Cash game traffic at Full Tilt is down 20% since it overhauled its lobby to eradicate “bum hunting” and create a healthier poker ecology.
Prior to the announcement, traffic tracking site PokerScout showed Full Tilt’s seven-day average as 1,000 players, but today that figure has plummeted to 800, the same figures achieved by PokerStars’ French-facing site and 100 players less that PokerStars’ Spain-only site.
The fall in traffic should have been expected by the Full Tilt management team after a number of the site’s “grinders” voiced their disapproval at the sweeping changes, many vowing to take their business elsewhere. Whether or not a 20% reduction in cash game players is in-line with expectations is something that only those behind the scenes at Full Tilt will know.
It is worth pointing out that traffic would have continued to decline, albeit at a slower rate, had the changes not come into force.
Full Tilt’s Managing Director, Dominic Mansour, has long been an advocate for catering for recreational players, claiming that the poker economy is broken due to the ratio of casual-to-professional players becoming unbalanced.
Under the old Full Tilt system, it was possible for stronger, more skilled players to prey on the weaker players, which resulted in the latter going broke at a faster rate than they would naturally. This in turn leads to these recreational players not redepositing as they realise their chances of winning are slim.
The new system, which randomly assigns players their seat at the table, prevents this “bum hunting” from taking place, meaning weaker players’ bankrolls last longer and the chances of them continuing to play at the site increase.
While this is obviously a good thing for Full Tilt – players staying for longer on the site generate more rake – it is also benefits the better players too because the games should grow softer due to an influx of lesser-skilled opponents.
Further changes are in the pipeline
Mansour has hinted at further changes to Full Tilt ring games with the rake structure and loyalty scheme being the two areas.
Rake contributions are expected to increase for micro-stakes players (up to blinds of $0.05/$0.10) and a larger rake cap at $5/$10 and $10/$20, while Mansour said “We are reinventing our rewards program so that it's genuinely attractive to all players, not just those that play the most.” How Full Tilt plans to do this remains to be seen.
Proof that the recreational model does work
The long-term benefits are there for all to see when you look at the traffic figures for Bodog and Unibet Poker.
Bodog, which still offers its services to U.S customers, switched to a system where players remain anonymous at all times and currently boasts of a seven-day average of 1,700 players, enough to place it third in the PokerScout table behind only 888poker and industry leader PokerStars.
Unibet Poker has a system similar to Full Tilt’s in that table selection is not possible. Since leaving MPN, formerly the Microgaming Network, and launching on its standalone platform, Unibet Poker has focussed on attracting and retaining recreational players.
Although Unibet Poker’s seven-day average is 475 players, it recently announced its revenues had increased by 12% to £1.9 million, bucking the industry-wide trend.