Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Full Tilt v Interpoker

Is Interpoker the Serpico of Poker Rooms?

Okay, so the first question will be: Why Interpoker as a comparison?

Interpoker have been around since 2004 – same as Full Tilt – and as I see it we get an interesting view of what Full Tilt have done wrong and why Interpoker have been a steady household name without having to take the sort of risks FT have made and are paying for now, the same reason the Full Tilt Poker Download Now button is strictly Free Play only.

Both Interpoker and Full Tilt established themselves early as leaders in online poker –both companies seemed to grasp that poker would soon become a phenomenon and invested considerable time in promoting their brands (Interpoker’s Extreme Poker Series was one of the most memorable campaigns in online poker history) and making sure they were competitive. But the first big difference starts here.

Full Tilt spent hundreds of millions on sponsorship deals, gave away 100% Rakeback to their pro players, make sure their logos populated as many final tables as possible and pretty much paid above the going rate to ensure they got the airtime. Non-Us players who tried to access the Full Tilt software to find that the Full Tilt problems were not restricted to the US know how irrelevant big name players are when it comes to actually playing poker online.

Interpoker didn’t go down this route, and in retrospect it was a wise decision. Interpoker understood that while having pro players endorse the site and getting big names on board was a good short-term strategy, the real value was in giving online players what they wanted and not depending on associations to acquire players. It is safe to say that while Full Tilt will be opening their doors again soon enough – and have the arduous task of removing all the Full Tilt Server Down and Full Tilt Issues messages too - they will have lost the trust of a majority of their players – and most of them will just withdraw their funds when they get access to their accounts. So do players feel duped by FT? Yes. And they should.

Having the biggest poker names on the site was meant to show that they were trusted enough to play safe-house to hundreds of millions of other people’s cash, but then what happened? Interpoker may not have invested their cash in getting their names on final tables, but where they have been spending their cash is far more worthwhile: E-cash – secure transactions that are genuinely safe and where players have peace of mind knowing their money is in reliable hands. Of course many people will also say the comparison is not legit because Interpoker doesn’t take US players. Well, yes, but what got FT in trouble in the first place?

Players going to their Full Tilt Login to discover the message that Full Tilt is down know what it’s like to find that the biggest site online is not necessarily the safest site. Interpoker, as one of the largest and oldest poker rooms, could have done what many sites did and navigate through various loopholes in the hope they would evade the law forever. But of course this isn’t the case, and Interpoker knew that the way to go was concentrate on legitimate markets. This means that they are not gambling with player funds, whereas Full Tilt were aware that at any time they could have to cease their operations and all player funds could be confiscated.

The Full Tilt payments team has not been very vocal in the past few weeks and there has not been any reliable Full Tilt Update aside from hearsay. Interpoker is still going from strength to strength. It is one of few sites that will not bend to illegal deals in order to hoard traffic, and while this might seem illogical in light of today’s poker economy and ecology it will see them striving forward where other sites lag behind in the future the more they depend on smaller and more illegal margins via Rakeback and under-the-table agreements.

If you are looking for one of the few truly standup sites on the poker landscape look at Interpoker – the Serpico of poker rooms.

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