Full Tilt And PokerStars To Merge

Amaya To Combine PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker Into Single Site

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Amaya will merge liquidity between PokerStars and Full Tilt in the spring of 2016, OPR has confirmed. PokerStars later confirmed the news via a press release.

What PokerStars said about the Full Tilt changes

PokerStars detailed the changes to Full Tilt on Tuesday:

This platform migration will allow Amaya’s development and technology teams to focus on improving one market-leading platform rather than two, leading to a better gaming experience for all; improvements and features will be delivered faster and more efficiently rather than doubling development requirements. For instance, rather than splitting resources developing Full Tilt Jackpot Sit & Go and PokerStars Spin & Go features independently, teams will be able to work together on delivering the best possible product on one platform.

“Players will benefit from a larger pool of players offering greater game choice, bigger prize pools,” said Rafi Ashkenazi, Chief Executive Officer of Rational Group. “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.” 

PokerTube was first to report that significant changes were underway at Full Tilt.

More details on the PokerStars-Full Tilt move

There were lots of other pieces of information offered by the press release:

  • PokerStars noted the move would result in the “elimination of a number of roles” in Full Tilt’s Dublin office. The extent of the layoffs is not yet known, as the company said it is still evaluating the impact of the move for its staff.
  • PokerStars also intimated that its is committed to a “dual-poker brand strategy,” meaning the Full Tilt brand will still be leveraged, at least in some jurisdictions.
  • The casino product will also be merged onto a single underlying platform.
  • Players will be moved to a single account that can be used to access either the PokerStars or Full Tilt platforms. Players will also be moved to the PokerStars VIP system.

Full Tilt, low numbers

Full Tilt has lagged far behind the flagship PokerStars in terms of liquidity for some time now, a fact that was touched upon in the PokerStars press release:

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.

At the tracking site PokerScout, Full Tilt checked in outside of the top 10 in traffic, well behind No. 1 PokerStars and No. 2 888.

What about the platform?

Arguably the most intriguing question arising from the news: What will become of the Full Tilt Poker platform?

The FTP software is among the most highly-regarded in the industry, and has been proven and stress-tested to a point that few other platforms can claim.

There are precious few other poker software platforms on the market, although the be fair there is also not a surplus of demand for such platforms.

It’s difficult not to speculate about how Full Tilt’s software might intersect with the U.S. regulated market. Whispers of partner discontent with existing platforms in regulated U.S. markets have been swirling for some time now, although Full Tilt would be far from a perfect substitute for operators in New Jersey’s online poker market.

And then there’s California, where a variety of land-based operators are expected to contest the online market – but again, there appear to be slightly more operators than available platforms in the mix. Could Full Tilt become a bargaining chip in negotiations over California online poker?

Cost savings for Amaya

The move will certainly represent a significant cost savings for Amaya, although it’s difficult to land on a firm number. Amaya does not break out Full Tilt’s revenue and costs separately from PokerStars.

But the declining fortunes of poker in general, and at Full Tilt specifically, make it reasonable to assume that the immediate result will be a savings on Amaya.

The ability to sell or leverage the platform will also represent potentially meaningful financial upside for the company.

- Chris is the publisher of OnlinePokerReport.com. Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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