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Full Tilt wins decisively

It appears that the court dismissed the case in its entirety.  There are still a few last ditch attempts to salvage something, but it would appear that Gowan’s claims are toast.  Complete toast.  Everyone but Tiltware, Bitar and Lederer were dismissed with prejudice (meaning that Gowan can not refile against the individual poker players).

There had been a lot of other back and forth that I lost interest in blogging, but this is the total knock out.

I’ll be at the WSOP again this year, but I’m really losing interest in poker in a big way.  I just can’t get motivated much at all.


Boom! Gowan mocks Tilt’s response.

Gowan has filed a reply brief to the Tilt response to her motion for expedited discovery and it is a bombshell.  It appears to utterly destroy the Tilt response and demonstrates that Tilt’s attorneys appear to be doing some very shoddy work.  First, it attacks the challenge to the ex parte basis for the motion.  They point out that the motion was filed under Rule 6-2 and Tilt uses 7-5 as the basis for their several pages of objection to the ex parte nature of the motion.  The bit that I didn’t get when I first read the motion is that the only ex parte part was the application.  The actual motion was filed normally.  It is still a bit unclear to me if the motion was always intended to be filed normally or if the judge converted it, but I guess it doesn’t really matter.  They also point out that the motion itself was filed with the court and delivered to oppposing counsel on the same day.  This is pretty big, because the defense makes a lot of noise about how badly the secrecy disadvantaged them and it now appears that there wasn’t really much secrecy.

This leads to one of the worst things for the Tilt side, because it makes it appear that their attorneys have been caught in a lie to the court.  They said that they set up the 26(f) conference without knowing that the expedited discovery petition was filed.  However, Gowan points out that the motion was sent to them on January 29 and the 26(f) conference was scheduled on February 4.  Most likely, Tilt’s attorneys are incompetant and didn’t get the email from the court with the motion, but the other possibility is that they were flat out lying to the judge in their response.  Neither one is going to get a very warm reception from the judge, I suspect.

Further, if the summary of the legal research is accurate, it sounds like Tilt made a hash of that as well.  Their brief says that the two main cases “cited to, but did not expressly adopt, a four factor test.”  Unfortunately, according to Gowan, not only did they did not expressly adopt the four factor test, they actually expressly rejected the four factor test.  If accurate (I’m way to lazy to pull the actual decisions), this is again either shoddy research or dishonest briefing.  Both are bad for them.

Gowan also correctly points out that the proposed discovery is limited to only the corporate structure and ownership of Tilt and Tilt didn’t address that in their brief.  Indeed, Tilt seemed to suggest that the discovery was going to be a big generic fishing expedition.  Gowan points out that the discovery is needed to add defendants, remove defendants and clarify the pleadings.

I’ve changed my mind.  I now think that the judge will grant the motion and that Tilt has lost a lot of traction.


Gowan – Tilt update

I’ve been slacking on the updates.  You will recall that Full Tilt moved to dismiss the charges on January 6th.   On January 22, Gowan amended her complaint, adding new charges and defendants.  I don’t think it will really have done a lot to address the specifics of the motion to dismiss, but we won’t know the answer to that for a while.  A few days later, they filed an “ex parte” motion to compell Ferguson and Bitar to submit to extended and expidited discovery.  This is fairly unusual, generally reserved for situations where there is shady dealings by the other party.  Gowan claimed that the Tilt folks were concealing assets and running a big shell game.  Although I tend to agree that they are indeed doing that, I think it is more about hiding their cash from the long arm of Uncle Sam more than concern about Gowan.  The judge did not grant the motion “ex parte” but instead unsealed it and provided the Tilt side a chance to reply.  “Ex Parte” just means that one side of the dispute communicated to the judge without advising the other party.

Tilt has answered the motion now.  They make several points.  The first is huffing and puffing about the “ex parte” motion in the first place.  They say that filing a motion that was out of order, insulting and un-American.  They devote a lot of space to explaining why things shouldn’t have been done that way and explaining how it inconvenienced them.  I think this is posturing, much as the original ex parte motion was posturing.  Gowan is painting them as shady operators and they are acting hurt.  I don’t think that the judge will be all that impressed by either one.  In effect, the ex parte bit is out the window now, since the judge unsealed it and gave them an opportunity to respond.  The second point is that the motion is predicated on the notion that Tilt is hiding money, but there is no evidence for this aside from Gowan’s naked assertion that she thinks they are.  I think this is a pretty good point.  They also point out that Bitar and Ferguson are very busy guys who would be quite put out to drop everything and be deposed.  This is not going to impress the judge.  Finally, they point out that there is an ordinary and regular process for obtaining discovery and they assert that the normal process will work just fine.

They also point out very often that they will file a new motion to dismiss and that it doesn’t make sense to conduct discovery until the judge rules on that, since many of the counts may be gone and therefore not eligible for discovery.  The use the favorite description of defense counsel by calling Gowan’s purpose a “fishing expedition.”  Of course, it is a fishing expedition to some extent.  A lot of discovery is a fishing expedition.  I suspect that Tilt is going to drag this case out as long and painfully as they possibly can.

