Review of Full Tilt Poker: real money to be made on this site

Full Tilt Poker: real money or free play!

This review of Full Tilt Poker has taken TWO MONTHS to complete.
That's because the Church of Texas Holdem takes its responsibilities to YOU very seriously indeed. Father Ashley never rushes his assessment of a new site.

This time, we put him on the case with $3K in his cardboard suitcase and the mission: to report the true word of Full Tilt Poker to the Church of Texas Holdem community.

Here’s the results. We hope it was worth the wait.

If you're looking for other USA-friendly poker sites, click here.

Full Tilt: Father Ashley's first impressions

Full Tilt Poker: real money to be made here!

The first thing you’ll notice about Full Tilt Poker is the busy design. Like so many poker sites, the menu page is trying to achieve an awful lot, with lists of game types, links to highlighted poker tourneys at the top, cashier, stats etc.

Additionally, Full Tilt Poker has made more use of colours and mini icons, so the overall effect is quite bewildering at first glance. Everything’s where it should be and works just fine.

I liked the option of checking or unchecking the different level of cash games you’re interested in. It’s much quicker to find that $1-2NL game this way, though the site’s definition of medium stakes is a little loose ($5NL is pretty big by most players’ standards).

THE SITE IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS TO USA PLAYERS. The usual payment methods are accepted.

Once you sit down and begin playing at Full Tilt Poker for real money or play money, you’ll notice a that the busy feel of the menu carries over into the gameplay itself. The table screens seem REALLY packed. The default screen, Vegas Skyline, is way too detailed and the red background makes it hard initially to see which players are still holding hands (the Full Tilt Poker cards have red backs).

Fortunately, you can play against one of six other backgrounds, including Outer Space, Ski Lodge and two very plain options, which make it much easier on the eye, or simply change decks. The background designs they’ve come up with are at least interesting and there’s a sense of humour noticeable in the graphics they’ve chosen.

Avatars are superb. Each is a familiar movie or celebrity parody and each is amusingly rendered in multicolour. At the press of a key, you can change the expression of your avatar to suit your current mood! Unnecessary, perhaps, but very appealing. (Father Ashley chose a vampire avatar for no particular reason...)

Full Tilt Poker: real money to be made here!

There are many very useful options in FTP’s gameplay screen. These are the usual Get Chips and hand history, called Last Hand here. When you click on the history, not only does it show the entire last hand, plus the cards you mucked, but there’s also clickable arrows for up to 50 previous hands. Very useful and very simple, compared to some sites. Hovering the mouse over your seat shows the hand you just folded.

One other notable option at Full Tilt Poker is the right to sit at any seat of a table. When you first click on an open seat, it will be moved automatically to the bottom of the screen. But you can right-click on any seat and select the option to sit there instead. The game screen adjusts accordingly. Nice.

Full Tilt Poker: real money to be made here!
Get the FTP Bug!
All-in hands are always shown once the money’s in the middle. Not everybody likes this, but I do think it’s fairer in an online environment, when the lag time of the Net can make it seem like a very long time before your opponent shows down to beat you. 

It will help intermediate players to learn the game, too.

One more tiny but significant note: when you close the software, you don’t get that irritating “Are you sure?” challenge that 99% of poker sites give you (unless you have active tables open).

Finally! Somebody has the sense to simply shut the menu down. Well done FTP.

Fiddle with your chips

Playing no limit, as I do, means you’ll have to learn to be careful with your slider bar bet selection. It’s VERY sensitive. This is something the designers should address, as it’s way too easy to slide quickly from a couple of bucks to fifty or more. Of course you can highlight and type your bet amount, but PRESSING ENTER WILL BET. You have been warned.

You’re allowed to rebuy any amount of chips at at any time, up to the table maximum. Additionally you can request a buy-in during the current hand, which will kick in should your nut flush draw not hit by the river if you’re all-in.

The Full Tilt Poker real money signup bonus is huge! 100% (YES, one hundred per cent!) up to $600 maximum AND it doesn’t take two years to clear ten Dollars! In fact, your average hour of two-tabling ring games will clear $20, which makes FTP very generous. A link from the cashier page shows you exactly how much of your bonus (to the nearest cent) you have cleared so far and how much remains. Classy.

