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full_tilting responds to bot accusations

15 May 2007

Chuck Kuruzovich (aka "full_tilting") understands why people are worried that he's running "bot" software on Full Tilt's $1/$2 No Limit Hold'em tables. And he doesn't begrudge "SukitTrebek," who made the issue public by presenting several alleged "bot" accounts with virtually identical statistics on the 2+2 forums.

"He does have some numbers that look kind of strange," Kuruzovich said. "He was trying to keep the tables safe. I'm okay with that."

Kuruzovich just wishes that his side of the story — he insists that he wasn't using bots — hadn't been drowned out by those who thought he was using a computer program to beat the Full Tilt tables.

In 1999, Kuruzovich visited Las Vegas for the first time. He sat down at a poker table and "has been hooked ever since." He started playing online in 2001 on Paradise Poker. He enjoyed the game so much that he began organizing local charity games in his hometown of Johnstown, Pa.

About a year ago, he developed a strategy that nets about $5 per 100 hands at the $1/$2 No Limit tables. Combined with the rakeback he was earning from the affiliate he signed up with, Kuruzovich found he could make a pretty good living playing poker online.

Is Kuruzovich's story feasible?

Even Chuck Kuruzovich admits the numbers are a little staggering. Every statistic for the four accounts associated with Kuruzovich's team (past or present) is virtually identical, from the tight preflop raise rate of just seven percent to the super-aggressive continuation bet rate of 97 percent on the flop. So is it possible that a team of three individuals can play poker in almost exactly the same way?

Michael Bowling, an Assistant Professor of Computing Science at the University of Alberta, believes the answer is a qualified yes. Bowling is part of the university's Computer Poker Research Group, whose "Hyperborean" bot won the inaugural Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) computer poker competition.

"If you taught two people how to play poker and you asked them to play, would they actually play the same way?" asked Bowling. "I think the answer depends on how complex the strategy is."

Bowling believes that No Limit Hold'em can actually simpler than Limit Hold'em given the right system.

"No Limit has the feature that I as a player at any moment can force just one more decision by going all in, so I can actually limit the complexity of the game," Bowling said.

Kuruzovich's says his system isn't as simple as all in or fold, but it still only takes about 20-25 hours to memorize.

It has often been said that No Limit Hold'em "takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master." Well you might not be considered a master of the game, but maybe all it takes to be a winning player is 20-25 hours to memorize a system.

And as Internet poker rooms and third party payment processors exited the U.S. after the adoption of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, he soon became known by those who played in the charity games as "the guy to come to if they ever needed money on Full Tilt." He'd take cash from these players and transfer money from his Full Tilt account to theirs.

Six months ago, Kuruzovich decided to share the system with two of his friends in the charity tournament and the trio began playing together at his house. The group played simultaneously from the same IP address, but avoided sitting at the same tables, which would be a breach of Full Tilt's Terms and Conditions. They played together to make sure they stayed within the set strategy and they shared in the profits equally to reduce variance. And when one player, "1forthethumb," decided to strike out on his own, Kuruzovich recruited another player to join the team.

"We can play anywhere from 8-12 hours a day," Kuruzovich said. "We make more than we would make without a college education, and I don't have a college education. I finished high school and that's as far as I went. Any job I've ever held, I've never made more than $10 an hour, and I can tell you I'm making more than that playing online."

Then in February, Kuruzovich logged on to find that his account, as well as his friends' accounts, had been frozen.

"I knew my accounts and the other accounts had pulled up some red flags (because of all the peer-to-peer transfers), so I didn't have a problem with it," Kuruzovich said. "I was pretty sure everything was going to go smoothly. And once they exonerated us, we'd be back to playing as normal."

Full Tilt asked Kuruzovich and the other players to send in copies of their driver's licenses and utility bills. The players complied, and Kuruzovich also sent a private message to a Full Tilt representative that posts on the 2+2 forums, explaining how the group operated.

"I just wanted to tell my end of it, and they never asked me anything more than that," Kuruzovich said. "He did tell me that he wasn't the investigator in our case. I'm sure he gave that information to them, but I was still confused on why they didn't want to know my end. But they didn't and I went with it."

After a month-long investigation, Full Tilt returned control of the accounts back to Kuruzovich and his friends. And they began playing again.

That's when "SukitTrebek," who asked Full Tilt to conduct the investigation, posted his case on the 2+2 message boards. A Full Tilt representative responded two days later, saying that an investigation had been conducted and that Full Tilt was unable to confirm whether the accounts in question were being played by bots or by the people themselves.

Kuruzovich has requested that Full Tilt absolve them of any wrongdoing instead of saying they were unable to provide any conclusive evidence, but hasn't heard a response. A Full Tilt representative did not respond to Casino City requests for more information.

And while Kuruzovich and his friends can still play at the Full Tilt tables, they have found it nearly impossible to do so. Every time they've logged on since the allegations were made public, their tables have been railed by dozens of observers who accuse the accounts of being bots.

"We're taking a break and letting the heat die down," Kuruzovich said. "We tried to play and we got railed pretty hard at the tables when the allegations first came out. It's bad for the game, it's bad for the table and it goes on to hurt our reputations worse."

full_tilting responds to bot accusations is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Aaron Todd
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.