In what I’m sure will be a shock to anyone reading this (sarcasm), the Amaya Gaming Group has announced plans to shut down Full Tilt Poker. If you know the history there and how Full Tilt Poker has been performing as of late, then it probably makes sense to you. If you don’t, then let’s quickly dive into it.
What’s Really Going On
After the Black Friday incident on April 15, 2011, Full Tilt Poker was pretty much screwed. They didn’t have enough money to pay out to their players, and they were in a world of mess over their whole operation. The company that owns PokerStars (Rational Group) purchased Full Tilt Poker as a part of a settlement with the United States Department of Justice that would eventually see all players paid back. At the time, PokerStars was the top poker room in the world (as it is now), and Full Tilt Poker was number two.
Fast forward to the middle of 2014. The Amaya Gaming Group, a Canadian company, had been purchasing companies like CryptoLogic and turning them around. They got together the funds to purchase the Rational Group, and this brought both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker under the Amaya banner. Amaya then proceeded to make a bunch of announcements about how they intended to handle the PokerStars brand that irritated a lot of serious players, but they also pretty much ignored FTP aside from adding some casino games and cutting rewards.
Over the past year, Amaya has made a lot of changes at PokerStars that weren’t exactly popular like adding casino games, limiting rewards, increasing the rake and all kinds of other changes like what you’d expect from a company looking to maximize its return from its nine-figure investment. They also purchased and re-branded their own daily fantasy sports product called StarsDraft, and they’ve even recently announced that they’ll have a segregated PokerStars room running in New Jersey by the end of March.
While PokerStars has remained the top online poker room in the world by volume, Full Tilt Poker has dropped significantly, and some counts don’t even put them in the top ten in the world. At this point, it makes a lot of sense to go through and drop Full Tilt since it’s a redundant brand, and they’re looking to continue to expand with PokerStars.
What This Means For the Industry
Not much. A lot of people who don’t know about the changes in the industry as a whole, especially with Full Tilt Poker’s massive fall in popularity, will think this is a huge issue. However, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not even really a blip on the radar at this point.