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Saint Bernard Or Rottweiler? Groupe Bernard Tapie Sinks Teeth Into Full Tilt

Full Tilt is still in the news this week as their Dublin arm – PocketKings.ie – saw the loss of 180 jobs, Black Friday finally taking its toll in one of the biggest lay-offs in the poker industry since the UIGEA. If you visit the website you will see several smiling faces and links to job vacancies in various departments, none of which exist any longer. The ‘Philosophy’ and ‘Culture’ of Full Tilt / Pocket Kings is still there to see though which will surely offer comfort to the 180 people who are now out of work.

We are, at heart, a fun company. This means that we understand the importance of balancing work and play. While we work hard, we also want our employees to enjoy life outside of the office.

For the players some daylight seems to have appeared in the form of Group Bernarde Tapie, the French investors who entered into an acquisition agreement with Full Tilt a few weeks ago, albeit a conditional one. Players owed money by FTP have predictably been delighted about the prospect of the site going back into business and the possibility that bankrolls may be returned. There is one issue though: Tapie running Full Tilt could be like asking R Kelly to babysit or Chris Brown to run a shelter for battered women.

Gratuitous Rhianna Pic

A new Full Tilt will have to go some way to alleviate player fears after the post-Black Friday horror show and the regime of the old owners. Groupe Bernarde Tapie have rightly attempted to distance themselves from that, from calvinayre.com:

Although several parties have voiced concerns over the past leaders of Full Tilt Poker, Group Bernard Tapie has vowed not to allow such people anywhere near the relaunched venture’s inner workings. Behnam Dayanim (attorney for Groupe Bernarde Tapie) added: “What is clear, and is not up for debate, is that to the extent there is any interest from former owners. It would be a minority or passive interest. There would be no continued involvement or oversight.”

So the potential new owner of Full Tilt Poker doesn’t want to involve  ’such people’ as Ray Bitar, Howard Lederer or Chris Ferguson in the future affairs of the company but what of Tapie himself? Somehow the man’s own past seems to have been overlooked in these negotiations, whether deliberately or otherwise, when it could be argued that his influence would be even worse. For a full breakdown of Bernard Tapie’s ‘illustrious’ past click here and then decide if he’s really the man needed to rescue Full Tilt itself and the trapped funds of thousands.

Bernard Tapie Helps Police With Enquiries

As the bad news was given to the 180 people at Pocket Kings it seemed that more ‘good’ news for FTP players was being uncovered on two plus two. Word got out that increasing numbers of  people were receiving phone calls from LivePoker, a French magazine, and being surveyed about their past and present poker playing habits, how much they had stuck with Full Tilt and whether or not they’d play with them if they re-opened for business (it is suggested in the call that this could be just weeks away).  A lot of  excitement has been generated by this and it’s clear that LivePoker have access to the player database that FTP had built up over the years. A little digging shows that LivePoker magazine has links with Groupe Bernard Tapie.

If the deal goes ahead can any gaming authority or commission really consider granting a license given the past behaviour of the main protagonist? If they do  surely they are bringing themselves into disrepute? I’m eagerly awaiting my call from LivePoker to discuss the money that Full Tilt owes me. In the unlikely event that I’m asked whether or not I’d trust a site owned and run by people prosecuted for match-fixing and tax fraud I know what my answer will be.