Brian Townsend Admits Multi-Accounting

What Is It About the Rule That Isn’t Clear?

by , Aug 29, 2008 | 3:43 pm

CardRunners and Full Tilt pro Brian Townsend admitted to multi-accounting on PokerStars and Full Tilt.

He wrote an admission and apology on his blog this week, noting that he had two accounts on PokerStars and two on Full Tilt (where he has a contractual obligation as a Full Tilt pro!). Full Tilt has suspended his “red pro” status for six months but didn’t seem to want to ban him from the site for clearly breaking the rules. PokerStars has not taken any action that has been made public. And to make up for his actions and show his remorse, Townsend is donating $25,000 to a charity and removed all but $100,000 in his online accounts. (If these actions evoke sympathy from anyone, please let me know.)

On one hand, Townsend did own up to his wrongdoings and apologize.

On the other hand, where to begin? Good-looking kid with everything going for him – great poker successes as a high-stakes player live and online, management gig at CardRunners, Full Tilt pro, fame, respect, good reputation – and he risked it all “because I enjoy anonymity when playing smaller and am very prideful in what I do.” He clearly sees what goes on in the online poker community and knows what happens to players caught multi-accounting. But instead of admitting to needing or wanting to move down in limits due to a recent downswing, he played under other accounts. I guess that risk didn’t pay off.

Is there something unclear about the multi-accounting rule on online poker sites? One account per player. You can play 40 games at once if you like, but use the same account. Simple, no? If you don’t agree with the rule, protest it and work for change. But for now, buck up and deal with it.

27 Comments to “Brian Townsend Admits Multi-Accounting”

  1. PokerIsGame

    I really admire Brian’s decision. The guy just manned up, and could take full responsibility of his actions. Hat down! But still, rules are created so you should follow them, and they are for everyone.

  2. Poker Shrink

    There is one more piece to the puzzle. You have to be dumb enough or vain enough to tell someone that you are multi-accounting.

  3. DanM

    Jen, you might hate me for this … but total forgiveness. Though I personally wasn’t wronged by him, I admire the way he stepped forward to bring this discussion out there. It seemed like at no time was he trying to be abusive. (He’s not claiming to have played under both names at the same time, is he?)

    It also seems like he was trying to be open about it all along, even before he got caught. after all, it wasn’t like he won some big tourney, and only then they found out and ganked his winnings.

    BTW, I think I might have two accounts somewhere. Hard to keep track with all the sites out there, especially when you don’t play often and forget your login, have a new computer requiring a new software download, etc.

  4. DanM

    You know, it’s funny … the subtitle on CardRunners is “What’s Your Edge” — and as far as I can tell having more than one account on an online poker site doesn’t give you any edge inherently.

    An innocent example — what if I wanted to test something out, and play “RiverDan72” as my usual account, but wanted to compare how people played against me when my avatar was a woman, “RiverDanielle83”?

    How is that a bad thing when I am STUDYING online how people may or may not play differently against different genders?

    Or what if I wanted to have two poker personalities — like Eminem and Slim Shady — one where I played only Phil Hellmuth’s Top 10 system, and another where I played like a maniac?

    Or for accounting purposes, one where I played low stakes, another where I played bigger?

    Owning multi-accounts doesn’t give you an edge until you abuse them. Kinda like using Skype or AIM isn’t the same thing as colluding, even though they could be used as such.

  5. California Jen

    Dan, I understand that Townsend stood up, apologized, and wanted to do so before his business interests allowed. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a dumb thing to do, knowing that you not only make money from being a Full Tilt pro but you and all of your buddies make money from the CardRunners/FTP deal.

    As far as multi-accounting goes, you said it yourself. “Owning multi-accounts doesn’t give you an edge until you abuse them.” People have abused them, which is why they are not allowed. You may have good intentions, but JJProdigy did not. Townsend may not have used the accounts at the same time, but that doesn’t change the fact that rules are rules.

    If you want to play on two accounts, for experimental purposes or anonymity or whatever, then use two different sites. Play like a maniac on Full Tilt and use a different strategy on PokerStars. There are ways to accomplish that feat without risking getting banned from the site altogether.

  6. Ed

    Jen…he said he was sorry…i respect him more than Justin.

    Still think he is an ass if he actually used both accounts at the same time.

