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Old 01-28-2021, 08:22 AM   #1
AnyQuestions21
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AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

Way back when the unfortunate madness began, I started a thread on here opening the floor to the 2P2 community that had any questions regarding the FTP operation and the thread, despite erupting, ended up closed at my request.

Upon reflection and with time passed, I'd like to return and open the floor - if it's of any interest to the community. Nothing will be off the table.

I worked in a Senior role within Tiltware LLC in Vancouver and Pocket Kings Ltd in Dublin (with some California in there now and again) for approximately 5 years.

I was part of several teams, pivoted around a lot, and worked collaboratively with several departments during this time in terms of product development, poker room management, security, operations, finance and marketing.

Working for Full Tilt was an incredible experience and journey for me - through ridiculous highs and unforgettable moments to the lowest lows and unspeakable sadness - and a little part of me went away with the original Tilt at the end.

Anyway, if the appetite exists. I'll be very active in my responses.

Last edited by AnyQuestions21; 01-28-2021 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 01-28-2021, 08:26 AM   #2
David Lyons
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

*virtual hi-5*
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Old 01-28-2021, 08:33 AM   #3
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

Thank you for reopening the topic and for your replies.

The most obvious question that comes to mind is regarding the (relatively few by percentage, yet still existing) Black Friday GCG disbursements that were left unclaimed/disputed by 2011 U.S. players.

Also not sure if this is in your wheelhouse, but do you believe there is any possibility of Flutter offloading the existing Full Tilt software to a separate licensed entity? To one day operate in the U.S./elsewhere in a real money capacity?

Perhaps to current Hard Rock Digital President & former StarsBetUSA CEO Matt Primeaux? I ask because I believe I saw such a move suggested/promoted by Poker Industry PRO editor Nick Jones on his Twitter feed recently. Nick is 'hood' here on TwoPlusTwo.

Thanks again for the AMA. Best of luck!

.-David

Last edited by dhubermex; 01-28-2021 at 08:39 AM.
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Old 01-28-2021, 08:41 AM   #4
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

A link to the previous thread please, so we wouldn't duplicate already answered questions?
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Old 01-28-2021, 08:51 AM   #5
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

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Originally Posted by dhubermex View Post
Thank you for reopening the topic and for your replies.

The most obvious question that comes to mind is regarding the (relatively few by percentage, yet still existing) Black Friday GCG disbursements that were left unclaimed/disputed by 2011 U.S. players.

Also not sure if this is in your wheelhouse, but do you believe there is any possibility of Flutter offloading the existing Full Tilt software to a separate licensed entity? To one day operate in the U.S./elsewhere in a real money capacity?

Perhaps to current Hard Rock Digital President & former StarsBetUSA CEO Matt Primeaux? I ask because I believe I saw such a move suggested/promoted by Poker Industry PRO editor Nick Jones on his Twitter feed recently. Nick is 'hood' here on TwoPlusTwo.

Thanks again for the AMA. Best of luck!

.-David
I departed before the Stars deal and subsequent GCG process so I'm not sure what value I can add on that front unfortunately.

In relation to the Software, there's a couple of points I'd make.

First being, in my opinion - even the 10 years ago Tilt software blows away anything that's on the market right now in terms of functionality, scale, usability, experience, security and integration. I say that as someone that knows where a lot of the Tilt devs ended up and the treat was them all coming together to create a remarkable software tjhat in my opinion has never been replicated since. (Even when the Head of Dev moved to IOM)

So second being - is it still a massive asset in 2021? Absolutely.

Will it ever be sold? I seriously doubt it. It's too much of a threat.

There's a big backstory between the regional (Dublin) competitive nature of Paddy Power Vs Pocket Kings from say 08-11. There are absolutely people in Flutter right now that were in Paddy back then that have been wanting their hands on that for a very long time. (Lots of IT staff crossed over, some were involved in legal cases)

If anything, I'd perhaps say it's more likely to be used as a future Paddy Power Poker platform than it ever seeing the light of day outside the Flutter organisation.
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Old 01-28-2021, 08:51 AM   #6
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

Black friday FeltBadMan
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Old 01-28-2021, 08:55 AM   #7
AnyQuestions21
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

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Black friday FeltBadMan
Heartbreaking dude.
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Old 01-28-2021, 09:01 AM   #8
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

Would you define the senior management leading up to Black Friday as:

1) Corrupt
2) Willfully negligent
3) Incompetent

and can you defend your choice.

