Speaking of Full Tilt, I went over to FTP yesterday for some low limit and once again struggled to find any action at all. Middle of a Saturday and only a single table of 6-max, $0.50/$1.00 is running. I sit down and for twenty hands or so enjoy some good fortune. On the second hand was dealt aces and won a small pot. On the fifth hand was dealt and ended up in a multiway pot with lots of action in which I flopped a king and luckily turned a ten, thus backing into a $14.25 pot (minus the rake). Was up and down a bit for the next two dozen hands or so, then players started disappearing. By hand #40 we were down to three-handed. A couple of hands later it was just me and SilentSam.
I only played about ten more hands with SilentSam before “standing up” from the table. I don’t mind heads-up, generally, but I much prefer a full table of players. We jousted a bit, though neither of us seemed that into it. We did have one mildly interesting hand. SilentSam limped from the small blind/button and I just called from the big blind with . I had preraised the last couple of hands in a row and thought perhaps I’d trap if an ace flopped. The flop was a fairly dazzling , giving me a moment’s pause. I decided to bet out, figuring Sam would call with overcards or any draw, or raise with any pair. Alas, he folded, and I contemplated whether I had lost bets on the hand. A couple of more hands and I made tracks.
I realize that limit games aren’t the most popular, but it is amazing to me how few tables of limit FTP fills. If you scan through all of the non-NL hold ’em games, there is usually no more than a table or two of any game at most limits, and in a lot of cases no games at all. Meanwhile, PartyPoker and PokerStars usually have dozens of tables to choose from, regardless of the game or limit (or the time of day). Generally speaking, Party and Stars report about five or six times as many players on the site at a given time than does FTP.
From the looks of the current issue of CardPlayer (Vol. 19, No. 15), you’d never guess FTP’s popularity was second to that of any other site. The cover highlights “Team Full Tilt,” the large stable of professional players who are paid to promote (and play on) the site. The story itself is quite the puff piece -- really just a lengthy advertisement breathlessly congratulating FTP for the quality of its site, its innovative advertising, and having collected “the world’s first poker dynasty” under its logo. (The article is followed by no less than thirty pages of player profiles.)
To give you a sample, here’s the last paragraph of the article: "In the end, it’s difficult to tell which is more impressive, the machine that is behind the site or the organization’s group of players who have come to dominate the poker community. By working together, the two groups have set an industry standard that has more than its share of imitators, and unless the universe implodes, FullTilt will continue its trailblazing growth."
What am I reading, here? An objective journalist reporting news or an enthusiastic pitch to prospective stockholders? It’s hard to tell, really, what the author (Michael Friedman) means when referring to FTP’s “trailblazing growth.” Is he talking about the number of players who play on the site or the number of pros willing to join “Team Full Tilt”? I’ve seen this claim that FTP is the “fastest growing site” thrown about a lot, but have yet to notice any real evidence that more players are indeed signing up and playing at FTP.
I enjoy the site just fine. The avatars are silly, no doubt, but the software functions smoothly, I’ve no real problem with the rake structure, and the sign-up bonus is fairly generous (if difficult to clear). So I recommend the site in theory, but in practice FTP simply has to start gathering more players and running more tables for it to be worth players’ time. Having a choice of tables (and opponents) is important. If I log on to Full Tilt and there is only one table of the game I wish to play, I’m forced to play with these same players as long as I stay there -- not always a positive EV situation, frankly. Makes it tough, sometimes, to stick with the site.
Perhaps if one of those qualifiers breaks through and wins this week, we really will start to see some of that "trailblazing growth" start to occur over at FTP. Meanwhile, I’ll be sitting here, whistling and waiting . . . .
Image: Full Tilt Poker table (adapted).