  7. Johnny Hughes

    Such horseshit. There are only two types of gamblers…1.) Those who are looking to shoot angles and cheat. and 2.) Those who are not.

    I taught in college for twenty years. This is “I am young. I am so special. The rules do not apply to me.” This is the same ego thing of a rock star that rationalizes that the rules do not apply to them because they are so, so special.

    I played poker with many semi-skilled cheaters who knew not to cheat at the Shop, West Texas outlaw heaven, or Binion’s, Vegas outlaw heaven. When the penalties for cheating involved bodily harm or early death, cheating was taken seriously.

    Bill Smith would get drunk and hold out. J.C., his friend and stakehorse, stabbed him hard in the hand with an icepick. There was no discussion.

    You either cheat or you do not cheat. No smart person would ever trust this guy. If he is signed to Full Tilt, and would cheat and embarrass them, well what would he do to your ordinary sucker?

    Anybody you can cheat, I can beat on the square.

    Johnny Hughes

  8. DanM

    ***People have abused them, which is why they are not allowed. You may have good intentions, but JJProdigy did not. Townsend may not have used the accounts at the same time, but that doesn’t change the fact that rules are rules.***

    Jen, lemme just say that I am on your Obama bandwagon. Will enthusiastically be voting for him. But what you are saying sounds more like something Bill Frist would be saying!

    “Because people can use online poker accounts to launder money for terrorism, we need to prevent all people from doing this. Our Port Security depends on it!”

    So what do you what Townsend to do? Admitting you’re doing something wrong before getting caught, graciously accepting punishment, and then going beyond what others are mandating in an attempt to make restitution? If that’s not enough, really, I don’t know what is!

    Jen, I’m not shticking it up here. I really believe everything I say above. And yes, as you point out, it was dumb. But people do dumb things — poker provides proof of that on a constant basis.

    So now let’s get to the technicality of the rule — and really, it is just a technicality. I know I click boxes all the time saying I’ve read and understand all sorts of legal disclaimers when I haven’t and don’t. I gotta say, I honestly had no idea that it was against the rules to have more than one account on an online site until The V0ID got her money revoked from PokerStars. And even then, I didn’t fully understand it.

    Now let’s just say for the sake of argument I got offered a deal from Ultimate Bet FullPartyPokerStars … and whether knowingly or not, I broke their rules by setting up two accounts previously. OK, so now real money is on the line, business deals that affect other people’s lives, etc. They ask me: Are you fully clean?

    My answer is yes — because in my mind i haven’t been doing anything wrong, and I really want that deal and don’t want to fuck it up! But then, as time passes, I realize, damn, this could be bad, because I AM in violation of a stupid rule, and not only would it sour my professional reputation, but also it would hurt the people/company that are kind enough to take a risk on me. Crap, what do I do? I’m trying to be open-minded to your point of view, but I can only hope I would handle it as honorably as Townsend did.

    (And kudos to Full Tilt and PokerStars, who easily coulda handled everything internally and swept the theoretical security breach under the rug for the sake of “good for poker”.)

  9. DanM

    ***There are only two types of gamblers…1.) Those who are looking to shoot angles and cheat. and 2.) Those who are not.***

    Johnny, my problem with what you say is your use of the word and. Are things/people really that black and white? I think it’s possible to shoot a noble, or at least entertaining angle, once in a while. Ever heard of the overchip under-raise? That’s kinda shooting an angle, but not cheating. It is possible that people know where to draw lines, ya know?

    And speaking of shooting angles — forget brian townsend, let’s just talk about the rule itself — I still don’t see where having multiple accounts gives you any sort of angle. What am I not seeing?

  10. TheUKShark

    Anyone who uses more than one identity on any single site gains an unfair advantage over their opponents, regardless of whether or not the accounts are played simultaneously.

    If you’ve played against Brian for some time you will be familiar with various aspects of his play and vice versa. If you then play against him without being aware of who he is, he’d know everything about you and you’d know nothing about him which would have a massive effect on any game. This is the reason most site will not allow username changes except in the most extreme of circumstances.

    Personally I think he should be banned from both sites, however, having worked in the industry for 5 years I’m more concerned about the sites’ apparent lack of awareness. They will have systems in place to highlight multiple accounts and as a pro his account will have come under scrutiny not only for professional reasons but by poker playing employees. I find it hard to believe that no member of staff has ever related the accounts and brought it to the attention of the relevant parties. They appear to have tolerated his action which given the current environment is a very dangerous game to be playing.

