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Thread: Case closed? Years after shutting down, Full Tilt is still being sued over bot-related account closures, and I beleive I've deduced the truth

  1. #1
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    Case closed? Years after shutting down, Full Tilt is still being sued over bot-related account closures, and I beleive I've deduced the truth

    Author's Note:

    This story is a combination of research, personal experience, and deduction. I do not guarantee that all the "behind the scenes" events described occurred exactly as presented. This is a re-creation of assumed events, told in story format. While I cannot guarantee 100% factual accounting of events where I wasn't present, this is my best guess based upon several factors. Enjoy!

    =====================



    The year was 2009. I was showing up to a Burbank-area restaurant to have lunch with an attractive woman I met through an online poker site.

    But this wasn't a date, and romance wasn't in the air.

    We were meeting so she could dish the dirt on the second-biggest poker site in the world -- Full Tilt Poker, and I was supposedly about to be given a lot of exclusives about a lot of their dirty laundry.

    Was this a Full Tilt insider? A hacker? An ex-lover of Tilt executive? No, no, and no. This was a former heads-up limit holdem specialst, who was quite successful on the site, and had been shut down for accused botting and multi-accounting.

    She was known online as "Pokergirl z", "Mad Haddie", "Jonesen" and "Sillysal". She had consistently won over a period of several years online during the 2000s, and usually played stakes like 50-100 and 100-200 limit hold 'em.

    For years, she and I didn't get along. Temperamental, prone to tilt rage, and often guilty of heads-up hit-and-running against fellow regulars, I found her infuriating. A typical battle would see her quickly up $3000 on me, then I'd put one bad beat on her to reduce my deficit to about $2500, and she'd sit out. "DONE", she'd type, and move to another table. If I tried to sit with her again, she would sit out. This would all occur inside of 10 minutes.

    This was a breach of poker etiquette, so we would get into silly battles over this. If she got a good deal up on me quickly, and then quit after losing a single hand, I would follow her to the next table. I repeatedly told her, "If you don't want this to happen, sit out on me in the first place. If you leave and switch tables after a few minutes of running well, I will sit with you again."

    She complained to poker site management. One site told her to stuff it and to simply stop playing me. Another told me that I was in the wrong, and that I would be banned if my behavior continued. Full Tilt oddly chose to ban my chat over this, even though this had nothing to do with chat. Eventually I did what I should have done in the first place -- I quit playing her entirely -- especially because she was good, aside from her tilting issues.

    Given our less-than-friendly history, you might wonder why we were meeting at a restaurant just two years later. Everything changed for her -- and our online interactions -- when Full Tilt banned her in late 2007 for accused botting. I knew she had been multiaccounting, using accounts "Pokergirl z" and "Greggo777". However, they never sat at the same table, and Full Tilt was not clamping down particularly hard against this particular form of multiaccounting. The much more serious accusation was regarding the botting.

    Pokergirl showed up to 2+2 and pled her case. However, many in the past who screamed "victim" in such a fashion turned out to be lying. Most of these people would quickly disappear upon any holes being poked in their sob stories.

    However, I hadn't ever suspected Pokergirl of being a bot. I had seen her fits of rage, tilty play, and angry quitting after taking a single beat, even if way up. I watched her play degrade as she got angry. That was the opposite of soulless bot behavior. Still, the accusations made me pause. I had recalled her playstyle did have some bot-like tendencies, most notably the refusal to lay down hands with the slightest bit of showdown value, even incredibly weak ones given the board. Could she have somehow been botting all along?

    I decided to post an honest, fair assessment of the situation on 2+2, completely omitting any personal issues I previously had with her. My assessment was basically neutral -- not in defense of her, but also not accusatory. I simply reported my experiences, and drew some rough conclusions from the possibilities. If you'd like to see that post, you can go here, and scroll down a bit.

    My post changed everything regarding how she saw me. She responded a bit later in the thread, at first oddly acting insulted regarding my claim that she was "around 40 years old", but then attempting to address my post. She was not hostile to me at all. Rather, she felt that she might have stumbled upon the perfect potential ally in the situation, given that I was longtime member of the limit hold 'em community, and known not to be friendly with her. If she could convince me, could this possibly convince others?

