 when France, one of its major markets, opted to regulate and kick out gray-market poker organizations. PKR hung on for a while but closed in May 2017.

Having been part of the MPN network since February 2016, there were hopes that the network would bail out the affected PKR players. However, they opted not to do so. The day was saved by competitor PokerStars, which agreed in July 2017 to honor the balances of approximately 60,000 PKR account holders.

  • PKR's software was developed by Jez San who previously worked on “Star Fox” for Super Nintendo
  • You could use your PKR player points to upgrade your avatar with fancy clothes and accessories
  • PKR was licensed by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission and the UK Gambling Commission
  • PKR's graphics were by all accounts miles ahead of competitors, but they were resource-intensive and made multi-tabling very slow
  • The full PKR download took up more than 600 MB of disk space
Planet Poker Logo

Planet Poker

A trailblazer in the internet gaming realm, Planet Poker was the first online poker site ever when it opened for real money play on Jan. 1, 1998. The only game offered at first was $3/$6 Limit Hold'em; NL games and tournaments were not present. Still, just a single game was more than what anyone else was offering at the time.

Planet soon became a second-tier poker room when Paradise Poker appeared in 1999 with a vastly superior product. Fervent efforts to catch up were plagued by delays and indifference on the part of the software developer. Planet kept losing market share to Paradise and other competitors until 2007 when it shut down, paying all users.

  • Even after closing for real money play in 2007, Planet Poker stuck around until 2017 as a subscription site
  • Planet Poker was the first, and one of the few, poker rooms to have its RNG successfully cracked
  • Planet Poker was endorsed by Mike “The Mad Genius” Caro
  • Planet Poker was founded by Canadian Randy Blumer
  • In the earliest days of Planet Poker, players funded their accounts by sending a personal check through the mail
PokerMania Logo

PokerMania

PokerMania was founded in 2013 when a group of poker friends decided to take their home game online. It grew slowly until it reached a point where it appealed to many outside the initial friend group. For a small site, it had a surprising amount of mid- and high-stakes action in non-Hold'em games, like 7 Card Stud and HORSE.

PokerMania closed in December 2017. The closure notice cited “recent changes in poker laws,” but outdated software, a sketchy agent model, player segregation by skill level, and the failed rollout of a new poker client all played a role. Players were paid their balances although it took more than a year in some cases.

  • PokerMania never held a gaming license
  • Although PokerMania claimed to be based in Costa Rica, a lot of evidence pointed to it being run out of the State of Iowa
  • PokerMania rated players according to skill and placed them in one of four tiers: guppy, fish, shark, and orca
  • PokerMania was somehow able to retain the services of 2004 WSOP Main Event champ Greg “FossilMan” Raymer as brand ambassador
  • The software used at PokerMania was Poker Mavens, which is available in packages from $39.95 to $499.95
Poker Mountain Logo

Poker Mountain

The future seemed good for Poker Mountain when it launched in February 2005 with the power duo of Daniel “KidPoker” Negreanu and T.J. Cloutier as brand ambassadors. However, technical glitches, freezes, and errors made the site virtually unplayable, and this site was one of the very few to rake pots that ended preflop.

Before long, frustrated users started referring to the site as “Poo Mountain.” Negreanu severed his relationship with the room in June 2005. Poker Mountain struggled along until 2006 and then called it quits. All players were paid although in some cases, this took a while and was accomplished through inter-account transfers on other sites.

  • Poker Mountain was licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Poker Host Logo

Poker Host

PokerHost was created in 2005 to be the poker division of major sportsbook SBGGlobal. It was known both for its extensive menu of cashier methods and its penchant for moving to and from multiple poker networks depending on where it felt the greener pastures lay. During all these changes, player balances were honored in full.

In July 2018, while PokerHost was on the Winning Poker Network, this game of musical chairs ended. The site announced that it was ceasing operations and urged its customers to find a new home at another WPN room. PokerHost expedited final withdrawals for its users, and everyone was paid out honestly and in full.

  • Among the networks that PokerHost called home were Dobrosoft, Tribeca, Microgaming, Cake, Merge, Equity, and Winning
  • PokerHost often offered additional payout mechanisms beyond those provided by the network it happened to be on at any point in time
  • PokerHost provided small weekly freerolls that were exclusive to ladies or gentlemen
Reefer Poker Logo

Reefer Poker

First opening its doors in February 2008, Reefer Poker was a skin on the Merge Gaming Network centered around – you guessed it – marijuana. While it may seem like weed and poker have little in common, Reefer Poker was able to pretty convincingly marry the two concepts with a green-and-yellow color scheme and 420-focused promos.

Vaporizer giveaways on social media, tournaments for Reefer Poker gear, and a “Smoke the Competition” league were some of the highlights. All seemed well until April 2011 when the site went dark. It turns out that Reefer had been purchased by FeltStars, a fellow Merge skin, in December 2010, and player accounts were transferred.

