Neil Channing’s Black Belt Poker closes down for business

Black Belt Poker founder Neil Channing announced yesterday that, as of Friday February 28th, the online poker site will cease to exist. After months of losing money Channing has decided now is the right time to pull the plug. In a statement on he said: 

‘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.’

For more information, please see the ‘Groups’ section of was a skin on the iPoker network and was first launched in 2008. The site immediately captured a lot of attention in the UK and Europe poker community, with Channing as its vocal spokesman and a focus on building a strong coaching and aspirational identity. Kicking off with a bang Black Belt held a ‘Grading’ process, which whittled 50 of the UK’s top pros down to just a few who received a $20,000 Vegas package and an ongoing sponsorship package with Black Belt Poker. Many of the players at that initial Grading, such as Toby Lewis, James Keys and Kevin Williams have since gone on to great success in the poker world – success that was kickstarted by the knowledge of Channing and support of Black Belt Poker. Over the years they have been the home for many excellent pro players including Nik Persaud, Jamie Burland, Jerome Bradpiece and, for a short time, even myself! 

After the news was made official by Channing yesterday tributes on social media came flying in;

Nick Wealthall: Really sorry to hear Black Belt is closing. Congrats to @SenseiChanning on building a unique community and giving people so much fun

Barny Boatman: BlackBelt Poker was a great idea, brilliantly executed. @SenseiChanning and co deserved better for their hard work. Neil will bounce back.

Sam Razavi: Very sad to hear Black Belt Poker is closing the doors to its dojo. It was an honour to be a part of such a dedicated team. Thank you @SenseiChanning and the team for everything you did for me and my career. I was always proud to wear the patch.

Rob Yong: @SenseiChanning really sorry 2 hear @BlackBeltNews news. It’s almost imposs 2 compete in this mkt of billion $ companies as I well know 🙁

From everyone at we would like to thank Neil Channing and the entire Black Belt Poker team for what was a tremendous idea that deserved to do better. We wish you all the best of luck in the future. 

For more poker news and great content, get the latest issue of PokerPlayer magazine on iTunes here.

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