It was a relief to read that Full Tilt Poker will not be banning its players from appearing at this weekend’s PokerStars North American Poker Tour (NAPT) Main Event, as had been rumoured over the last few days, because such a move would have only started a ludicrous turf war they would have lost.
A source close to the world’s second largest online poker site revealed on Saturday that “Any Full Tilt pro, Red or member of Team Full Tilt, can play in any competitor’s open event.” Common sense has prevailed, although it is more likely the poker site’s own red pros called their bluff and by threatening to get up and do one à la Phil Hellmuth.
Full Tilt’s red pros in particular depend on high-exposure tournaments to make a crust and the idea that their employers would take the ball away for entering a tournament sponsored by PokerStars would have backfired horribly. Although there is currently an impasse when it comes to inducing players from competitors, this move would have broken that tacit understanding and Full Tilt would have seen their own begin to abandon ship.
It’s all a bit petty really as PokerStars and Full Tilt are by far the two biggest players on the US poker scene but it does suggest that FTP are getting jittery over the fact PokerStars (NAPT) and PartyGaming (World Poker Tour) have stolen a march on them by sponsoring the two big poker tours. As poker sites continue to jockey for position and respectability ahead of the possible legalization of online poker in the United States, FTP must be worried it has missed the boat. But if Full Tilt is jealous of the exposure PokerStars have acquired for themselves they need to think outside of the box and get more creative. In other words, find your own events to sponsor. Create something new. Come up with your own ideas. Who are you, Paddy Power?
Quite apart from alienating their own players, by preventing them from appearing at these big TV events, all geared up in Full Tilt shirts and caps, FTP would have only been cutting off their nose to spite their own face. The likes of Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen and Patrik Antonius are a draw on any occasion and when you see how well the immensely entertaining Roberto Romanello is doing at the EPT, (at the time of writing he is third) these are faces you want to keep in the shop window in Full Tilt regalia – regardless of whose shop window it is.