Full Tilt Aims for More Recreational Players by Dropping Game Selection and HU Table Features

Full Tilt has made a bold strategic move towards the attraction and retention of recreational players by removing game-selection facilities and heads-up play in its ring games.

Dominic Mansour Full Tilt managing director

Full Tilt managing director Dominic Mansour says the radical changes at the former home of high stakes are designed to “bring the fun back into online poker.” (Image: linkedin.com)

From now on, players arriving at the Full Tilt lobby will select their stakes and be automatically seated at a corresponding table at random, rather than having the option to scroll through the lobby and select their preferred vacant seat.

The move is designed to eliminate the practice of “bum-hunting,” whereby accomplished players actively seek out only bad players to feed off of.

The skill gap between new and accomplished players in online poker has become so great that “recreationals” are finding it increasingly difficult to stick around in the game.

Targeted by these pros, amateurs lose their money too quickly, and never return. In the words of Full Tilt’s managing director Dominic Mansour, the changes are designed to “bring the fun back into online poker.”

Heads-up Decapitated

The heads-up tables have also become notorious feeding grounds for bum-hunters who await their prey while seated passively at multiple tables, hoping a “bad” player might stray in. Should a good player appear instead, the pro inevitably disappears. The result is table upon table with just one player seated.

The decision to remove heads-up cash tables, once the scene of epic nosebleed battles between the likes of Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, and Isildur1, is a brave one, but one Mansour believes is necessary to help fix a skewed poker ecology. As industry number-cruncher PokerScout announced recently, global cash game liquidity fell 16 percent, year on year, and something needs to be done.

“The online poker and gaming landscape continues to change dramatically, with markets, regulation, technology and consumer habits shifting quickly and, in many ways, turning the poker industry on its head,” Mansour said.

“In today’s online poker world, unless you are the market leader enjoying the ‘more you have, more you get’ network effects of mass liquidity, the ratio of the casual-to-professional player has become unbalanced.”

Time to Drop Down in Stakes

Full Tilt, which once marketed itself as the home of the nosebleed games, will also be dropping down in stakes in order to focus its attention on the casual customer. The maximum available will now be $10/$20 for No Limit Hold’em, $15/$30 for Fixed Limit Hold’em, $10/$20 for Pot Limit Omaha and $2/$5 for Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Low.

Stud, Draw and Mixed Game tables, not traditionally the domain of recreational players, meanwhile, will be removed altogether.

“The new structure will present a clean offering for all players and we consider these ring game changes to be key to Full Tilt’s ongoing commitment to provide a level playing field and attracting and retaining more casual poker players,” said Mansour.

No mention has been made this week of unspecified changes to the rake structure of ring games, which Mansour referred to in a blog post last month, although they are still believed to be forthcoming.

Written by
Philip Conneller
As part of the team that launched Bluff Magazine back in 2004, and then as Editor of Bluff Europe, Philip Conneller has (probably) written thousands of articles about poker and has travelled the globe interviewing the greatest players in the world, not to mention some of the sexiest celebrities known to man in some of the world’s sexiest destinations. The highlight of his career, however, was asking Phil Ivey (as a joke) how to play jacks, and emerging none-the-wiser. Philip once won $20,000 with 7-2 offsuit. He has been told off for unwittingly playing Elton John’s piano on two separate occasions, on different sides of the Atlantic Ocean. He became a writer because he is a lousy pianist. He lives in London where he spends his time agonizing about Arsenal football club, yet in Wenger he trusts.


gtwi wrote...

I agree with some of the changes that Full Tilt is making. I don’t think that there are too many poker sites anymore that still allow you to pick whom you will play against. It is mostly auto seating now.

I (as far as I know) have not been subject to these “bum-hunters”, but then I only play the small stakes games and I don’t think it’s worth their while to bother with us. However, I can see where this would be a discouragement for new or recreational players not to join or go back to these poker sites. To be able to develop and grow our game, we need to have a chance to have a fair game.

I do not mind playing against players that have more skill, experience than I do, and I like playing against pros as well. Being able to do so, helps me to grow as a player.

dj11 wrote...

I can see the sense of it, but removing non HE, non Omaha games is a mistake.

Even if FT is running just semi-autonomously, this concept would have had to fly by Amaya, or Rational. There must be a back story we are not hearing about.

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