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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
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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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

    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 who screamed "victim" turned out to be lying. In most past instances, they would quickly disappear upon any holes being poked their sob story.

    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 Sillysal, 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 two 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, Sillysal 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 two 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.

    Sillysal 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.

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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 2 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 late 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
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    I'll finish the other parts to this story later.

     
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    I am curious and looking forward to reading the rest of this. I don't doubt that Full Tilt had bots. I think that's what all the sites do now. I think all the sites have bots that they use to steal from the players. I think it's the elephant in the room that nobody is talking about.

  5. #5
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Sorry for the delay. I should be posting the remainder in early August.

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