Full Tilt Poker Reopening Guide
Full Tilt Poker has announced that it plans to re-open in most markets on November 6th, 2012. The new poker site will not be open to players from the United States at this time, but it will accept players from most of the rest of the world.
There were rumors regarding a buyout for at least a year, but the first serious buyer backed out after negotiations with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) broke down. PokerStars swooped in next and has finally reached an agreement with the DOJ.
In preparation for its imminent launch, Full Tilt Poker has already signed several pros to its team, including Gus Hansen, Tom “durrrr” Dwan and Viktor “Isildur1” Blom. These players will act as sponsored pros in the same basic manner as they did before Full Tilt was shut down.
Outstanding Player Balances
If you had a real money balance on Full Tilt Poker when the domain was seized by the DOJ, you were probably pretty upset that your money appeared to have vanished. Well, the good news is that all non-US player balances will be restored and made available when Full Tilt Poker opens on November 6th.
United States players, unfortunately, will have to deal with the DOJ. According to the new Full Tilt website, players “will be reimbursed through a remission process conducted by the US Government.” I have no idea what this means or what it entails exactly, but hopefully the government will get US player accounts repaid in full.
The biggest risk for US players is the government dragging its feet or making players jump through hoops to be repaid. Government does not have a reputation for moving fast when it comes to paying money out. The only thing we can hope is that US Full Tilt customers will be able to get refunded sometime before 2090 AD.
Full Tilt also has a plan to restore all unused Full Tilt Points. The exact plan isn’t clear, but Full Tilt Poker has stated that it plans to honor those points and reimburse players with a fair deal. US players with outstanding Full Tilt Points will be handled by the DOJ.
Countries of Operation
Full Tilt Poker will be operating under a license from the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission. This license will give Full Tilt Poker the ability to offer real money games in most of the world, excluding the United States.
There are also several other countries that will be left out of the party. Full Tilt Poker has stated on its website that it will not pursue licenses in the following countries:
Players in those countries will not be able to play at Full Tilt. However, those players will still be able to play at PokerStars. If you live in one of those countries and are still owed money by Full Tilt, you will be able to “pair” your old Full Tilt account with your PokerStars account and withdraw via the PokerStars client.
The New Poker Site
Full Tilt Poker is now owned by PokerStars, but it will operate with the same software that players know and love. Player pools will remain segregated, so when you play on Full Tilt, you will not see players from PokerStars (and vice versa).
Players who already have old accounts with Full Tilt Poker will keep those same accounts and will be able to log in, play and withdraw as soon as the site goes live. You will have the same account name and password, and Full Tilt will be able to help if you have forgotten your password or login name. If you can’t remember your password and you don’t have access to the e-mail account registered with your account, Full Tilt does have a plan to help you sort that out.
And finally, Full Tilt will be run by a different management team than the team that runs PokerStars. Both poker sites will remain unique even though they will both reside under the PokerStars umbrella.
Notice to Affiliates
PokerStars sent out an e-mail to all affiliates a few days ago informing them that Full Tilt Poker will not honor old affiliate contracts. This means that all Full Tilt accounts will be de-tagged from their affiliates. So if you were a large Full Tilt affiliate back in the day, you’ll be starting over at square one.
This news isn’t particularly surprising because PokerStars only purchased the assets of the defunct poker site. Thus, PokerStars does not feel obligated to honor contracts that the old (and inept) management team put into place. It doesn’t seem like the most “fair” move, but it’s hard to fault the decision.
What is sketchy is that PokerStars will also confiscate player balances that are a result of affiliate earnings. If you remember back to when Full Tilt was in full swing, affiliate earnings were paid out to player accounts before they could be cashed out. So if you had $1000 of affiliate earnings sitting in your account, that money will be gone when Full Tilt reopens.
There are two reasons why this is a shady move. First of all, the affiliate payments were not outstanding debts – they were paid earnings. The money was already released and affiliates were able to withdraw or play with that money as they pleased.
The second reason this is shady is because the affiliate earnings and regular player balances have already been mingled. PokerStars has released no information about how it will calculate what constitutes funds derived from playing and funds as a result of affiliate activities.
For example, let’s say you have deposited $1,000 to Full Tilt and earned $1,000 through the affiliate program for a player balance of $2,000. Now, let’s say you have played poker, won a little, lost a little, cashed out a little, won a little and end up with a balance of $1200. How will PokerStars/Full Tilt determine how much of that balance you get to cash out?
See this article for a great discussion about the affiliate issue.
The affiliate issue will not affect most players, so that’s good news for all the normal poker players out there. Even so, this should be concerning to players because it indicates that PokerStars values money over ethics. But before we pass any final judgment, we will have to wait and see how this all shakes out.