Online Poker News: Princeton Grad had Bet Millions Prior to Black Friday

Written by:
Ace King
Published on:
Online Poker News

In Sunday’s online poker news, looks at a Princeton grad who made millions of dollars playing online poker.  Now he can’t play following the events of Black Friday April 15, 2011, whereby the US froze the accounts of the three largest online poker rooms. 

Back around 2003, Mark Hawrilenko began playing online poker for mostly small stakes. 

“Between wrestling and my studies, poker was really just a hobby at Princeton,” he told “I played with friends and online a bit, but toward the end of my senior year, when most of my school work was out of the way, I started playing online more and more.”

After winning an online satellite to the World Series of Poker, Hawrilenko began playing more professionally and winning millions in the process.  He even earned a paid sponsorship with Full Tilt Poker.

That online poker room was among three indicted on April 15.  The actions by federal authorities in the States prompted FTP, PokerStars and to abandon the US market.  Hawrilenko was left with nowhere to play on the Web.

US Players Prohibted at William Hill Poker:


He, like most of his peers, have no other choice but to seek out land-based tournaments or otherwise move to another country where online poker is not frowned upon. 

“Playing online in Canada and just about every other country is still legal, but I am fortunate in that I already had one foot out the door and started planning for my life after poker,” he said.

“I am just so happy I had other things going on and had already started working on my transition when ‘Black Friday’ went down.”

According to the industry website, between 10 and 15 million Americans were playing online poker every day before the indictments.

Hawrilenko insists that Full Tilt Poker is run by “ethical” people.  To date, they are yet to pay back funds owed to American citizens. 

- Ace King,

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