This review of Full Tilt was written after significant changes were made to the site´s rewards program in August 2015. It reflects the site´s strategy of weighting rewards towards recreational players and the impact that the strategy has had. If you are a recreational online poker player, and Full Tilt is available in your jurisdiction, click “PLAY NOW” to be taken directly to the site.
A Checkered History
It is difficult to write a review of Full Tilt without commenting on its past. Full Tilt Poker was founded in 2004 and gained huge popularity due to the opportunity to “play with the stars”. Unfortunately the site´s funds were not managed properly and, when Full Tilt Poker was shut down in 2011, it owed players in excess of $330 million.
Full Tilt Poker was acquired by PokerStars in 2012 in a deal that saw PokerStars responsible for refunding the players. The site was rebranded to Full Tilt to reflect the shift away from being just an online poker site, before both PokerStars and Full Tilt were purchased by the Amaya Group in 2014. The site is now run by an independent management team.
These days, Full Tilt mostly operates in highly regulated markets and has shifted its focus away from attracting high-profile, high-volume players to maintaining a balanced poker ecology. Full Tilt provides a fair poker experience in which bots and “external player assistance programs” are banned, and offers some unique opportunities for players to expand their poker skills.
Value: The Full Tilt Poker Bonus for New Players
The Full Tilt poker bonus is a 100% match on first deposits up to $600. Unlike most other online poker bonuses, you do not necessarily start clearing the bonus straight away as you have sixty days from the date of your deposit to “opt in” to the bonus promotion. Once opted in, you have sixty days in which to earn the Full Tilt Points that will release the bonus into your account.
Full Tilt Points (FTPs) are earned by contributing to the rake deducted from cash game and Rush Poker pots, or for paying a fee to enter a Sit & Go or multi table tournament. Points are awarded at the rate of 10 per dollar raked, and the bonus is cleared at the rate of $1.00 for each 25 FTPs earned. This is a particularly good deal when compared to other online poker sites, as it equates to a rakeback rate of 40%.
The bonus is released in increments of $20.00 or in increments of 10% if your first deposit is less than $200.00. If, for example, you were to deposit $100.00 into your account, your Full Tilt poker bonus would be released in increments of $10.00 each time you earned 250 FTPs. There is no Full Tilt poker bonus code required to take advantage of the first deposit bonus.
Value: The Edge VIP Program and Players Club
Players at Full Tilt have two rewards programs to choose between – the Edge and the Players Club. The Edge is a points-based rewards program that most players will be familiar with – rewarding players with cash awards and tournament entry tickets in exchange for collecting FTPs. In one small change from the norm, players´ statuses within the Edge program are determined by their “rolling average” of FTPs earned over 30 day and 100 day periods rather than within a calendar month.
In the Players Club, players are rewarded with a greater number of freeroll tournaments and receive weekly mystery windfalls for playing real money poker games three times in any one week. Instead of FTPs, players are awarded “coins” which can be used to play “The Deal” – a mini-game that can award anything from a $1.00 satellite ticket up to a crack at a $100,000 jackpot.
Players can switch between the Edge and the Players Club once every day, and it is a good idea to consider the pros and cons of each rewards system before sitting down to start a session. For example, if you were just going to fill an hour by playing online poker, it may be to your advantage to opt into the Players Club, whereas if you were settling down for a massive session, the Edge could be more beneficial to you.
Value: Full Tilt Promotions
In addition to the Edge VIP Program and the Players Club, Full Tilt has a wide range of revolving promotions. Permanent promotions include monthly tournament leaderboards and qualifiers for the Full Tilt-sponsored International Poker Open, while the site also puts on seasonal promotions with cash, tournament tickets and other top quality prizes up for grabs.
Most of the seasonal promotions have multiple qualifying criteria – for example, make a deposit, earn so many FTPs within a week and be awarded a ticket to a Flip Freeroll (all-in every hand). Although there is little skill involved in these promotions – and little incentive to put in more hours at the table – the top prizes can be quite valuable, so the promotions are well worth getting involved in.
Periodically, Full Tilt hosts its “Full Tilt Online Poker Series” (FTOPS) in which players can compete in valuable tournaments for millions of dollars for prize money. Preceding the FTOPS events, there is normally a promotion running in which players who have fulfilled certain criteria can qualify for free for the most valuable events through freeroll satellites. Again, well worth participating in for the chance to win a seat in a multi-million dollar tournament.
Software: Poker Games and Tournaments
Once upon a time, Full Tilt had the most comprehensive range of cash games and tournaments in terms of the variety of games that were on offer. The site still hosts a 25-game tournament once a week, but the choice of cash games has been scaled back to just Hold´em and Omaha – including the incredibly wild 6-Card Omaha.
