Exclusive: Full Tilt Poker CEO Ray Bitar Apologizes to the Poker World

In this exclusive interview with PokerStrategy.com, Full Tilt Poker CEO Ray Bitar speaks to the poker world for the first time since Black Friday. He discusses the reasons for his silence and offers an apology to those who have been affected by the Full Tilt situation.

On April 15th, 2011 ("Black Friday"), the three largest online poker rooms offering service to customers in the United States had their domains seized, and the operators of these sites were indicted by the US Department of Justice.

Since then, Full Tilt Poker - one of the three indicted poker rooms - has frequently made headlines in the poker world for numerous reasons. The most recent update regarding the company's status is that Groupe Bernard Tapie, a French investment group, is optimistically nearing a deal to purchase Full Tilt's assets.

Ray Bitar was a founder of Full Tilt Poker, and he holds the position of CEO at the company. Many people within the poker world have been critical of Bitar and others in managerial positions at Full Tilt for their silence since Black Friday.

PokerStrategy.com reached out to Bitar to address the controversy surrounding his silence, and he graciously offered us some of his time for a brief interview. He is the first member of Full Tilt management to do so.

The Interview

PokerStrategy.com: Ray, there has been public outrage surrounding the fact that you have been silent since the Black Friday shutdown and indictments. Can you say why you haven’t made any public statements?

Ray Bitar: There are two reasons. One is the ongoing legal process which has precluded me from providing any relevant information surrounding the on-going investigation, and of course, I have not wanted to jeopardize the process in any way. While I could have made general statements throughout this process, they would not directly relate to the issues under investigation. Any such statements would be so general in nature that they would not provide answers to the many questions people understandably have.

The second reason is that, along with others, I have been working every single day since Black Friday to ensure players are repaid, which has been my top priority, as well as working on the future plans of FTP. This work had to be done out of the scrutiny of the public eye. And so while it might satisfy people to have specific information about those ongoing discussions - and it would certainly take some of the heat off myself - I am convinced that such public statements would diminish the likelihood of a successful outcome, which is what we need to be focused on.

My love for the sport and the poker community has made it very difficult to keep silent, particularly in light of the many angry sentiments directed at FTP, myself and others, in newspapers and blogs. Given the lack of information that has been made public, I can certainly understand these sentiments. My primary focus has been and continues to be working towards getting us to where we want to be – the repayment of the players and the survival of the company. I have been fully dedicated to this cause and am doing everything possible for a beneficial outcome.


PokerStrategy.com: What’s been happening since Black Friday?

Ray Bitar: My life has drastically changed since last April. As a manager of Tiltware, I have been cooperating fully with the DOJ so they can complete their investigation. Beyond that, I spend a good deal of my time making sure that FTP survives and that the players get repaid. I know that these events have hurt a lot of innocent people and it’s my main job to make things right. I continue to work on these issues, day and night until we resolve them.


PokerStrategy.com: Is there anything you would like to say to the online poker community?

Ray Bitar: I would like to offer my sincere apology to all who have been affected by these events and to clarify that my silence was not an attempt to “hide,” or “ignore,” the situation. It was done out of necessity to ensure the focus remained on the continued efforts to reach the best outcome for the players. My entire focus is on obtaining a successful resolution for the players. I hope that before long I can provide some good news for all of the players involved.


PokerStrategy.com recognizes that the poker world is interested in further information, but for this first interview Mr. Bitar requested that we focus on his apology. We hope to provide future interviews with him discussing more specific details on Full Tilt and its surrounding issues.

By Matt Kaufman

Comments (61)

newest first
  • #1

    First ^^

    Well played, Mr Kaufman
  • #3

    @1 Thanks
  • #4

    Wait, another news about fulltilt that actually says nothing like always ? =P Glad i don't have any moneiez in there.
  • #5

    He's still hiding
  • #6

    imagine how many balls he's scheduled to suck
    (females will give bf's or hubbie's balls to suck)
  • #7

    I'd prefer my money back tbh
  • #8

    can't believe you didn't ask the most important question... Why were they accepting deposits when they had no money to cover!!!!
  • #9

    oh great, now i am happy! you can keep my bankroll, ray!
  • #10

    Thanks, Mr B. It's been 8 months since the site closed.

    You state the reasons for your silence, 1: "...the ongoing legal process ... has precluded me from providing any relevant information surrounding the on-going investigation..." and 2: "I have been working every single day since Black Friday to ensure players are repaid... I am convinced that such public statements would diminish the likelihood of a successful outcome, which is what we need to be focused on".