Would also be a better thread if you opened with a few Ray/Howard stories.
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Old 01-28-2021, 09:10 AM   #9
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

Do you know what benefits the pros were receiving in rakeback/monthly income? Guys like Ivey, Dwan, Blom.
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Old 01-28-2021, 09:14 AM   #10
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

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Originally Posted by Punker View Post
Would you define the senior management leading up to Black Friday as:

1) Corrupt
2) Willfully negligent
3) Incompetent

and can you defend your choice.

Would also be a better thread if you opened with a few Ray/Howard stories.
Senior Management in an organisation this size casts a big net, I'll bucket that info different categories for hindsight and pre-BF.

Bitar & Coronado: In hindsight, it's hard to say anything other than all 3 of the options above. Pre BF - Bitar incompetent for sure, there was always a feeling he wasnt capable of running anything without his support network around him.

Coronado an incredibly intelligent operator (evidenced by the fact his name is nowhere) but not personable enough to build a relationship with. Quite detached, questionable morality considering how many "ladies" were Taxi'd into PK HQ during the nights at times.

Senior Leadership Team of what essentially became PK : Absolutely professional, potentially outwith HR leadership. Hoodwinked by Bitar and Coronado.

Pro Ownership : Lederer/Ferguson/Bloch/Gordon - this is tough because I personally find it hard to believe Lederer/Ferguson weren't aware of where it was going before it went - but they really did take a huge step back and let Bitar run with it in 07/08. Between late 08 and 11, they were nowhere to be seen. Then they were everywhere.

Can I defend my choice of working there? 1000% - Fantastic team, great people. Excellent product, clearly horrendously managed financially as evidenced by what happened but to tarnish the entire team with the failings of Bitar and Coronado would be grossly unfair. Most of the key players are still very prominent in the industry.

Last edited by AnyQuestions21; 01-28-2021 at 09:21 AM.
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Old 01-28-2021, 09:20 AM   #11
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

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Originally Posted by MultiTabling View Post
Do you know what benefits the pros were receiving in rakeback/monthly income? Guys like Ivey, Dwan, Blom.
Blom never got anything (except screwed over in the whole cardrunners debacle) as he wasn't a pro during my time - he got signed by Stars for the relaunch.

It was different for different players. In hindsight, I'd say a lot of them were freerolled by Rich Bitar, ray's brother, who historically looked after the "VIP Operation" with a significant degree of autonomy, with little control or oversight.
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Old 01-28-2021, 09:24 AM   #12
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

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Originally Posted by AnyQuestions21 View Post
Can I defend my choice of working there? 1000% - Fantastic team, great people. Excellent product, clearly horrendously managed financially as evidenced by what happened but to tarnish the entire team with the failings of Bitar and Coronado would be grossly unfair. Most of the key players are still very prominent in the industry.
Sorry I didn't mean defend your choice to work there; just to defend your choice from the three options to classify management.
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Old 01-28-2021, 09:31 AM   #13
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

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Sorry I didn't mean defend your choice to work there; just to defend your choice from the three options to classify management.
Gotcha, well hopefully I have.
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Old 01-28-2021, 09:37 AM   #14
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

what year or quarter did they knowingly have less money in the bank than the players balances? A rough guess.

How quickly did that get out of hand? Slowly or exponentially?

what percentage of the company was stunned when they found out they didn't have the full amount of players balances. As in, they had no idea at all.

Last edited by happy to be hear; 01-28-2021 at 09:45 AM.
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Old 01-28-2021, 09:44 AM   #15
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

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Originally Posted by happy to be hear View Post
what year or quarter did they knowingly have less money in the bank than the players balances? A rough guess.

How quickly did that get out of hand? Slowly or exponentially?

what percentage of the company was stunned when they found out they didn't have the full amount of players balances. As in, they had no idea at all.
This is just my opinion; Bitar went all out with the level of marketing budget in the lead up to and during the WSOP 2010. In retrospect, i sense that there was a conscious decision to dip into funds way more than before to really go after Stars - and it nearly worked.

I'm not saying player funds were 100% isolated before that, but in their minds any dipping was "probably manageable" before that. For context, the game was raking around 750k profit per day.

The echecks issue with US players in the same year was suicide. For the record, Stars did it too - but then quickly stopped it. Tilt did not.

We were essentially letting players deposit 500 dollars in the form of a cashable echeck that we started to realise had a very low chance of being cashed.

The employees in Cashier/Fraud/Support started to realise that there was so much collectable outstanding in early 11 I'd say, it was definitely noticed in more senior roles in mid to late 10.

Percentage wise, the vast majority of employees would not have ever thoguht the company couldnt cover anything anytime. This was a company that flew in Cubans from Cuba to roll cigars at company parties, that has a gourmet chef and full team providing free meals for all employees, renting out castles in Ireland for full weekends for staff parties all expenses paid.

