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Online poker site Full Tilt, a company under the corporate umbrella of Amaya Gaming and “sister site” to PokerStars, has extended its entrance into the video game industry via a sponsorship of the G2 eSports Hearthstone team.

The announcement comes one month after Full Tilt officially received Greenlight approval to offer its play money app to the Steam gaming community.

Hearthstone (developed by Blizzard Entertainment) is a fast-paced competitive card game with similarities to Magic: The Gathering. Professional competitions are held worldwide and typically award five-figure cash awards to winning teams. The Madrid, Spain-based G2 Hearthstone team — known as Team Nihilum —  is comprised of Dima “Rdu” Radu, Thijs “ThijsNL” Molendijk, Adrian “Lifecoach” Koy and Jakub “Lothar” Szygulski.

Aside from the vastly popular card game, the G2 eSports conglomerate founded by Carlos Rodriguez in 2013 fields competitive professional teams for League of Legends, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, FIFA 15, Heores of the Storm, and Vainglory.

Increased Exposure for Full Tilt Online Poker Services

Although video games are viewed as major competition to poker by many in the industry, there’s no denying the brand exposure that Full Tilt will obtain in 2016 via its marketing efforts into the competitive gaming realm.

The Steam community is made up of approximately 125 million gamers worldwide, and over 30 million players enjoy Hearthstone on a monthly basis.

What’s more, Full Tilt’s latest sponsorship of the G2 Hearthstone team has been picked up by major news outlets, including mainstream tech news website VentureBeat.

In early 2015, it appeared that online poker site Full Tilt was poised to concentrate its efforts almost solely on its online real money casino service, yet this latest strategy coincides much more with separating its identify with sister site PokerStars and while introducing its online poker games to video game players.

The site itself has fallen all the way down to #8 worldwide for cash game traffic according to online poker tracking site PokerScout, but could quickly re-enter the Top 5 if its play money app and brand catch on with competitive gamers.

Innovation Coming to Online Poker in 2016

Traditional real money online poker cash games and tournaments are about to evolve in the coming year — likely in a way that will pit them side-by-side to competitive card games with role playing elements.

This shift can be gauged not only by Full Tilt’s plunge into the video gaming realm, but also the pending launch of HoldemX by the Global Poker League and Alex Dreyfus.

The momentum for monthly, subscription-based access to such games within the online poker industry could become enormous in 2016 — eventually prompting a major change in the traffic makeup of major sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt.

For now, we’ll wait to see what the first half of 2016 brings, and how the online poker industry adapts. Regardless of how it shakes out, 2016 is shaping up to be an extremely interesting year for online poker!

David Huber

David Huber has been involved in the poker industry for more than a decade: initially as a professional online poker player and later as an editor, consultant, writer, and forum manager. Known as "dhubermex" online, David's poker-related work has been heavily published across numerous websites since 2004.