    Well, this apology provides NO INFORMATION whatsoever and hence could not possibly jeopardise anything. Furthermore, since it must have taken all of 5 minutes to provide the text (ignoring the few weeks for the lawyers to vet it), I really don't see why you couldn't have said this about, erm, 8 months ago?
  • #11

    Nice work PokerStrategy, hope this leads to more interviews with him in which he reveals a little more about the ongoings and his involvement.

    To everyone else sure it doesn't say much and sure it doesn't get your money back, but surely this is a step in the right direction. I still have no respect for the guy and hope he gets punished by the law as much as possible (until he can convince me otherwise) but at least he's decided to speak lets hope he speaks some more
  • #12

    People like FTP because of Rush Poker. FTP is over because PokerStars is going for Zoom Poker.
  • #13

    Mr. Kaufman, how come on Ray Bitar's last response to the last question you asked you wrote the words "hide" and "ignore" in quotation marks? This block of text was already put after Mr. Bitar's name in bold, meaning it came from his mouth. Please confirm whether Mr. Bitar actually stated "quote unquote hide" or "quote unquote ignore," and if not, please fix the posting, as this was not his true statement. I would like to see proper reporting and when relaying information from an interview, accuracy is the utmost importance.
  • #14

    Less bullsh*t and more action. I dont care if the company survives. Just give me my $1.5k
  • #15

    Ray Bitar for the President !!!
  • #16

    give me my money back
  • #17

    calling his apology or his agreeing to an interview 'gracious' is an absolute joke.

    cannot be serious.
  • #18

    #13 tw314, 07 Mar 12 00:55
    Mr. Kaufman, how come on Ray Bitar's last response to the last question you asked you wrote the words "hide" and "ignore" in quotation marks? This block of text was already put after Mr. Bitar's name in bold, meaning it came from his mouth. Please confirm whether Mr. Bitar actually stated "quote unquote hide" or "quote unquote ignore," and if not, please fix the posting, as this was not his true statement. I would like to see proper reporting and when relaying information from an interview, accuracy is the utmost importance.

    Ray bitars lawyer in the house :) :)
  • #19

    So should we see this as a hint that now there's no legal process going on and all the minimal hope left is now gone?
  • #20

    Liar! I deposited after Black Friday and he had no problem with taking my money! Give it back you ***** of ****!
  • #22

    his stupid apology can not bring our money back....
  • #23

    Relax, people.


    It is just a game. You play poker just for love of the game, right?

    Oh, well Pink Floyd said it all right in their song "Money"
  • #24

    What a useless article. There is one sentence of importance or even relevant information in this interview. Stop fucking around with Bitar; ask him some hard hitting questions or don't even bother.
  • #25

    k so this apology should have come in day one after he f-----d up not aftter a year so mr Bitar i hope u become ms Bitar in prison
  • #26

    <3 mob mentality. Burn him, he's a witch.
  • #27

    @13 He submitted written responses.

    Also, I hope you guys all read the last paragraph =P.
  • #28

    where's my money, bitch?!
  • #29

    FTP was like the Bermuda triangle of poker. Little players money first mysteriously disappeared and then reappeared in the pockets of Lederer, Ferguson and Bitar.
    It,s right out of the x-files.
  • #30

    @26 :) Couldnt agree more. First step, an actual interview that no one else has been able to get and then maybe (definitely just a distant maybe) he will actually be able to provide information that...informs rather than ignores the many questions everyone has.

    Apologies don't translate into $ though and it is just a few months too late to apologise and give no information and then expect to not cause further outrage.

    Credit to Matt for getting the interview at all though.
  • #31

    10 +11 HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA!! This is soo funny :D The guy sounds exactly like greek politicians! I know because I m greek and I can assure you that this sounds like those except from the part that they never apologize :D !! What is the most outraging is not the fact that we lost our money though. The most outraging is listening people like these who are more retarded than a jellyfish to try manipulate people with much more superior intelligence by ''apologizing'' and use so stupid expressions like ''My love for the sport and the poker community has made it very difficult to keep silent ''. HILARIOUS!!!!!!!!!!! :D I m so moved I want to crush your head with a hummer !!! hahahahaha Well it always works with politicians and not only in Greece since the voters have the same intelligence but I m not so sure it s going to work with poker players.
  • #33

    I think this shows that when pro's speak out publicly, people pay attention. DNG's blogs very likely played a roll in getting someone from FTP to speak up.

    I also think this would have been a much better statement had it been released 9 months ago.
  • #34

    Rode in hell. Oh...tough love....you are the devil itself.
  • #35

    Lol. I remember full tilt!
  • #36

    Almost a year since black Friday and this is all we get!!!! Haha Give oue money back you theif!
  • #37

    Omg, I just got on bigger tilt...
  • #39

    " but for this first interview Mr. Bitar requested that we focus on his apology."