    Unfortunately for Pokergirl, I wasn't looking to make a new friend or ally. I simply wanted the truth. When she became evasive regarding my multiaccounting questions, I got frustrated with the situation, and dialed back my involvement in the thread. Additionally, others on 2+2 noticed the same thing, and the sympathy for her quickly eroded. Of further concern, as stated in my original post to her, there was an incredibly similar confiscation of funds just four months earlier -- and a similar amount -- from another otherwise-unknown female limit holdem heads-up specialist. I highly suspected the two were related in some way. I still wasn't convinced she was botting, but I knew she wasn't being completely honest, either. Ultimately, Full Tilt upheld all of the consfiscations.

    Nearly two years later, Pokergirl hadn't given up. She was about to file suit against Full Tilt, its management team, and its subsidiary companies. Her real identity still wasn't known in public circles. I had seen her picture from a 2006 WSOP party from Pokerroom, and knew she was the person she claimed to be, but didn't know anything more about her. In fact, I erroneously believed her name to be Lisa -- the same professed name of the other person who claimed months earlier to have also been falsely accused of botting. I was very curious about her story, but we didn't have any kind of contact outside of that 2007 thread on 2+2.

    Pokergirl hadn't filed the lawsuit yet, and hadn't gone public with her intent to do so. In fact, I had long stopped thinking about her and that issue she had on Full Tilt. However, one day a mutual acquaintance messaged me on the AOL Instant Messenger, with a surprising request, "Pokergirl wants to talk to you. She won't tell me what it's about. Here's her AIM screen name."

    I messaged Pokergirl, assuming it had something to do with her account confiscation, but wondered why she would be contacting me almost two years later.

    "I have a lot to tell you about Full Tilt, and you're the only one I trust in poker right now. Can you call me?"

    So I did.



    END PART 1

  2. #2
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Pokergirl was very evasive on the phone.

    She wouldn't even tell me her real name, and told me she couldn't give me many details. However, she promised me a "huge story" about Full Tilt, and one which would incriminate them beyond my wildest dreams.

    "I know we had our problems before, and I appreciate you being completely candid on 2+2, and not letting those problems influence your opinion," she said. "I don't know you well, but you seem like someone I can trust. I have a lot I want to tell you, but I want it to be in person, and I want it to be off the record for now. When I say it's okay, you can post what you want online," she explained.

    I asked her if this had to do with her account and money confiscations. "Sort of, yes, but that's just the tip of the iceberg," she promised.

    We agreed to meet at a restaurant during lunchtime in Burbank, which is a little bit northeast of Los Angeles.

    I was extremely curious about Pokergirl. I knew she was real, and a few people had met her at that one party a few years prior. However, I was always perplexed how a pretty white female in the Los Angeles high stakes limit holdem scene -- a rarity both then and now -- would be flying completely under the radar, and a complete unknown to everyone at major area cardrooms such as Commerce. Keep in mind, this was also during the poker boom, yet she was never seen at the WSOP, aside from that one party in 2006. Was it possible that she wasn't really the one playing, and maybe her boyfriend or husband was operating the accounts? There was definitely a man behind the greggo777 account she was using, but who was he? And was he the one operating the bots, using her identity for cover?

    I had so many questions.

    I arrived at the restaurant, and she was standing outside waiting for me. She was attractive and well-dressed. The picture below is publicly available on the web, but she wore something very similar when we met:

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    "Hi, my name is Lary," she said.

    Lary? Was she a transsexual? She sure didn't look like one. In fact, she looked a good deal like the 2006 photos, and was quite attractive, but also looked somewhat older, and had on a lot of makeup.

    "Lary?", I repeated in a questioning voice.

    "Yes, I know my name is unusual. But that's me. That's my real name. Lary Kennedy. One 'r' in Lary", she clarified.

    We went into the restaurant, sat down, and ordered lunch. I was waiting for the big bombs to drop.

    Lary went on to tell me that she was suing Full Tilt for banning her accounts. Okay? That wasn't entirely shocking, and I was annoyed that I was dragged out to Burbank for the big revelation of a minor civil suit.

    But she went on. She said that Full Tilt was actually operating bots itself, in order to seed the games, and she had proof of it. She named various Full Tilt red pros who were in charge of that effort. She said that the site was breaking all kinds of laws, and violating RICO statutes. She said that they were closing accounts on purpose simply to seize people's money.

    "There's so much more I can't even tell you yet, but it will all be stated in the lawsuit," she claimed. I was told the lawsuit was very close to being filed, and that she had "repeatedly been threatened" not to go through with it.

    I wasn't particularly convinced about any of this. She provided no evidence that Full Tilt was using its own bots, or was maliciously shutting down accounts in order to steal money. In fact, I told her my suspicion was that their security department was simply incompetent, and I had long felt that they engaged in false-positive botting closures. However, I stated that I believed it wasn't intentional, but more a product of having a bad security team.

