Our commitment to improving the PokerStars software and the PokerStars customer experience in recent years has limited the amount of focus and resources we could apply to the evolution of Full Tilt.The last remaining assets of the Full Tilt software are set to be taken offline on February 25. On that date players will no longer be able to access the iconic brand, pokerfuse has learned.
Since May 2016, Full Tilt had been operating as a skin on the PokerStars network under its own branding, sharing the same games and player pool, rewards program and account system.
Full Tilt Poker began in 2004 and the online poker site was co-founded by Ray Bitar, Jesus Ferguson, and Howard Lederer. It was shut down on Black Friday in 2011 by the feds and acquired by PokerStars. As readers of this site likely very well know, Full Tilt Poker, founded in 2004, was once one of the behemoths of the industry. It was unique when it launched, as it had fast software with bright.
The only differentiator was the cosmetic look and the retention of the Full Tilt assets including the classic cartoonish avatars and Full Tilt special table themes.
- About Full Tilt. Full Tilt is one of the most popular online poker sites in the world thanks to its fantastic software and the ongoing promotion that it runs.
- The Stars Group – owner of PokerStars – is the owner of Full Tilt, an online poker company born in 2004. The company is fully regulated and licenced, maintaining the highest standards of security and game.
- Play online poker at Full Tilt and get a 100% First Deposit Bonus of up to $600. Enjoy Rush Poker and Jackpot Sit & Gos on desktop and mobile devices.
On Thursday next week, this will no longer be the case as the Full Tilt desktop and mobile application and its branding will be completely ceased and replaced with PokerStars, its original buyer.
Existing Full Tilt users can migrate to the PokerStars platform using the same Full Tilt username and password, the FAQ page for the migration process states. Players’ balances and bonuses will automatically be switched to the PokerStars platform.
- For more than a decade, PokerStars has led the industry with the best software, largest player pool and safest environment to play.
- Great Welcome Bonus: $30 freeplay on your first deposit, letting you play real money games for free, or a huge 100% up to $600 deposit bonus.
- Home of the Sunday Million, WCOOP & SCOOP, Spin & Gos and more.
Full Tilt Shutdown Process Already Started in 2020
The decision to shut down Full Tilt did not come out of the blue. PokerStars began the process to close Full Tilt software for the dot-EU players in October last year.
In fact, this was speculated by our industry-focused sister site Poker Industry PROin early 2020 considering the cuts the operator had been making. Ten months later, the operator took its first step and switched the download link for Full Tilt.EU desktop and mobile platform with that of PokerStars.EU.
It also released a FAQ page that is now available on PokerStars’ .EU and .COM sites.
“Our commitment to improving the PokerStars software and the PokerStars customer experience in recent years has limited the amount of focus and resources we could apply to the evolution of Full Tilt,” the FAQ page for the pending shutdown states.
It remains to be seen whether FullTilt.com website will remain available once the software is gone. PokerStars has yet to respond to our inquiry.
One and a Half Decades of Full Tilt Poker
Full Tilt Poker was launched in 2004, just three years after PokerStars’ inception. It was opened with the involvement of some of the biggest names in the industry: Raymond Bitar, Chris Ferguson, Howard Lederer, Mike Matusow, Jennifer Harman and others.
Post-UIEGA, it became the main competitor of PokerStars and the second largest online poker room worldwide. It also became home of nosebleed cash game action involving big pros such as Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, Viktor “Isildur” Blom and Gus Hansen—who all became Full Tilt ambassadors.
The second-largest online poker room changed the landscape of online poker by introducing several unique features to its poker platform. It invented Rush Poker, a fast-fold poker variant that has been a wildly success innovation and is now ubiquitous.
However, Black Friday happened in 2011 and this led to the brand’s downfall. It did return in late 2012 after it was bought by PokerStars with its own player pool and software and continued to operate for few more years, but its traffic was nowhere close to pre-Black Friday.
