The biggest news to emerge from the world of Internet poker this week was the announcement that Full Tilt will join the PokerStars platform. The shared liquidity between the two sites will merge player pools as of this Spring in a massive site migration.
Speculation about the downfall of Full Tilt’s cash game traffic had been increasing over the past several months as the site fell out of the coveted top 10. The recent announcement of its latest Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS) schedule with the lowest amount of guaranteed prize money in years symbolized the decrease of its former prominence. With numerous attempts at revamping the site and player experiences having failed, it was not a huge surprise that Amaya stepped in with the decision.
It's official from Amaya: FULL TILT JOINING THE POKERSTARS PLATFORM THIS SPRING— Dan Cypra (@cypradn) February 16, 2016
By all accounts, it seems as if the players will be the benefactors of the platform merge.
First, players will only need one account to play on PokerStars, Full Tilt, BetStars, StarsDraft, and all associated Amaya-owned gambling websites. If a player wins a tournament and immediately wants to place a sports bet, the singular account will make the process simple. Withdrawals and deposits will be easier for all players as well.
Second, players who prefer PokerStars over Full Tilt, or vice versa, will be able to continue to play as usual. Nothing will change on the PokerStars platform except an influx of players, and Full Tilt will still offer everything from its avatars to it’s the Deal rewards program.
Players will still be able to play on Full Tilt or PokerStars, the software is not going away.— Remko Rinkema (@RemkoMedia) February 16, 2016
Third, those who frequented both sites will find their VIP club points combined to the PokerStars reward program, which offers a wider range of prizes and benefits.
Fourth, promotions leading up to and at the point of the migration could be lucrative. Amaya will want to reduce any worries of players and likely offer numerous promotions to reward players for their loyalty and patience during the change. The initial press release about the move even discussed an increased “The Deal” jackpot of at least $100K, and it is likely that other offers will follow.
Fifth, larger player pools will ultimately translate into larger tournament guarantees, more game options, bigger and more frequent online tournament series, and better value at cash game tables. Since the exit of the United States market from sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt, in combination with the separation of numerous national markets in Europe, players have gotten used to post-Black Friday online poker traffic. But the upcoming combination of two large sites will give dot-com players more of what they remember from the poker boom days.
The benefits for Amaya are numerous. This combination of resources allows the company to save quite a bit of money. It was already noted that the Full Tilt office in Dublin will be cutting numerous positions, and there will likely be more merging of assets from the two companies in the future.
The merger will also come in handy if Amaya CEO David Baazov is given the greenlight to follow through with his proposed cash purchase of the company. A takeover of the businesses will be less complicated if PokerStars and Full Tilt are operating closer to one entity than two. In addition, those tasked with approving the deal may be more likely to do so if the stock price improves due to this platform fusion, as one of the potential sticking points is the low cash price offered by Baazov as compared to the actual value of the company.
Players may benefit from the upcoming merger of the two giant online poker sites, but Amaya has the most to gain.