The majority of the high stakes action may still be at PokerStars for the time being but slowly and surely the big names are returning to the worlds former biggest high stakes action sites. Clearly the management at Full Tilt feel this is where they will eventually gravitate as there are already higher limit tables ready for action at Full Tilt than over at their sister site.
With that in mind, let's take a look at some big names who've already been throwing down at Full Tilt Poker since it's re-launch on Tuesday this week.
1) Viktor "Isildur1" Blom
Ok, we'll start with the obvious - unveiled as one of the three current "Professionals" last month Blom is back to patronise the site which made him one of the biggest names in poker. Who can forget his amazing encounters in late 2009 when he tore through the limits at Full Tilt, culminating in a marathon week long battle against online legend Tom "durrrr" Dwan where the two battled heads up across 6 tables of $500/$100 NLHE with Blom decimating the "untouchable" Dwan to the tune of $5 million. Of course as we've come to learn from Blom he would never be happy having that sort of roll online without testing himself againts the best and embarked on an "ambitious" programme of self destruction taking on the likes of Phil Ivey, Patrick Antonious and Dwan, all at the same time, in different games and on multi-tables. A complete novice at PLO Blom eventually came unstuck losing over $4m in one session, 6 tabling experienced PLO player Brian Hastings at $500/$100 whilst running $3m below EV.
Since his return to the tables Blom has been highly active, playing both PLO and NLHE and has so far managed to ride the storm, emerging as the biggest winner at the site over the first two days of action, doing especially well against NLHE rival IReadYrSoul. He's played as high as $100/$200 NLHE and $200/$400 PLO, and as low as $0.50/$1.00 NLHE, giving some low limit fans a chance to play against the most talked about player of his generation.
2) Gus Hansen
The first announced Full Tilt Professional was eagerly anticipating getting back to the biggest limits available online and was no doubt keen to pick things up where he left off, having been on a huge $6 million upswing in the last 9 months of Full Tilt's previous incarnation.
Things haven't gone quite as well as hoped for The Great Dane however as, after a few short days he is currently the biggest loser at the new Full Tilt, entirely down to two sessions of 2-7 Triple Draw which have cost him half a million dollars. First he lost around $190k to Alex Lunea (BiatchPeople on Stars) then lost close to $300k to O Fortuna PLS (BRAZZMONKEY on stars) the following day. Hansen has also taken a c.$40k hit at the Omaha tables, but tempered his losses somewhat with a nice $200k win at his favourite hunting ground, the Fixed Limit Omaha Hi-Lo tables. With Gus playing a lot of high stakes limit we can expect some big swings with the limits being considerably higher than PokerStars ($2k/$4k at FLO8 rather than $1k/$2k and $1.5k/$3k at 2-7 TD rather than $1k/$2k)
3) Alex "IReadYourSoul" Millar
Probably better known, certainly these days as "Kanu7" over at PokerStars, young brit Millar has been tearing up the NLHE tables where he specialises in heads up play at the highest levels. In fact Millar was pretty much the first big name back at the tables at Full Tilt where he could be found waiting at limits up to $300/$600 for any action he could get. No doubt his eagerness to play was due in no small part to the fact that he allegedly had a million or so dollars tied up on the site and was no doubt extremely happy to be reaquainted with this lost fortune.
Unfortunately for Millar though his biggest action has been from arch rival Isildur1 who has given Millar a thing or two to think about on more than one occasion, having regularly battled (and more often than not won) with him at both PokerStars and PartyPoker back in the day. Things have been no different this week as Blom has taken his English rival for close to $200k over several sessions of $100/$200 NLHE.
4) Ronny "ronnyr37617" Kaiser
Former EPT and FTOPS winner Ronny "ronnyr37617" Kaiser has been better known of late as "1-ronnyr3" over at PokerStars where he is usually to be found at the highstakes PLO tables. Kaiser has been battling the likes of Isildur1 and Gus Hansen over the past couple of days at Full Tilts PLO tables with some success. Full Tilt has been a good hunting ground for the young Swiss pro and in 2011 he was one of the few players to end the year with seven figure scores at both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker - and with over $760k in winnings at PokerStars this year so far Kaiser will be hoping he can make seven figures this year also. Seen playing at both sites in the last couple of days Kaiser is on track to do just that.
5) O Fortuna PLS
O Fortuna PLS's true identity is still yet to be revealed but he was a consistent winner at the highest stakes limit games at Full Tilt in the last year of it's previous operational period. In the German tradition he has been a big winner in the Limit Hold'em games as well as the 2-7 Triple Draw games and has even dabbled with minor success in the high stakes PLO games. He has played, albeit with relatively low volume, as PokerStars, under the moniker "BRAZZMONKEY" where he also a winner, but his real wins have come at Full Tilt, so he is no doubt glad to be back.
