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Ryan McLane

Ryan  McLane
Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news.

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New Full Tilt software a plus for players

22 Dec 2006

By Ryan McLane

Overall Site Ranking – Full House (5 out of Six - Solid)

Casino City Ranking System

Royal Flush – impeccable
Full House – solid
Flush – bet on it
Straight – average
Two-Pair – needs improvement
Ace-High – muck it

Full Tilt Poker revamped its poker room this month, brining the look and feel of the site up to par with its competitors and creating a greater atmosphere of professionalism for the site known as the home of the pros.

Previously, Full Tilt had a cartoon-like feel.

And while the ability to select an avatar that matched your personality (like a provocative nurse for instance) was an interesting feature, the animated place-holders often made the game feel as serious as a home game with plastic chips.

Full Tilt now gives the player the option of selecting a "racetrack" table -- a much more serious layout designed to attract U.S. players, who can't play any more at Party Poker, Poker Room and Paradise Poker.

The new layout is very similar to the other major sites. The darker backgrounds make it look more professional and the wider place holders make the oft annoying avatar a secondary image.

If you were a fan of the goofy avatars standing on top of a box with a beach-scene or Las Vegas-skyline background, don't worry. You can still display your sunbathing-vampire avatar proudly. Full Tilt gives you the option of staying with the classic background under the options menu.

Other site improvements include the addition of seven new avatars and new cash-game section entitled "Mixed Games." Full Tilt's mixed games include H.A. (Pot-Limit Hold'em and Pot-Limit Omaha), H.O. (Limit Hold'em and Limit Omaha Hi-Lo), H.O.S.E. (Limit Hold'em, Limit Omaha Hi-Lo, Limit 7-Card Stud, Limit 7-Card Stud Hi-Lo) H.O.R.S.E. (Limit Hold'em, Limit Omaha Hi-Lo, Limit Razz, Limit 7-Card Stud, Limit 7-Card Stud Hi-Lo)

Tradition trumps beach

I started playing online at Party Poker, so I was used to a static table where the focus was the game, not the special features. But when Bill Frist forced me to find another site, I allowed the strong marketing tactics of Full Tilt entice me – even though I hated the look and feel of the software.

I chose a chicken avatar and went to work, not because I wanted to portray a scared image, but more for my love of the odd looking bird. Making the chicken smile or get angry amused me initially, but eventually I wanted to just play the game and not worry about what my avatar said about my playing style.

Yep. The new layout suits me just fine.

For those who love the avatars, you can keep a small image in the corner of your place holder. For those who can't stand the cartoons, you can eliminate the avatars. Personally, I like to have a little chicken next to my name. Not too big, not too small. Just the size Goldilocks would approve of.

Full Tilt also changed the background options for their new racetrack layout. Previously, Full Tilt offered a variety of scenes including the beach, space and the Las Vegas Skyline.

In the new setup, players can choose traditional poker room carpeting (green, red and gold), or different types of flooring (wood, marble and stainless steel). I like the red carpet the best. I just wish it was a little more like a real casino room – complete with food stains and empty Red Bull cans.

Fun with avatars

I have a confession to make. Some of the Full Tilt avatars actually bother me. There is one, the dirty skinny guy in the white shirt with the gold chains (kind of looks like a snake), that really bothers me. I know it's just an image, but I feel like that guy always takes me off my game. It's gotten to the point where I refuse to display the avatars if he's at the table. Crazy -- I know, but it's the truth.

My hatred of the cartoon avatars is clear, but even a traditionalist like me can appreciate the fun in picking personality-based images. Full Tilt added some more selections this month, including a pirate, an ATM machine, a frumpy turtle, an old military dude, a soccer player and a female astronaut.

Choose wisely. Your best bet in the new crop is the pirate.

Yar – go get your booty mateys.

Mixing it up

As players become more familiar with poker, they slowly gravitate away from the monotony that is No-Limit Texas Hold'em. The popularity of mixed games received a nice boost at this year's World Series of Poker. Not only was the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E tournament a success, it featured a final table with the two most recognizable faces in the game – Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey. Once ESPN aired the event, it was official -- mixed games where the new "it" thing.

Poker Stars has offered mixed games for some time. And Full Tilt had been offering a slew of mixed-games tournaments (including a big weekly Sunday offering – the Sunday H.O.R.S.E), so mixed-cash games are a nice addition.

One of the reasons I started playing at Full Tilt was for their Razz cash game tables. I am a bit of a Razz fanatic and I thought it was great that Full Tilt offered a wide selection of Razz limits. The addition of the mixed-game tables is great for the site and great for online poker.

As a bonus, most of the professionals are enamored with mixed games, meaning if you have the bankroll (at least the ability to play $8-$16 limits) you can take a seat next to some of the best players in the world.


The changes Full Tilt made this month have made the site much better. Full Tilt is now the second-largest online poker room thanks to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and I believe the changes make the site deserving of that title.

Mucking McLane
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