    "Oh no, it's totally intentional, you'll see," she said.

    Finally I got tired of this line of conversation. I wasn't being brought anything of substance. I decided to pivot the conversation to her.


    "So, why haven't I ever seen you at Commerce? Why hasn't anyone?", I asked.

    She claimed that she much preferred online, and "barely played live anymore". She claimed to have previously played at Hollywood Park, but I didn't play there enough myself to be able to validate or debunk such a claim.

    I asked where she learned to play poker, and she said her dad taught her when she was a young girl. I asked about "greggo777", an account which was clearly hers on Full Tilt, in addition to "Pokergirl z".

    "If you promise not to tell anyone, I'll give you the truth," she said. I promised.

    "Yes, I used both accounts. But as you saw, I never played at the same table or tournament with them both. Ever. There were lots of other people doing exactly this, as you even said in your 2+2 posts", she explained.

    I asked why she used 2 accounts.

    "Some of the fish wouldn't play Pokergirl anymore. Others were afraid to lose to a girl. So the greggo account was useful. But I wasn't cheating anyone. And they knowingly let some people do it," she answered.

    That was true. People like David Benyamine and Guy Laliberte were allowed to create new accounts at will, while not identifying themselves to fellow players.

    "Does Greggo play poker? Would I know him?", I inquired.

    "He plays, yes. He's sometimes on the account. But a lot of times it was me. He's my boyfriend. He lives with me. I actually taught him to play," she replied.

    I decided to ask about that other account closed a few months earlier -- BeatMe1. The similarities were incredible. Both were heads-up limit holdem specialist females. Both were winners. Both were unknowns in the live scene. Both began on Pokerroom, both were supposedly at that 2006 party (though Beatme1 was never in any pictures), and both transitioned to Full Tilt. And most notably, both were banned in 2007 for accused botting.

    "That's not me," said Lary. "I know how it looks, but I don't know her. I met her once at that party, she seemed nice, and that was it. I didn't even remember her name was Lisa until she posted it."

    I didn't completely believe this. Too many coincidences.

    "Are you sure you don't know Beatme1? I'll keep it quiet. I'm not looking to ruin your lawsuit or trash your rep. I just want to know the truth. I've been curious about this, and the rumors have spread for years that you're the same person."

    "It's not me, I promise. And I don't know anything about her. I would tell you if I did," she answered with some questionable sincerity in her voice.

    I dropped it, and was pretty much out of questions. Except one.

    "So... I don't want to be rude, but... umm... since you brought it up on 2+2... how close was I when I said you were 40?"

    She smiled and paused for a few seconds.

    "How old do you think I am?", was the response.



    Oh no! I wasn't going to fall for that trick! That's a really tough question when it comes from a woman over 30. You either have to intentionally guess low, or risk incurring their wrath.

    In my mind, I still thought "40", but I decided to be polite and say "36".

    "You're going to be surprised," she replied. "I'm 48."



    48?! She definitely didn't look 48.

    "Actually I'll be 49 soon," she proudly told me, feeling at least somewhat good that I missed by over a decade.

    "Then why were you so angry on 2+2 when I said 40?", I asked.

    "Because people don't usually guess 40... and I just was so used to people guessing I was in my 30s, I just kinda felt like it was insulting in some way, even though you were still guessing way under my age. But I'm not mad or anything. I just thought it was funny you said 40, because you got closer than anyone else ever had. And I was only 47 then."



    Umm....... okay? Bizarre. But I'll concede she looked great for her age.

    With that, we parted ways. She thanked me for coming out and meeting her.

    "Don't post any of this online yet!", she reminded me. I told her I'd keep my word, and I left.

    I was true to that, and so was she regarding her lawsuit. Indeed, it was filed shortly thereafter.

    But I still didn't have my answers.

    Was she using a bot to win all those years?

    Was she really behind the "BeatMe1" account? And who was "Lisa"?

    Were any of her other allegations against Full Tilt true?

    For years, I didn't know. Now I think I do.



    END PART 2

  3. #3
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    PART 3

    Rob Reitzen was a longtime professional gambler. He's now into hedge funds, but back in the '90s and '00s, Rob was making a lot of money via advantage gambling. He's not a household name in gambling, and you probably haven't heard of him. However, Reizen is a member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame, and is reported to have made a ton of money in the game. He made his money forming and bankrolling blackjack teams, and utilized counting, shuffle tracking, and various other techniques to get an edge. Rob and some other legendary blackjack players even taped computers under their clothes, in order to assist them in counting.

