Full Tilt Poker continued to make some major changes to their game offerings and the most recent changes push the site even further towards a “recreational player model.” These changes have been met with mixed opinions thus far, and are sure to cause a lot of debate for the foreseeable future as they fundamentally change how the site conducts business.
Full Tilt Poker made some rather large changes to their ring game offerings a few months back. These changes overall were seen as positive developments, as they tried to condense stakes and games to make the lobbies look more friendly to new players. Despite the dipping player numbers according to PokerScout.com Full Tilt Poker has decided to take these change a step further and take game selection and heads up tables completely out of the equation, while also removing stud, draw and mixed game selections for players, as well as removing all nosebleed stakes in all game offerings. The changes seem to take a seemingly opposite approach to the player acquisition and retention model.
The largest change for Full Tilt Poker players is going to be the changes to how you get seated at a table. Gone are the days of finding a table yourself, joining waitlists and careful selection of your opponents to give you the largest edge possible. The reason for these changes, as laid out by the management at Full Tilt Poker, is to create a more inviting and personable experience for players by making it seem like more of a live poker room, as opposed to a new and foreign online poker experience that it has been in the past. In the live arena you tell the manager what you want to play and they will offer you a seat at a table that has a seat open. As tables become short, they will get collapsed to fewer tables as to avoid shorthanded play. Full Tilt Poker is implementing all of these changes.
Along these same lines they are also removing heads-up games, as they do not feel that they are conducive to getting new players to the site and are taking money out of the poker ecosystem far too quickly. Their belief is that there is no way to fix the problem of the lobbies and players not playing each other, so just getting rid of them all together is the best solution. Their main hope is that players will lose money at a slower rate now playing games they truly enjoy. If they want players to lose money at a lower rate, they should consider reinstituting their 27% rakeback program, at least in our opinion!
Another major changes seems to run a bit opposite to the live game feels though. Mixed games are a staple of many live casinos, but they are no longer going to be offered at Full Tilt Poker. Further, Stud, which is one of the oldest forms of poker, is being completely removed. This seems like an odd choice, as most sites at least offer this option and it is generally not seen as a game that causes many problems. While the edges in the game can be rather large, that is more from players being unfamiliar with it. Full Tilt did not provide much explanation for removing these games, but one can assume that they felt players lost money too fast playing them, which is the reason they gave for removing the above games and options.
The games that put Full Tilt Poker on the map are also being removed, and this is another example of a decision that seems to run opposite of what they were trying to accomplish, or at least not parallel with it. Recreational players were generally not playing these games in the first place, and it was one of the things that they could watch for fun. Even on American sites with much smaller player pools and generally less recreational players people rail the nosebleed games from time to time, as it is fun to watch people play for amounts of money you likely never will. Full Tilt Poker is removing this though, and shutting the door on one of their more colorful and interesting legacies.
The reaction has been split regarding the issue on the forums and from players. Some people really like the changes as they are hoping that some regulars will decide to leave the site. They are also encouraged by the changes being made to help the recreational player have more fun while playing. Other players are not as happy about these changes though as they feel that it is taking away their right to play how they want and with closing tables that get shorthanded it just provides less ways to play poker than previously available.
Both sides have valid arguments, as there are now much less in terms of overall game selection and one of the major parts of the online game, seat selection, is now impossible. This change does fix seating scripts and bum hunting though, which are problems that have plagued major online sites in recent years. The entire situation isn’t as simple as saying these changes are good or bad, as there are two sides to the argument and what play style or games you enjoy most will likely determine how much you enjoy or do not enjoy these changes.
Full Tilt Poker is making some pretty radical changes to how they conduct their businesses and what types of players they are going for. It will be intriguing to see if these changes are more profitable for the company, even if they continue to dip in the rankings. Players who previously like playing the games eliminated still have many choices, including PokerStars. What do you think of the changes? Do you think Full Tilt Poker is making the right choices with their changes? Tell us on Twitter or Facebook!