Full Tilt, PokerStars Announce Shared-Liquidity Date

Officials for Amaya, Inc., parent company of global online-poker market leader PokerStars, have announced a May 17th date for players on sister site Full Tilt Gaming to be moved to the Stars software suite.  After the move, Full Tilt customers will enjoy shared liquidity with the much larger PokerStars consumer family.

full-tilt-logo-newAmaya’s decision to move its Full Tilt player base over to the Stars platform was first revealed publicly in February over at OPR, though the exact timetable for the move, other than “in the spring,” was not known at that time.

In a brief e-mail announcement released over the weekend by Michael Josem, a member of Full Tilt’s Communications Team, next Tuesday’s conversion date was confirmed.  Wrote Josem, “Full Tilt players will join the PokerStars platform and liquidity on May 17, 2016, as the two player pools will combine to form one market-leading poker experience. In coming days, Full Tilt players will be emailed direct and personal information on how this will affect them specifically, which depends on a variety of factors including their jurisdiction and the status of their PokerStars account (if any).

Added Josem, “In many cases, Full Tilt players who already hold a PokerStars account will not need to update any information or transfer their account assets (loyalty points, cash balances etc) which will be transferred automatically to their PokerStars account and they can simply log in to their PokerStars account and enjoy all the great benefits on offer, including even more game choices and bigger tournaments.”

Josem also serves as PokerStars’ Head of Public Relations.

Several reports indicate that parent company Amaya plans to retire the original Full Tilt software suite, which had its beginnings in the early 2000’s, being developed by a group of US West Coast programmers and poker enthusiasts, including one of the fallen stars of the original Full Tilt Poker’s post-Black Friday collapse, Chris Ferguson.  The Full Tilt software suite was part of the all-assets purchase agreed to by original PokerStars parent Rational Group and the US department of Justice, which also created the funding mechanism through which most US-based customers of the original Full Tilt were able to petition the government for refunds.

International (meaning non-US) players of the original Full Tilt had their accounts reactivated in late 2012 by PokerStars parent Rational, and the entire site was sold, along with the larger PokerStars operation, to Canada’s Amaya in 2014.

The pending retirement of the Full Tilt software suite — if not the brand itself, which will continue on as a PokerStars skin — likely represents a significant tax write-off for new parent Amaya, more beneficial than any sale of the proficient software could muster.  Amaya has not offered specifics on the reasoning for the move to shared liquidity between Stars and Full Tilt, but reductions in labor and software maintenance must be among the top justifications.  Amaya remains heavily leveraged as a result of its 2014 reverse-takeover acquisition of the much-larger PokerStars operation, and has repeatedly undertaken cost-cutting moves in the two years since the deal was announced.

As part of the move, Full Tilt players will also have single-account access other Stars-themed market offerings such as BetStars and Duel.  The thousands of player who have accounts on both Stars and Full Tilt will find their Full Tilt balances and rewards migrated over to their Stars accounts once they access the Full Tilt update process on May 17th or later.  Only those players who have accounts only on Full Tilt (and not on Stars itself) will likely remain as part of the new Full Tilt skin, once the conversion is complete.

A few wrinkles introduced at Full Tilt will be continued on within the new Stars-based software.  Continuing Full Tilt players will still have access to their avatars (a longtime FTP staple), and “The Deal,” a popular Full Tilt promotion, will continue on after next week’s conversion.  According to an update page on the Full Tilt site:

What happens to The Deal Jackpot?

The Deal will be paused shortly before the update process begins. The Deal Jackpot will be moved to the new platform, where The Deal will be available.

That jackpot was over $170,000, according to player reports and inquiries.

Some single-nation disparities exist within the global conversion plan, such as in Italy, where existing Full Tilt players will instead be forced to open a new account at pokerstars.it.  Whether or not the Full Tilt brand name itself will someday be retired remains an open question, though it has enough brand recognition to remain a viable, marketable name, as Amaya’s continuing plans demonstrate.

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