    Additionally, in the early days of California Indian casinos, presumably the late 1990s and early 2000s, Reitzen co-counded a corporation called CORE. This corporation simply banked the high stakes games in Indian casinos where the tribe either didn't have the bankroll or didn't want the variance.

    Reitzen was always looking for new recruits to his teams, and always looking for a new edge in gambling. While not a big poker player himself (notice he has no Hendonmob entries), Reitzen came to the realization that there was money to be made via heads up limit holdem play.

    According to Reitzen, he and a "group of engineers" spent a lot of time and money to develop a heads up limit holdem bot. He was confident with the bot's abilities, but preferred to have it become a teaching tool -- advising its human opponents how to play better.

    While this bot was successful in training players with the aptitude for greatness, Reitzen wasn't satisfied. These players were few and far between, and he wanted to create a large stable of winning high stakes limit holdem players. But how? Reizen came up with the idea of a modified clock. He compressed semi-optimal heads up limit holdem strategy onto 20 cardboard clock faces. He would then swap in the cardboard for the normal "1-12" face of the clocks, leaving the only the second hand moving. Each of these 20 faces described a different situation the player might be in, and the player would do whatever the clock's second hand would point to. So if they have ten-nine suited in the big blind, and were facing a raise, they would consult the "Preflop Middle Suited Connector" clock. If the second hand pointed to "3-bet", the player would 3-bet. If it pointed to "call", the player would call. The purpose of the clock's hand was to provide randomization -- so his players wouldn't be too predictable. It's hard to believe that the game could have been compressed to just 20 situations, but that's what Reitzen claims.



    Reitzen then recruited a stable of players to use these clocks. He would stake them all, suffering any and all losses, but would give them a percentage of overall winnings. At its peak, Reitzen claims the operation had 100 players, all using these clocks to play heads up limit holdem. In order to make sure everything was going smoothly, he had a webcam on each of them, so he could monitor their play at will. It's unclear how many of them played at once, but the plan was working great for years, and these players were winning a lot of money.

    The players would be instructed to sit alone heads up, to take on all comers, but to quit if they felt they were outmatched. Reitzen knew that his system probably couldn't hold up against the top heads-up pros at the time.

    One of Reitzen's preferred sites was Pokerroom.com. Not only was it kind of an off-the-radar site with relatively few pros, but the good players tended to stay out of each others' way. This was perfect for his system, as his stable would typically face weak opponents, who would get crushed by his clock system.

    There was one exception to this -- a small Chinese woman who played under the screen name "RedGard1". She came to the US in the 1990s, and barely spoke English. Under the tutelage of Retizen's bot, combined with her natural ability to learn and adapt, she was the best of his stable. RedGard1 was allowed to play anyone she felt she could handle, and she didn't utilize the clock.

    Reitzen's stables only played on sites with "heads up" tables. His system was not designed for 3-handed or more play, so he couldn't have them operating on sites like Pokerstars, Absolute Poker, Party Poker, or Ultimatebet, as none of these featured heads up tables at high stakes. The only "major" US facing site his stable utilized was Full Tilt, as they did have heads up tables. Occasionally they would play on sites without heads up tables, and simply quit when a 3rd player would sit.

    Then came the first blow. In October 2006, the UIGEA was passed in the United States, as part of the "Safe Ports Act". This explicitly made online poker illegal, and caused a lot of small poker operations to leave the US market, including Pokerroom and most others where Reitzen preferred to have his stable play.



    He was pretty much down to just Full Tilt, and had to shrink the size of his stable. His stable had been doing well on Full Tilt, but the lion's share of the money came from the smaller sites. Could he continue to print money with just one site -- and a very high profile one at that?

    Unfortuantely for Reitzen, this was more challenging than expected -- and for reasons he never pictured.


    END PART 3

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    PART 4

    Mike Thorpe was an eccentric guy. An otherwise normal looking young man in his mid-20s, with a military background, Mike was loud, blunt, and often rudely forward. He appeared on the poker scene around 2005 or 2006. Today he is known as "Crazy Mike", and organizes a high stakes mix game at Resorts World.





    He also had certain obsessions. The soft drink Pepsi was one of them. When traveling, or while visiting casinos, Mike would go through great trouble and great lengths to acquire Pepsi. In some cases, he actually paid poker floormen to go out (or send someone out) to buy Pepsi for him, if that particular room only served Coke. One of Mike's first poker screen names, on a small site called Cake Poker, was "ILOVEPEPSI".

