The 5 poker moments that shaped 2012: FTP Relaunch

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Dec 30, 2012 Posted in Online Poker News, Op-Ed | No Comments »

fulltiltpoker soldThere were a number of highlights (as well as a few lowlights) in the poker world this past year, but let’s face it, events like Greg Merson’s WSOP win, the emergence of poker in Asia, the hacking and subsequent lengthy hiatus for the 2+2 poker forum, or Greg Raymer’s four HPT titles aren’t going down in the poker history books. That being said, there were a handful of occurrences in 2012 that may find themselves written into the next history of the game, and in this series I’ll detail each of the poker moments that shaped poker in 2012.

Here is a look at the five stories that shaped poker during 2012, and will have some type of lasting effect on poker:

* Story #1: The Epic Poker League

* Story #2: The Relaunch of Full Tilt Poker

* Story #3: Phil Hellmuth’s 2013 tournament successes

* Story #4: PokerStars settles with the DOJ and purchases Full Tilt Poker

* Story #5: The Big One for One Drop

I have listed the events by how many lines I would give them if I were writing a comprehensive history of the game, which brings me to the single sentence that is the relaunch of Full Tilt Poker.

Full Tilt Poker relaunched

When it comes to the saga of Full Tilt Poker the dates from April 15, 2011 through November 6, 2012 will forever dominate the company’s history, and this timeframe can best be summed up with the immortal words of the Grateful Dead, “What a long strange trip it’s been.” Full Tilt Poker went from being foisted-up as a bastion for Internet poker, to being the Ultimate Bet of the new decade, and finally the site was rescued, revived, and relaunched by their longtime rival PokerStars, whose ownership of Full Tilt was the only thing that could resuscitate the once mighty but now tarnished brand.

The actual sale of Full Tilt Poker came in July 2012 when PokerStars settled their own civil and criminal complaints with the US Department of Justice, in the process acquiring the floundering Full Tilt Poker brand with the stipulation that they would make good by the players affected by the site. By the time the relaunch was announced (from the outset it was scheduled for early November) the poker community was breathing a collective sigh of relief knowing that their money would soon be available, and when the relaunch went ahead on the planned day, the poker community applauded the calming hand of PokerStars that was now on the Full Tilt tiller.

Of course, only non-US players were able to fire-up the Full Tilt Poker software and access their accounts, but the simple fact that the familiar software was accessible and PokerStars pulled off the relaunch without a hitch was a good sign for things to come. Immediately FTP climbed to the #2 spot in the traffic rankings on pokerScout.com, and looked to be back in business.

Unfortunately for PokerStars and Full Tilt the initial rush to the tables was short-lived, as poker players’ memories are apparently not that brief, and Full Tilt Poker is now the third-ranked online poker site trailing PokerStars and Party Poker. It’s still unclear if the brand can ever fully recover from the months and months of negative publicity it received, even with PokerStars at the helm.

The major draw to Full Tilt in the initial days of the relaunch was an extraordinary promotion called “Deal Me In” which gave returning and new players some excellent incentives to give the site another go. The promotional period was soon followed by the 21st running of the Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS XXI) but even the draw of huge tournaments wasn’t enough to stem the bleeding of players that occurred just after the relaunch.

It will be interesting to see if Full Tilt Poker can ever regain its former glory (perhaps time will be able to heal all wounds) or if the black eye the site suffered in the aftermath of Black Friday will forever mar the company’s reputation. Considering the forgiveness we have seen from the poker community in the past (UB and Absolute Poker both survived worse insider scandals) FTP may become a major player yet again, but even the most jilted lover eventually grows tired of false promises, and FTP may have the unfortunate distinction of being the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back when it comes to the poker community’s forgive willingness to absolve sins committed against them.

OTHER ENTRIES:

#1 – Epic Fail

#2 — FTP Relaunch

#3 — Hellmuth

#4 — Stars vs DOJ

#5 – One Drop

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