Full Tilt to Merge With PokerStars, Is the End Pending for Once Hardy Brand?

February 17th, 2016 | by Jason Reynolds
Full Tilt Poker merges w PokerStars

Full Tilt and PokerStars are now set to combine player pools this spring, as Amaya looks to strengthen the brands into one core poker product. (Image: bg.rounders.org )

The iconic Full Tilt poker network will migrate to the PokerStars platform this spring and will share player pools in order to combine the Amaya properties into one worldwide poker product.

Rational Group CEO Rafi Ashkenazi confirmed the news on the Amaya website by saying, “Players will benefit from a larger pool of players offering greater game choice, bigger prize pools. It will also make us more nimble as we can focus our technological innovation on one platform, rather than two, so we will be able to innovate more quickly and enter newly-regulating and existing markets swiftly.”

In the coming months, all Full Tilt accounts will be merged to the PokerStars platform. If a Full Tilt player does not have a PokerStars account, he or she will be given the option to keep their screen name if available, or create a new one.

Players will be permitted to compete on the shared network through the Full Tilt branded software and can retain their avatars. Full Tilt will also continue offering its own game promotions including The Deal, the popular five-card poker progressive jackpot.

Beginning of the End

 Make no mistake about it, Amaya’s $4.9 billion acquisition of the Rational Group and its PokerStars and Full Tilt assets was largely paid for the former. Full Tilt hasn’t recovered from its 2011 fall from grace in the United States, and abroad, the site has failed to regain the market share it once held.

According to PokerScout.com, Full Tilt is the 11th most popular online poker room, in terms of seven-day averages, with 850 players. That places it below Winamax, Bodog, and the country-specific domains for PokerStars Italy, France, and Spain.

It’s certainly not holding up its end of the $4.9 billion “bargain.”

That’s why many aren’t too surprised to learn that Amaya is voyaging those 850 players to the PokerStars.com room occupied by 17,500 players per latest count, with the move to be completed as of start of April 2016.

While Amaya and Rational remain committed to a dual-brand strategy for now, that might soon change as shareholders in the publicly traded gaming conglomerate look to trim excess and boost earnings. Even if Amaya CEO David Baazov takes the company back private with his angel investors, waste won’t be tolerated.

“Although Full Tilt continues to be a profitable poker room, the gaming brand’s market share has been in decline since its 2012 re-launch,” Rational said in its statement. “The migration will result in the elimination of a number of roles in the Company’s Dublin office.”

New Jersey Pool

 Bringing PokerStars and Full Tilt players into the same interactive room will make their arrival in New Jersey, whenever that may be, an even bigger splash. While Delaware and Nevada have tried to boost their iPoker room activity by signing interstate liquidity compacts, Amaya is fortunate enough to not have to play politics and can instead simply link its own two popular networks.

The WSOP/888 offering is currently the frontrunner in the Garden State, with 220 players for its weekly average. PokerStars/Full Tilt might not have much difficulty in quickly surpassing that figure when the dual brands arrive, so we keep hearing, in the coming months.

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