Fulltilt Poker Suspends Brian Townsend
12/22/09 – The mystery Swedish high stakes poker phenom Isildur1 may be feeling a little more vindicated in his serious recent losses to Team Full Tilt poker pro Brian Townsend following the latter's startling and less than palatable admissions this week.
We recently reported on a growing furore in online poker circles following statements by Townsend's fellow-Cardrunners instructor Brian Hastings that there had been an exchange of information on Isildur1's playing style between himself, Townsend and Cole South – all big winners against the unfortunate Swede's total losses of over $5.6 million.
There is speculation that the big hits shattered the Swede's bankroll, and he has not been active in the really big nosebleed games for some days.
The issue surfaced when Hastings – the main beneficiary of Isildur1's misfortune – was interviewed on ESPN on his record wins and subsequently blogged about his experience. Perhaps unaware of the implications of what he was saying, Hastings revealed that he and two other CardRunners and Team Full Tilt pros, Townsend and South, had shared their individual hand histories to study the Swede's play.
Hastings told ESPN writer Gary Wise: "We've done quite a bit of studying of his habits. Honestly, I give most of the credit to Brian Townsend here. 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.
"In a way, I feel bad that it wasn't Brian who got this [multi-million dollar] win instead of me. Obviously I'm happy and I'll take it, but Brian did a ton of work. 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."
Unfortunately for the trio, sharing a database of hands is a direct violation of the clearly stated Full Tilt terms of service. Rule 8 of the T&Cs specifically 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.”
The row over the admissions grew as the issue was widely discussed on prominent poker message boards and publications, culminating in Townsend admitting on his blog that he had taken 20 000 hands of his play with Isildur1 and merged them with another 30 000 hands he ‘acquired'. He then analysed and shared his thoughts on Isildur1's play with Hastings and South.
“Of the three I was the sole one to break the T&C of Full Tilt," Townsend wrote on his blog. "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.”
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Full Tilt Poker has subsequently suspended Townsend for a month, and there is speculation that Cole South may also have been suspended, although that has yet to be confirmed.
Full Tilt has apparently cleared Cole South of any wrongdoing following an investigation, in which he asserted that a discussion of Isildur1's play did take place, but that raw hand histories were not exchanged and there is no combined database of hand histories singling out Isildur1.
In light of these developments it is unclear where Isildur1 – and his monumental losses -stand; it is hard to imagine that he will not be contemplating some sort of recovery action. The industry may soon know, because Poker News has claimed that it has interviewed Isildur1 on the issue and will soon be publishing his perspective. A similar request for an interview with Brian Hastings has reportedly been declined.
Townsend's suspension from Full Tilt Poker is his second – last time it was a six month hiatus in 2008 on multi-accounting accusations (see previous InfoPowa reports) when he used the Internet handle "Stellarnebula".