He has come back with quite a boom, being the second biggest winner over the first couple of days, winning over $270k from old rival Gus Hansen at the draw tables. Hansen actually provided O Fortuna PLS with his biggest ever single win when he took him for $560k from The Great Dane in March last year. O Fortuna PlS's winnings at Full Tilt are now over $1.6 million.
6) Jens "Ingenious89" Kyllönen
One of the better known young high stakes pro's Jens "Ingenious89" Kyllönen has already been seen at the high stakes tables at Full Tilt this week. More widely known these days as "Jeans89" at PokerStars, the 21 year old Finnish pro has been one of the most consistent winners in recent years, and is in fact the biggest high stakes winner at PokerStars since we began tracking back in late 2010 with over $4.1 million in winnings. Jens was also no slouch at the Full Tilt tables, joining Ronny Kaiser in the million dollar club in 2011 at both PokerStars and Full Tilt. His Full Tilt million dollar year can be traced back to one epic session of $300/$600 PLO in April last year. Despite telling Isildur1 in chat that he didn't plan on palying at Full Tilts ".com" site and that he was waiting for ".eu" to open, he has since been seen playing in the highstakes PLO games.
With an EPT title and nearly $1.5 million in live tournament winnings also Jens is clearly a top all round player and will no doubt be a force to be reckoned with back at Full Tilt Poker.
7) Rui Cao
Seen yesterday mixing it up heads up at the $50/$100 PLO tables, China born, UK residing French Pro Rui Cao (known as PepperoniF at PokerStars) is one of the most feared heads up PLO pro's in the world today. He is often quoted by other pro's as one they have the most difficulty with, playing a style which is hard to fathom and with very hard to spot tendencies. He is certainly one of the most successful. Cao has also translated his success at the virtual felt to the ultra high stakes games being played over in Macau where he is rumoured to be a consistent winner.
Rui has had a pretty torrid time at PokerStars over the past year or so, going from $1.5 million profit down to just $200k overall profit since we started tracking so perhaps he feels the change of site might be good for him. However, Cao actually suffered the biggest single defeat of his online career playing heads up at Full Tilt against Patrik Antonius losing over $700k in one $500/$1000 session of PLO. There is clearly no love lost between the two as more recently Cao claimed that Antonius had been banned from the Macau games for playing "too tight" - a claim Antonius laughed off as completely untrue. Perhaps they will renew their rivalry at Full Tilt soon, who knows?
8) Alex Luneau
Another french pro and friend of Rui Cao, Alex Luneau was also formerly a Full Tilt pro. Luneau is a former NLHE player and sometime PLO player who is far better known as a successful 2-7 Triple Draw Player. Playing under the name "BiatchPeople" at PokerStars, he is the biggest winner there this year in the big draw games and will be looking to be among the big winners at Full Tilt also having already carved out a $200k score playing Gus Hansen at $1500/$3000 2-7 TD.
9) Benny "pyschobenny" Spindler
Better known by his PokerStars name "toweliestar" Spindler is a young German pro with a great track record both online and live. In 2011 Splindler won over a million dollars at PokerStars, although this year he has been on an epic downswing losing a million dollars over the past 11 months. His track record at the high stakes games on Full Tilt has also not been great as he was on something of a downswing when the site went under. However, his live wins have more than made up for this as he officially has over $3.5 million in tournament winnings, including an EPT victory and an EPT 3rd place finish - both for over $1m (his live winnings are in fact closer to $4.5m as he did a deal as big chip leader to take $2m in one of the EPT's where he finished third for an official win of $1.1m).
Benny has been seen back at the PLO tables at Full Tilt this week but unfortunately his luck is yet to change as he ended up a smallish loser during his sessions.
10) Kagome Kagome
Kagome Kagome is a 22 year old old German Limit Pro (who wishes to keep his name anonymous at this time) who dominated some huge names at Full Tilt under his previous Full Tilt name, "IHateJuice". He was subsequently forced to change his name given that many people felt is was a less than subtle way of declaring "I Hate Jews". The person behind the name doesn't deny that he made his screen name deliberately provocative, with several different meanings to "tilt people". Hmmm.
Prior to the name change "IHateJuice" had been very successful, with winnings over $600k at the highest stakes, playing repeatedly against the likes of Phil Ivey and Patrik Antonius. However, things went sour after the name change as "Kagome Kagome" lost over $1.3 million at the nosebleed limit hold'em games. However, when Full Tilt finally closed for business, he was in the middle of a c.$600k upswing, so will presumably be looking to take things up where he left off.
Although no scores as yet Kagome Kagome can be found patiently awaiting games at the highest stakes Limit Hold'em and 2-7 TD tables.
With Full Tilt only being online for a little less than four days we will with no doubt see more and more of the familiar faces reappear in the coming weeks. As always, stay updated on how the games progress via HighstakesDB's live results and daily poker news.