Party Pooper

With the weekend behind us and with all of the frantic poker offers on the table, so to speak, PokerQ4 takes a closer look at which of the major online poker sites have cut themselves the largest slices of Full Tilt Poker pie.

A recent article in eGaming Review suggested that of the of 13,000 players that left Full Tilt poker when the platform was shutdown, some 59% of players have failed to turn up at another platform, or have become ‘lost’, according to analysts, H2 Gambling Capital. Of the remaining 41% of players that did migrate to another platform, some 5300+ in all, 27% have made PokerStars their new homes – a massive 66% of the migrated Full Tilt players.

The Manchester based gaming data company, H2, attributed the huge 59% drop-off in Full Tilt players to:

“Players being unable to withdraw balances from Tilt and some lack of confidence in playing online poker in the current climate.”

This, however, is a somewhat flawed interpretation and doesn’t really tell the whole story when you consider that many of the ‘lost’ will have had existing accounts at other platforms and will thus not show up in any migration figures. Whichever way you look at it, though, it’s clearly good news for PokerStars.

Party Poker (Pwin), however, will not be celebrating too much at their position as the second biggest winner in the Full Tilt carve-up, after gaining just 5% of the Full Tilt booty – a somewhat disappointing figure you might think given their attractive player liquidity, solid and playable platform, and firm legal footing. This can come of no surprise though, when as reported by last week, Party Poker’s reaction to Black Wednesday was distinctly slow. This latest news then will do little for Pwin’s troublesome share price which was recently buoyed by the anticipated positive effect on cash return of the Full Tilt news. Several notes to the city in recent weeks downgrading Pwin’s revenue and earnings forecasts by around 3-4%, have sent shares in the gaming giant into a downward turn, however, this was offset in the immediate aftermath of Black Wednesday as they experienced 10% uplift in share price. City analysts, BarCap, commented that this 10% uplift in share price implied that poker revenues had to increase by 40%, which they estimated to be 20-25% of Full Tilt – plainly a lot more than recent acquisition figures for Party are suggesting they have achieved. As for the sale of the Ongame Network, the opinions in the city ranged from Morgan Stanley and Numis on “material contribution” to Espirito not expecting any major cash contribution, with price expectations ranging from €25m to €50m. Clearly rough times ahead for the Pwin board as their shareholders and the city begin to ask questions.

Meanwhile, news coming out of Betfair Poker – who reacted very strongly to the move by the Alderney Gambling Commission move – is that their acquisitions are 100% up post Black Wednesday, although, they have struggled maintain their retention rates in the face of the eye-watering value out there, and in no small part as a result of their notorious service and product stability issues. PokerQ4 understands from an anonymous source that Ongame have today ordered Betfair to remove their ‘85% value-back for 2 months’ promotion, stating that it is a clear breach of the network rakeback policy. Whilst a blow, this development shouldn’t trouble Betfair too much if this indeed the case, since most of the sign-ups and reactivations they could have expected will have done so by now.

As for the future of the company at the centre of it all – Full Tilt Poker – a deal has reportedly been struck with investors that will see $150M injected into the troubled company to cover the player funds liability. One has to wonder now, though, how the news emerging from France that Full Tilt’s license has been suspended by French Regulator, Jarvel, will affect the proposed deal. Time will tell. In any case, confidence in the operator will have surely been so severely diminished that there will surely be no way back for the one-time second largest brand in online poker, and that player funds, once released will, be swiftly withdrawn never to grace the virtual felt of Full Tilt Poker again.

All-in-all, the initial results appear to suggest that PokerStars – who have been marledly quiet indeed in their marketing efforts since the whole DOJ furore kicked off – have been handed a vicarious victory by the sluggish Party Poker, further cementing PokerStars’ place at the top of the online poker pile in spite of their similar legal predicament to their now doomed rival, and demonstrating in awesome fashion the power of online branding.


Cornelius ‘THEMAN’ Bullen – Bullen by name and Bullen by nature. Are names a self fulfilling prophecy and does Cornelius Bullen prove it? Gold, Moneymaker were seemingly destined to win the WSOP Main Event, and Bullen? Well he is full of it on and off the tables. He is our Chief US Editor located in Las Vegas and is known in the business as Mr Affiliate.