In or Out: Conflicting Reports on Tapie and Full Tilt Poker

The longest "System Update" in the history of "System Updates" continues.

We’ve rewritten and changed the title of this post a half dozen times in the past week.

So instead of waiting to form a firm opinion as to what the hell is going on, we’re just going to present the information we’ve learned from high-level, trusted sources regarding the latest in Groupe Bernard Tapie‘s potential acquisition of Full Tilt Poker.

In abridged summation, the information ranges from “live in 2 weeks” to “no fucking chance.”

Here’s what we’re hearing–you be the judge.

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When GBT lawyer Behn Dayanim began his public assault on the alleged debtors to Full Tilt two weeks ago–something smelt fishy to us.

Mostly, we thought, “Why was GBT so frequently–and publicly–shouting from the hilltops that the supposed $16.5M owed to Tilt by players was putting their acquisition in “serious jeopardy?”

GBT knew about at least a portion of the debt a long, long time ago. As one source close to the situation told us:

“Yeah, Tapie did not know about the $4M Ivey owes until recently–although that was public knowledge back in June. Great due diligence.”

While the Ivey $4M debt has been confirmed by multiple people to us–and Barry Greenstein himself confirmed that he owed $400,000–other amounts are still definitely in question or are flat-out inaccurate (most notably, the debts attributed to Erick Lindgren and Mike Matusow).

As we’ve written–if GBT knows anything about poker players and gamblers, it’s that these guys don’t have the cash. And whatever slim chance GBT had of getting money back to the Tilt coffers they completely annihilated by so publicly (and repeatedly) calling the alleged debtors out over it.

So is GBT using this debt issue as a first step in getting out of the deal?

Maybe.

And maybe not.

Full Tilt Is Dead!

Based on all of our conversations, there are two primary reasons why the Full Tilt-Tapie is either dead or still a long way from happening:

  1. Tapie simply doesn’t have the resources to really pull it off;
  2. GBT hasn’t hired anyone of note to replace the massive brain-drain from the company.

So first, does Tapie actually have the financial resources to make this deal happen?

One gaming executive with some first-hand knowledge of the Full Tilt poker acquisition saga told us:

“There’s no fuckng way the Tapie deal goes though. They [aren't legitimate] and don’t want to come out of pocket with any cash in the deal.”

If that is true, then GBT’s attempt to recoup player debt would make some sense. Tapie doesn’t want to spend any of their own cash, so why not try to get it from people who actually owe the (old) company the money?

We’ve spoken to other FTP shareholders who have had “literally no contact” with GBT–not just recently–but ever. While Full Tilt seldom actually papered any of their contracts, you’d think if a deal was near fruition, conversations would be had by now with all shareholders (even if, again, there is no existing paperwork that confirms said shareholders real stake).

Second, as we pointed out in a post last week–Tilt hasn’t made any key strategic hires to replace the massive loss of talent in the executive and engineering ranks within the company. While we’ve heard some reports of a few mid-level contractors being hired by Tapie–there has been nothing in the executive ranks that anyone from any major operators has heard. No head-hunting. No poaching. Nothing.

There’s also a third point that–while not mentioned by any of our sources–is worth considering: the longer this deal takes to complete, the less the chances GBT may even want to go through with it.

The reality of the situation is this: Tilt hasn’t actually operated in nearly 8 months. They have no senior level, seasoned executives. THEY HAVE NO GAMING LICENSE. These are problems–major problems.

All of the above, of course, can be fixed. Even the fact that Tilt hasn’t operated in 8 months may not be that big of an issue. Players, we believe, will be more likely to play out their existing balances than cash them out. And if you recall, Poquer-Red broke a story about a possible Tilt relaunch repayment plan–with Tapie putting gstrict penalties in place for fund withdrawal.

Regardless, there is enough smoke around the “Tilt-Tapie Deal is Dead” fire that, at a minimum, we’re concerned the deal may burn down to the ground.

Long Live Full Tilt!

On the other end of the spectrum, we’re hearing from people connected to GBT that the deal is going through–and Tilt will be live again very soon.

  1. Laurent Tapie is telling GBT investors that they “intend” to relaunch Full Tilt by around March 1.
  2. The new Tilt will still be called Full Tilt Poker (no rebranding) and keep some of the old pros (although no shareholders) while bringing on “a few news pros.”
  3. Tapie has grand plans to integrate Full Tilt with their ISPT.

First, let’s address the Laurent Tapie proclamations of a Tilt relaunch by March 1st. While he’s on the record publicly as saying this, according to our sources, this isn’t just lip service. He’s adamantly telling GBT investors the same.

As we noted above though, we’re not exactly sure how GBT pulls this off. They need to hire senior level employees to run the company–put processes and procedures in place to ensure there are absolutely no financial fuck-ups again–and, oh yeah, get Tilt’s gaming license back.

And while we’ve heard multiple times now that GBT plans to keep some of the old Tilt pros while bringing on new ones, we haven’t spoken to a single former Red Pro that GBT has actually reached out to about being part of the new team (or any “new” pros that GBT has reached out to either).

It’s the third point we listed above that gives the most hope that GBT continues plowing ahead and completes their acquisition.

By all accounts, the ISPT is very legit and very much happening.

In fact, (BREAKING NEWS alert we’ve managed to bury in this post) we’ve even learned they’ve even signed a major deal with UK-based mobile carrier Orange to be involved with the ISPT project.

In order to have a live poker tournament in a stadium where at least a portion of the event involves people playing online poker–you probably need to have an online poker platform of your own (an operator partnership would suffice too, but that doesn’t seem like their intention as of now). So long as ISPT is a reality, then the Tilt acquisition seems in play too.

In Closing…

At this point, honestly, who knows what’s going on. It’s almost March. We’re about six months into the Tapie-Tilt saga.

While we still believe there is value in the Full Tilt acquisition, the longer these deals tend to drag on, the less likely they’re actually completed.

Granted, this is a MUCH more complicated deal than the average acquisition. But that doesn’t change the fact that little progress seems to have been made recently–and just two weeks ago a lawyer for GBT repeatedly said that acquisition was in “serious jeopardy.”

Ultimately in the case of GBT-Tilt, we take the same stance we do with anything else in life: hope for the best, plan for the worst.

We’re just maybe doing a little more planning than hoping on this one.

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