Prior to when Black Friday struck on April 15th, 2011, Full Tilt Poker was firmly entrenched atop the high stakes scene. Every night you could count on seeing regulars such as Gus Hansen, Dan “Jungleman12” Cates, Phil Galfond, Viktor “Isildur1’ Blom and Ilari Sahamies on the FTP tables. Unfortunately, Black Friday and Full Tilt losing their license (June 29th, 2011) crippled the online poker nosebleeds and forced players to seek other options.
PokerStars was able to absorb many of these players because this site already had a solid high stakes scene before Black Friday. Their highest stakes have since attracted a number of prominent grinders, but Stars has never quite reached the level of FTP’s old days.
The Rational Group, which now owns Full Tilt and PokerStars, is looking for ways to boost the high stakes presence at both sites. And as you’ll see, The Rational Group has certainly taken steps in the right direction by signing some big-name players.
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Full Tilt Poker signs Blom and Dwan
What’s the best way to generate instant high stakes action at your soon-to-launch poker room? How about inking deals with two world-famous online cash players in Viktor Blom and Tom Dwan. Both players made major contributions in advancing the Full Tilt nosebleeds pre-2011, and it looks as if they’ll spearhead the new movement too.
As for Blom, he burst into the high stakes world in 2009 under the moniker of “Isildur1.” The Swede initially dominated many of the world’s best online poker players with his unpredictable and hyper-aggressive style. Unfortunately, he lost $4.2 million in a single session to Brian Hastings, but has continued to remain a force despite this huge loss.
Dwan has become an internet poker legend for taking a $50 birthday present that he was given at age 17 and grinding it into a multi-million dollar bankroll. 2008 was an especially good year for “durrrr” because he was able to earn over $5.4 million in profits at Full Tilt. Since that time, he’s been up and down, but has remained mostly up with $2.4 million in overall profits. After signing the deal with FTP, Dwan said, “I’m very excited that Full Tilt Poker is re-launching. I think it is great for poker and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Full Tilt’s head of marketing, Sam Lightman, also commented on this deal when he said, “The game of poker is always evolving. Through our continual innovations, Full Tilt Poker is proud to have been at the forefront of that evolution.” He went on to add, “In choosing our Pros we approached the three poker players whose unique and innovative styles have had the most impact on how modern poker is played.”
PokerStars signs Haxton
Stars wasn’t left out of the equation since they also signed a big-time poker pro in Isaac “philivey2694” Haxton. After finishing second in the 2009 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure ($861,789), Haxton began his ascent in the poker world by excelling in both live tournaments and online cash games. He’s collected $4,084,066 in live tournaments with a notable runner-up finish in the 2009 WSOP 40th Anniversary tournament ($1.68m) and a third place finish in the 2012 PCA $25k High Roller ($381k). Haxton is also well known for beating Blom in two out of three PokerStars SuperStar heads-up challenges.
Following his signing Haxton said, “I’m excited for the new opportunities this partnership brings. I’m not just playing for myself now…I’m representing a team and a brand. That brings new opportunities and new responsibilities.”
While your bankroll may be quite a ways from grinding in high stakes poker games like Blom, Dwan and Haxton, you can still get off to a nice start by signing up at PokerStars through HighStakesPoker. By signing up through our site, you’ll be able to receive the maximum Stars signup bonus of 100% up to $600. In addition to this, you can also take advantage of all the other bonuses and promotions at this site as well as watch star players battle in the nosebleeds.