Bugsy’s Club

Out of Business
Bailed out by PokerStars with wager requirement
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Poor software caused player attrition, payment processing expenses too high to overcome

Bugsy’s Club was an online poker room that was created to compliment Poker School Online.  That was one of the first online poker coaching sites.  The software at Bugsy’s Club was one of the worst in the industry, even for its time.  This hurt its ability to retain players.  Bugsy’s Club was one of the few poker sites that had more tournaments than cash games.  This was due, in part, to its great structures that included antes.


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Bugsy’s Club History

Bugsy’s Club opened during the poker boom in 2003.  It was tied to Poker School Online.  This was the first major poker coaching site on the internet.  Players that graduated earned a free bankroll, and this made the games there very loose.  Bugsy’s Club remained in the U.S. market after the UIGEA.  It was never able to put together any serious player pool and failed in 2009.  Players were bailed out by PokerStars.

Bugsy’s Club was a standalone site for most of its existence.  It launched for real money play in February 2003 after an 18 month beta period.  Bugsy’s Club started out as a free play site dedicated to Poker Pages and Poker School, which continued to feed recreational players into the poker room for years.

Bugsy’s Club was a U.S. facing site, even after the UIGEA went into effect.  Most online poker rooms that continued to accept Americans after the UIGEA became law grew.  That was not the case at Bugsy’s Club.  It slowly declined over the years.

Unusual Skin

Bugsy’s Club licensed one skin in 2006.  The agreement did not last long as few players joined it.  The name of the skin was Come Out Poker.  It was aimed at those with alternative lifestyles.  There tables exclusive to Come Out Poker where straights were not a hand.  This was the first of its kind in online poker.  The tables were never known to be active.


Bugsy’s Club never improved its software.  It was full of bugs and there were no improvements.  This hurt its ability to draw new players and retain existing ones.

Payment Processing

Most of Bugsy’s Club customers were located in the United States.  Online poker payment processing capacity collapsed in the years after the UIGEA became law.  Ewallets continued to leave the market and that left them with only checks as a cashout option to U.S. players.  Players reported waiting months for checks, most of which were small due to the low limits typically offered.

Bugsy’s Club Closes

Bugsy’s Club closed its doors in March 2009 and it was an orderly closure.  Unlike many broke online poker rooms that failed, Bugsy’s Club players got a bailout.  PokerStars agreed to cover player balances. There were some restrictions.  Bugsy’s Club players had to earn 5 VPPs for every $1 owed.  A player could not withdraw until the entire wager requirement was met.

Lessons Learned from the Failure of Bugsy’s Club

Bugsy’s Club was a small site with awful software.  It was the only site that took a rake when there was not a flop.  Its platform lagged and offered only basic features.  The site owners never invested in the product.  The small player pool and obvious struggle to maintain the platform were signs that there were problems well before the site started slow paying players.  The outcome of the Bugsy’s Club was better for players than most of the other sites on our list since PokerStars offered to cover player funds with a play-through requirement.  The lesson to be learned here is to avoid sites with poor software that makes little effort to improve it.  It is almost always a sign of a lack of funds.

What Bugsy’s Club Was Like

Bugsy’s Club was a small site connected to Poker Pages and Poker School.  The games were mostly micro limit.  Texas Hold’em was the main game.  There was an equal split between no limit and fixed limit.  The tournament structure was among the best of all online poker rooms.  It was the first to use antes.  This attracted more tournament players than cash game ones.

The competition at Bugsy’s Club was very weak.  This was likely due to the poker school and tournament site connected to it.

Where Are Bugsy’s Club’s Components Today?

There are no components of Bugsy’s Club available in any software version.  It is unknown what happened to the site’s ownership because it was anonymous.

Scandals Related to Bugsy’s Club

Player Funds Lost?
No. PokerStars bailout.

The only scandal related to Bugsy’s Club was its unscheduled closure.  The site was having trouble paying players.  Without notice, it shuttered and transferred players to PokerStars.  A player had to earn 5 VPPs for every $1 in funds owed to request a withdrawal.  Players that did not agree to this lost all funds.

Player Impact

The closure was inconvenient for Bugsy’s Club players, but most customers were willing to accept the bailout terms offered by PokerStars.  There was little in the way of player losses.

Related Failed Sites

Bugsy’s Club Timeline

  • 2001
    Bugsy’s Club opens for play money poker.
  • 2003
    Bugsy’s Club launches for real money.
  • 2003
    Poker School and Poker Pages launch, tie into Bugsy’s Club.
  • 2006
    Come Out Poker, the first LGBT-friendly poker site, opens.
  • 2006
    UIGEA passes in U.S., Bugsy’s Club remains in market.
  • 2007
    Come Out Poker closes.
  • 2008
    Players start to complain about slow payouts from Bugsy’s Club.
  • 2009
    Bugsy’s Club players bailed out by PokerStars.

Bugsy’s Club FAQ

When did Bugsy’s Club launch?

They opened for real money in February 2003. It opened for play money 18 months earlier.

What was Come Out Poker?

Come Out Poker was a skin aimed at the LGBT community. It spread special tables where straights were not considered a poker hand. Bugsy’s Club did not have access to these games.  The Come Out Poker skin lasted less than a year.

When did Bugsy’s Club close?

Bugsy’s Club closed in March 2009.

What happened to player funds when Bugsy’s Club closed?

Player funds were transferred to PokerStars when Bugsy’s Club closed.

What was the play through requirement for Bugsy’s Club players at PokerStars?

Players had to earn 5 VPPs for every $1 in balance to request a withdrawal.

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