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History of Poor Business Decisions at Full Tilt Poker

A timeline of business practices and controversies surrounding Full Tilt Poker (FTP) over the years. Also refer to the current Full Tilt Poker page for all up-to-date information.

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
  • 2004 – Full Tilt Opens

FTP goes live as a online poker room, serving players around the world. A reported $5 million is raised to start the company.

The main players behind the company are Howard Lederer, Ray Bitar, Chris Ferguson, Rafe Furst, Perry Friedman, Phil Ivey, Andy Bloch, Phil Gordon, Eric Seidel, Gus Hansen, and John Juanda.

The first five listed above form the original elected board of directors, with Ferguson as Chairman, Bitar as CEO, and Lederer president of Tiltware.

  • 2005 – 2006 – Poor Management 

Perry Friedman steps down from the board, warning them that the business is becoming too large for the above group to run on its own.

Confirmed by Howard in the Lederer Files interviews of 2012, FTP was operated and ultimated owned as a California LLC with an out-of-date operating agreement crafed for 2003, despite being a Dublin company.

 That was our inexperience, our laziness I guess. – Howard Lederer

  • 2007 – Distributions

Full Tilt has a surplus of $20 – $30 million, and begins paying distributions of approx. $5 million per month to its owners. Ferguson was against paying distributions, saying it would weaken the company.

  • 2008 – 2009 – Distributions Increased

Distributions are increased to $10 million per month, leaving less than 10% profit retained in the company. Total distributions received included:

  1. Howard Lederer – $42.5 million
  2. Chris Ferguson – $42 million
  3. Ray Bitar – $40.8 million
  4. Rafe Furst – $11.7 million
  • 2010 – FTP Changes Rake Calculation Method

October 2010 – Full Tilt switched from the dealt method of rake allocation, to the weighted contributed method. This is perceived by many as a ‘money grab’ by many, as it increased rewards for loose, recreational players that were unlikely to have affiliate rakeback.

  • 2011 – Black Friday

February 2011 – WSOP bracelet winner Blair Hinkle wins $1 million in an online MTT on Full Tilt Poker. All attempts to withdraw his winnings are denied. FTP was already falling into insolvency two months shy of Black Friday.

April 15th, 2011 – FTP stops offering real-money play to it’s U.S. players, charged with violating the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA), bank fraud, and money laundering.

  • 2012 – PokerStars Repays Players

Full Tilt Poker relaunches under the management of the most trusted name in online poker, PokerStars, and RoW players are repaid their full balances.

However, U.S. players have to undergo a DOJ remission process to retrieve their funds, and affiliate commission owed are lost as New Full Tilt does not assume responsibility for these liabilities. One major affilate site has also filed a lawsuit vs FTP in an attempt to retrieve lost funds.

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