Todd Witteles Tells the Truth about Full Tilt Poker Bot Ring

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17 Sep

Todd Witteles claims to have finally uncovered the truth about a bot ring that plagued the heads-up limit tables on the now defunct Full Tilt Poker.

The story took place in the few years before Black Friday finished off the iconic site, and to the casual observer probably never got any more exciting than hearing about the odd banning for using a bot.

Now he reckons he has all the answers, or at least pretty close to the real truth.

The Truth?

Witteles chooses a story format to deliver the facts, which proves to be engaging. He begins by telling about his duels with a female player known as “Pokergirl z”, “Mad Haddie”, “Jonesen” and “Sillysal” on the Heads-up Limit Hold’em tables at stakes up to $100/$200.

The pair had clashed repeatedly and it usually ended in the same way. Witteles would sometimes lose a small chunk and the game would continue, or he would suddenly win a chunk back and then she would immediately quit.

Suddenly, in 2007, she was banned for using a bot. Witteles never suspected this, although he was convinced she was multi-accounting under the account name “Greggo777” some of the time.

After a post on twoplustwo to garner some sympathy and support, the girl contacted Witteles to arrange a meeting so she could dish some dirt on Full Tilt Poker.

After identifying herself as Lary Kennedy, she spoke about a planned lawsuit to recoup the five-figure account balance seizure and accused Full Tilt of actively running bots themselves to seed the games. Some of these were allegedly run by Red Pros.

Witteles wasn’t convinced and probed Kennedy about why she was unknown in the live poker world while appearing to be a world class player.

Along with some waffle about not liking the live game, she admitted that she had used the “Greggo777” account which she said was owned by her boyfriend.

The Team

Rob Reitzen, a man into gambling of almost every sort, was rumoured to have invested a small fortune into a bot that could play Heads-up Limit Hold’em. He wasn’t particularly interested in poker but saw the potential in that variant being perfect for a computer to play against a human.

We can’t be completely sure, but Reitzen either followed through with the computer program plan or made a strategy “clock” that was a way of incorporating strategy charts into a cardboard decision making tool that would allow an unskilled player to select a few metrics and have the decision given to them.

Witteles has his doubts but Reitzen claims this is true. He also says that he recruited a stable of players to use this clock which turned out to be successful.

When the UIGEA 2006 hit and Americans were limited to PokerStars, Ultimate Bet and Full Tilt Poker, the stable found itself in a quandary. The sites where they had made most of their profits were now out of bounds for US-based players, and even out of the remaining three only Full Tilt Poker had any kind of a limit poker scene.

Day of Reckoning

As the team continued to play, making what money they could on Full Tilt Poker, Reitzen and his team hadn’t reckoned on the bulldog spirit of the high-stakes community and just how observant the players are to something that looks slightly amiss.

A guy called Mike Thorpe, known online as “MrGatorade”, ended up being the catalyst for the end for Reitzen’s crew. He put together all manner of evidence that was ultimately responsible for the closure and banning of many accounts playing in the high-stake limit games, including Lary Kennedy’s and other stable members.

The Truth?

The real truth of this story might have been confirmed, weirdly enough, by an article in a cigar magazine which you can read here. Witteles remains convinced that the clock is nothing more than a fictional tale used to disguise the fact that real cheating was happening with the use of a software bot. Probably in the hope that the banned accounts from stable members would have all confiscated funds returned.

Lary Kennedy is still trying to sue Full Tilt Poker for the return of the tens of thousands of dollars that were confiscated, and also an insane $900 million in damages.

There are too many details in this tale to cover in a single article, but if this watered down version whets your appetite to know more, then check out everything that Todd Witteles wrote here, it’s a great tale.

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