    I agree with Johnny Hughes in that he saw an opportunity to gain an advantage and despite being fully aware that taking such action would be against the rules, he didn’t have the moral gumption to restrain himself from doing it. Once you’ve been labelled as a cheat you’re stuck with it no matter how much remorse you show and I really am surprised that such a high profile and seemingly able player would take such a risk to their reputation.

  11. Adam

    I don’t see any problem at all having multiple accounts. As long as you don’t play in the same table/tourney with the mulitiple accounts you’re not gaining an advantage. It’d be the same thing as Phil Hellmuth putting on a disguise while playing in the WSOP so people wouldn’t play against him differently than the average player.

  12. California Jen

    Sometimes, Dan, I think you argue for the sake of argument. Are you seriously saying that my contention that rules be upheld is like what Bill Frist did with the UIGEA? If so, I can’t even begin to tell you the ways in which you’re wrong, so I won’t.

    As far as Townsend not knowing the rules, that wasn’t the case. He knew that multi-accounting was wrong but did it anyway. By his own admission, it wasn’t a case of not reading the fine print.

    And I agree that Townsend handled it honorably for the most part. But with all of the young kids who cheat in online poker, in some way or form, then they come out with these various apologies, it’s starting to sound like the boy who cried wolf. Excuses, excuses.

  13. Tom Schneider


    You are right. Dan is an idiot, but not necessarily in this case.

    Would I be cheating if I dressed up like a woman and went in to play poker? I don’t think so. Would the heels bother me? Hell yes, but I’m more of a pump and slingback guy/gal.

    I understand why they have the rule, however, why not let people play under a different screen name every day. That way everyone starts fresh each day with no knowledge of anyone. The fun part about playing online is being anonymous.

    If he ever played with both accounts in the same tourney or at the same cash table, all bets and benenfits of the doubt are off; however, if he didn’t do this, I don’t see the big deal.

    In my mind this is a minor infraction. However, rather than give money to charity, I think he should give a refund to the players in his regular game. Let the players that he played against form a committe and they decide how some money gets distributed.

    Is it ever possible for an old, bald fat guy who pays his debts, doesn’t cheat or act like an idiot on TV to get a deal from a poker site? I guess the BARGE boys were right, I am bitter.

    I think the Pokerati readers will understand that the previous paragraph is s joke intended to be funny and entertain, and truly not bitterness.

  14. Johnny Hughes

    Dan is right. There are angles and there are angles where you trick someone fair and square. I do not cheat, not for moral reasons, but because of fear of tough opponents. It is also very bad business.

    I worked in the poker room at the Golden Nugget as a shill in 1960, for the great Bill Boyd. We cheated by signaling in five stud. Cheating was part of my job. We cheated a tiny bit at a dice game I worked at. However, when I ran poker games for many years, and played high, I never cheated. It was bad for one’s health.

  15. Marvin C

    This is what is wrong with unregulated online poker. Brian is a cheat. Do we believe him that he never played two accounts in the same game? If he admits to two, did he have three; four; or more? I don’t know enough to say. However, if he got caught cheating in the old days, he would be in the hospital or worse. If he got caught in Vegas now, he would be barred forever.

    Cheating is like speeding; you claim it’s the first time when you get caught. Brian is caught and should be banned for life; not only as a penalty, but to stop othersd in the future.

    How do we know that prople from other countries aren’t playing multiple accounts? When online poker started getting popular in the 90s, I was shown five players in Oklahoma playing next to each other with accounts showing five different states. They were smart enough not to be greedy and only played together occasionally; but enough to win a lot.I don’t know if they are still doing it, but I’ll bet someone is.

  16. Earl Burton

    Here’s the problem that I have…sure he admitted it, but the penalty should be the same whether caught red-handed (or red pro) or you admit it. Thus, he should lose his status with FTP, CR, and any and all accounts that he had on both FTP and PS.

    The sites have wasted little time in the past with those who have multiple accounts on one site or violate the T&C (The V0id and Jonathan Little come to mind as most recent off the top of my head). Why are they dragging their feet on this one?

