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Online Poker – Full Tilt Poker Suspends Brian Townsend

Townsend Loses Red Pro Status for One Month

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Brian TownsendFull Tilt Pro Brian Townsend (pictured right) has been suspended from his red pro status for one month, following allegations that he shared a database of 50,000 hands with recent Isildur1 slayer Brian Hastings.

Hastings, a senior at Cornell University, managed to take the unknown Swede for $4.2 million in a short span of just 5 hours on Dec. 8. On a recent interview on The Poker Edge podcast on ESPN, Hastings credited his win to friend and fellow Card Runners instructor Townsend, acknowledging that it wouldn’t have been possible without his help.

“Honestly, I give most of the credit to Brian Townsend here,” he said. “I mean, Brian is honestly the hardest worker I know in poker. He analyzed a database of heads-up hands that Isildur1 had played and constructed ranges of what Isildur1 was doing in certain spots. The three of us discussed a ton of hands and the reports that Brian made, so I’m very thankful to him and to Cole [South] as well.”

Appearing innocent at first, those compliments triggered a backlash when Full Tilt Poker’s terms and conditions were given further examination. They clearly state, “Full Tilt Poker defines an unfair advantage as a user accessing or compiling information on other players beyond that which the user has personally observed through his or her own game play.”

Since it was Townsend who compiled the hand histories, he was the one given what amounts to a slap on the wrist from Full Tilt. For the duration of one month, Townsend will lose his red pro status and the benefits that accompany it. The penalty will potentially cost Townsend thousands of dollars in rakeback and wages.

In his blog, Townsend accepted full responsibility, but took care to clarify just how much of a gray area the rule operates in. “I had about 20k hands of play on Isildur1 and I acquired another 30k hands,” he wrote. “Of the three, I was the sole one to break the T&C of Full Tilt. The three of us never shared hands where mucked hands were shown besides a few hands I posted on weaktight.org, and in fact all the information I received could be taken from watching the game.”

Townsend continued, quickly denying other, more serious accusations. “Cole, Hastings and I live about 3,000 miles from each other. I have never played on Brian H’s or Cole S’s account. I analyzed the database I put together, and the three of us chatted about my analysis, and optimal strategy against Isildur. Any discussion we had occurred away from the table when we were not playing a session.”

Brian HastingsIn his interview with ESPN, Hastings explained, “At that level, to be successful, you really have to take advantage of the little things. They can help make the difference.”

It is unknown at this time if Hastings (pictured left) will be penalized for utilizing the hand history database en route to what it being reported as the most profitable single poker session of all time. Neither Full Tilt or Hastings has responded to inquiries for comment on this story.

The three players in question — Townsend, South and Hastings — have now combined to take over $5.6 million from Isildur1. Those losses have made him an overall loser on the year, despite his domination over Tom Dwan and others. As a result, many who follow the high-stakes games assume that Isildur1 may be a bit cash poor at the moment and his recent stints at $10/$20 pot-limit Omaha have done nothing to curb those rumors.

 
 
 
 

Comments

Darthrich1
12 years ago

It really sucks that the 3 combine their efforts to bring him down. Poker is a bit like the old west, gun slinger going after gunslinger. They are more like a bunch of socialist.

 
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keeentd
12 years ago

Big deal made over nothing. This happens all the time in live play, especially tournaments. Just listern to players discussing these very same things on the breaks. Just FTP trying to convince people their site is safe. Nonsense -

 
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jeremysmith
12 years ago

i think they should give isuldur1 his money back.... they cheated......... the penalty - whether a slap on the wrist or not - proves wrong doing.

 
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JAYLEEZIE
12 years ago

The hand histories definately gave them an unfair advantage and therefore it is cheating. This is nothing like in live play when players talk strategy and the tendencies of other players. When you talk, you don't have hard data to support all of your assumptions and conclusions. Compiling that level of a database of hand history gave them a very good range of hands to assign Isildur and allowed them to play against him at an optimal level. I also doubt that it was just Hastings alone that played Isildur. I have no doubt that all three of them played him at once. I mean, they were all on the phone with each other watching the game and providing their input. This violates the one player to a hand rule. Full Tilt needs to investigate this very closely and they need to refund all of that money back to isildur. We all know Brian Townsend has cheated before.

 
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bhrine
12 years ago

OMG!!!! Really a penalty for that....look at all the info you can pick up at Pokertableratings.com!!!! You can watch every showdown Isildur1 has to offer, without paying anything. Townsend doesn't cheat, he works harder than anyone playing poker period!!!

 
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SevenKidsPoppy
12 years ago

Hastings' "The three of us discussed a ton of hands and the reports that Brian made, so I'm very thankful to him and to Cole as well" is strong.

