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Picking Up the Pieces (and Players) after Black Friday

Picking Up the Pieces (and Players) after Black Friday

While the US government's moves on April 15th (aka Black Friday) were terrible news for online poker sites such as Full Tilt and PokerStars, it was music to the ears of other operators like bwin.party, 888.com, and Bodog. The sites that were indicted on April 15th on charges that included wire fraud and money laundering were hit with a double whammy; they lost a significant chunk of their player base that were US citizens and saw many non-US players leave their sites as well, fearing that Full Tilt and PokerStars might be forced to shutter all their operations.

The worst case scenario hasn't yet materialized, and some non-US players have trickled back to PokeStars and Full Tilt, which are still the world's top two largest online poker sites by a wide margin. Some poker players, though, have moved to other sites, with PartyPoker and 888 being two of the biggest beneficiaries so far. The weeks after April 15th saw a flurry of new promotional offers from many of the big European sites, with each looking to capitalize on the vacuum left with PokerStars and Full Tilt reeling from the actions of the US government.

Just a few of the promotions available to new and existing players alike have included reload and transfer bonuses (targeting players moving bankrolls from one site to another) as well as increasing the guarantees of many scheduled tournaments. The grab for players was quick and crass at times (ChiliPoker called one of its promotions "Purple Day", a play on Black Friday and the color primarily used in the company's branding) but many European sites have little love for the sites indicted for accepting US players, as many felt they had an unfair competitive advantage for years.

PokerStars and Full Tilt have largely been quiet since April 15th as far as responding with any incentives of their own to try to retain players, other than PokerStars offering a small reload bonus and plugging its upcoming SCOOP online tournament series. With players slowly trickling back to both sites, though, they may see the situation as business as usual and not feel obligated to make any rash, potentially costly moves on the customer acquisition front.

29-Apr-2011, 12:05


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