Full Tilt Poker has become famous for being one of the largest online card rooms on the planet. On a less positive note, they’re also associated with one of the biggest scandals to ever occur in the world of Internet gaming. While the latter might scare off potential customers, I hope this Full Tilt Poker review can present an accurate and impartial look at the current state of the site.
A Brief History
In June of 2004, parent company Tiltware, LLC launched the online card room known as Full Tilt Poker. One of their primary forms of marketing was to promise direction interaction with poker professionals, and this prompted their slogan “Learn, chat, and play with the pros.” While hundreds of players and celebrities were involved with the Full Tilt brand, the site maintained their closest ties with the following: Chris Ferguson, Howard Lederer, Andy Bloch, Phil Ivey, Jennifer Harman, and Mike Matusow.
On April 15th, 2011, an indictment was unsealed by the U.S. Department of Justice against owners and employees of Full Tilt, Absolute Poker, and PokerStars. Domain names for the sites were seized, and criminal charges included violation of U.S. federal gambling laws, money laundering, and fraud.
Just over five months later, a number of high-ranking FullTilt figures—including Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson—were accused by the Department of Justice of cheating customers out of more than $300 million. During this period, the site’s gaming license was revoked by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission.
On July 31st, 2012, the U.S. government dropped all civil charges against FullTilt and PokerStars. While neither company was forced to admit wrongdoing, one of the main stipulations was that PokerStars would purchase Full Tilt. As a result, all players with outstanding withdrawal requests and suspended accounts were eventually paid back.
Prior to the sale, the name of the company was rebranded to FullTilt.com. Now owned by the Amaya Gaming Group, they are headquartered in Ireland with gaming licenses in the Isle of Man and Malta and operate on FullTilt.eu.
Card players from the United States are still barred from real-money play as of this writing. They can, however, compete at a variety of play-money tables.
According to their site, “Full Tilt Poker offers the best online poker software in the world, as it was designed by poker players for poker players.” Despite the arrogance of this statement, it may actually be true. The software released by Full Tilt features a strong level of customization, reliable gameplay, solid graphics, and important features such as multi-table gaming and player notes.
Another plus is the continual updates used to improve the site. While they don’t occur on a regular schedule, almost all of these updates can be counted on to significantly upgrade the site and include additional features.
No matter what device you’re using, it’s likely that FullTilt.eu supports it. From Macs and PCs to iPads and Android devices, you can enjoy a game of poker at home or on the go. The only real drawback is the lack of no-download software, but this is a minor quibble when compared to the overall quality of the product.
This is an area that could definitely stand some improvement. For starters, it’s difficult to even find any sort of contact information for customer service on the site. The “Help and Support Center” just takes you to a page filled with frequently asked questions.
Somewhere in the middle of all those articles, I did manage to locate an email address. Unfortunately, you can expect a wait of 24 to 72 hours on any correspondence. That’s entirely unacceptable, and anyone with a pressing question is likely to take their business elsewhere if they’re consistently forced to wait for such long stretches of time.
Most sites seem to thrive on the contact form method, but even that seems absent from Full Tilt. When a site seems to go out of their way to avoid interaction with their customers, it’s more than a little disappointing.
While Full Tilt still generates a decent amount of traffic, there’s little doubt that the scandals of the past have hurt their business. They currently rank among the top 20 sites in terms of traffic according to PokerScout, but their days of being in the top five are long past. As I prepared this review, they had 294 cash players online, with a weekly average of 700 and a 24-hour high of 1,114.
Of these players, many tend to be casual gamblers. The presence of so many soft players has often been attributed to the site’s decision to add an online casino in 2013, with many of these customers starting at the slots or blackjack tables and eventually winding their way to the poker room.
Deposit & Withdrawal Options
FullTilt offers a decent number of deposit options, including credit & debit cards, eWallet services, and bank wire. The eWallet services such as PayPal and Skrill are among the best, as they allow you to move funds from one place to another without leaving a paper trail.
When it comes to payouts, customers can choose from VISA, eCheck, bank transfers, and eWallet payouts. Once again, I suggest a service such as Neteller or PayPal for their convenience and overall privacy.
Since Full Tilt and PokerStars are owned by the same company, you also have the option of transferring funds from one account to the other. This provides a great deal of flexibility, especially for those who enjoy gaming at more than one site. I’ve done it myself, and it’s always managed to save me some time.
When it comes to their selection of poker games, Full Tilt is one of the best in the business. While most competitors focus on Texas Hold’em and a handful of others, this site includes a dozen options to test your abilities. These include the following:
Texas Hold’em (pot limit and no limit)
Omaha Hi (includes Omaha, 5-Card Omaha, 6-Card Omaha, and Courchevel)
Draw Poker (includes 5-Card Draw, Badugi, 2-7 Triple Draw, 2-7 Single Draw, and A-5 Triple Draw)
Irish (no limit and pot limit)
Mixed Games (including 10-Game, HA, and HORSE)
If you want to enjoy some poker action but have a limited amount of time, there’s the option of trying Full Tilt’s exclusive Rush Poker game. Available in ring game and tournament formats, this high-speed Hold’em variant rushes you to a different table every time you fold. It’s an excellent diversion from the usual games being offered, as it forces you to make fast decisions across a much higher number of hands.
When you make your first deposit at Full Tilt, you’ll receive a 100% matching bonus up to $600. The bonus is released as you play real-money games and unlock Full Tilt Points in the process. The cash is made available in amounts of 10% of the bonus or $20, whichever is smaller. You’ll have 60 days from the date of your deposit to opt in, as well as 60 days to unlock the entire bonus amount.
While the bonus above is the only one that’s specifically tied to a deposit, Full Tilt has a number of other promotions. Most of these take the form of special tournaments offered throughout the week, providing rookies and high rollers alike with an opportunity to walk away with a sizable stack of cash.
Full Tilt Poker used to be a haven for grinders, but many of these individuals have been replaced by casual players over the last few years. That’s actually good for everyone, though, as newbies can hone their skills in the micro-stakes games and sharks can still eat their fill in the mid-stakes contests. If you’re looking for a site with soft competition and direct ties to the biggest poker room in the industry, then I suggest giving FullTilt a try.