To most employees, even when the AGCC got involved, recovery was easily achievable.

Ultimately when BF happened and US players ran to bank, cashier were very slowly withdrawing, when US withdrawal delays got traction online, like here, the ROW players ran to the bank, that's what caused the collapse. There wasnt enough money to cover the withdrawal values.

If BF had happened in April 2010, there would absolutely have been enough money to cover the US run to the bank and avoid ROW players getting nervous - and everyone would have been none the wiser really.

It was all about the marketing spend in 2010 and the noncollectable echecks that dented cashflow that year.

Last edited by AnyQuestions21; 01-28-2021 at 09:51 AM.
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Old 01-28-2021, 10:22 AM   #16
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

What team were you working on in 2007? I worked there then, trying to figure out if I know you
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Old 01-28-2021, 10:43 AM   #17
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

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a little part of me went away with the original Tilt at the end.
same here. thanks for the thread.
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Old 01-28-2021, 10:44 AM   #18
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

Who were the shareholders beyond what is already publicly known?
Chris Ferguson holds 19.2%,
Howard Lederer owns 8.6%,
Ray Bitar owns 7.8%, and
Rafe Furst owns 2.6%.
This adds up to under 40%.
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Old 01-28-2021, 10:55 AM   #19
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

It’s been reported that in 2009-10 that the Us Federal Government seized up to $128 million from FTP. Is this true? If it is, it appears the government actually took player funds.
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Old 01-28-2021, 11:02 AM   #20
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

Thanks for sharing, very interesting!

I'd like your personal take on if you think there was a real chance to right the ship if BF didn't happen? (I've asked several former employees that same question with very different responses)

FWIW I spent some time post-WSOP 2011 on Gibraltar and there were a lot of former FTP employees around during that time. When you talked to them about what happened, everyone told you they were as blindsided as everyone outside the company. But I obviously have no idea if they told the truth. OTOH, the guy who invited me there (C-level exec at a large affiliate) told me that during the winter of 2010/11 they were trying to figure out if the PokerStars execs were bluffing when they claimed during negotiations that FTP would go down anyway.
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Old 01-28-2021, 11:06 AM   #21
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

Do you see the US market returning to the ROW player pool any time soon. There was a favourable ruling recently regarding the Wire Act.
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Old 01-28-2021, 11:15 AM   #22
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

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What team were you working on in 2007? I worked there then, trying to figure out if I know you
A mixture really, iovation integration and WAT functionality would have taken up a lot of my first 6/9 months.
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Old 01-28-2021, 11:18 AM   #23
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

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Originally Posted by ~PLO~ View Post
Who were the shareholders beyond what is already publicly known?
Chris Ferguson holds 19.2%,
Howard Lederer owns 8.6%,
Ray Bitar owns 7.8%, and
Rafe Furst owns 2.6%.
This adds up to under 40%.
Some notable exclusions from your list would definitely be Andy Bloch, Phil Gordon (Both frequent visitors to Dublin in late 10/early 11), Erik Seidel, Phil Ivey, John Juanda.
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Old 01-28-2021, 11:24 AM   #24
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

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Originally Posted by ~PLO~ View Post
It’s been reported that in 2009-10 that the Us Federal Government seized up to $128 million from FTP. Is this true? If it is, it appears the government actually took player funds.
Yes, but I couldn't confirm the number.

Nelson Butrick came over from PokerStars with a deposit strategy that allowed circumvention of UIEGA payment card depositing restrictions.

This had a series of smaller US banks in alignments and included using incorrect descriptors on statements such as "CostumeJewelery.info" "FunkyGolfBalls.org" as to avoid obvious flags to US players depositing onto poker sites.

There were absolutely bank accounts seized off the back of that. Stars and UB/AP had similar accounts seized for the same reasons.

Then there was the Daniel Tzetkoff stuff that resulted in a lot of losses also.
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Old 01-28-2021, 11:29 AM   #25
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Re: AMA - Former Senior Full Tilt Employee 2007-2012

Honestly, how did the echeck issue continue as long as it did?
There were players bragging about depositing thousands of dollars and freerolling it as early as late 2010, they knew that they would never keep enough in the bank accounts for it to be collected, and Stars and Tilt weren't verifying there was enough in those bank accounts to cover those deposits afaict. I just don't understand how companies decided this was a good idea to begin with.
My only guess would be the churn to keep a poker room running requires tons of deposits because the money starts leaving the site extremely quickly as well, and thus deposits must keep coming in very quickly.

Thanks for taking the time for this!
John
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