Detailed History of Full Tilt Poker
Full Tilt Poker is the world's fourth largest poker site in terms of committed players and at their busiest times, they can have over 20,000 people playing on their site at once. Full Tilt Poker has gone through some major changes in the past that have helped them develop such a popular site for gambling enthusiasts today.
Unfortunately, some people have strong negative feelings towards Full Tilt Poker that will probably hinder its further growth. We will explain all that and more below in our elaborate history of FullTiltPoker.net.
How It All Started
Bitar, featured in the photo above, a former day trader who saw potential in the internet gambling market and Ferguson, an accomplished poker professional who had earned over five WSOP gold bracelets, were introduced to each other in the early 2000s. Together, they became the masterminds for the site that's known today as Full Tilt Poker.
The play money version of Full Tilt Poker was launched in June of 2004. It was such a success that the real money version of the game was available only a month later. The site operated under the software development and licensing company, Tiltware, hence where their name derived from.
Many professional poker players were asked by Ferguson and Ivey to become part of the marketing committee for this new site including Andy Bloch, Jennifer Harmon, Phil Ivey, John Juanda, and Howard Lederer to list a few.
Not only did these professionals promote the site but they played on the site as well, giving average players from all over the world an opportunity to compete against the pros, an innovative idea at the time that was exclusively done by Full Tilt Poker. Players from all over the world opened up accounts with Full Tilt Poker, which lead to the company's early growth. The site's motto became "Learn, Chat, and Play with the Pros."
One year after the site had been up and running, Full Tilt Poker decided to do a complete renovation, updating the graphics, adding new games, and changing other aspects of the sites, according to what their customers were saying. Thanks to their efforts, Full Tilt Poker attained industry recognition and respect.
The Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS) is Full Tilt Poker's premier tournament series that was established in August, 2006. The FTOPS consisted of multiple tournaments in a variety of different poker games and formats. Professional poker players associated with Full Tilt Poker would host the tournaments, giving people further incentive to sign up.
Throughout the series, Full Tilt offered a number of challenges and prizes that rewarded players for accomplishing mini goals along the way. Full Tilt Poker also sponsored a mini FTOPS for players with a smaller budget one month later that featured most of the same professional players and events at 1/10th the buy-in.
The UIGEA's Effects
When the Bush administration instituted the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006, it had a major impact on all major online gambling websites. Under this act, financial institutions in the United States were prohibited from processing payments to and from online gambling sites and many of these sites decided to close down because of these new laws.
However, Full Tilt Poker decided to take a risk and continued to serve customers from the United States, which at first seemed like a great idea as many new customers started playing at Full Tilt, as they were one of the only sites still in operation.
Over the next few years, Full Tilt Poker made several changes. In 2008, they decided to start allowing some existing players to get rakeback through their newly founded website located Rakebackpros.com. This enticed many new players to come and try out their site, while also ensuring that their dedicated customers would stay faithful to them.
In 2009, Full Tilt Poker's website was re-designed again in order to present a more contemporary look for its players. Later that year, the site also started offering free podcasts that gave poker advice to its players in a variety of different languages.
The Infamous Black Friday Reveals a Scandal
Everything seemed to be looking up for Full Tilt Poker until that dreadful day on April 15th, 2011 when Full Tilt Poker and every other online gambling site that were still serving US customers had their domain seized by the US government. This day later became known as Black Friday and it was the day that Full Tilt Poker finally decided to stop allowing US players to play at their site. Five days later, Full Tilt Poker reached an agreement with the Department of Justice stating that they could regain use of their domain in order to repay US players.
However, two months had gone by and Full Tilt Poker still had refused to pay back the US Customers like they had promised. Alderney Gambling Control Commission suspended their license and Full Tilt Poker was temporarily shut down. There were accusations that Full Tilt Poker claiming had been using funds deposited by players to meet operating costs and that they weren't paying customers back because they didn't have the funds to do so. These accusations left players wondering if they would ever receive the money owed to them and as you might imagine, they were furious.
It was estimated that Full Tilt Poker owed over $300 million in player funds, with at least half of that being owed to US customers. After a further investigation, the Department of Justice accused Chris Ferguson, Howard Lederer, and Ray Bitar of defrauding U.S. players by paying themselves dividends from the money that players had deposited to their personal accounts.
Bitar admitted to have put aside $24 million worth of stolen goods under his name in a foreign bank account. He was charged on accounts of money laundering and bank fraud and was sentenced to up to sixty-five years in prison. However, less than two years later, he was released on a $40 million dollar bail as he wasn't expected to live more than a few years due to ongoing heart conditions.
