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Poker News | World Poker News

Full Tilt Pro Brian Townsend Admits to Multi-Accounting

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An all-too common theme for the online poker community, cheating has again surfaced, and this time it was at the hands of a well-respected member of the online poker industry. Brian Townsend, co-owner and manager of CardRunners and Full Tilt “red pro,” has admitted to and apologized for multi-accounting with online accounts on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.

Townsend has been a well-respected online player who has parlayed his successes into the live poker realm as well as into various business ventures. His high-limit play has garnered the attention of many in the poker world, as have appearances on poker shows like High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark. What he is most known for, though, especially in online poker circles, is his integral participation in the success of CardRunners, an instructional, member-based website known for its video lessons and list of accomplished pros offering poker strategy, tips, and advice. The site was not only one of the sponsors of the 2008 WSOP, but seven of its primary pro players were signed to a sponsorship deal with Full Tilt Poker, making all of those players, including Townsend who is the eldest member of the group, Full Tilt “red pros.”

In a CardRunners blog post dated August 26th and under the title “My Apology,” Townsend issued a personal statement about his multi-accounting activities, his apology for it, and his intentions to make amends to the poker community.

He began by stating that he played on two accounts on two sites – Stellarnebula and Brian Townsend on Full Tilt Poker, and makersmark66 and aba20 on PokerStars. The assertion is that he did not play under more than one account at one time at PokerStars, and he never allowed himself to play at the same table on Full Tilt with both accounts. Apparently, by playing under aliases, he was able to drop down in limits due to a year of not running as well as in the past, and he enjoyed the anonymity of playing without being recognized.

“I wanted to have come forward and make this public sooner, but unfortunately because of certain business relationships I could not do that,” Townsend wrote. “What I did was wrong and I am going to be punished by Full Tilt Poker by having my red pro status revoked for six months. I am unsure what action, if any, PokerStars will take.”

He continued, “I have also hurt those that I work closely with primarily at CardRunners but also at Full Tilt. To compensate those that were hurt by my actions I am going to be donating 25,000 dollars to a charity to be determined in the future. This money will be removed from my CardRunners distributions. This is by no means me making my actions correct but I hope it shows some good faith towards those that I work closely with.”

Regarding his online accounts, Townsend noted that he will remove all but $100,000 online and set a strategy to earn his way back to high-limit games, starting with $25/$50 pot-limit Omaha games, moving up to $50/$100 when he reaches a $200,000 online bankroll, and so on, continuing until he reaches $200/$400 PLO. “I have something to prove to myself,” he wrote.

The blog post wrapped with the following: “I hope that people can look to me and not only learn about poker and bankroll management, but also how to do the right thing and be a good person. Poker isn’t about luck or how you are running. It’s about the work and effort that you put into it. I have not had good results this year because of my poor play and lack of focus, not because I have run below expectation. I want to prove that to everyone… I hope that people can not only look to me for poker education but also for the way to live their lives. I made a mistake and I am willing to take responsibility for it. I am willing to stand up and face the music. I apologize to the entire online community. I will never partake in this type of activity in the future. This post should act as a full admission of my guilt, and I sincerely apologize to anyone that I’ve wronged.”

Not many people will doubt the sincerity of the apology, as has been evidenced by reading through some of the comments on the post. It also shows some character that Townsend was the one who made the announcement about the cheating, though that was not the word he chose, and was forthright in his explanation and apology.

Nevertheless, what is missing from the post was the most basic of facts – multi-accounting is against the rules of most online poker sites and is noted as such on the security portions of their websites. It is commonly known amongst online poker players that this is the case, as several players have been banned from sites for doing just that. While most situations involve players being caught in the act by using multiple accounts to play at the same table or tournament, any act of multi-accounting is included in the category of cheating. Because it gives players an advantage, either of outright cheating or using the anonymity involved to gain that advantage, and because multiple accounts give players the opportunity to cheat in very significant ways, online poker sites have banned the practice.

Townsend is a businessman, and seemingly a savvy one at that. When he and his six CardRunners associates signed the sponsorship deal with Full Tilt Poker, it seems likely that he would have been aware of the rules. Despite his reasoning for doing so, he knew that it was wrong but used more than one account on the site anyway.

But because the Full Tilt deal with CardRunners is likely a mutually beneficial one, Full Tilt only suspended Townsend for six months. And he is not allowed to play as a “red pro” but nothing has been said about him playing on the site in general. It makes one wonder if there isn’t a double standard being put into play here, as Joe Schmoe poker player could be banned forever for the same exact infraction. Did Brian Townsend get special treatment from Full Tilt Poker?

Let me say this. These types of articles are not enjoyable to write. Townsend seems like a talented individual with a bright future, but he risked it all to make his game easier and protect his name when his game wasn’t going as well as in the past. And while the apology gets its due credit, the actions were unnecessary and reckless. He not only put his name on the line, but those of his CardRunners associates as well. Personally, this is not a subject that I take any pleasure in writing. Quite the contrary.

However, these stories are important. Whether you agree with the multi-accounting rule on its premise or not, it is the rule. Until enough poker players do something to change it, it stands, and players who abuse the rule should be punished as others have in the past. There are rules for live tournaments, and there are rules in the world of online poker, all of which need to be enforced and done so across the board, regardless of whether the cheater is a 17-year old kid from Iowa or a Full Tilt “red pro” with a name and reputation on the line.

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