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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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