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Full Tilt Poker — Transforming the High-Stakes Cash-Game Scene

Big Live Games Still Flourish, but More and More Action Moves Online

by Stephen A. Murphy |  Published: Sep 03, 2010


While all eyes this summer were focused on the World Series bracelet-winner ceremonies, some of the game’s biggest names were winning pots larger than tournament prize pools in the high-stakes cash games that take place during poker’s largest annual event.

Bobby's RoomFor many years, that action was reserved for Bellagio and its signature high-stakes poker room, Bobby’s Room. While still the epicenter of live action when the Series rolls into town, some, if not most, of this action has migrated online. Now, what Bobby’s Room is to Las Vegas, Full Tilt Poker is to the online high-stakes cash-game world — the richest online playground for poker’s top cash-game pros.

“We have so much action in the high-limit games on Full Tilt, and people would rather play in their pj’s at home,” said Eli Elezra, a Full Tilt pro and a regular in Bobby’s Room. “If you want to play as high as possible, you play on Full Tilt.”

Full Tilt Poker is the undisputed industry leader when it comes to high-stakes cash games online, offering games with stakes up to $2,000-$4,000. Many of Bobby’s Room regulars play on the site.

“It’s just easier for everyone to play online. We have Gus [Hansen] in Denmark, Brian Townsend in Santa Barbara, David Oppenheim in Los Angeles,” said Elezra. “Full Tilt is the site to play on.”

While Full Tilt’s cash games are running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the live action in Las Vegas varies depending on who is in town. However, during the summer when everyone is in Vegas, Bobby’s Room reaches a feverish pitch.

Eli ElezraElezra said there was a $500-$1,000 and $1,000-$2,000 pot-limit Omaha game with French businessman Cyril Mouly that ran about 20 to 25 times during the summer, as well as a $100-$200-$400 game with Kido Pham.

All of that is in addition to the regular mixed game that runs as high as $3,000-$6,000, and is aptly called “The Big Game.”

Kido PhamHowever, Full Tilt’s impact can be felt even during the summer. Just how often the games are run and how high they get depends on how many bracelet bets were offered and accepted by Full Tilt’s team of pros. When there are bracelet bets in effect, tournaments at the Rio are the focus; when there aren’t, Bobby’s Room becomes virtually the sole focus.

Elezra said that bracelet bets by Team Full Tilt members Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan definitely altered the games this summer.

“The action around the Series wasn’t as good as everyone was hoping it would be,” said
Elezra. “Too many people had bets, just like last year. Tom Dwan’s bets caused a lot of
the cash games not to be as big as they were supposed to be. … These games were not going around-the-clock the way they usually would.”

Oppenheim, Hansen, Mouly, Rafi Amit, Patrik Antonius, and Abe Mosseri were amongst the usual characters at Bobby’s Room this summer, according to Elezra.

Patrik AntoniusHow Full Tilt Became the High-Stakes Behemoth

When you think about high-stakes poker, Full Tilt Poker has to come to mind. The company enjoys its reputation as the place to be for the high-stakes pro, as competitors like Dwan, Ivey, Hansen, Antonius, Oppenheim, and Matt Hawrilenko host their own rooms on the site.

When reflecting on how Full Tilt became what it is today in terms of the high-stakes scene, Elezra pointed to the moment that Guy Laliberte, the CEO of Cirque du Soleil and frequent poker hobbyist, logged on to the site to play the biggest cash games.

“When Guy used to play pot-limit Omaha, he really boosted the site and boosted [the bankrolls of] all those young kids, between Tom Dwan, Cole South, Brian Hastings, Brian Townsend, and all those guys who made millions during those good cash games,” said Elezra. “The money stayed on the site, and that’s what kept those games going.”

While Laliberte doesn’t play as much these days, the games still get a lot of traffic when particular players sit down.

“Every time Gus [Hansen] is sitting around, there will always be people joining him,” said Elezra.

Phil IveyIt also helps that Full Tilt has almost all of the big-limit players in its ranks. While other sites have gone for the guy who’s won a random big tournament to represent them, Full Tilt has loaded its stable with both tournament pros and high-stakes regulars.

Most of the players who play in The Big Game in Bobby’s Room are members of Team Full Tilt — a group that includes Ivey, Dwan, Hansen, Antonius, and Jennifer Harman. Elezra is a red pro on Full Tilt, along with a slew of other high-stakes regulars, such as South, Hawrilenko, David Grey, and David Benyamine.

As the high-stakes poker scene enters the next decade, one thing seems evident: Full Tilt Poker, by means of the games it offers and the pros it boasts, will continue to be at the forefront of the high-stakes world. Spade Suit

Five Biggest Pots in Online-Poker History

When you look at the five biggest pots in online-poker history, you will notice a couple of similarities. All of them happened in the $500-$1,000 pot-limit Omaha games on Full Tilt Poker, and all of them involved Isildur1. When the anonymous high-stakes gambler made his way up the ranks on Full Tilt in late 2009, the action in the high-stakes games exploded. Here, Card Player takes a look back at the five biggest cash-game pots in online-poker history.

Size of the Pot Winner Loser Date Board

1.$1,356,947 Patrik Antoniusv AHeart Suit KHeart Suit KSpade Suit 3Spade Suit Isildur1 9Spade Suit 8Heart Suit 7Diamond Suit 6Diamond Suit Nov. 21, 2009 5Club Suit 4Spade Suit 2Heart Suit 5Heart Suit 9Club Suit $162,000 in preflop, the rest in on the flop
2.$1,127,955 Isildur1 KDiamond Suit KClub Suit 5Heart Suit 4Diamond Suit Phil Ivey Unknown Nov. 23, 2009 KSpade Suit JSpade Suit JDiamond Suit 10Diamond Suit 5Diamond Suit $54,000 in preflop, $762,000 on the turn, the rest in on the river
3. $878,959 Patrik Antonius AHeart Suit QClub Suit 9Spade Suit 6Heart Suit Isildur1 ASpade Suit KSpade Suit QDiamond Suit 10Heart Suit Nov. 16, 2009 QSpade Suit 7Heart Suit 5Heart Suit ADiamond Suit 8Diamond Suit $6,000 in preflop, $42,000 on the flop, the rest in on the turn
4. $832,940 Phil Ivey ASpade Suit QClub Suit 7Spade Suit 3Club Suit Isildur1 6Heart Suit 6Diamond Suit 3Heart Suit 3Spade Suit Nov. 21, 2009 AClub Suit 6Club Suit 4Spade Suit JDiamond Suit KClub Suit $54,000 in preflop, the rest in on the flop
5. $827,960 Isildur1 QHeart Suit JHeart Suit 10Diamond Suit 9Club Suit Phil Ivey 10Club Suit 8Club Suit 7Spade Suit 3Spade Suit Nov. 21, 2009 9Spade Suit 6Spade Suit 2Heart Suit 8Diamond Suit 7Club Suit $18,000 in preflop, $30,000 on the flop, the rest in on the turn