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Ben Wilinofsky On PokerStars' Full Tilt Takeover

Pros Opinions On PokerStars' Acquisition Of Full Tilt


Poker players from all over the globe were asked their opinions on the PokerStars takeover of Full Tilt and what they expected from the acquisition. They were asked questions like how they felt about it, what it could mean, is it good for poker, what will it be like when both are up and running, how will Full Tilt rebrand itself, and how likely is it to be a success?

Most were only too pleased to voice their opinion, and some interesting points and premonitions were given overall. Up first Ben “NeverScaredB” Wilinofsky…

“I think it’s definitely good for poker and good for the players. In the first place, making sure everyone is reimbursed, casual and serious players alike, is really important. For the casual players, it will hopefully bring back some of the faith they had in online poker. The number two complaint among casual players, after not believing that the game is truly random online, is that they are worried about actually getting their money when it comes time to cash out. While I don’t think returning their funds a year and a half later is going to restore all of their faith, it will definitely be better than never getting their money at all.

“For serious players, many had large sums of money and percentages of their net worth tied up for a year and a half, and it cost them drastically in both opportunity cost and quality of living. From both groups, it means a large injection of cash into the poker economy that can be put into play at the tables. For both groups, it’s important that they are paid what they’re owed, morally and for the health and reputation of the poker economy.

“[When both are up and running again] I think my days will get a lot busier. More tournaments mean more quality opportunities, which means more tables.

“The most obvious way Full Tilt will rebrand itself is by removing Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson et al. They need to distance themselves as much as possible from the thieves in their corporate history. Other than new faces, I expect them to distance themselves as much as possible from the Full Tilt that was called a Ponzi Scheme in the mainstream media. Depsite all that, Full Tilt had probably the best, most recognizable campaigns in poker, and I don’t expect Stars to just give up on the brand’s equity. It’s part of what they’re paying for.

“How likely is it to be a success? — This is a tricky question. I think it is most likely to be successful in the hands of Isai Scheinberg. Pokerstars has historically been the best run poker site by a country mile. If anyone can repair the damage, it’s them. But I’m not convinced that people will return in droves to Full Tilt. The first thing a casual player will do when choosing where to put his or her hard-earned money is Google. A quicksearch of Full Tilt has three links related to the dealings with the DoJ on the front page, and the two top related searches are “Full Tilt Poker cheats” and “Full Tilt Poker shut down”. There’s a lot of negative information in the public sphere to overcome before the casual player puts his trust in Full Tilt again.

“While serious players might understand who’s in charge now and see their funds on Full Tilt as an acceptable business risk, the casual player doesn’t need to meet a minimum threshold for volume. He can put all his eggs in one basket, and I see very few choosing Full Tilt as their basket. And, as the casual players go, so go the serious players.”

Stay tuned as more poker players give their opinions and feelings on the issue. In case you miss one, there is a special feature in the November issue of Card Player Europe which combines views from all over the poker world.