Imo Full Tilt should allow Isildur1 to change his screen name.

 
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yolkypalky
12 years ago

Seriously what is the big deal here? Hand histories are pretty much public information today! You can buy as many hand histories on PTR as you want.

This is no different than an NFL team buying tape of an upcoming opponent to watch every play they've run this season to prepare for the week's game. It's called studying your opponent, and the use of hand histories, which again are in the public domain today, is completely legitimate.

 
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Paigowtommy
12 years ago

I guess all the poker shows on TV will have to do away with hole cams so we can't pick up any information. I'll miss "Poker After Dark". Nevermind, that's FullTilts show; I'm sure they have no problem making an exception for themselves.

 
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vortexx
12 years ago

They did more than share hands. Cheating is cheating, and what they did easily qualifies as cheating. The obvious thing here is that none of the immoral little S*@%'s could take Isildur1 alone. Also,if Townsend only had 20,000 hands, where did the other 30,000 come from. How many people were actually involved in this? What poker sight with any integrity would want any of them on their sponsored team?

 
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ADAMTHEXPERT
12 years ago

The issue here goes way beyond the sharing of hand histories. If that was all that was (suspected) Then there should be no penalty at all. Full Tilt has to APPEAR to be doing something, yet at the same time not acknowledge that one of their golden boys (or should ATE say , Redboys) May well have done far worse than sharing hand histories. Really, if the sharing of hand histories was so wrong, then the site(s) should not even offer same. Again, it goes way beyond. But, again they cannot even hint at this. For this level of money, it would be rather easy to have the parties involved, simply fly to the same local, so that they can truely be "three against one" Total advantage, they can never tire, yet The opponent can.
Now, ADAM the EXPERT is NOT, repeat, NOT saying that they did this. HOwever, the mentioning of the fact that "We live 3000 miles away" Would strongly tend to suggest that "thou protestith too much"

The bottem line is, that the whole game of poker, IS taking unfair advantage. Nothing is fair about poker. I am again, NOT saying that they did anything beyond the sharing of histories. But, the statements strongly suggest that they may well have totally teamed up on the guy.

I don't think that there should be ANY penalty, if all they did is use hand histories to discuss tactics to be used, AS LONG AS no discussion was conducted DURING a hand.
HOWEVER, again the statements made, would suggest a possibility of more diabolical conduct, that WOULD constitute cheating.

A through investigation should be made by full tilt, including research of airline and telephone records, to see if the possibility of more than one person playing the person, or discussing hands DURING hands.

 
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popskull
12 years ago

This is a clear instance of cheating and no reasonable person would ever believe it ended at sharing and discussing hand histories completely outside of playing sessions. Cheating somewhat just doesn't happen, a cheat is a cheat, fully and completely.

Anyone who argues that hand histories are easy to come by and therefore should be legal is out of their mind. That's like saying I can get a bomb recipe online so now its legal to go use it. Yes, information is easy to come by in the internet age, but that does not make its use morally correct or legal.

The slap on the wrist is ridiculous, refund Isildur1 and get these three monkeys out of poker.

At least now we know how to win big at internet poker: cheat like hell with the right sponsorship that'll condone it and then cry grey area when you finally get blatantly caught in the act.

 
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kevmode
12 years ago

He should be banned from full tilt for cheating. He breaks the rules and only gets 1 month? Yeah lets cheat a innocent unknown out of 4million and act like it is ok?

 
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beerfwhat
12 years ago

Cheating? Online? No way, never happens!

 
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pokerrickk
12 years ago

If it looks like a pig, talks like a pig, acts like a pig, its a pig. I'm closing my acct.at ftp. Suspecious of a site? Move on.

 
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seamarfan269
12 years ago

Smoke + Mirrors = Full Tilt Poker. As long as the sites are getting RAKE/VIG they are happy and could care less where it's coming from. Cheaters, Bots, Con-Men....THEY JUST DON'T CARE!! Anybody that plays online and thinks they aren't being cheated at sometime, somehow is living in a fantasy world. PLAY AT YOUR OWN RISK! That should be the motto of ALL pokersites. Nuff Said.

 
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scottf
12 years ago

If FT is going to sanction Brain Townsend for sharing hands, then they must do the same or sue even training sites like Poker Savvy for instance as they show the opponents cards that only a player who called on the river would see. If they really mean to be fair and not just slap their pro on the wrist for a public showin, then they need to take legal action against sites like PTR or sharkscope or whoever mines data that they say is against policy to do.