In 2015, the operator adopted a dramatic strategy to make the poker room more attractive to “recreational” players by removing table selection, heads-up games, nosebleed games and mixed games.
It then revamped its reward program to please casual players, a pivotal moment for the industry in its approach to player loyalty.
No, Full Tilt Software Is Not Up for Sale
However, this was not well received by the players and its cash game traffic took an immediate hit.
We feel it is time to consolidate brands so that everyone has access to the newest features and most innovative games which are available exclusively on PokerStars Ultimately, Full Tilt was migrated to the PokerStars platform in 2016.
Initially, the site retained the old Full Tilt branded games such as Jackpot Sit & Go’s instead of Spin & Go, and Rush Poker in place of Zoom. But the branding was gradually changed to match that of PokerStars.
At that time, a Full Tilt representative told PRO that the original software would not be put up for sale.
Over the past few years, PokerStars has made several changes to its platforms, including introducing a new game engine, Aurora, and a new Mobile NG platform for its mobile apps.
Keeping Full Tilt in sync with these upgrades was obviously an extra burden for the operator. Although it did eventually bring Aurora on Full Tilt, it had fallen out of step in many key areas such as lacking new games like Grand Tour, Tempest and even Spin & Go Max, which was launched many years ago.
Considering that the operator had been putting more focus on PokerStars brand, the shutdown of Full Tilt ultimately seemed inevitable.
“We feel it is time to consolidate brands so that everyone has access to the newest features and most innovative games which are available exclusively on PokerStars,” the site states.
Two weeks ago, pokerfuse exclusively reported that the Full Tilt client would be sunset. Last Thursday, the desktop and mobile apps were taken offline across markets globally.
This marks the end to almost all the remaining assets of Full Tilt poker: From its cartoonish avatars and classic table themes to the iconic logo the ear-worm sound effects, what was once one of the most exciting online poker operators in the industry is all but gone.
Putting a single date on its ultimate demise is open to debate. This latest development is just one in a string made by owners PokerStars in winding down the brand. It has been almost five years since the iconic software was sunset. Since then, Full Tilt has been operating as a skin on PokerStars’ software, sharing the same player pool and offering only cosmetic differences.
Even today, the brand has not completely disappeared. The Full Tilt poker website and web product—PokerStars’ new browser-based poker client—remains online for now. The download link on the website has been replaced with that of PokerStars, but players can continue to use the instant play option by clicking on “Play” on the homepage.
However, this web product is entirely different from the iconic Full Tilt software. There are no cartoonish avatars, no Vegas skyline table theme nor any of its special sound effects. Instead, a simple browser-based poker client, akin to the operator’s old generation mobile app, but with limited game options and features, is all that remains.
This instant play option notwithstanding, the shutting of Full Tilt’s desktop and mobile apps mark the end of an era. Pokerfuse takes a look at the ups and downs of Full Tilt Poker over its 17-year history.
Rode High on Moneymaker Boom
Full Tilt was launched in 2004 under the ownership of Tiltware LLC. It involved some of the big names in the industry at the time, including former WSOP Main Event winner Chris Ferguson.
Riding high on the first online poker boom caused by the Moneymaker effect, the site quickly became one of the largest online poker rooms in the world. It had the reputation of professional poker players, was the primary sponsor of a number of poker TV programs and boasted exceptional software out of the gate.
It also became synonymous with high-stakes poker featuring nosebleed legends like Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, Viktor “Isildur1” Blom and Phil Galfond. It was home of rail heaven. Post-UIGEA, it became the number one competitor of PokerStars.
Master of Innovations and New Features
Full Tilt Net Poker
Full Tilt Poker in its prime revolutionized the online poker industry by bringing several unique features to its poker platform.
Most famously, it invented Rush Poker in 2010, a fast-fold poker variant that allows players to “quick fold” and jump instantly to the next hand.
It was an instant success, and other operators took note. PokerStars joined the instant-action bandwagon with its own fast-fold variant called Zoom Poker.
