Can PokerStars Launch Full Tilt Poker into its Former Glory?

As anyone with an interest in the online poker world should already know, Full Tilt Poker is set to re-launch in the coming month of November. While the site’s previous acquisition by PokerStars is a definite positive for the old brand, the name now rings synonymous with a severe lack of trust among the poker playing community.

In times past, Full Tilt Poker was the number two traffic earner for many years, always trailing its leading rival, and now new owner, PokerStars. Likewise, PokerStars remains in the number one spot, despite its lack of USA player acceptance, leading the pack of traffic gaining networks by nearly 10x. But the question so many are waiting to see answered is whether Full Tilt can regain its former glory by claiming its long-time second-best position in player traffic.

The fact that the online poker room will be run by the same head offices of the world’s favorite, most respected poker site is a big plus. PokerStars has followed a straight narrow path of operating in a legal manner, while continuing to honor its player commitments to the best of its abilities. The poker site sustained its reputable relationship with American customers long after the UIGEA was put into place, following the recommendation of top ranking attorneys, but after April 15th of 2011, the ominous Black Friday of online poker, PokerStars succumbed to the overbearing prowess of the US Department of Justice, keeping its nose just clean enough to stay well above the dark waters of legislation that eventually engulfed Full Tilt Poker.

FTP’s worst mistake was not just its continuance of accepting deposits post-Black Friday, but as Howard Lederer admitted in a recent interview with PokerNews, it was the company’s decision to honor player deposits that were not actually being processed. In short, the banks were not delivering the deposited money to Full Tilt, but the poker room was giving the player’s the cash anyway. An intense amount of debt ensued, to the tune of more than $120 million. Thus FTP dug itself into an inescapable hole; unable to pay its players their due withdrawals when the site was officially shut down by the revocation of a gambling license.

The trust issues run very deep. Online poker players do not forget, nor forgive, quite so easily. The simple name Full Tilt Poker leaves a bad taste in the mouths of countless ex-members. Fortunately for PokerStars, the majority of players are well aware that the domain no longer has anything to do with Ray Bitar, who led FTP to its ultimate demise. Anyone who understands and respects the reputation of PokerStars should have no problem with the new face of Full Tilt.

The latest reports from Poker Scout, a third party poker traffic tracking site, revealed PokerStars to maintain a dominant lead in activity, currently showing over 100,000 players online (at the time of writing) and an average of 22,000 at any given time over a 7 day period. The second place position goes to the iPoker Network, with almost a 1/10 of that traffic, averaging 2,700 over a 7 day period.

Is there wiggle room for Full Tilt Poker to squeeze back into the second place spot? Absolutely! Do I think they will achieve such a standing? It’s only one opinion, but for me, the answer is a definitive yes.