Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Little Did He Realize

Jonathan Little killed the golden gooseWhat is this? Online poker’s version of The Golden Goose?

Yesterday a post appeared over on the Full Tilt Poker forum announcing that Jonathan Little would no longer be representing the online poker site. According to the post, Little “violated the terms and conditions of Full Tilt Poker by allowing other players to play his account.”

As a site rep, Little’s name appeared in red whenever he sat down at one of the virtual tables. According to the higher-ups, “When a player on Full Tilt Poker plays against and chats with a red pro on the site, it is imperative that they [sic] be able to trust that it is really the advertised pro playing the account.” Once Little began allowing others to play under his account -- and his doing so became known -- Full Tilt decided to part ways with him. (This thread on Pocket Fives from early last month appears to be where hints at something nefarious going on were first publicized.)

Little’s violation looks as though it was primarily motivated by profit. As a Full Tilt pro, Little received 100% rakeback (among other perks), thereby increasing his incentive to put in a high volume of hands. By sharing his account with others, “Little” apparently was able to log a whopping 1,200-plus SNGs in the first week of February -- an early clue, perhaps, that something illicit might be afoot.

A lot of folks are having fun on forums and elsewhere with Little’s online nick -- “FieryJustice” -- and its newly ironic connotation. The sudden loss of sponsorship represents an unexpected fender bender in a career that had recently been racing in high-gear. Little won the WPT Mirage Poker Showdown last May and placed 2nd in the WPT North American Poker Championship in Ontario last October. He also just finished making the round of 8 in the NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship over the weekend.

The news regarding Little revived previous stories -- of varying degrees of authenticity -- of other Full Tilt pros having acted similarly in the past. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned hearing Mike Matusow blithely recount his having taken over for a friend late in an online tournament (though he purposely omitted mentioning the site on which the account-sharing occurred). While that story did not specifically involve the pro allowing others to play under his account, some have suggested instances where they have witnessed pros playing live while also somehow playing online at the same time. (See, for instance, Jimmy “Gobboboy” Fricke’s post about Matusow.)

Not quite sure what Little was thinking here. A pretty serious misstep, it seems. Especially for a guy who otherwise has demonstrated such proficiency at determining risk-reward ratios.

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