Additional Legal Troubles (Before and After Black Friday)
Clonie Gowen, profession poker player and former member of Team Full Tilt pressed charges against Full Tilt Poker towards the end of 2008. Gowen claimed that she was offered a 1% ownership in the company in exchange for her promotional efforts back in 2004, but they refused to grant her this after her work was done. Despite a good hearing, Gowen didn't receive any additional funds.
In the spring of 2009, James B. Hicks filed a civil complaint against Full Tilt Poker, claiming their games were unfair and that they were in violation of the UIGEA. Hicks and the hundreds of other people that filed complaints are partially responsible for Full Tilt Poker's shut down.
Phil Ivey, featured above, filed a lawsuit against Full Tilt Poker in 2012 for breeching their contract. He claims to have sued them to help innocent players who lost money during the scandal exposed on Black Friday, but speculation leads us to believe that he did this for more selfish reasons.
Out of Jail Free Card
Full Tilt announced that they were going to sell the company if the right buyer came along. Groupe Bernard Tapie and Jack Binion were both interested parties, but neither company had enough funds to cover all of Full Tilt Poker's obligations.
PokerStars came forth and offered to purchase all of Full Tilt Poker's assets in July, 2012, agreeing to pay the Department of Justice three annual installments of $182 million. This money would go both to US customers and customers outside of the US to compensate for their losses. Thanks to PokerStar's willingness to save Full Tilt Poker, their site was fully operational by November.
PokerStars didn't just agree to do this out of the kindness of their hearts, but instead they bargained with the DOJ to allow them to serve US customers, as long as they were in a state that allowed online gambling.
What Their Site has to Offer Now
Full Tilt Poker offers a wide selection of cash games and tournaments. They are proud to offer satellite, sit-n-go, and multi-table tournaments daily. Unfortunately, the game selection at Full Tilt Poker has declined dramatically since it was re-launched in 2012, as the site now mostly offers Texas Holdem, Omaha, and Omaha Hi/Lo in limit, pot-limit, and no-limit formats.
The site offers a plethora of other poker variants as well but there isn't as much action at these games, so you might have to wait longer than you want to in order to start a game. You do at least have the option to wage anywhere from $0.01/$0.02 blinds to $500/1000 blinds in big bet games and up to $2000/4000 limits, which is convenient for those on a budget.
In early 2010, Full Tilt Poker introduced a new poker variation called, Rush Poker, which helped players play a substantial amount of hands of poker in less than an hour. It works differently than regular poker, as whenever players fold their hand, they are instantly transferred to a new table and dealt a new hand. They don't have to wait for the next hand to be dealt and they are constantly getting to play against different opponents.
Full Tilt Poker also offers all new players a 100% match on their first deposit bonus, up to $600. You have sixty days to make up to three different deposits that will count for this deal. The bonus is cleared at a rate of 25 points for every $1 in bonus, which is pretty generous.
Full Tilt Poker has a dedicated support team works 24/7 and dedicated to assisting you with any concerns or problems that come up. On their site, you can also find a thorough Frequently Asked Questions page that may be able to help you as well. On their site, it states, ";We pride ourselves on putting our players first, providing a continuous first-class gaming experience." Full Tilt Poker also takes pride in keeping your personal information securely protected by using the most advanced encryption technology available.
Full Tilt Poker's Innovative Edge Plan
Full Tilt Poker's VIP program is called The Edge. There are six sections: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond and Black Card, which are listed in order of less beneficial to most beneficial. All players that reach Bronze status and above will be put in a drawing for two daily $500 free-rolls. Once you reach the silver level, you'll get paid for every 100 FTPs you earn on top of that.
- Silver: $1 for every 100 FTPs
- Gold: $1.50 for every 100 FTPs
- Platinum: $2 for every 100 FTPs
- Diamond: $2.50 for every 100 FTPs
- Black Card: $2.50 for every 100 FTPs
Diamond and Black Card players have exclusive access to the Diamond Edge Store where they can purchase special prizes. Black Card players are also granted the option to exchange their FTPs for cash.
When it comes to natural disasters, Full Tilt Poker is always willing to step in and do their part to help communities in need. On November 8th, 2013, the Philippines was devastated after the Typhoon Haiyan demolished their country, as it was one of the strongest storms ever recorded. They encouraged their players to donate money to the Philippines so that they can rebuild their homes and get past this tragedy. Thanks to their efforts, players donated $27,780.97 and Full Tilt Poker matched that to donate a total of $55,561.94 to this cause.
On April 25th, 2015, a deadly earthquake occurred in Nepal, destroying the homes of many people in the country and leading to the deaths of an estimated 10,000 people. Full Tilt Poker and Pokerstars decided to ask the poker community to participate in this charity, as their hearts ached for all of the families affected by this natural disaster. For every donation given in honor of Nepal, Full Tilt History generously promised to match it as well.
Author: Nicole Miller
Updated: July 2015
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