    Maybe there is more to come? :)
  • #40

    Interview: "Ray Bitar is not hiding."

    wow. good job everyone. now you can sleep at night.
  • #41

    The only positive I see from this interview is the fact that it was even made. Perhaps Bitar can see that a solution is drawing close and wants to take some credit for it? Unfortunately his integrity is long gone. In all this time not a single email from FTP or through the DoJ on the status of this case. It was so different when they wanted our cash.
  • #42

    jokers lol am so sorry i love the sport bet u do all are bankrolls an didnt even see a flop.
  • #43

    give me my 2.1K back that's all i want.
  • #44

    ray bitar you have more faces than the town clock hope you enjoy your hoildays with my money it,ll be the last.theres not a chance in hell of gettin your players back and i hope you get jail an never work another day in your live you probly wont have to with all are money nice to no you thot.
  • #45

    typical suit only facing the interview to focus on his apology, like a true coward, because in truth he cant begin to explain any of the atrocities that came from Black Friday. Full Tilt owe me a hard earned 1k from .05/.10 and .10/.25 cash game multitabling, and i know they owe many others so much more. SORT IT OUT FULL TILT!!!
  • #46

    all good, he is sorry...we forgive him. Don't even need the money back...what a stand up guy to come out immediately after the shit hit the fan..oh wait a minute
  • #47

    no.11.......
    well said
  • #48

    OMG HES SORRY NOW Ray Bitar IS MY NEW PINUP POSTER
  • #49

    #21+1..i just want to say,you will have a happy life,we all know who you are,and you dont have a clue what we all look a like...so,have fun enjoying ur life,and pray that you dont meet me along the way...cause i would love to have fun with you,somwhere in dark lonly place,where we would have a lots of time to have fun:)and for me,its not about my money,it will be about ur money and ur enjomenty in life:)have fun,cya;)
  • #50

    Ray u dont got any balls no worry u wont be needing those in prison
  • #52

    @ 30: ridiculous, appreciating this "apology" after what they did. behavior matters, not some random media statement 9 months later.
  • #53

    liar
  • #54

    i think he wants to say-
    me and my friends took your deposit money and screwed the site and thousands of players playing on it.
    US govt exposed us or we wud hav got ourselves few millions more.
    we hav delayed funds return as we been busy to coverup our operation so we can escape with slap on wrist and then enjoy women/ dope with ur hard earned money.
    we dont giv a fuck about you but since i'm doing this interview, i might as well say -i'm sorry.
    we cool bro? Cool
  • #55

    he has been through so much in the past 9months, we should all forgive him and accept his apology..............NAAAAAAAT!
  • #56

    and i want my 6$ back!!!
  • #57

    "I have been working every single day since Black Friday to ensure players are repaid, which has been my top priority"

    And you have been working every single day before Black Friday to ensure players money falls straight into you pockets.
    Save your apologies fatso and give us the money you stole from us!
  • #59

    Thanks Matt for this.
  • #60

    I will try to keep an open mind.
    perhaps it's easier for me because I never played on Full Tilt.
    anyway - I think that it's is significant that there has finally been some communication.
    I can only hope that it's the beginning of actual dialogue between Full Tilt and the poker community.
  • #61

    About Ray Bitar, nothing new.

    But about Matt Kaufman, I really beleave u made that interview with the best interest.

    But next time, think about the poker community before you post his "future interview".
    When u read his answers and see its just bullshit, dont post it.

    We will appreciate your work.
  • #62

    Hi guys,

    Even if we can understand that this is an emotional topic for many of you, our forum principles also apply in the news comments and I kindly ask you to keep your comments using appropriate language.

    Insults, strong language is not necessary to express ones opinion or to make a point.

    Thank you
    Ingrid
  • #63

    wow should have said that sooner i think
  • #64

    @61 I appreciate the sentiment, but feel that many who have expressed similar thoughts are ignoring a major point - that it is newsworthy, in itself, that he spoke at all.
  • #65

    Have to agree with Matt here, him speaking for the first time since he and his buddies robbed us is news even if all he said is a load of BS.
  • #66

    Hey Ray! How much did you pay your lawyers so that you could blame your lawyers! Working day and night to repay the players.....The cosmic universe is listening and it knows your full of shit! Just a suggestion,try telling the truth. Unlike A FEW GOOD MEN, we can handle the truth! We already know it. You guys basically stole the peoples money to live a lifestyle you did not earn! And to add issult after injury you are hiding behind lawyers like a coward!
  • #67

    #64 I completly agree with u and I thank u for your good job.


    But my point is that it would be great and epic if u limited the text to something like: "he didnt gave any explanation and still asked for nonsense apologizes".

    It really pisses me off when a guy like him try to persuade ppl like that. Its like if u get your house stolen by someone u know and then he comes to appologizes wearing your cloths. What a nice guy.