PokerStars, Full Tilt to Merge into Single Online Poker Room

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In what looks like a cost cutting move, Amaya Inc. has decided to merge Full Tilt into the PokerStars gaming platform, effective sometime this coming spring. The two brands will stay separate, but all liquidity, accounts, and the VIP program will be merged under the PokerStars umbrella.

In a press release, Amaya explained some of the thought process behind the decision:

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. For instance, rather than splitting resources developing Full Tilt Jackpot Sit & Go and PokerStars Spin & Go features independently, teams will be able to work together on delivering the best possible product on one platform.

Though the company aims to avoid “splitting resources,” Full Tilt will still have its own, separate brand. “Full Tilt will retain its own great promotions, table layouts, specialist tournaments and branded differences, such as Rush Poker (instead of Zoom Poker),” the press release states.

The company added, “Full Tilt players will continue to enjoy the brand experience they love, with the continuation of Full Tilt avatars and innovative rewards, such as The Deal.”

This makes it look like the Full Tilt software, highly regarded amongst online poker players, will stay alive, at least for a while. One would think that if the company is going to “focus on improving one market-leading platform rather than two,” the Full Tilt software would have to die off at some point, but nothing to that effect has been stated by Amaya.*

Aside from seeing a boost to player traffic, customers who have only been on PokerStars and not Full Tilt should not see any changes. Full Tilt players, of course, will. For those who have accounts at both PokerStars and Full Tilt, the PokerStars account and its associated username will take over. Full Tilt accounts will be folded into the PokerStars accounts. Loyalty program progress will be converted over to PokerStars’ recently revamped VIP Club.

Full Tilt players who are not already on PokerStars will have the option to keep their Full Tilt username if it is available on PokerStars, or create a new PokerStars username entirely.

Since the Rational Group and PokerStars revived Full Tilt in late 2012, it has seemed like PokerStars was the brand for more serious players, while Full Tilt served as the site for recreational players. PokerStars, though, has made significant moves to become more recreational player-friendly in the past year almost to the point of virtually pushing pros and serious amateurs away completely. Thus, the makeups of the player bases for the two sites have been converging. In that regard, this move makes sense – why keep both sites when they can just be combined?

Additionally, the press release said, Full Tilt’s market share has been on the decline for years now. Rather than continuing to sink money into a site that looks like its slowly dying, might as well roll it into PokerStars, even if the two maintain their separate brands.

*UPDATE: Reports are that while Full Tilt players will be able to use their old avatars and table layouts, the Full Tilt software will be ditched in favor of PokerStars’ software. Full Tilt will just be a branded skin of PokerStars.

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