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    While playing live poker, Mike would scream out a yelp like a hyena when winning a pot, to where all heads would turn to his table. Eventually his trademark "hyena yelp" was banned from most rooms.

    Mike loved heads up poker. After only taking a short amount of time to hone his heads up skills, Mike started issuing challenges to play live heads up limit holdem, and said he'd take nearly all comers. While Mike was assumed by many to be a fish, and while his self-taught heads up style was unusual, he was actually fairly good. Once people realized that Mike was a decent heads up opponent, he didn't get a whole lot of takers, and the heads up all-stars willing to play him were among the few Mike didn't want to face. However, that wasn't the only reason people were avoiding playing Mike heads up.

    Mike had another obsession -- something he called "ethics". On the surface, that would appear to be a good thing. Wouldn't you want an ethical guy in poker? Unfortuantely, Mike's ethics were his own ethics -- not necessarily society's ethics, and didn't necessarily correspond with those in poker.

    One of Mike's more irritating quirks came from his obsession with the "ethics" of hitting-and-running (winning and quitting) heads up. If Mike was down in the match, he would accuse his opponent of "hitting and running" if the opponent were to quit, even if the match had gone on for many hours, and even if his opponent gave a warning. I personally experienced this idiotic debate with Mike in the Cake Poker chat while playing him heads up, and I saw him get into it with others. This gave rise to Mike demanding heads-up "freezeout" matches, where each player would sit with $10k and play until one person had no money left. Laughably, Mike still accused any freezeout winners of hitting and running if they refused an immediate rematch!

    However, Mike's best known "ethics" related quirk of the mid-2000s was his quest to rid online poker of bots. He created a website called "destroythebots.com", which simply consisted of a mission statement and a list of all suspected poker bots he had discovered across the many US-facing online poker sites.



    Mike became an anti-bot activist, and the poker community's reaction to this was mixed. On one hand, poker bots were indeed a form of cheating, and people applauded Mike's activism in raising visibility to both the bots and the general issue. However, others were skeptical of his methods, and suspected that he was too quick with the anti-bot trigger finger. There were several reports of Mike falsely accusing legitimate players of botting, thus causing headaches for them. At the same time, Mike did catch many actual bots -- some of which were previously not suspected or publicized as such -- and his exposure helped get those accounts terminated. Overall, Mike's anti-bot quest was likely a net positive, but it wasn't without collateral damage.

    Mike got a mixed reception from online poker managers, as well. Some of them came to trust him -- perhaps a bit too much -- and started investigations against all accounts which he would accuse of being bots. Other rooms saw him as a blowhard and a conspiracy theorist, and chose to ignore him.

    One room which did ignore Mike was Pokerroom. One of the problems was that Pokerroom was part of a group of "skins" -- independently operated sites which all feed into the same network of players. It was typical that sites with a lot of skins tended to be much more lax regarding security issues, including bots. This was because botting could only be punished at the network level, and often the network did not want to anger skin operators by banning their most active players.

    In June 2006, Mike wrote of Pokerroom, "This site has many bots. Support does not care about bots. Bots in most limit hold’em games, both low and high limit." He was actually correct about this. Pokerroom was indeed overrun with bots, and the room did not care. Mike even posted a list of these bots on Pokerroom, as he did for all of the sites. Believe it or not, he missed some, as I knew of some near-certain bots at the time which weren't on that list.

    Mike's quest to destroy the bots became significantly easier after many sites, including Pokerroom, left the US market when the October 2006 UIGEA was passed. He set his sights on the one place where it was still easy to find heads up limit holdem action -- Full Tilt.

    That's where he finally scored three of his highest profile "bot kills" of all time.


    END PART 4

  5. #5
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    PART 5

    Mike Thorpe, the self-proclaimed poker bot-hunter, was known to the 2+2 forum community as "Mr. Gatorade".

    In May 2007, he brought the public's attention to a suspected bot named "BeatMe1". Mike wrote:

    I HATE BOTS. If you want to watch a good limit bot.. Watch beatme1 that will only play 50-100 or 100-200. I am updating my site as we speak and it is getting an major upgrade about the bots on all 4 big sites.
    Shortly after this, Mike gave a hint of what was to come. Apparently he had someone's ear at Full Tilt, and was getting them to aggressively investigate and terminate suspected bots on that site. He claimed that they only did this because of increasing media attention on them, but still praised Full Tilt for finally doing the right thing. At the end of one of his posts, he gave an ominous warning to any users of bots:

    FTP when asked said they would investigate and they did and for months and magically right before the FTP interview with "media" all bots on list and some other suspected bots not on list were subsequently found to be using bots and were destroyed. More to come on this on my site in a couple weeks as there are still ends that need to be tied up. FTP actually did well in getting rid of these guys for the fairness of the games and to not allow the negative attention that the NL bots got on here. 2+2 is one thing but the national media is another. Great things are about to happen with the bots and I am excited... You will be too unless your using a bot.