The games and player traffic

Full Tilt Poker: real money to be made here!

Traffic has been really strong since the fallout from the ‘gambling ban’ in America drove those players to the sites accepting Americans. Fortunately, this is one of them! You’ll find 7,000+ players at any time of the day or night. The most I’ve seen online during a weekend was 31,000. Most evenings (east coast time), there are 14,000+ players. So you won’t be short of a player.

Full Tilt Poker real money play area has introduced mixed ring games lately, which include HORSE, HOSE, HA and HO (I’ll add links explaining what these mean shortly!). So, if you’re tired of playing simply Holdem, this will give you some extra fun.

Game levels for Holdem begin from $0.05-$0.10 NL and max out at $500-1000 cap NL (which means nobody may bet more than $30,000 per hand!). Somewhere between those two limits, I’ll wager, you’ll find a perfect level for you. Obviously there’s more action lower down, but there’s always games up to $10-20NL.

Limit players can get games as high as $1000-$2000, but most of the action occurs in the mid-range. I did notice that more players seem to favour no limit on this site. It’s an increasing trend online.

Tournaments are the real thorn in any poker website menu’s side. It’s just so hard to find out exactly what’s going on when. I haven’t played an awful lot of tourneys to be honest, mainly due to not having enough time in my life lately to see a MTT through, but once you get a handle on what’s happening, I doubt if you’ll be disappointed.

The current fashion for limited player MTTs is repeated here, with games capped at 45, 54, 63 or 90 available at most times. Bigger tourneys include satellites to larger events. As I write, FTOPS III (Full Tilt Online Poker Series) is underway, with $3.4m in guaranteed prizes available!

Sit and Gos are nine-seater, two-seater or four-seater. These are spread from $1 + $0.25 up to $2,200 + $50, with most play occuring at the usual popular points from $5 - $100 buy-in.

Your player loyalty will be rewarded in the Full Tilt Poker action point store, where any number of products is available. It’s nice to see real brand-name goods here, though I do find that action points accumulate more slowly here than on some sites. Still, it’s nice to get a recognised product when you do splash out.

Fishyness of the play at Full Tilt Poker's real money rooms

I’ve been here two months and have done all right during that time. I’d say the average player at $0.50-$1NL is out of their depth. You soon get to know who the better players are.

Full Tilt Poker: real money to be made here!

I’ve noticed two interesting trends at Full Tilt that will improve your chances of making money: tight and passive players; and short-stacked loonies.

The tight and weak guys will check-call and draw too often and won’t make you pay enough when they hit their hands. The short-stack loonies sit with 40% or less of the buy-in and proceed to make a move with average-poor hands. Simply wait for your moment and pick them off.

If you play regularly at the same limit, you’ll find the usual mix of around two pros, two idiots and three improving players at each full ring game.


The modern, neat design poker rooms like Full Tilt are making some of the old timers seem really ancient. You’ll feel welcome here right away and find every tool you could possibly want at your fingertips.

You can’t have any complaints about the size and accessibility of the bonus. It’s really generous, only beatable at some questionable sites where you really shouldn’t be risking your bankroll during this difficult time for the industry. We’ve not seen the end of sites disappearing and you definitely don’t want somebody to go belly-up with your cash in their pocket.

You won’t complain about the game types, number of players or the software. It’s pretty hard to fault Full Tilt Poker, in fact. Once you’re established, it’s easy to see this becoming your regular haunt of choice.

Father Ashley’s Rating!

Visual presentation: 91% -- Default screen is busy, but you can switch. Nice avatars.
Audio: 65% -- As good as the best on other sites, but audio is seldom important.
Software features: 91% -- Nice ideas here, including move to any seat.
Ease of use: 84% -- No major complaints, menu screen is fiddly, slider bar sensitive.
Fishiness: 75% (no limit) –- The Friday night factor is less noticeable at FTP, for some reason!


Full Tilt Poker is classy. Impressive presentation is not let down by a very solid software base. Everything works well. Support is fast and reliable and the bonus is the best around. Highly recommended.

Ready to give it a try?

If you have any concerns about playing at Full Tilt Poker for real money that this review may not have addressed, be sure to write to us first at Letters, Pray! (opens in a new window). We'll be happy to help.

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Full Tilt Poker: real money or free play!