 
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clunker
12 years ago

integre
ty and honesty 2 words that are alien to poker sites. Of course anyone posting videos of hands played as training tools should be banned from all poker sites they are breaking the rules by showing players hands that should not be seen. As far as hole cam on TV good luck putting together any coherent idea of what is happening off the few hands that are shown. Cheating is away of life on the internet and poker is just a video game no brains or thinking necessary just pay for information.

 
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scootterxlch
12 years ago

ban data mining. ban the software that allows tracking
ban it all the game is better when it is brain on brain not pc vs pc
these two cheated no question about it

 
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paulstar
12 years ago

It doesn't matter what you all say.
Rules are rules!
If FTP has terms and conditions that say 'don't do this...it's against the rules', then don' do it. Period.
Hastings blew this wide open and is single handedly responsible for the demise of Townsend.
Otherwise, no one would know.
Good teamwork moron.
Gotta love the people that eat up stupid drama like this. They dissect it to death and have every opinion imaginable. Well all your opinions are = to pigeon crap. OK? A rule was broken, a punishment is given and that's it. What more needs to be said? Your opinion? Spare me.

 
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flyboy330
12 years ago

I see interesting arguments on both sides, but I don't agree that using hand histories and discussing it with friends to beat an opponent is cheating. Cheating, to me, would be if someone completely had an unfair advantage such as an ability to hack someone's account and look at their opponent's hole cards, then acting accordingly. To me, that's cheating. IF the information isn't readily available for public knowledge, then that is considered cheating as well. But hand histories and match histories can be viewed on the internet.

I make this argument, because lots of professional sports use this type of information to beat their respective opponents. Football teams watch films of the team they are about to play. Boxers AND trainers watch films of the opponents they are about to fight months in advance. Professional video gamers such as the great teams from Counter Strike and Starcraft (shot out to Elky) use match replays to develop their strategies. Even the greatest Grandmasters of chess read match histories of their opponents to learn and understand their opponent's mindset. To them, it's part of the learning experience. So what makes looking and hand histories anything different.

As poker players, I believe having friends that talk about poker, discuss ways to beat certain games and even certain players, can be beneficial to the growth of players. Even Howard Lederer in Deal Me in is noted as saying that having "....a group of poker buddies who are as enthusiastic about the game as you are is an invaluable resource." Look at that group that game from New York, Jay Heimowitz, Jason Lester, Noli Francisco, Dan "Action Dan" Harrington, and Lederer himself. A brilliant group of poker players. Also, take into account that Daniel Negreanu, Allen Cunningham, Phil Ivey, and John Juanda became good friends and discussed strategy throughly as well. No one can refute that greatness of these two groups of poker playres.

I believe that in a game where at the higher level, the game is about what advantage one can take within the constructs of the game. If the information is readily available, why not use it? Learn something from it, develop a strategy, and implement it. To me, it wouldn't be a smart course of action to disregard the information that's out there. Maybe, Isildur1 should have signed up for a cardrunners account, watch the videos of Brian Hastings, Brian Townsend, and Cole South, talked to his poker inner circle, discuss strategy, before battling Hastings.

 
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BigStackBBQ
12 years ago

TEAM CARDRUNNERS RUINS POKER! GIVE ISILDUR HIS MONEY BACK CHEATERS!!!

 
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clunker
12 years ago

Have to love the way people rationalize cheating. Pro sports study tape of their opponents. This is and excepted practice in these sports and above board. the Pats crossed this line by studying not just plays but sideline signals and were heavily fined and their superbowl wins tarnished. Pros get together and discuss strategy and hands to get better .OK. But do they have a spreadsheet with 50k hands of a single opponent and discuss how best to defeat him with this illegal info. I guess it ok to cheat as long as you don't get caught or have so little integrety you brag about working hard right paulstar. FTP should take the money and refund it and ban these players. Thats my opinion.

 
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KScityShuffL
12 years ago

just one more thing cardrunners has done to screw poker and give outsiders more ammo against online poker. I wonder how this looks to an outsider that doesn't play online poker but doesn't support online gambling in general? Hmmm...some kids teamed up to cheat some other kid out of 4 million?? I don't think it would be the greatest PR for cardrunners if shit like this ever made the front page of a newspaper or the nightly news report. This kid has cheated before and just did it again. He needs to be banned from FTP and every online site for that matter if they want to keep the real people that make them all of their rake money happy.

 
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terrybreedlove
12 years ago

Full Tilt - if you are fair and want to do the right thing - replace the money that was stolen from Isildur1. Full Tilt can talk all they want about being fair and above board, but when one of their own cheats and Full Tilt just gives a wink and nod small hand slap, it lets all players know the game is rigged. Let's be clear - Full Tilt is just as guilty as any one in this matter. I question their standards or total lack of. This is a case when every one needs to just walk away from Full Tilt and find a better place to play, there are plenty of sites so we should all just walk away from Full Tilt.