    BT violated the rules of the T&C. He mentioned that he did it for the anonymity. When you reach the professional level that he has, that anonymity for yourself in the online game is gone. It is also stated that he then has an advantage because he may know who “you” are but you don’t know that it is him. That is the reason for the “one account” rule.

    I am getting real tired of hearing about these younger players doing this crap (and then passing it off as “the immaturity of youth” or such) and getting even more tired about hearing how these online sites seemingly turn their heads about it. I don’t even think regulation could do anything about this situation, but maybe it is a sign of people’s decline in trying to do the right thing. That perhaps is the most dissapointing aspect of BT’s admission.

  17. Jason B

    Hooray! Let’s bash and scold UB and AP for not doing anything about the scandal about user cheating and we bitch cause nothing has happened. Hooray-Hooray!!! Townsend owns up to multi accounting, yet never using the accounts at the same time, but having 2 usernames he violated policy rules. FT suspended his sponsorship for 6 months, but noooooo, that’s not good enough. Let’s ban him!!!! In fact, let’s go ahead and put him in exile from the honorable profession of gambling. Wait,wait ….No, I have a better idea. Let’s allow him to go to a book signing in Dallas, TX and let other players use his user name alowing fans to believe they’re playing a pro only to be deceived! I think that’s far worse than having multiply accounts. Indeed, I don’t want any ‘honest’ internet players as a pro cause then we wont have anything to blog about or be able to criticize “these young internet players who don’t abid by the rules.”

    Then again

  18. DanM

    ***No, I have a better idea. Let’s allow him to go to a book signing in Dallas, TX and let other players use his user name alowing fans to believe they’re playing a pro only to be deceived!***

    Jason is referring to Phil Hellmuth, of course.

  19. Poker Shrink

    This reminds me of the show one show all rule up against the now dead Bellagio show one show both rule. There is clearly a reason for not allowing the same player you use multiple accounts in the same tournament or at the same table. But there is very little reason to ban different accounts that do not play at the same time. Someone twisted one rule with the reasoning: If we don’t allow B then fewer people will try A.

  20. Bill Reynolds

    Who gives a rat’s ass? As long as he wasn’t playing on the same table under both accounts, who gives a fuck? There are bigger problems in the world and our country than this.

  21. DanM

    ***Someone twisted one rule with the reasoning: If we don’t allow B then fewer people will try A.***

    And that’s what I’m trying to say is the same argument used by the pro-UIGEA camp.

    Nice comparison to the Bellagio’s “show-one-show-both”, btw.

  22. The Biz

    I can’t believe people think regulation would eliminate this sort of thing. Cheating exists, in any form, because some people are greedy. Whether or not the US gov’t got involved and acted as a regulator, it wouldn’t completely discourage, nor eliminate, cheating.

    If you think having a highly regulated industry would curtail this sort of activity, then you should speak with Enron investors who are left penniless after putting their money into one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world.

  23. DanM

    Lance TB, I’m the last guy who ever thought I would support regulation of pretty much anything. But think about what happened to The VOID, who lost her court challenge in the Isle of Man. Not saying it’s the case, but it’s certainly conceivable that PokerStars owns the court system there.

    Having some semblance of rules that are respected by an entity BIGGER than Isle of Man/Malta/Gibraltar has to at least suggest the “right” side on different cases will win out. I just like the idea of a single company not having the last say in any of these matters.

  24. jonnydallas

    If Townsend gave the accurate names of the accounts he was playing under, then it should be a simple matter of checking logs to see if he played both of them on the same table or same tournament, right? I would imagine that this was the very first thing that happened when he ‘came out’.

    Having two accounts isn’t cheating. It may be against policy, but its not cheating. Holding out cards is cheating. Deling seconds is cheating. Signaling is cheating. Collusion is cheating. Playing two accounts separately is not cheating. Playing two accounts at the same time on the same table or in one tournament, that’s cheating. I don’t think he did this, as the poker world would be buzzing with facts and dates and times and winnings right now. He also would likely have been completely booted from FT. I really don’t think Howard Lederer would stand for such a thing at all, and a simple suspension just would not do. Lederer would of booted his ass right out of the FT Pro whatever it is.

