Monday, March 17, 2008

Full Tilt Poker Apparently Plans To Violate One of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission’s “Regulations Concerning Interactive Gaming”

Online poker, ca. 2008Disclaimer: The following has been written under the assumption that when an online poker site advertises itself as having been “regulated” by a third-party organization that claim is intended to signify a meaningful declaration to its customers that the site can be trusted. (A hopelessly naive premise from which to proceed? Perhaps. But let’s just pretend for a little while, shall we . . . ?)

A month or so ago I wrote to Full Tilt Poker to ask them about how the site was regulated. I was told they were licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, and that “At this time, that is the only regulatory body under which Full Tilt is currently licensed.”

Well, it appears that Full Tilt Poker has decided to violate one of the “Regulations Concerning Interactive Gaming” put forth by its only regulatory body. Namely, this one:

Let me explain.

Early last week, it was announced that an agreement had been reached between CardRunners and Full Tilt for the online poker site to begin sponsoring all of the CardRunners pros -- Taylor Caby, Andrew Wiggins, Brian Townsend, Brian Hastings, Mike Schneider, Cole South, and Eric Liu -- in one bundle. As the breathless press release noted, all of these “hottest young players and instructors in online poker now play exclusively at Full Tilt Poker.”

A thread soon began on Two Plus Two. “Great move by FTP to save face after firing that disgrace known as FieryJustice,” said one early poster. (You recall how Full Tilt Poker dealt with Jonathan Little’s indiscretion not two weeks ago.)

Didn’t take long, though, for some to wonder what effect the agreement might have on the quality of CardRunners’ instructional vids. “This could be pretty bad for the CR videos,” speculated one poster. “It will create a lot of unrealistic settings, where people go after them/stay away from them because their name is in red.”

After a couple of days and a few hundred more posts, Taylor Caby came onto the thread to announce that CardRunners had negotiated some new terms for its deal with Full Tilt. According to Caby,
Full Tilt will be making an exception to their “one account per player” policy for Cardrunners pros with the following stipulations:
  • The “alternate” account will only be used for the creation of educational video content.
  • At the end of every recorded session (on an alternate account), every player that played with the CR pro will be notified via email to explain what happened. In addition, they will be given a small token of appreciation (most likely FTP points) for their participation.
  • Anyone who loses money directly to the CardRunners pro will be given additional compensation for their loss.
  • I should also note that this arrangement applies to all videos created AFTER the FTP/CR partnership, as we have some unreleased videos to be released shortly.
    As you might imagine, subsequent posters immediately began listing numerous potential problems with Full Tilt’s decision not to restrict CardRunners pros to its “one account per player” policy. I’ve also seen a couple of other responses to the news on PartTime Poker and PokerKing’s blog in which they, too, list a few of the many possible problems that could result from Full Tilt’s decision.

    Lots of issues involved here. (That Two Plus Two thread I mentioned will probably go over 1,000 posts today.) Frankly, the whole idea of signing an exclusivity deals with instructional sites seems pretty half-baked. The fuzzy temporary bending of the site’s rules and then making nice afterwards only makes it worse. Giving money back to the losers? What the hell . . . ? (Online poker becomes less and less like “real” poker every day.)

    Getting back, though, to the Kahnawake Gaming Commission’s reguations. (Which we’re continuing to pretend actually mean something . . . .)

    Caby’s reference to the “one player per account” rule comes from Full Tilt Poker’s “Site Rules.” It is Rule No. 2 that states “Players are not allowed to create, use, or deposit to more than one account. Players who are found to have multiple accounts or to have allowed multiple users to access their account may face account suspensions or revocations, and forfeiture of their accumulated Full Tilt Points and real money balances.”

    Of course, if one looks further down the list, one encounters Rule No. 12, which states “Full Tilt Poker reserves the right to modify or revise the Rules at any time, without notice to Players. Such amendments will become effective immediately upon being listed on the Full Tilt Poker website. It is the Players' sole responsibility to review the Rules and Policies, and remain abreast of any changes.”

    I suppose one could argue, then, Full Tilt has already made it plain to us that if they want to make exceptions to the “one account per player” rule then they can do so. However, allowing the CardRunners pros to create these temporary “alternate” accounts clearly violates the Kahnawake Gaming Commission’s own “one account per website” rule.

    Conclusion: If Full Tilt Poker does not rescind its agreement with CardRunners to allow the CR pros to use multiple accounts, it will violate one of the rules set forth in the Kahnawake Gaming Commission’s “Regulations Concerning Online Gaming” and thus subject itself to whatever sanctions the KGC deems appropriate.

    I’ve written Full Tilt to ask them why they believe it is okay to ignore their only regulatory body’s regulations. Will share their response here.

    (Okay, you can stop pretending now.)

    (EDIT [added 3/21/08]: It took five days, but Full Tilt support did finally answer my question. Sort of. I asked them specifically about the Kahnawake Gaming Commission’s regulation No. 180 and how FTP could violate it this way and still remain a permit holder. Here is what they told me:

    “We fully understand your concerns regarding CardRunners’ accounts on our site. Rest assured, we value our players’ opinions and are considering all options before a decision is made.

    Please stay tuned for updates via email or our software on how CardRunners’ educational videos will be handled.”

    Dunno if others pointed out the KGC regulation to them or not, but it sounds as though Full Tilt is still thinking about how to handle their new agreement. I guess we'll all just have to “stay tuned.”)

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    Blogger Waldo's Wild Kingdom said...

    I really don't think its that big of a deal. As they mentioned, CR would have issues with how people played against pros (watch the hyper aggressive, deepstack theory in their current free video) so they let them have temp-alt account to do that. That is controlled and people are being given something back. This has a bit of over-hype on it...possibly. However, the marketing gimmicks and mass of red players (now in multiple languages) is diluting the cool factor pretty heavily.

    3/17/2008 1:40 PM  
    Blogger Grundy said...

    I love planned violations.

    3/17/2008 3:47 PM  
    Anonymous Blogio said...

    Hi there!
    Blogio would like to get in contact with you through email. We have a poker related communication for you to view, but need to give you an invite code so you can see it.
    Please contact us at for your personal invite number to log in to the site.

    3/17/2008 4:00 PM  
    Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

    Haha . . . . Hey Grundy, does Blogio's invite sound like a planned violation to you? (Blogio, you can find my email here if you look for it.)

    You might be right about the overhype, Waldo (the 2+2 thread has now careened past 900 posts). Still, what do them KGC regs mean, ultimately, if they don't always apply?

    3/17/2008 4:43 PM  
    Blogger Rakewell said...

    It would be interesting if you wrote to KGC to ask them what they intend to do about the apparent violation. My guess: they'll blow it off.

    3/17/2008 6:33 PM  
    Anonymous rakeback said...

    I think Full Tilt is going to start dominating the marketplace, especially since Phil Ivey made the WSOP Main Event Final Table, which should bring a lot of added attention to the site.

    10/14/2009 8:16 PM  

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