Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet (UB), the two poker rooms that make up the scandal plagued Cereus Network, had their business turned upside down by the Black Friday indictments. Six months later it now appears that they are officially out of business.
After Black Friday, Cereus canceled all pending cashouts. Cereus informed players outside of the U.S. that they could request cashouts again with a $250 maximum. The maximum was raised to $500 with an occasional $1000 request going through. Players could only request a cashout if they had not received a cashout in the previous week. Since cashouts were taking weeks, players were lucky to have the ability to request a withdrawal more than once a month.
There seemed to no rhyme or reason to who received a cashout. Some players that reported never playing after Black Friday reported receiving cashouts, but some players that were playing received nothing. It seemed Instadebit cashouts were the most reliable. While some players were getting paid, it was an extremely small percentage of the overall debt owed to players. U.S. players have not been paid anything since Black Friday.
Collapse of Cereus Player Base
Over time, Cereus went from 3000 real money players at peak time down to virtually no players at all. The only real money games now consist of sporadic micro limit games. From time to time there are no games at all. During September, cashouts slowed down tremendously. During October, support disappeared and only a few players reported receiving any cashouts. Those cashouts were processed early in the month. After withdrawals stopped being process and emails stopped getting answered, the cashier was taken offline about 48 hours ago.
I feel it is safe to speculate that Cereus was hoping to find a buyer and a bailout. Token cashouts were processed from time to time but no serious money was leaving the Cereus cashier. Players were trading Cereus money for $.10-.20 on the dollar. U.S. players who could not request cashouts, also could not make transfers so they were unable to even take pennies on the dollar for their Cereus money. U.S. players could not even play with their money that was held hostage.
There were few, if any, deposits going onto the network. With the Black Friday situation, no affiliates promoting the room and a change of domains that hurt search engine exposure, no new players were signing up to play on Cereus. With no fresh money coming in, there was no way for Cereus to sustain itself. The rake being taken off of the tables did little to help the financial problems since there was no cash coming in.
Is Cereus the Next DOJ “Ponzi Scheme”?
When the Department of Justice called Full Tilt Poker a ponzi scheme and went after the assets of some of the shareholders, Cereus management had to know their days were numbered. Cereus has until October 31, 2011 to
(a) file claims pursuant to Rule G of the Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims for any or all of the Subject Property, and (b) answer or otherwise respond to the Amended Complaint. Absolute Entertainment, S.A.
Cereus is in the same situation as Full Tilt Poker. They owe millions of dollars they do not have to players all over the world. It is safe to say the funds were misappropriated in an even worse way than Full Tilt Poker did. Scott Tom, one of the indicted, is widely believed to be the insider that stole millions misusing an account that could see player’s hole cards. I was one of the victims. Steamroller, one of the accused accounts, cheated me years ago. While Cereus refunded some of the money that was stolen, Cereus never reimbursed me a penny.
With six of months of no cash coming in, nobody willing to buy the company that is tens of millions of dollars upside down, and no real money players, I can see how it was time for Cereus to throw in the towel. I could be wrong with my assumption but since Cereus has not said anything publicly in months, has virtually no real money players, cashouts have completely stopped, emails are no longer getting answered and the cashier is no longer functional, I think my assumption that this is the end of Cereus is a safe assumption to make. Cereus has done nothing to make me think I am wrong. Their silence is deafening. I took a lot of heat for my Cereus is Bankrupt post months ago, unfortunately for players, it turned out to be true.
RIP Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet.
Edit: Today some players are stating the cashier is working while many players say the cashier is not working. There are still no reports of cashouts being processed or emails getting answered.