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Poker News | World Poker News

Townsend Violates Full Tilt Rules Again, Serves Second Suspension

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Full Tilt Pro and CardRunners co-owner Brian Townsend entered the spotlight recently after he and fellow pros Brian Hastings and Cole South faced accusations of sharing hand histories in order to defeat online sensation Isildur1. And for the second time during his stint as a Full Tilt Pro, Townsend was suspended from playing on the site as the situation is investigated.

The first scandal took place in the August and September of 2008 when news broke that Townsend was found to be multi-accounting on PokerStars and Full Tilt, using several account names to play on the sites. Despite his claims of wanting to enjoy anonymity and the ability to move up and down in limits at the tables without being scrutinized or recognized by the general public, he ultimately admitted that he broke the rules of the sites. “What I did was wrong,” he wrote in a public statement, “and I am going to be punished by Full Tilt Poker by having my red pro status revoked for six months.” He apologized for the wrongdoing and donated $25,000 of his CardRunners profit to charity to show good faith.

The most recent situation has its similarities, though it involved players colluding in person to have an advantage over an online competitor.

It started when Hastings became one in a line of players having faced Isildur1, the mysterious online player who has been taking on some of the best players in the world at the highest stakes. Hastings, a fellow Full Tilt Pro and member of the CardRunners team, left his session with Isildur1 with a $4 million profit. When ESPN.com interviewed Hastings about the victory, he noted that he met with fellow Townsend and South prior to the match to study hand histories of matches the two had played versus Isildur1. “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,” said Hastings. Townsend chimed in, “At the highest stakes, there are players who are playing closer to perfectly than ever before. Poker’s getting closer and closer to becoming a solved game. [Sharing hand histories] helps us get closer to making the right mathematical decisions.”

That interview caused the online world, especially on poker forums, to criticize the collective hand history studies as collusion. And soon it became clear that the terms of service posted at Full Tilt Poker, where the matches were played and which represents the CardRunners players, forbid such actions. The website stated that “shared hand history databases and ‘data mining’ software, including subscription services and the exchange of personal databases” were forbidden, as “the use of shared hand histories provides detailed information on opponents a player has little or no personal experience playing against.” For violating the policy, players are “subject to the maximum penalties for prohibited software use.” The online community complained about the violation.

Even Tony G of PokerNews, who had been following the matches against Isildur1, discussed it in a personal blog post in which he stated, “I’m sure these things happen all the time, especially when the stakes are as big as they are… I think it would go a long way to clearing the air if Hastings made it clear who his backers were and made a firm declaration that he did not use hand histories from either Townsend or South.” He also called on the parties involved to submit to interviews with PokerNews in order to clear the air.

Some of the CardRunners members instead took to their blogs to explain their actions. Townsend posted on December 19 an explanation. “First Brian H. Cole S and myself never colluded. Collusion is nearly impossible [heads-up] but there was always one person playing and never any ghosting occurring. In fact the only person to break the [Terms & Conditions] of FullTilt Poker was myself. I had about 20k hands of play on Isildur and I acquired another 30k hands. This is against the T&C of FullTilt Poker and because of this violation I am going to have my red pro status suspended for one month… The three of us never shared hands where mucked hands were shown because a few hands I posted on weaktight.org, and in fact all of the information I received could be taken from watching the game. This is not saying what I did wasn’t wrong as FullTilt is very clear in its T&C, rather to clear up they [sic] type of wrong doing I partook in.”

South posted, in part: “Full Tilt very understandably did not want us to comment during an ongoing investigation, and they have found that I did not break the site’s rules in any way… A shared hand history database seems to be the main issue of contention. I have discussed many difficult hands from play against Isildur with Brian Hastings and Brian Townsend, posted on pokerhand.org where we can give each other feedback. I have never sent or received raw hand history data to Brian Townsend or Brian Hastings (or anyone else for that matter) - reports of a ‘conglomerated’ database of all of our hand histories from play with him are absolutely false.”

Hastings, on the other hand, has not made a statement of any kind and declined to be interviewed by PokerNews.

Though no funds are in the process of being returned to Isildur1 from the Hastings match, and no word has come from Full Tilt regarding that matter, Full Tilt Poker has suspended Townsend and Hastings from playing on the site for one month. South remains undisciplined for any alleged part in the rule infractions.

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