Pros React to PokerStars Potentially Buying Full Tilt

Jason Somerville
Online MTT legend Jason "JCarver" Somerville is all smiles about PokerStars buying FTP.

The poker world was buzzing today with the news that PokerStars might be buying Full Tilt Poker and paying back the hundreds of millions of dollars in player funds tied up on the defunct poker room.

While the acquisition has yet to be confirmed officially, poker players at the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo haven’t stopped talking about it.

We spoke with Jason “JCarver” Somerville, Mike “Timex” McDonald, Matt “Jarfish” Jarvis and Mike "SirWatts” Watson to find out what the pros are saying about the possible PokerStars acquisition of Full Tilt Poker. Based on what we’ve heard today, does the idea of PokerStars buying Full Tilt make any sense? Is it even possible?

Jason Somerville: I absolutely think it’s possible but I think Stars is smart enough that they wouldn’t do this unless they had their eye on some bigger prize so all the talk about Stars coming back to America makes sense because they just wouldn’t pay the DOJ unless that was part of it.

Mike McDonald: I was definitely caught off guard when I heard the news. I knew Full Tilt Poker was in the process of being acquired but I had no idea PokerStars was playing a role in it. But I definitely think it’s feasible. I don’t see any reason it wouldn’t be doable. If Coke could buy Pepsi why wouldn’t they? So I feel like that’s what’s happening here.

Matt Jarvis: It seems to make a lot of sense. As much as I hate monopolies it makes a lot of sense for a company like that to try to consolidate the market as much as possible.

Mike McDonald
Mike "Timex" McDonald

Mike Watson: It’s weird because no one seems to know where the information is coming from but there are enough people whose opinions I respect who seem to think it’s legit so it’s certainly plausible. PokerStars has the money and the willingness to actually do it so it makes sense. What do you see as the biggest reasons for PokerStars to make a move like this?

Jason Somerville: I think it’s purely financial. If PokerStars pulls this off who else really exists in the online poker world? There wouldn’t be any competition left. They’d almost have a monopoly at that point. But apart from Stars, even if the money getting paid back is the only thing that this accomplishes, that’s so huge. Three of my closest friends have something in the realm of $5-$10 million tied up on Full Tilt, just insane money.

Mike McDonald: There could be different segments of the market they could appeal to with Full Tilt maybe. I feel like Full Tilt has always been seen as the cooler of the two sites. PokerStars has a lot of the Main Event champions but they never had the Phil Iveys and the nosebleed cash games.  

Matt Jarvis: The software is definitely a big asset. Some people preferred it even over the PokerStars software, and the player base is huge as well. I think it’s true that the casual player doesn’t really understand what happened on Black Friday and I really think that if the site was up and running tomorrow, a lot of people would be playing on it pretty fast. And that’s even more true if PokerStars is running things.

Matt Jarvis WSOP Winner
Matt "Jarfish" Jarvis

Mike Watson: The player base has to be great for them. Full Tilt, or whatever it ends up being called, could make a lot of money for them. What I’m hearing is that they’re going to run it alongside Stars but that remains to be seen. They’re giving away a lot of money in the short term but if people know it’s managed properly it could certainly be successful. Do you think people should be apprehensive about a possible PokerStars monopoly in the future?

Jason Somerville: People have a really bad opinion of Full Tilt, and it’s certainly warranted, but PokerStars, on the other hand, paid players back what, like 45 seconds after Black Friday? And it wasn’t just done, it was done well. They were so fast and so up front that I think they’ll be able to handle it well and people will be able to trust them.

Mike McDonald: Any time there’s a monopoly in any industry it has the potential to be a bad thing, but I’m just hoping things don’t go that way.

Matt Jarvis: I think it’s a little bit scary but I really like the way PokerStars runs things. It’s obviously a bit worrisome because Stars might be able to do whatever they want, as far as raising rake, or changing things for the players or whatever they wanted to do. But I can’t really see them alienating their players like that, though, since they’re basically printing money.

Mike Watson: I’m not worried about it. The biggest thing is to just get the players’ money back.

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