In this blog post we are discussing a subject that has popped up many times before in this blog: Full Tilt Poker.
First of all, we need to say that nothing is set in stone yet and no official news has been released, but there are some signs that Full Tilt Poker (FTP) will be coming back very, very soon indeed. At this moment it looks like the name for the site will be NEW Full Tilt Poker, which could be a good move by the new owners. Despite everything that has been going on over the last 12 months, Full Tilt Poker is still a household name and thousands of players will probably flock to the site as soon as it is operational.
In fact, last week those who went to fulltiltpoker.com might have noticed that there was some testing going on with their server, as text on the server page indicated “all systems working, 549 players online”. This gave the hint that the new site might be up and running within weeks, and when Pocket Kings (which does all the “legwork” for FTP) started hiring for customer service staff for their offices in Ireland, the poker world really started rumbling and murmuring. So, what can the NEW Full Tilt Poker company and site do to get people back on the FTP train?
First of all the Bernard Tapie Group, who now owns FTP, needs to step out and publicly brand itself as a new company. Just go out there and say: “Sorry for the F Up by the previous jerks, but we are taking over and will do everything we can for our customers!”… but maybe not in those exact words. That would be a good first step, though, and if they can manage to get rid of Ray Bitar, a lot of the poker world would jump up and down in excitement. Bitar, as we’ve addressed in past posts, bears much of the blame for the poor communication and seeming cover-up with FTP and the missing money since Black Friday, and he hasn’t handled his role as the face of the company well in light of all the challenges facing FTP. Firing him would instantly make FTP more credible with players.
Paying the US players out their money that has been locked up would obviously help enormously as well, especially as FTP seems to be looking to move back into the US once online poker is fully legal in the States again. Officially, the Department of Justice is going to be the one who will pay the $150 million back to the US Players, but god knows when this might be. If FTP pays back this money by themselves, it would help assure the trust and loyalty of their previous thousands of US players as soon as the website opens up again after legislation.
Another good step would be to have a FEW good players acting as FTP pros when the site goes live. Just have a stable of 10-15 good players that are well known as the “faces” of FTP, and this will gather enough publicity and “marketing” to get the new FTP going. When FTP went under last year, there were close to 100 “pro” players on the site playing anything from micro levels to high stakes poker. Scale this down to 10 players who will be playing the big games and this will draw people in. Despite being involved with FTP, Gus Hansen and Patrik Antonius have come away from the FTP debacle without too much public damage to their reputation (if any) and they could be anchor guys for the new site.
IPO for the win! It is more than likely that the Bernard Tapie Group will go public with FTP. This would be done via an Initial Public Offering (IPO), which not only would raise a lot of money, but would also make the company extremely transparent. Think of a gambling/poker site like BWin.Party and everything you want or need to know about that company is in the public domain as they are registered at the stock markets. This would be the best step forward for FTP, as it will give the public faith in the transparency of the new site.
All in all it looks like the Bernard Tapie Group will still have their work cut out for them, but with a bit of marketing strategy and some smart hiring (and firing) it is very well possible that NEW Full Tilt Poker will be a force to reckon with once again.