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It had been 571 days.

After the federal takeover, the arrests, the negotiations, the convictions, the settlements and the interviews, Full Tilt Poker was back. For those outside the US, at least, $184m was promptly dumped back into the poker world.

I could have moved to Mexico or Canada or elsewhere in the rest of the world. But when Black Friday hit, online poker was something I did to supplement my income. So I stayed within the borders.

My home state of Nevada legalized online poker, but we’re still waiting for the games to start.

I’m grinding in casinos every day and hitting Lock Poker from time to time, more to stay fresh with my online game than anything.

As the Full Tilt relaunch attracted upwards of 15,000 cash players on day one, a pokerfuse editor, who’s also based in the US, and I sweated the action.

They’re running promotions all week — for tournament players and cash game grinders. There’s the “Happy Hour,” $250k in freerolls, rush poker ring game tickets and on and on and on.

“All the hoopla sucks for us,” my editor said.

A click is so far away.

We have determined that you are either connecting to the Internet from within the USA, or the address associated with your account is in the USA,” Full Tilt reminds me each time I open the client. “As a result, you cannot play for Real Money at this time. You can continue to sit at our Play Money tables and take part in Play Money tournaments.

The unnecessary capital letters twisted the knife.

I decided to hop in a play money game, anyway. Just for a few orbits, just to experience that brilliant software again. (I doubled up on the first hand.)

It’s not like I have life-changing money stuck on Full Tilt — just a few thousand bucks, plus the extra 1k I could earn through FTP points. But before Black Friday, I essentially played every day. On Full Tilt, PokerStars and Absolute Poker.

It was routine. There was a community of players I had gotten to know through poker forums. We discussed strategy and analyzed our play together. I was getting better and better, and it was fun.

And when I opened the relaunched FTP on Tuesday afternoon, my old custom lobby was still there, in perfect order.

Except in the cashier, the balance read “$0.00.”

Even Twitter stung a little, with @FullTiltPoker in my feed.

On Tuesday:

Full Tilt Poker ‏@FullTiltPoker
Real money is live. How are you running? #FullTiltPoker

And the next day:

Full Tilt Poker ‏@FullTiltPoker
Real money launched yesterday. How was your first day?#FullTiltPoker

Considering I’m still in the US, waiting for the cash you owe me, not awesome.