The player numbers at Full Tilt Poker (FTP) continue to slide towards the abyss in the aftermath of the propaganda held at the European Poker Tour (EPT) in London. I am of couse referring to the battleships style heads-up encounter between Team PokerStars and the Professionals at Full Tilt Poker. I said at the time that nobody cared and it seems I was spot on.
It wasn’t just the fans that didn’t care either. Tom Dwan didn’t show up for the team photographs and the rumor around the pressroom was that Hansen had dropped $250,000 playing online just moments after arriving at The Vic. At the other end of the scale Viktor Blom shrugged his shoulders, after his whitewash against Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier, and went on to win over $1.3 million online. So all in all the $50,000 buy-in seemed like chicken feed and there was about as much rivalry as you would find between Ken and Barbie.
It’s difficult to see a way out of the mess that Full Tilt now find themselves in. The lower they sink, the less likely anyone is to return. And why should they when they have a perfectly suitable grinding station called PokerStars. The regulars in the game love PokerStars and unless it dips severely below par, nobody is going to run to the hills of Full Tilt Poker. So that means the fact that Full Tilt Poker now trails behind Stars, PartyPoker and iPoker is the fault of Stars. The irony is just so ironic.
“I still think people don’t trust the site 100%, and apart from the regs, recreational players just can’t afford to play on two sites, and seem to have stuck with stars,” Richard ‘TheClaimeer’ Trigg told CalvinAyre.
Trigg makes a point that everyone must have been wondering when FTP cut those padlocks and opened it’s doors for business back in Nov 2012. Why would anybody go back to a site that seemingly robbed them blind and then left them naked in the street? It seems that players hopped aboard the FTP train, grabbed their money (or whittled it down to nothingness) and then left again.
“I guess FTP was a predominantly American field pre Black Friday? PokerStars always had a very strong European hold, which I am sure the EPT help create, whilst FTP concentrated its efforts on marketing North American events such as Poker After Dark,” Chris ‘NigDawG’ Brammer told CalvinAyre.
So will FTP return to its former glory once the U.S market gets its act together and starts allowing their residents to play online poker? Or will the same phenomenon occur, with players just eager to move their money off the site like Cypriots are trying desperately to do with their bank accounts right now?
With FTOPS XXII in full swing, FTP will see a surge in interest this week, because they are delivering exactly what their customers want – a great tournament structure. So why haven’t FTP done something that its twin brother PokerStars is excellent at? Why haven’t they engaged with their players? There is no online poker without online poker players. Player’s opinions matter and I for one was buoyant over the news of the players’ council that PokerStars created last year. So why then are players complaining bitterly about the tournament scheduling at FTP? Why didn’t anybody ask the regs opinion prior to launch? Is anybody really listening?
“I cant speak much on the cash side of things but on the mtt side they were really slow to implement changes to schedules even though they were getting incredible feedback in the FTP 2+2 thread. They are finally listening but maybe it’s too late?” Jason Wheeler told CalvinAyre before continuing, “They re-launched with the same schedule as before Black Friday, but with lower guarantees. When there was overlay their response was to lower guarantees even more, when they should have changed the schedule and formats instead. They really should have hired some top mtt grinders as consultants to help them plan an appropriate new re-launch schedule. The old schedule was based on old player numbers and old guarantees…of course it would fail. It’s a completely new environment. You can’t charge the same $215 for an mtt, lower its guarantee 300% and not expect to alienate some of your player base.”
It seems that Wheeler is not alone in his theory that a poor tournament schedule is partly responsible for the lack of interested players.
“The structures are still stuck in 2008. They updated the tournament names, but it’s the same old ‘no antes until 10-hrs into the comp’ structures that just aren’t fun to play for both professionals and amateurs alike,” IveyPoker Pro Mathew Frankland told CalvinAyre.
“The tournament structure was lacklustre two years ago and it’s still the same post re-launch. The structures and events are very behind the times.” Said IveyPoker Pro John Eames.
So the view from the pros seems to be that FTP missed a trick of David Copperfield proportions when they failed to invite the professional mtt contingent to help with the launch just before Christmas, and at any time since. But have they also failed to market FTP to the mass of fish that are flapping around in other people’s ponds? The pros seem to think they might have.
“In all honesty I think the company is pretty poorly ran. I mean does anyone outside of the immediate poker die hard world even know FTP is up and running?” Said Matthew Frankland.
“There just isn’t any trust in the site. Many punters might not even know it’s owned by Stars.” Said IveyPoker pro Toby Lewis.
“I can only assume that it’s just the regs that recognize the Stars ownership and that the fish assume that their money isn’t safe due to what happened pre Black Friday and beyond.” Said Rhys ‘floppinhel”’ Jones.
With Stars running such an excellent tournament structure, and a marketplace that is seemingly devoid of fish, and a pulsating American market, maybe it’s just a case of over saturation? Chris Brammer hit the nail on the head when he said, ‘there are only so many tables I can play.’
With FTP being reserved for the big Sunday schedule, and events like FTOPS, it makes you wonder why sites don’t try to create a Sunday of there very own. I mean if God can do it, why can’t the Rational Group?
“I have never understood why competing online sites don’t try to own a Saturday like Stars owns Sunday. It’s wide open for any site to make their own version of a great Stars Sunday, but nobody seems to be interested,” said Jason Wheeler.
“It’s all about big prize pools and bad players, and Full Tilt have neither at present.” Said the newly crowned EPT London winner Ruben Visser.
So sit up and pay attention FTP. You remind me of my days working on the railway when the management failed to pull their head out of their own arses to recognize the importance of the people within the organization. Swallow that pride and ask the people who pay your wages how to drag your sorry arse back into second position. Hopefully, I have given you a head start.
Over to you Full Tilt Poker.