    Mike wasn't posturing. He knew the hammer was about to fall. Later that month, BeatMe1's account was terminated, and its $70,899 balance was confiscated and distributed to past opponents. BeatMe1 tried several tactics to get this reversed, but failed. Full Tilt had made up their minds, and had labeled that player a cheater. BeatMe1 even tried to contact the do-nothing, corrupt Kahnawake gaming commission overseeing Full Tilt, but got zero resolution.




    Out of options, BeatMe1 pled their case on 2+2, accusing Full Tilt of blindly acting upon Mike's accusations, without providing any proof that any cheating had taken place.

    The e-mails revealed a Full Tilt security team which was incredibly confident in their determination. "I have had many discussions with our poker security manager regarding this case and we are of a single mind on this issue," wrote 'Collusion Investigator' Jeremy E. of Full Tilt.

    Ultimately, the 2+2 thread didn't do a lot of good for BeatMe1. Meant to shame Full Tilt into giving BeatMe1 their money back, some top limit holdem players on the forum weren't impressed. Poker pro Chris Vitch, posting as "Death Donkey", pointed out BeatMe1's suspicious stats being discussed in another thread, and remarked that BeatMe1 refused to answer questions about it. He also noticed other generally suspicious behavior patterns:

    Quote Originally Posted by DeathDonkey
    Why don't you address some of the allegations from that MHUSH thread? How is it you've played hundreds of thousands of hands of HU on full tilt, and never played a single one against the other regulars mentioned in that thread? Are you surprised that your stats line up so closely with a few other players in the same game?

    Do you have some reason for refusing to chat? If someone is accusing you of being a bot in the chat seems like you would at least say "no I'm not".

    Do you play long marathon sessions, waiting for someone to come along for hours at a time, near your computer all the time so you can auto post and immediately begin playing? I don't think it would be tough to get some dataminers to show you have played some ridiculously long sessions.

    The thread ran 27 pages, and at the end, the general conclusion was that BeatMe1 seemed shady, and hadn't proven their case. Full Tilt escaped smelling mostly like roses.

    Mr. Gatorade had the first large notch in his bot-killing belt, and he savored the moment.


    END PART 5

  6. #6
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    PART 6

    Rob Reitzen just suffered his first real defeat in the heads up limit holdem realm. Remember "Redgard1", Reitzen's star pupil -- a screen name perhaps referencing the student's mainland Chinese background?

    Redgard1's real name was Lisa Arnold. She played under various screen names similar to Redgard1, including redgar3 on Pokerroom. But she also had another high profile account which was in hot water -- BeatMe1 on Full Tilt.

    Up until this point, none of Reitzen's horses had been disciplined by any poker site for their play. Now his star player was no longer able to play on the one remaining US-facing site with high stakes heads-up-only limit holdem tables. Sure, he still had his "clock" players, but Lisa was something special, and she had performed the best by far.

    Lisa did not speak or write English particularly well, having came to the country only about a decade prior. It is pretty clear from the BeatMe1 2+2 thread that the posts were written by a native English speaker. In fact, the line, "McCarthyism is alive and well on 2+2" doesn't seem like a phrase that a person raised in a different country would write, in relation to the account banning (and lack of support from the forum users). If I had to guess, I'd say that Reitzen himself was posting as BeatMe1 in that thread (and authoring the e-mails to Full Tilt), but we will never know.

    Reitzen still had an ace up his sleeve, though. Mr. Gatorade hadn't gotten all of his stable's accounts booted.

    Some years prior, Reitzen was eating at Arnie Morton's Steakhouse in Beverly Hills -- at the time part of a top quality chain of prime steakhouses. He was served by an attractive woman with an unusual name -- Lary. She made conversation with him, and he told her he was a professional gambler. They struck up a friendship, and he decided to have Lary join his team of players.

    Lary wasn't the natural that Lisa was. She more relied upon Reitzen's clock and his tools. However, Lary would get too emotional when losing. She had a tilt problem. She would go off in chat, unlike Lisa who was too quiet. But it was Reitzen's money Lary was using, so she operated under two rules -- leave the match when you're getting emotional, and quit if someone sits with you who you think can beat you.

