Black Belt Poker to Close after Six-Year Run
The UK-based Black Belt Poker site, the well-regarding offering led by British poker pro and site co-founder Neil “Sensei” Channing, has announced that it will close this Friday after six years in operation.
Channing himself announced the closure of the iPoker network skin in a personal message on the Black Belt Poker forums on Monday, assuring the site’s players that their balances were properly ring-fenced and would be available for withdrawal either directly from Black Belt through Friday, or by contacting Boyle Poker after that. Boyle Poker had provided cashier services for the Black Belt skin.
Channing is one of ten well-known British poker figures who own Black Belt, with Channing himself, according to publicly available records, the largest individual owner at just under 25%. Black Belt site pro Richard Ashby is another of the owners, with about 15%, and even the popular British pro, writer and TV commentator Jesse May owns a tiny piece of the site.
Despite an innovative marketing concept and a dedicated and very loyal fan base, Black Belt Poker was unable to grow beyond its dedicated core. Annual financial reports show that the site continually lost money, on the scale of ₤100,000 to ₤200,000 (about USD $150,000 to $300,000) each year. Overall the site had lost roughly ₤600,000 (or about a million dollars) through March of 2013, with additional losses in the last twelve months.
The complete text of Sensei Channing’s statement about Black Belt’s impending closing:
Today is a very sad day for me. It is with heavy heart that I have to announce that the Black Belt Poker skin will cease to exit from midnight this Friday February 28th.
It’s now almost six years since I came up with an idea which I thought at the time could lead to a shake-up in the UK online poker market. Since that time I have worked tirelessly to try and develop the project and to build the Black Belt brand. I’ve been helped in that endeavour by some excellent staff, some loyal and patient investors and a fantastic community of players who I hope have all had plenty of fun along the way.
Sadly sometimes in life you just have to accept that things are not working and you need to move on. That time has come with Black Belt Poker.
The business is still running as a Ltd company and we are simply ceasing to trade. We will be switching off the skin and no longer operating a poker site. I’m currently in discussions with another iPoker skin and hope to bring you news on how your Spending Points can be redeemed through them very shortly.There is no question of any players not receiving their balances which are safely held by our partner and cashier cage provider Boyle Poker, in a ring-fenced bank account. To get the money from your account you simply need to log on prior to Friday and withdraw as normal. If you fail to do this by the time the skin is inoperative you will definitely still be able to receive your money but you’ll need to contact Boyles directly. They have a list of the players who have balances with the relevant amounts and I also have a copy of that list. It may take slightly longer to get paid if you wait until Saturday or later as Boyles will not be able to simply refund your card and they may need extra details from you such as ID.
All that remains is for me to thank everyone who invested, who worked hard for us, who were sponsored by us, who participated in poker discussions on our website and particularly those who played on Black Belt Poker.
In a follow-up post, Channing noted that lack Belt offices, indicating that company staffers had already been released. Channing also reiterated his hopes that a deal with another iPoker skin could be completed, to ensure former Black Belt players full value on their unexpired and unused player points.