Note: This story is still unconfirmed and only being reported by PokerTube.com. It relies on unnamed sources. Even so, it is breaking news and seems feasible enough that I figured I would pass it on. Take it with a grain of salt, but don’t be surprised if the rumor turns out to be fact.
Update: Rumor Confirmed
An Amaya press release on Tuesday has confirmed the rumor. Full Tilt Poker will soon be joining the PokerStars platform. Both poker sites will continue to operate under their unique brands, but the player pool will be shared between both sites. What this means is that Full Tilt players will soon be sharing tables and tournaments with Stars players.
Amaya stated that it will contact all Full Tilt Poker players to notify them of the change and provide more information. The plan is for all players to have a single login that works at both sites. For those who already have an account at both sites, the PokerStars username will take precedence. All balances will continue to be honored in full.
The press release summarizes the news as follows:
Full Tilt is joining the award-winning PokerStars platform this spring, pooling the Amaya Inc. (Nasdaq: AYA; TSX: AYA) brands onto one market-leading poker product.
This platform migration will allow Amaya’s development and technology teams to focus on improving one market-leading platform rather than two, leading to a better gaming experience for all; improvements and features will be delivered faster and more efficiently rather than doubling development requirements. For instance, rather than splitting resources developing Full Tilt Jackpot Sit & Go and PokerStars Spin & Go features independently, teams will be able to work together on delivering the best possible product on one platform.
“Players will benefit from a larger pool of players offering greater game choice, bigger prize pools,” said Rafi Ashkenazi, Chief Executive Officer of Rational Group. “It will also make us more nimble as we can focus our technological innovation on one platform, rather than two, so we will be able to innovate more quickly and enter newly-regulating and existing markets swiftly.”
Although Full Tilt continues to be a profitable poker room, the gaming brand’s market share has been in decline since its 2012 re-launch.
Full Tilt players will continue to enjoy the brand experience they love, with the continuation of Full Tilt avatars and innovative rewards, such as The Deal. Players will also enjoy access to a larger variety of games, buy-in levels and tournaments, as well as access to larger prize pools and faster service of games. PokerStars players will also enjoy a boost in liquidity, as well as improved software from a larger and more focused development team.
You can see the full press release here.
PokerTube.com is reporting that Amaya (parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt) will be merging Full Tilt Poker’s player pool into PokerStars. The merge will supposedly happen within the next six weeks and could even lead to Amaya shuttering the Full Tilt brand for good. If so, this marks the end of the once-great Full Tilt Poker.
The report comes from an unnamed but “reliable industry source.” With Full Tilt Poker suffering a severe lack of players, PokerStars could be on the verge of just moving the Full Tilt player pool over to PokerStars. If this happens, all Full Tilt players will have the option to withdraw or move their balances over to PokerStars.
Even though the report is unconfirmed, it’s not all that far-fetched. Amaya owns both poker sites and is effectively dividing its time and resources for no real reason. In the past, Full Tilt and PokerStars competed heavily for new players. PokerStars ultimately won the battle for supremacy in online poker, but Full Tilt did have the high stakes cash game niche locked. Some of the most epic high stakes battles in poker history took place at the Full Tilt nosebleed games.
Full Tilt Poker later got into financial trouble and went belly-up after the US Department of Justice targeted the site for continuing to accept customers from the US despite the passage of the UIGEA. PokerStars managed to leave the US market before the DOJ landed its crosshairs on the company. Full Tilt Poker was not so lucky and later found itself indicted and funds confiscated by the Department of Justice.
PokerStars eventually reached a deal with the Department of Justice to bail out the struggling Full Tilt Poker, issue payouts to players who were stiffed on cashouts and acquired the brand. Now, Amaya is the sole owner of two major poker sites. Both were once powerhouses in their own right, but Full Tilt Poker has struggled of late.
The once-great FTP has since fallen to 11th in traffic according to PokerScout. This puts it behind PokerStars, the 888 network, Bodog, Party Poker and the Microgaming Poker Network in terms of real money traffic.
If the rumor proves true, Amaya’s decision isn’t all that surprising. Why continue pumping money into a damaged, struggling brand when they could instead focus their efforts on PokerStars? Merging Full Tilt’s player pool into PokerStars will give Stars an instant traffic boost and allow the company to focus its attention on its flagship poker site.