FTOPS success continues

20 February 2007

The Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS) has grown 130 % since it first began and 60 % from December's FTOPS II.

The rapid growth has made the series the second-largest reoccurring Internet poker tournament series. Only PokerStars' World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) is larger.

And the gains have come despite the market turmoil caused by NETeller's exit from the U.S. and the adoption of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in October.

There are several factors driving FTOPS success, including massive prize pools, the presence of professional players, and the chance to win a custom avatar.

FTOPS III had a total purse of $4,407,600 spread out over 10 events, representing a 100 percent increase from the original FTOPS. FTOPS III Main Event winner, "traheho," took home $288,000 -- the largest payout in Full Tilt history.

Full Tilt professional Andy Bloch said many of his peers skipped out on FTOPS II because they didn't know it was running. Full Tilt added a host for each of the FTOPS III events, ensuring at least one big-name player would be involved.

The hosting duties made the pros more aware of the series, prompting more of them to participate, Bloch said. Unlike FTOPS II, where no Full Tilt pros made the money, 19 cashed in FTOPS III.

"One of the major differences between this one (FTOPS III) and the last one, was that we knew it was going on," Bloch said. "Because many of us hosted an event, we knew the series was running and decided to participate."

Bloch competed in the first six events, including the $200+$15 H.O.R.S.E. tournament, which he hosted. Bloch finished second in last summer's $50,000 World Series of Poker H.O.R.S.E. event, making him a logical choice to host the event. He said he was excited to play in the FTOPS version.

He missed the money in the H.O.R.S.E event, but went deep in No-Limit Hold'em six-handed Event #6. He and fellow Tilter Eric Lindgren finished 72, and 84 respectively. And both held the overall chip lead at one time in that event, causing quite a buzz on the virtual rail.

Huckleberry Seed, Clonie Gowen and Stuart Patterson also participated in most of the events. Seed had the best finish for a Full Tilt pro, ending up 15th in the No-Limit Hold'em Event #3. Patterson had two top-25 finishes.

The Main Event drew most of Full Tilt's professional cast. Mark Vos, Layne Flack, Paul Wolfe and Chris Ferguson made the money, much to the delight of Full Tilt's many observers. The chat log was so thick at the tables with these professionals, it was impossible to read it without scrolling back.

"Big-name tournaments like this are a step-above the normal Internet competitions," Bloch said. "The money certainly attracts a lot of players, but so does the variety in the tournaments and the chance to play against the best players."

Full Tilt also offers a unique reward for doing well in the FTOPS. Custom avatars are given to the best FTOPS players and many participants cited grabbing one as their ultimate goal.

A gold football jersey avatar is available for each event winner and the overall best FTOPS player gets an avatar of their choice – just like the Full Tilt pros. The only other ways to get a custom avatar are to become a Full Tilt professional or to purchase one with 1,000,000 Full Tilt Points.

"These events offer a little extra prestige," Bloch said. "The avatar thing is great because once you have one; people play a little differently against you, which you can use to make more money in the cash games, or smaller tournaments."

Mucking McLane

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