As recently as two years ago, there was not a bigger name in the online poker community than Full Tilt Poker. And that company is set to reintroduce itself to the world on November 6, allowing US players to view their cash balances and also offering free play poker. On November 1 the site gave past and future prospective online poker players a glimpse of what they had to offer when they allowed players to sit down at “play money” tables, and also allowing them to transfer any funds they had with Full Tilt Poker over to PokerStars.
PokerStars purchased Full Tilt Poker as part of an agreement with the United States Department of Justice, and also paid back all those non-US players which were owed money by Full Tilt. Shyam Markus is the Full Tilt Poker poker room manager, and Wednesday he was found on the popular 2 + 2 poker forums inviting online poker players to his site for some play money enjoyment. It may be some time before PokerStars provides pay for play poker online, but the return of what was once a vaunted online poker company is good for the entire industry overall.
When the site was shut down in 2011 by the US DOJ, player account money was frozen while the charges by the federal regulators were investigated. And cosmetically, the site looks nearly the same as it did when it was shut down on Black Friday with other major online poker sites in the United States. One of the major differences is the “transfer to PokerStars” button offered in the cashier tab. It is certainly a welcome ability to be able to view and access cash balances that have been tied up for 16 months, with some poker players having had significantly large balances frozen until now.
Gus Hansen, Tom Dwan and Viktor Blom have had their images added to the website, as they have joined as Full Tilt representatives since after the site was originally closed down. Markus made it clear for any online players checking out the beta version of their site that this was just a test run. New heads-up cash game and sit and go player options have been made available to make it easier to find and play against the same opponent on multiple tables, and there are new ring game and preferred seat features as well.
Even so, with USA online poker predicted to be less than three months away in Nevada, and Delaware also legalizing online gambling, the United States poker community familiar with the Full Tilt Poker brand should not be in too big of a hurry for that company to launch pay for play poker in the United States. Online poker players from the United States are still waiting for the Department of Justice to handle the repayment of their account balances, and after the injunctions that almost bankrupted the company, Full Tilt will be in no hurry to rush out anything less than a sterling customer experience that clears all regulatory hurdles. But it is nice to have Full Tilt back, even as a free play site, and we have PokerStars to thank for that. As an alternative, there are currently several alternate online poker sites that offer online poker for money legally to US players.