The site´s Sit & Go games are exclusively offered in NL Hold´em, as is “Jackpot Poker” – Full Tilt´s three-handed hyper turbo games that randomly pay up to 2,000 times the buy-in. Full Tilt´s fast-fold “Rush Poker” is available in the formats of NL Hold´em and PL Omaha, but one thing I noticed when compiling this review of Full Tilt is that the minimum stake level for Rush Poker is $0.10/$0.25 – not quite what you would expect from a site aiming to attract recreational players.
The Full Tilt tournament schedule is packed full of low buy-in tournaments and a handful of events with higher buy-ins. Many of the higher buy-in events have satellites feeding into them, but you will need to get tournament tickets from the FTP store to be able to participate in them. The feature tournament each week is the $60,000 guaranteed “Sunday Major”. The tournament has a buy-in of $250 and usually meets its guarantee, so value-hunters are better looking elsewhere for the value that sometimes exists in Full Tilt tournaments with guaranteed prize pools.
Software: Full Tilt Download
The Full Tilt download is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems and, despite the huge range of features included in the software package, is remarkably light on your computer´s resources. The software checks for updates whenever the desktop client is started, so you will always be up-to-date with the latest software for playing online poker at Full Tilt.
Talking of the features, there are dozens you can choose from to customize your online poker experience. There are also dozens of hotkeys you can take advantage of to access certain functions much quicker and a player admin section in which you can check the progress of your Full Tilt poker bonus or of any other promotion you have opted into.
Software: Full Tilt on a Mobile
Full Tilt has developed excellent apps for players that want to play online poker from their mobile devices. The apps – which are possibly the best apps in the industry – provide access to the full range of cash games, Sit & Go games and poker tournaments, plus players in the Player Club can also access “The Deal” mini game from their mobile devices.
The apps are compatible with Android 2.3 or higher devices and iOS 6 or higher devices. You can download the Android software by visiting the Full Tilt website from your mobile device or – for Apple users – directly from the App Store. As well as enjoying the mobile poker experience, I found that the lobbies were easy to navigate and the gameplay exceptionally smooth.
Surprisingly, Full Tilt does not offer as many deposit options as PokerStars – for example PayPal is not a deposit option. There are however plenty of alternatives available for funding your account; from Visa and MasterCard, to Neteller and Skrill, to Click and Buy and Entropay. You can even deposit into your account using Western Union.
Withdrawals are dealt with speedily and paid back to the source used for funding your account wherever possible. I have never experience an issue with cashing out from my Full Tilt poker account since the site was taken over by PokerStars and usually the withdrawals are transacted much quicker than the timescales advertised in the cashier.
Security: Currency Conversions
Full Tilt adds a premium for currency conversions when you are paying money into your account or withdrawing funds from your account in any currency other than US dollars. There is no facility to open an account in any currency other than US dollars, so you are pretty much stuck with it I am afraid.
The only way to avoid the premium is to use a funding source which is also maintained in US dollars. However, that may mean that you end up paying currency conversion charges to your credit card or eWallet provider. I calculated that the premium charged by Full Tilt is around 2.5% on currency transactions. Your credit card or eWallet provider may charge you more or less of a percentage.
Security: Customer Support
Despite a comprehensive online “Help & Support Center”, Full Tilt´s customer support is pretty limited. You can only get in touch with Full Tilt customer support by email, and even the email address (email@example.com) takes a fair bit of finding. The quality of support is fairly good – once you find out how to contact them.
I wrote in my review of PokerStars that it was understandable a site of any size would have logistical issues in maintaining a telephone or live chat service. Full Tilt does not have this excuse. There are some areas of playing on Full Tilt that it would be difficult for an inexperienced player to understand, and I believe that the site could even be losing players because of its lack of a full support service.
My Conclusion of Full Tilt
As a rule, if you are an experienced recreational online poker player, Full Tilt is a viable option. Despite the site´s reputation for nosebleed action, there is not a lot of high stakes action or many ultra-valuable tournaments that might attract you away from other sites, and the site also has issues (in my opinion) with currency exchanges and customer support.
On the plus side, Full Tilt has exceptionally good software, a unique choice of reward programs and the best value first deposit poker bonus of any online poker site. If you can get over the issues with the site, it is worth creating and funding an account just to take advantage of the Full Tilt poker bonus. Anything you pick up through the rewards programs or promotions while you are clearing the bonus is just icing on the cake.