  • The winner of the $4.20 Weekend 420 tournament received a Reefer Poker hat and shirt in the mail
  • Reefer Poker was owned by Canadian Affiliate Management Company of Bowen Island, B.C.
  • The house pro at Reefer Poker was James “KrazyKanuck” Worth
RPM Poker Logo

RPM Poker

This racing-themed skin on the Merge Gaming Network debuted in 2008, offering fun and player-friendly promotions along with rakeback rewards. Among the promos here were a King of the Road challenge enshrining those who completed a set of monthly goals in the RPM Poker Hall of Fame while consigning losers to the Wall of Shame.

In December 2012, RPM Poker closed without warning. Users were given the opportunity to transfer their balances to another Merge skin. It's unclear why RPM shut down so unexpectedly, but it's possible that its high rewards fell afoul of network rules, which were established to prevent skins from stealing customers from each other.

  • At its height, RPM Poker boasted a team of sponsored pros, including Stephen Chidwick, Aaron Been, James “SplitSuit֨” Sweeney, and Aditya Agarwal
  • RPM Poker was licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission and the Lotteries & Gaming Authority of Malta (now the Malta Gaming Authority)
  • RPM Poker had a sponsored Twoplustwo forum where RPMSeth and RPMJon addressed user concerns
Satoshi Poker Logo

Satoshi Poker

Bitcoin poker site Satoshi Poker appeared on the scene in April 2013, well before the current boom in BTC internet poker rooms. It was basically a one-man shop, headed by owner Bart van Oort, and he soon proved unwilling to devote more time and effort to this niche operation. Bart put the site up for auction in April 2014.

The winning bidder turned out to be BurnTurn.eu, a BTC poker room that was about to launch. Although there was a period of acrimony when van Oort and BurnTurn.eu accused each other of failing to protect player funds, all player balances were eventually paid out or transferred to the new BurnTurn.eu site

  • Satoshi Poker used software from Enterra
  • Owner Bart van Oort hoped to get more than 30 BTC for selling Satoshi Poker but eventually settled for a plane ticket from Thailand to the Netherlands
  • The new owners decided to retire the Satoshi Poker platform
Red Cherry Poker Logo

Swank/Red Cherry Poker

Swank Poker arrived on the scene around June 2008 with a unique theme: the world of adult entertainment. This room on the Everleaf Network let you spend your SWANK points on X-rated goodies, like visits to European brothels, a one-year supply of condoms, or a one-month VIP membership to the infamous Green Door Club in Las Vegas.

A trademark dispute meant that Swank had to rebrand as Red Cherry Poker in early 2009. It continued more or less as it was before for several more years. However, the insolvency of the Everleaf Network as a whole meant that Red Cherry Poker was unable to discharge its obligations to players when it folded in 2013.

  • Swank Poker operated under Everleaf's license from the Malta Lotteries & Gaming Authority (now the Malta Gaming Authority)
  • At Swank Poker, users could choose from several nude female avatars to show at the tables
  • The UK's Advertising Standards Authority censured Swank Poker's ads for linking gambling to sexual success
Ultimate Bet Logo

Ultimate Bet

Ultimate Bet opened up in 2001 and was definitely a beneficiary of the Moneymaker Boom, becoming one of the biggest online poker sites in the mid '00s. A superuser scandal in which WSOP bracelet winner Russ Hamilton masterminded a cheating ring to the tune of more than $22 million angered players when it was uncovered in 2008.

This didn’t' stop UB from merging with fellow cheating site Absolute Pokerr. The Cereus Poker Network, as the combined sites were called, continued accepting players from the USA and around the world until Black Friday when they were forced to stop. The room proved to be insolvent and disappeared, taking players' money with it.

  • UltimateBet was licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission
  • UltimateBet launched with a heavy-hitting roster of pros, including Phil Hellmuth and Annie Duke
  • UltimateBet sponsored the Aruba Poker Classic from 2003 - 2009
  • UltimateBet offered Royal Hold'em, a game that is identical to Texas Hold'em but uses only cards from T through A
  • In 2013, secret tape recordings (Part I and Part II) were released that proved that higher-ups at UB knew about cheating and were trying to cover it up
  • In 2017 and 2018, former UltimateBet users were able to file remissions claims to recover their balances through the Absolute Poker claims process overseen by the Justice Department
Victorias Poker Logo

Victoria's Poker

When it opened for business in May 2003, Victoria's Poker thought that it had found a niche for itself: Mac poker. It was the first internet poker room to offer a dedicated Mac poker download. However, this Mac-compatible software had non-resizable tables, a laggy lobby, poor tournament table breaking and balancing algorithms, and many bugs.

The frustrating-to-use poker client limited traffic and meant that there were typically only a couple of low-stakes Limit Hold'em games running. Even hiring a prop team did little to help. Victoria's Poker finally called it quits in August 2005 although a message on the website implied that this closure was only temporary. Most players got paid.

  • Although Victoria's Poker paid all regular players, BonusWhores.com claimed that they were shortchanged on payments to prop players.
  • Victoria's Poker was proud of its Mac software, but it also provided a Windows download
  • Victoria's Poker hosted tables of something called Max Action Pai-Gow, which was a kind of combination of the casino table game Pai Gow and Chinese Poker.
  • Victoria's Poker was headquartered in London with customer support personnel in Cota Rica