 
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BrettR
12 years ago

FullTilt has always been a joke when it comes to double standards with thier pros.

I had my account frozen because I opened a second one and when I complained that a red pro had admited having 2 accounts in an article so should recieve the same penalty, they basically just laughed at me.

They are very hard line with the rules unless its one of thier own then they are pretty happy to look the other way.

 
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scootterxlch
12 years ago

i will never play at full tilt again. the more i have thought about this the more they are complicate. one of their banner pros has admitted to cheating by thier own stated rules. one month of is bs. Full tilt must be rigged if they are tolerating this stuff .
FULL TILT IS LAME and bad for poker how can we aruge it is a game of skill with one of the highest profile sites all but sanctioning cheating!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 
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wkingdom11
12 years ago

I'm a very upset customer of UB. After i lost 0ver 6000$ in a week, they locked my account and denied my final withdraw request for my last $2700, stating that their security department was investigating my account activity. After that, they blacklisted my account(will not answer my e-mail or phone call at all) and confiscated my money. I've deposited over $10K on that site, what's worse than losing my last 2700 on withdraw process? I know cardplayer is a partner company with UB, but I hope CP can remain unbiased on this matter. And I hope nobody will ever deposit or play at UB, because they can do whatever they want with your money.

 
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tortoisetoo
12 years ago

Would you play in this senario?

You are an excellent player playing a live high stakes cash game, but one of your formidable opponent has two expert sweaters sitting behind him looking at their friends hole cards, watching every hand for thousands of hands, with pencil and paper taking notes, all the time just taking notes but not talking to each other during the hands. They DO however take breaks and huddle somewhere off to the side and discuss the played hands. This sort of activity continues for weeks or months for tens of thousands of hands. Every so often they switch hit and one of the sweaters will now play but there is never more than two of them playing in the game. No matter who plays, there are the other two guys sitting behind taking notes and discussing hands later off to the side.

Question: would anyone reading this put your money down to play these guys?
I don't see any difference between this controversy vs. my senario.....

 
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littlejlg
12 years ago

Oftentimes appearance matters. This might be one of those times as regards the US market. The PPA is currently waging an effort to convince the American public, and their politicans - that Internet Poker is a legimate activity. This sort of thing does not help. With so much room for speculation, it does not do Full Tilt much good either.

Jim Groot

 
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riverbrad
12 years ago

Hey, what if isildur1 was doing the exact same thing with his friends, but was smart enough not to say anything. You think this guy just came on the scene and played these big name poker players. You think he was good enough with no hand histories to just beat these guys for 6 million his first week. Please. The real story is all these guys talk to friends and discuss strategy. Maybe just maybe isildur1 wasn't playing the whole time for 20-36 hr sessions. Maybe he had someone take his seat when he got tired. GET OVER IT. These guys all share info with friends and ya some may be in the same room talking as the hands are played. That's a part of online poker that should just be understood. COMMONSENSE PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!

 
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Batman
12 years ago

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and if they change the TOS.

 
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Badfinger
12 years ago

I see it as cheating to some extent.
I never understood how the sites can gather seemingly every hand history on major sites, it should be obvious that data mining is happening and prevented?
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My solution?
Don't allow non-players access to tables for more than 15 mins at a time with at least a 30 min time out afterwards.
I know it could possibly be circumvented but easily caught.
Pop up a TOS screen with I WILL NOT DATA MINE clearly stated at each login, with LOSING ALL YOUR FUNDS/ACCESS penalty clearly stated.
Monitor IP addresses heavily... circumventing with multiple IP addresses will be rather obvious too.
This adds to cost of running the place, I know, but a site that manages safety first will end up ahead in the long run?
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Mr. Townsend was already dealt with previously for taking advantage of players in other ways on other sites, right?
He should have gotten KICKED in my view, that's a bad representative right there.

 
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x19
12 years ago

Its the fact that Hastings involved one or more other people in his compiling of information,
that in itself violates the rules and therefore its cheating. As such all money won was won under unfair advantage and should be returned back to the player who lost it. The rules are there for a reason and to not act accordingly on this will severly damage on- line credibility and rightly so.

 
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x19
12 years ago

Furthermore....this issue would be a good one for legislation once on-line gambling is allowed, it should be against the law and be a felony to mine information such as this.

 
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cudlphish
12 years ago

This isnt the first time townsend has cheated. Thats all he does. Ever wonder why he can play online but cant play in person. Harder to cheat in person.

 
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