With Full Tilt's relaunch slightly more than three weeks away, the site has announced changes to its player rewards program that abolishes affiliate-paid rakeback in favor of a universal VIP system that pays 25% directly into player accounts on a weekly basis.
Full Tilt Poker Manager Shyam Markus announced the revamped VIP policy on a TwoPlusTwo thread and indicated the change had been in the works long before the deal in which PokerStars purchased the assets of Full Tilt through the U.S. Department of Justice in August.
"This was not a trivial decision, but in the end we decided that the benefits of having a unified program were worth the change," Markus said. "So when we re-launch on November 6th, it will be without Iron Man, Black Card, or affiliate-paid rakeback."
Previously, Full Tilt allowed a fixed rakeback of 27% for players who signed up via affiliates. The new system will pay $2.50 for every 100 Full Tilt Points (FTPs) that players earn and is similar to the philosophy of PokerStars, which leans toward rewarding players in-house dependent on the number of hands played.
Although it appears as though the new system will be less profitable to players, Markus points out that redeeming FTPs for cash will have no attached fees or reductions and can still be used for purchasing items in the store. Under the old system, store purchases resulted in reduced rakeback payments. Therefore, the 25% VIP system "will almost always beat the 27% that rakeback was giving" and "depending on how you spend them, [FTPs] add an additional 4-5% to the program, giving the top level of the new program a giveback of up to 30%."
Other changes include usage of the Weighted-Contributed method of determining points earned that requires a contribution to the pot in order to accumulate FTPs instead of the more favorable Dealt method that allows any player dealt cards in a hand to earn FTPs. PokerStars also switched to a Weighted-Contributed scheme in January that was met with a tremendous amount of opposition from players, forcing the top online poker site to meet with player representatives and adjust the amount of rake taken from pots.
The Iron Man promotion will no longer be in effect, but players who qualified for 2011's mid-year Iron Man Bonus will be compensated upon relaunch. The Black Card promotion--Full Tilt's previous upper echelon of the VIP program--will not be available, but a new promotion to take its place will be unveiled at a later date. It is anticipated that the new top level at Full Tilt will be easier to achieve than the Black Card. In addition, "long-term players of both promotions will likely get a leg up in the new program from the start," Markus said.
Downloading the Full Tilt software will be possible well in advance of the Nov. 6 relaunch date and rakeback earned in the last week of June prior to the site shutting down will be credited to player accounts. Players who were receiving rakeback via an affiliate and who had achieved either Black Card or Iron Man status will likely see an email from Full Tilt in their in-boxes in coming days that spell out the changes to the rakeback program.
Markus could not give specifics on whether pairing accounts with PokerStars in order to transfer funds from one site to another will be immediately available upon relaunch, but did say that a "pairing code" will be established to link player accounts. Screen names and passwords used to log in prior to shutdown will still be used to access the relaunched Full Tilt. Markus also said that many more details will be announced to players in the coming weeks prior to Nov. 6.