Compared to the looks of things one year ago, it is something that many in the online poker community thought would never happen. Earlier this morning Full Tilt Poker, under the ownership of former competitor PokerStars, reopened its doors to the “rest of the world” while players in the United States still remain left out in the cold.
At 10:30AM GMT (Greenwich Mean Time, approximately 5:30AM Eastern Time), the new Full Tilt Poker room manager, Shyam Markus, tweeted to an awaiting online poker world, “Just out of a meeting to confirm the go-live time. We’re officially flipping the switch at 7AM ET.” After opening up the tables at that time, there were slightly more than 15,000 tables in action with 12,000 on the felt. The numbers may be a bit surprising as this was still apparently play money action on the site; an unattributed Tweet from the official Full Tilt Poker handle stated later that their first “Deal Me In” freeroll will take place tomorrow morning and real money action is slated to start no later than then.
While there may be a great deal of rejoicing in the “rest of the world,” there is little indication at this point what decision players have made regarding their funds on the site. PokerStars has placed a tab on the new Full Tilt Poker that will allow players to transfer their funds to the main PokerStars site, will honor all requests for cash outs and – probably the biggest point – looks to service the players who stay on Full Tilt Poker with a host of promotions over the next few weeks to get the site back up and running.
“Full Tilt Poker is back and better than ever,” Sarne Lightman, the head of marketing at Full Tilt, stated. “We are bringing back to the players everything they loved about the site and we invite them to help up celebrate by joining our ‘Deal Me In’ launch promotion.”
The “Deal Me In” promotion is set to start tomorrow with approximately $250,000 in prize money available to its participants. Daily freerolls will run until November 11, with the prize pools for the tournaments gradually increasing to $10,000 in each of the ten tournaments that will run on the 11th. Other big promotions for the opening of the “new” Full Tilt Poker include Happy Hour specials and discounted tournament tickets in the Full Tilt store.
This will all lead up to the return of what was one of Full Tilt Poker’s biggest promotions. On December 2, the Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS) will make a comeback, its 21st such running. Over the fortnight in December, the FTOPS will look to reestablish the site back into the online poker community. There hasn’t been a firm schedule announced, however, with that information set to come out later this week.
All of this activity with Full Tilt Poker is perhaps a bit angering to Americans as they watch the world revel in the return of the site. Although poker players in the United States can participate in “play money” action on the site, they cannot take part in freerolls with cash payouts nor win any real money in any of the games there. Add into that equation the ongoing situation regarding Full Tilt Poker paying back Americans and the anger only grows.
As a part of the settlement of the “Black Friday” indictments, PokerStars and the U. S. Department of Justice set a plan for the federal government to pay back players in the United States, while PokerStars would take care of the rest of the world. That agreement, announced in August, has been met with stony silence from the federal government, who has yet to announce to former American Full Tilt players how to go about recovering the funds, which could total as much as $150 million.
While the reaction to the return of Full Tilt Poker to the online poker world has yet to be determined by the “rest of the world” (but is expected to be well-received), U. S. players have little to be pleased about as a new age dawns for the company.