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PokerStars, Full Tilt To Merge Player Pools

Amaya Says That It Will Still Pursue A 'Dual-Brand Strategy'

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PokerStars and Full Tilt, once massive rivals in the online poker space before the former acquired the latter in a 2012 deal, are going to be merging their respective player pools, according to their parent company, Amaya Gaming Group.

Amaya said Tuesday that the Full Tilt brand will remain in existence, but customers will soon only be able to have a single account across the platforms. As of last year, the two sites had roughly 70 percent of the global online poker market, Amaya Gaming said during a quarterly earnings report.

The Canadian gaming company said that Full Tilt “continues to be a profitable poker room” but that its “market share has been in decline since its 2012 re-launch.” In Full Tilt’s heyday, it was the home to the biggest online games in the world.

“This platform migration will allow Amaya’s development and technology teams to focus on improving one market-leading platform rather than two, leading to a better gaming experience for all; improvements and features will be delivered faster and more efficiently rather than doubling development requirements,” the company said.

“Players will benefit from a larger pool of players offering greater game choice, bigger prize pools,” Rafi Ashkenazi, Chief Executive Officer of Rational Group, added. “It will also make us more nimble as we can focus our technological innovation on one platform, rather than two, so we will be able to innovate more quickly and enter newly-regulating and existing markets swiftly."

Amaya gave detail about how the account merging will work.

All Full Tilt players will be contacted directly and will be provided with a link to full and comprehensive information on how these changes will affect them. Once the migration has taken place, players will have one single account that can be used to play on the shared platform through either the PokerStars or Full Tilt branded software. The migration process will automatically identify whether players have an existing PokerStars account and combine the accounts if needed; for those that do, their PokerStars username will take precedence. If a player does not have a PokerStars account they’ll be given the option to keep their screen name—if it’s available—or create a new one.

One of the markets that Amaya is eyeing is the U.S. state of New Jersey, which PokerStars received a license in last fall. PokerStars already had a brick-and-mortar partner in Atlantic City at the time of licensing. The site has been absent from American cyberspace since Black Friday in April 2011, a far-reaching civil and criminal case that ensnared the then owners of the top online poker sites still running games for Americans. PokerStars settled without any admission of wrongdoing.

Amaya bought PokerStars, along with its sister site Full Tilt, in 2014 for $4.9 billion.

PokerStars recently received some criticism for its decision to change its VIP rewards program in an effort to cater more to the casual poker player. The site also recently announced that it will be removing traditional heads-up cash game tables.