Free Online Poker Full Tilt Poker
Data provided by GameIntel
Today, the format has proved to be so popular that almost every online poker room spreads their own version.
Besides the revolutionary Rush, Full Tilt also introduced dozens of new games and features.
It launched Matrix tournaments, a sit & go style tournament played with a special scoring system, in 2008; Cashout tournaments allowing players to redeem all or a portion of tournament chips for immediate cash; Flipout tournaments allowed players to flip their way straight into the money. (this format has been re-instated by GGPoker as Flip & Go).
Full Tilt is also the inventor of multi-entry tournaments, in which players can effectively multi-table the same scheduled tournament, playing multiple chips stack at separate tables. Furthermore, it also introduced Double and Triple Chance MTTs, today known as re-entries.
It is also one of the first online poker rooms to roll-out Run It Twice, automated deal-making at final tables, on-demand sit and go’s, 4-handed Adrenaline Rush, in which players’ options were limited to raising or folding, tournament waiting lists, and more.
Action formats such as Irish Poker and 6 Card Omaha, plus 5-Card Stud and 25-Game Mixed Game variants, are also all creations of Full Tilt Poker.
List of Full Tilt Poker Online Poker Inventions
- Rush Poker
- Multi-Entry Tournaments
- Double and Triple Chance MTTs (Re-Entries)
- Matrix Tournaments
- Cashout Tournaments
- Flipout Tournaments
- Run It Twice
- Irish Poker, 6 Card PLO, 5-Card Stud
- 7-Game, 10-Game and 25-Game Mixed Game Variants
- Automated Dealing
- Poker Hybrid Jackpot The Deal
- On-Demand SNGs
- Tournament Waiting List
- 4-handed Adrenaline Rush
Controversies, Lawsuits And Black Friday
Full Tilt was certainly not immune to controversies and lawsuits. Its company and the founders faced multiple lawsuits alleging unfair and unlawful business practices. There were also accusations of poor financial decisions against the owners, leading to one of its board members quitting.
And then Black Friday happened. In April 2011, the US Department of Justice seized money and the domains of Full Tilt, PokerStars, and Absolute Poker. The US Department of Justice alleged that these online poker rooms laundered money, violated US federal gaming laws, and committed bank fraud by misleading banks about the true nature of their business.
In June later that year, the site was forced to close and its license was suspended.
What the Department of Justice discovered on the books of Full Tilt was massive fraud against its own players. The operator did not have player funds in deposit, like it said it did. A civil complaint against executives alleged that player funds were stolen, and players were deceived, in what amounted to “global Ponzi scheme,” it was claimed.
PokerStars came to the rescue. Having already repaid its own US players in full within weeks of its shutdown, in April 2012, it reached a settlement with the US DOJ to purchase its long-time rival and its assets. As part of the settlement, it agreed to repay all the money owed to Full Tilt players.
Full Tilt Poker online, free
Second Round of Full Tilt
Full Tilt relaunched in November 2012 to much fanfare, but early euphoria soon died down. It did continue to innovate with new games and formats, hosted its flagship FTOPS series and expanded into gaming beyond poker, but it struggled to maintain traffic like it did before Black Friday.
A few years later, the operator adopted a dramatic new strategy to make the poker room more attractive to “recreational” players by removing table selection, heads-up games, nosebleed games and mixed games.
It then revamped its reward program to please casual players, a pivotal moment for the industry in its approach to player loyalty.
However, none of these moves worked. The site was migrated to the PokerStars platform in 2016. A Full Tilt representative told PRO site that the original software would not be put up for sale.
Dove bingo slots poker. For the next five years, it quietly continued to operate as a skin of PokerStars, but with fewer game options. However, keeping Full Tilt in sync with constant upgrades to PokerStars’ client has forced the operator to shelve Full Tilt skin.
Its first shutdown process began in October last year, forcing the dot-EU players to switch to the PokerStars platform. On February 25, the Full Tilt skin was been closed entirely.
Today, it lives on in the web client, though how long that will last remains to be seen.