Full Tilt Poker, founded in 2004 by a consortium of successful poker pros including Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson, and Howard Lederer, has stood the test of time and is now the second biggest poker site online behind PokerStars. Over the past six months, the network has played host to an average of 18,000 real money players at any given time.
There are 3 different ways to view the lobby, 14 different table backgrounds, and dozens of player avatars that can be set to display 4 distinct emotions which allows for an impressive number of options and customizations. There are also options for game animations, sound effects and alerts, buy-ins and game selection. All of these details can be confusing and distracting to beginners, but are very convenient for experienced online players.
Because it plays host to one of the internet’s biggest player pools, FTP is able to offer a huge selection of games and formats, most of which run very consistently. The one-tabling 2-7 Single Draw player will find plenty of action, and the 24-tabling Pot Limit Omaha pro will also be kept satisfied (and busy).
In addition, FTP is the only place to play Rush Poker, which zips players from table to table, minimizing the amount of downtime in between hands.
FTP also offers a varied schedule of multi-table tournaments and Sit & Gos. Nearly everyone can find at least a few regular tournaments suited to their skills and bankroll, in spite the fact that FTP’s prominence as a tournament operator is bested by its chief rival (contrast FTP’s Sunday tournament and its $750,000 guarantee with PokerStar’s $1,500,000 Sunday offering).
Unfortunately, FTP’s status as one of the most obvious and well-trafficked sites—along with its willingness to serve the US market—means that the poker shark community has settled in at its tables. This is not to imply that it’s impossible to win consistently on the site (it definitely is), but prospective players will have to consider the trade-offs between FTP and a softer but smaller network.
The rake structure for Full Tilt Poker cash games can be roughly summarized as 5% of each pot up to $3, effectively identical to the system used by most of its competitors. Ever since the collapse of rake-free sites like WSEX, rake at the major networks has stabilized to the point where it’s hardly ever a relevant factor in deciding where to play.
Rake*back*, on the other hand, can make a huge difference to a player’s bottom line. In this aspect, FTP has an edge over many of its competitors, including PokerStars. FTP affiliates (such as Rakeback.com) offer 27% rakeback, meaning you’ll get back $0.27 of every $1 you contribute to the rake.
New players are welcomed to the site with a deposit bonus of up to $600 which is released over time as the player earns Full Tilt Points. Those Points, earned with every contribution to rake—both in cash games and tournaments—can then be spent in the Full Tilt Store on items from playing cards to flatscreen TVs. Watch for special happy hours where you can earn double or triple points.
The Iron Man program takes things a step further by introducing a separate currency, Iron Man medals, and a separate store catering to the sites most dedicated players. They can earn medals and one of the four Iron Man statuses (bronze, silver, gold, or iron) through consistent player over the course of every month.
The truly high rollers can also reap the benefit of the Black Card, which doubles their Full Tilt Point earn rate and provides access to a higher level of services and rewards.
With its wide selection of games and steady stream of traffic at all stakes, Full Tilt Poker is one of the most obvious choices—along with PokerStars—for a high volume player. Solid benefits in the form of the $600 sign-up bonus, 27% rakeback, Full Tilt Points, and the Iron Man program all work together to keep Full Tilt players raking in the money even when the cards themselves aren’t cooperating.
Many sites—especially for non-American players—can offer better bonuses or rakeback. But for a safe, reliable, and consistent playing experience, it’s hard to beat Full Tilt.
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