    This actually helped confuse Lary's opponents, such as me. I knew she was good, but I also knew she had a tilt problem and tended to get very emotional. When the botting accusations came out, I couldn't quite understand it. Pokergirl chatted, Pokergirl tilted, yet Pokergirl also had sound heads up strategy and had certain bot-like habits. So while it seemed like she wasn't a bot, something never sat quite right with me about the whole thing.

    After Mr. Gatorade and Full Tilt laid waste to the BeatMe1 account, Reitzen needed another player to sit in the Full Tilt heads up games. Lary had a boyfriend named Greg Omotoy. Greg wasn't much of a poker player, but he didn't have to be. He just needed to learn how to use Reitzen's clocks, and he could also be a winner. The "Greggo777" account was born, and Reitzen was back in business with two (maybe more?) players on Full Tilt.

    Unfortunately, the celebration didn't last long. In October 2007, Full Tilt banned the Pokergirl_z account with about $47,000, and banned Greggo777 with his $33,000 days later.

    Pokergirl/Lary then showed up to 2+2, and made a similar post to Beatme1's, also claiming to have been victimized by false accusations. A few months later, in Feburary 2008, she created a second thread, which focused upon vilifying Mr. Gatorade for the whole thing.

    Neither thread brought her much sympathy, especially given that she avoided mentioning the Greggo ban until others brought it up. She owned up to sometimes using the Greggo account to "get action", and at that point, her few sympathizers decided to abandon her, given that she was admitting to multiaccounting.

    However, I was really curious. I knew for a long time that she was using the Greggo account, but since they both only played heads up, I didn't care. I was also willing to believe it was possible she was really using a second account to get action from fish who had previously lost to her Pokergirl account, but wasn't botting. That's why I agreed to meet with her. Something always nagged me about that story. I wasn't convinced that she was botting, but I also wasn't convinced that she was innocent.

    After our 2009 lunch, I was left with more questions than answers. Were these false accusations? Was she legit? Why didn't anyone know her from live card rooms, and why did her entire poker career seem limited to high stakes heads-up tables? Were her other allegations against Full Tilt -- that they were operating their own bots -- possibly true?

    I had my opinions as I walked away that day, but I never got an answer... until this summer, about 12 years later. I'll give you those answers in my conclusion.

  7. #7
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    PART 7 (CONCLUSION)


    Up until mid-2021, I didn't have any further answers. Yes, Lary and Greg were still suing Full Tilt as they were in 2009, seemingly unwilling to take a loss. However, I haven't heard from her since we met that afternoon, and I hadn't gotten any meaningful information regarding the situation.

    Full Tilt did indeed have a major scandal not too long after 2009. In April 2011, when the government clamped down on their illegal operation, it was also found that they had stolen all of the money (approximately $300 million) on deposit. Strangely enough, this particular allegation wasn't made at the time by Pokergirl, and it's likely that in 2009 Full Tilt was in much better shape. Payment processor issues, and the company's unwillingness to cut spending and owner "profit" distributions, led to the eventual theft of the player deposits by CEO Ray Bitar.

    While this might have given a bit more believability to some of Pokergirl's other "Full Tilt is shady" allegations, it still provided no proof. And it still didn't answer whether or not she was botting.

    So how did I find out the truth? A source at Full Tilt? A former friend of hers? A former associate of backer Rob Reitzen's?

    None of the above.

    It was all right there in plain sight, for anyone interested enough to put two and two together.

    Cigar Aficianado did an article about Reitzen in the 1990s. They decided to do a follow-up piece on him about 20 years later, in 2017.



    This follow-up piece explained a lot, and what it didn't explain, it was easy for me to fill in the blanks. "Lisa Arnold" -- the small Chinese woman described in the article, was clearly the same "Lisa" as BeatMe1. The 20 cardboard clock method of playing was presumably used by Pokergirl, who was a former steakhouse waitress with little-to-no poker skill. She was basically just clicking buttons. While the article dances around describing Pokergirl as someone simply doing what the clock said to do, it's pretty obvious from what it doesn't say. BeatMe1 was said to be a fearsome player who didn't need the clocks, whereas it didn't say the same of Pokergirl. When the article refers to the clocks making it so "anyone" could play Reitzen's strategy, it strongly implied that Pokergirl was indeed one of those "anyones".

