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Top-10 lessons from studying my Full Tilt play

16 September 2013

Today marks the beginning of the remission process for U.S.-based players who had money in their Full Tilt Poker accounts when the company stopped accepting real-money play from Americans. It's been nearly two and a half years, and a lot of folks are understandably excited – and nervous – about the prospects of receiving their account balances, whether they be six or seven figures or a measly couple of bucks.

An updated FAQ page from the Garden City Group answers most questions players might have about the remission process, most importantly that they should expect to receive an e-mail in by September 17 with instructions on how to make their claim.

One of the tricky things about figuring out just how much you're owed is remembering your balance. If you didn't have the forethought to take a screen shot of the FTP client, you can check your balance following these instructions.

But doing this not only gives provides you with your final balance. It also gives a blow-by-blow of every transaction you ever made with Full Tilt. Ring game and tournament buy-ins and cash outs, along with deposits, withdrawals and bonuses are all included with incredible detail.

I went through my history with Full Tilt with a fine-toothed comb, and a lot of what I found surprised me. Here are the top-10 lessons I learned by going through my transaction history with Full Tilt Poker.

10. It all started with a free $20
On January 20, 2009, Full Tilt Poker sent me a free $20 credit. I signed up for an account years earlier (I don't know the exact date) but never made a deposit, in part because I had decided not to play real-money online poker after the passage of the UIGEA. But hey, if it's free money, what's the harm? I slowly lost a dollar here and a dollar there, but I never went broke and Full Tilt kept throwing bonus money at me in drips and drabs. Three months later I'd been given another $25, most likely in their "Take 2" promotion, whereby you got free money for multi-tabling over a period of days.

I ended up making a total of $150 in deposits at Full Tilt over the course of two years, but I probably never would have played on the site if it weren't for the free start I was given.

9. I was a competent micro-stakes limit player
I made a total of $7.44 playing $.05/$.10 limit games. I especially excelled in Razz (+$4.66 in 63 sessions), H.O.R.S.E. (+$4.98 in 14 sessions) and Stud Hi/Low (+5.67 in 23 sessions). Most of my playing sessions were just 20-30 minutes long, so I certainly wasn't making enough to earn a living, but I was beating the games at what I'd consider to be a fairly good rate.

8. Limit Omaha Hi/Low, however, is not my game
I really like limit Omaha Hi/Low. I'm just not very good at it. Playing at stakes from $.05/$.10 to $.25/$.50, I lost more than $15. It's surprising to me that I did so well in Stud Hi/Low and so poorly in Omaha Hi/Low. The games are quite different, but the goal of both games is the same: scoop the whole pot. I guess I'm better at figuring out when I have a chance to scoop better in Stud than I do in Omaha.

7. Tournaments not worth my time
Over more than two years at Full Tilt, I played a grand total of 16 multi-table tournaments. I figured out that tournaments with massive fields just weren't worth it to me on November 18, 2009, when I jumped into the "Daily Dollar", a $1 no-limit Hold'em tournament with a $10,000 guarantee. The winner of the tournament would net more than $1,500; not a bad payday, considering I had $101.17 in my account when I registered for the event. But six hours and 45 minutes later, when I busted in 37th place at 2:45 a.m., I posted a profit of a whopping $19. Yes, you read that right. I played a poker tournament with more than 10,000 people in it, finished 37th and won $19.

I'm sure I'd be singing a different tune if I'd taken the tournament down, but all I ended up with was a terrible night's sleep and a miserable day at work the next day.

6. PokerStars was my SNG home
While I'm not a big fan of massive online poker tournaments, I do love a good sit-and-go, if I have an hour to kill. I was surprised to learn that I only played eight sit-and-go tournaments in more than two years at Full Tilt. I remember playing a ton of H.O.R.S.E. sit-and-goes at PokerStars, and thought I'd done the same at Full Tilt, but my memory must be flawed. It has been more than two years, after all.

5. I killed $.10/$.20 limit Hold'em
I won nearly $20 playing $.10/$.20 limit Hold'em. I sat down to play the game 84 times, often playing three or four tables at once. (If I played at four tables, I'm counting that as four times among the 84 total). I'm not much of a multi-table player; my game suffers too badly when my attention is divided. But it's clear to me that I was able to beat this level of limit Hold'em consistently, even when playing several tables at the same time.

4. I wasn't a bad $.02/$.05 NLH player, either
I won almost $13 playing $.02./$.05 no-limit Hold'em over 241 sessions. It's not a massive profit, by any means, but it's a profit nonetheless. I always figured I was at best a break-even playing in no-limit at Full Tilt, but it's good to see that there was a stake level I could beat.

Moving up, however, would have been a mistake. I was down more than $10 in my time at Full Tilt at $.05/$.10 no-limit Hold'em.

3. Curiosity killed the cat … and my bankroll
Every poker player wants to see if they can beat a new level. It's the competitor in us; we want to test ourselves and see just how good we are.

Problem is, I'm not that good. I figured out I could beat the lowest level limit games at Full Tilt. So I moved up and gave $.10/$.20 a try. With the exception of limit Hold'em as explained in number five on this list, playing $.10/$.20 was an unmitigated disaster for me. I was a loser in every other game, down a combined total of $32.46. I really got hit hard in the eight-game mix, where I was down more than $13, and, surprisingly to me, in Stud Hi/Low, where I was down more than $10.

2. I was a terrible Rush Poker player
If it weren't for Rush Poker, I might have been a winning player on Full Tilt. Rush Poker cost me a total of $79.23, and that doesn't count the $14.20 in four Rush tournament buy-ins, where I cashed exactly zero times.

Perhaps more importantly, after Rush Poker launched, I largely abandoned standard ring game tables in favor of the super-fast poker variant. In fact, I played $.02/$.05 just one time after Rush Poker launched, sitting at four tables and booking a $1.09 profit. If I'd looked at these numbers at the time, maybe I would have been smart enough to stay away.

1. If it weren't for free money, I'd be a losing player
And no, I'm not just talking about my initial free $20 stake. As I stated earlier, I made a total of $150 in deposits to Full Tilt, but I also made withdrawals totaling $200. My final balance on April 15, 2011, was $27.04, but if you factor in the $201.59 I was given in bonuses and promotional credits … well, you do the math.
Top-10 lessons from studying my Full Tilt play is republished from
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.