    It seems the guy took some of the bad end of variance, and freaked a little bit. Being a big poker name, other players probably targeted him. “Hey, I just drew out on that guy from High Stakes Poker! I feel sooo good right now! This is better than flopping quads! I beat a famous pro!” Over and over and over again. So the guy opened a new account under an anonymous name in an effort to get back to playing real poker, and not just defensive playing, trying to avoid being a high profile target. I really don’t blame him. There was a time when I was playing with basically the same group of people, and playing a very aggressive style. The regulars in this game started calling my bets with almost anything, and sometimes drawing out on me, or making a bad call with the better hand. It sucks. It greatly increases variance and makes one start second guessing. It really didn’t matter if I changed gears, I would still get called all the way down. To be a winning player, you gotta win with a lesser hand sometimes. If we all just played only premium hands, and then continued with them when they hit, you might break even. That’s not even mentioning beating the rake.

    I generally don’t play online, because it is soooo easy to cheat. I can imagine a group of players with their AOL IM on, all playing the same tournament or table, revealing pocket cards to each other during the course of hands. Or cell phones or texting, or even in the same room. In fact, I’ve been invited to do just that. Gross. Then there’s the bots. You know they are out there. I seem to recall an article on Pokerati about just such on operation right here in Dallas. Scary. Why are people…ahem…pseudo-journalists, getting all self righteous about having two accounts on one site? There are approximately 1 million ways to cheat at online poker. It appears Townsend has not done any of these things.

    It really seems to me Townsend’s motive was to get back to the successes he had when he was a lesser know player, to shed the fame and just be a poker player again.

    And I wonder, if Townsend had shut down his original account, and then opened a new, different one, never gong back to his orignal account, would all this hubub be going on? And I also wonder how many unknown/not famous players have multiple accounts on one site?

    And…why did this guy really come out? Did someone else threaten to out him, or even blackmail the guy, so he just went ahead and outed himself? I’ve never seen a poker player get a sudden case of honesty and say “You know what, I was bluffing, and even though you folded, I’m gonna give you the pot. I’m feeling honest right now.” Poker players are deceptive by nature, they just don’t catch a sudden case of honesty.

    The real story here is 1) what really motivated to guy to open multiple accounts and 2) what really motivated him to come out. That would be a great story, and one I would be interested in reading. If he sees a story criticizing him harshly, he probably won’t be doing any interviews with the author of the harsh story, so…maybe think about that when trying to hustle poker journalism.

  25. DanM

    I agree with DallasJonny completely — except for maybe the last part:

    ***If he sees a story criticizing him harshly, he probably won’t be doing any interviews with the author of the harsh story, so…maybe think about that when trying to hustle poker journalism.***

    while this is true, this mentality of losing a pro’s interview services (or advertiser) is the exact reason why you don’t see Bluff or CardPlayer hardly touching so much this stuff, and personally, considering that they have the resources to do the kinda digging you’d like to see, I think it’s a shame.

    anyhow, i think you make the best argument i have read anywhere about why breaking this rule is not nearly the same as cheating.

  26. jonnydallas

    Well…okay, maybe that last part is a little misguided. I agree that some (all) of the major poker publications out there are a bit wussy when it comes to hard hitting un-biased journalism when the bottom line is at stake. But a highly opinionated slam piece is just as lacking in the un-biased department, being that…well…it is full of bias.

    What about an op-ed section of Pokerati, just for such opinions, and then cold hard journalism for the remainder. That might be something ground breaking in poker journalism…

    What I should of said is this: Seeing that Jen got an interview with the dude from UB/whatever the other one is, how about hitting up Townsend for an interview examining precisely what his thoughts and motivations were for both the opening of the extra accounts and then his decision to come out. Surely some pub would pay for that story.

    And thank you for you kind comments regarding my comments…

  27. KenP

    Well the following was documented with UB so that and a grain of salt or a quarter…You could contact UB and get them change your online ID. No problem. I imagine a few others might.

    On UB it was pretty common knowledge that when Devilfish was playing the cheap seats it was his kid putting in the hours his contract required.

    I had a friend with health problems that couldn’t work play accounts of mine back when I had them in any number of places. We didn’t think anything of it. That isn’t multiple accounting but it speaks to the identity issue raised.

    But don’t listen to me. I am old enough to remember where the cops made sure the town drunks got home instead of writing DUI tickets that’d have his kids not eating.

    It is good to have rules and see them followed. It is also good to avoid as much damage in the process as is possible.

    People can play others accounts for any number of innocent reasons. People have blogged about it. If you want certainty, play live and get DNA tests.