    The article described a 2017 meetup between Lisa, Reitzen, and some other associates involved with the project. Pokergirl was not present, though her screen name was used for a demonstration of modern online poker at microstakes, with Lisa attempting to coach the poker novice author.

    I also have a problem with some of Reitzen's claims -- including the clock itself. Being a limit holdem expert myself, who has been winning at the game for 20 years, I have a hard time believing that 20 "common situations" with a clock randomizing the response would be good enough to beat strong limit holdem players. Indeed, overall I was a loser against Pokergirl heads up, even with her tilting. My attempts to play redgar3 (Lisa's Pokerroom account) also met a lack of success, before a friend warned me that redgar3 was almost surely a bot.

    The article details Reitzen actually sending in the clock, in a last-ditch attempt to explain to Full Tilt management what was going on. They woudln't budge, and kept the accounts closed with money confiscated.

    A large part of me believes that the clock was an after-the-fact invention in order to explain the incredibly similar playstyles between BeatMe1, Pokergirl_z, Greggo, and perhaps others. Full Tilt (and the 2+2 limit holdem players) correctly noticed that these accounts played very botlike in some ways, and Full Tilt had even more visibility into it. Does it make any sense to you that a guy like Reitzen -- a longtime advantage player who exploited every edge he could get, including wearing computers in to the casino -- would construct 2000 crude clock devices for his 100-deep stable, rather than use a bot? Seems unlikely to me.

    The only reason the clock story might be believable? Reitzen seemed to tell all to the Cigar Aficianado author, including his past casino shenanigans. Would he really lie about the botting part of it, especially since he has no apparent connection to the poker world, and thus no reputation to protect?

    Maybe. The Pokergirl/Greggo lawsuit has been re-filed as recently as 2017, and that lawsuit denies that Pokergirl_z and Greggo were botting. The lawsuit is looking to recover Reitzen's money, and I have to imagine that he's been the one bankrolling the endless efforts to recover it. If it's not true, the clock would be a necessary lie at this point.

    Regardless, Lary/Pokergirl did indeed lie to me during our meetup. She did know Lisa very well. It wasn't a coincidence that both were female Pokerroom heads-up players, both were unknown in the live scene, and both were banned within months of each other on Full Tilt. They were part of the same stable, and I wasn't supposed to know that.

    Furthermore, I wonder if Lisa Arnold -- aka BeatMe1 -- is really the great heads up player she's cracked up to be. We haven't seen her anywhere since the 2007 crackdown on the BeatMe1 account. She never achieved any kind of live poker results. If she is so great at the game, shouldn't she have continued her poker play elsewhere?

    I don't have all the answers, but I have a hell of a lot more than I did a few months ago.

    Pokergirl and BeatMe1 were part of a stable of players, backed and controlled by a longtime casino advantage player. This guy admits that he hired engineers to design a bot to develop an incredibly tough heads-up limit holdem style. These players were not only suspected as bots by a self-styled bot hunter, but were eventually banned for botting by Full Tilt, and refused to answer some obvious questions about their playstyle, when confronted by experts on 2+2.

    Doesn't take a genius to fill in the rest of the blanks. It also casts doubt upon these other claims against Full Tilt. Does the lawsuit by Lary and her boyfriend even mention Reitzen, the stable, and Lisa Arnold? I haven't seen the legal documents, but somehow I doubt it.

    In my opinion, this case is closed, and the judgment in my mind goes to Full Tilt. After Full Tilt's egregious theft of funds a decade ago, those were words I never thought I'd see myself writing again.





    FIN

     
    Comments
      
      Sidewinder: Tremendous.
      
      shoeshine box: stupendous!
      
      JeffDime: Great story, well written and fascinating
      
      Matt The Rat: Great effort into this post
      
      David USF: Did not read. Had to be said.

  8. #8
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    By the way, if you're interested in Rob Reitzen, he appeared on this podcast 2 years ago:

    http://www.slot-machine-resource.com...ts/reitzen.mp3

  9. #9
    Druff,
    I found the PFA story on this very interesting.
    A while ago, you expressed interest in interviewing Howard Lederer. It’s a long shot but one of your many questions could be to ask what was the evidence that FTP had on those “clocks” accounts that flagged them as bots.

  10. #10
    Yeah , I remember poker room played on it. One thing I always wondered about sites is whether they used bots , and could be pre programmed to win hands. One of the guys pretending to be a girl with the handle Ashley the Grinder. Another Innovation that poker room had that no other site had was an interactive chat lobby. Never saw this feature on any other site.
    Last edited by FRANKRIZZO; 08-31-2021 at 04:39 PM.

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