We should expect to see a motion to dismiss soon that will look much like the first one.  I suspect that the judge will likely preserve enough of the case to allow Gowan to proceed into discovery.  It would appear that the discovery will be contentious and annoying.  Full Tilt knows that she doesn’t know much about the details of how their arrangement works and they don’t intend to make it easy for her to figure it out.  Ultimately, I don’t think that will work.  The burden for her to survival dismissal at this point in the case isn’t that high.


I kinda cheated on my quest.

I was getting bored with the FPP sats, so I played an hour or so of 5/10.  The game was pretty good and I took $200 or so off the table.  I felt pretty much in control of my game and was playing good.  Later last night, I noticed that one of the fishier players from the 5/10 was now playing 15/30.  I sat in that game even though my buy-in was over half my bankroll (and almost all my cash).  An hour or two later and I had doubled my roll.  This isn’t the kind of outcome that is effective at keeping me at the FPP tables.

I’ve been looking at the 2009 WSOP schedule and I think that my edge is the biggest at the limit tourneys.  This may be in part because I did so well in the one last year, but I think that it is more than that.  Anyhow, they seem to run limit events every Friday.  I could fly out on Thursday after work and back on Sunday and probably do a number of them.  Unless I made the final table, I would be done on Saturday.

The problem in terms of your EV is that the buy-in is only $1,500 or $2,000 for most of the events and I’d spend nearly that much in airfare and hotel.  My best EV probably would result from losing on Day One and hitting the cash tables all day Saturday.


Tiltware strikes back!

As the deadline arrived for filing an answer to the complaint filed by Clonie Gowan, Tiltware has instead chosen to try to enlist the court’s support in whittling down some of the charges.  The pleading is not especially interesting to a non-legal audience, since it asserts few facts related to the poker world that we like to gossip about.  In fact, the only really interesting poker fact I see in the pleading is that the 13 named individuals do not all own shares in Full Tilt.  The pleading does not specify which named defendants are in fact shareholders, it simply denies that all 13 are shareholders.

In terms of the legal arguments there are a variety of things going on here:

1)  The pleading is trying very hard to sever the claims against the individual pokers players and leave only the claims against the company.  It makes the point that if Gowan has a breach of contract claim, the remedy is against the company.  It seeks to dismiss the breach claim with regards to the individuals, who would not be parties to the breach of contract.  It also asks that the entire count be dismissed with regard to the company because Gowan did not plead her claim with enough specificity.  They seem to be pretty much going through the motions there, because the real hope is to dismiss the claims against the individuals.  Although the court is going to give wide latitude to Gowan since she presumably needs discovery to make her case in detail, it does appear that Gowan’s allegations on their face don’t really involve the individuals in the breach of contract claim.

2)  The defendants only acknowledge service on Tiltware, not on Pocket Kings or Kolyma.  This is pretty important, since the direction of the money is probably fairly fluid and it is quite possible that the money was not distributed via Tiltware.  Obtaining a judgment against Tiltware might well result in a significantly smaller judgment.  It stands to reason that Full Tilt would channel the income through foreign corporations to obtain more favorable tax treatment and to avoid confiscation by the US authorities.  I suspect that Tiltware itself (a US corporation) has received quite modest income.  The pleading sets that up, by mocking Gowan’s claim of $4 billion in value.  They also take some pains to point out that “Full Tilt Poker or FTP” is a non-entity.  There is no such company and it is merely a brand name and website.

3)  Defendant also seeks to remove the individuals from the minority opression action.  This is probably the place where Gowan has the best chance to keep the individuals on the hook.

4)  The bad faith claim extends the arguments in the breach of contract claim.  If the individuals were not party to the contract, they are not liable for any possible bad faith.  They also try to extricate the company by saying that if she prevails, money will make her whole, so there is no basis for turning this into a tort action.

5) The unjust enrichment claim is alleged to be a duplication of the breach claim and they claim that Gowan has not alledged facts that would support her claim as a matter of law.

6)  They ask that the fraud claims be dismissed or at least that Gowan be required to state what the fraudulent conduct was with more specificity.

The main goals of the defense motion are to reduce the lawsuit to a more simple contract claim and to extricate the individual defendants as far as possible.  They seek to represent the claim as a simple contract or employment dispute between Gowan and Tiltware.

You can read the entire pleading for yourself, if you are so inclined.


I am the donk I warned me about…

So, I’m playing yet another mindless 210 sat where no one has the slightest clue how to play the bubble.  We’re on the bubble and I’m a mortal lock to win a seat.  I have the third most chips left of the remaining 7 players and 6 places get paid.  This particular event has been even more poorly played than usual and we are on the bubble at the 50/100 blind level, so the short stacks are not yet under terrible pressure from the turbo blinds.  There are no micro stacks, so we’ll be playing for a bit.

I find ATs on the small blind and shove into the big blind when it folds around to me.  The problem is that the big blind has more chips than I do.  In my defense, I was multi-tabling and not paying much attention, but this is still possibly the dumbest thing I’ve done in a long time.  Of course, he has AK and calls.  I’m the bubble boy and the short stacks feast on the $11 that should have been mine!

In one I just finished, there were four of us who called a very short stack all-in at the final table.  The flop comes all rags and there is no sidepot.  One of the callers makes a fairly large bet and folds everyone else with two overcards.  Of course, the short stack caught a rag and won the hand.  On the bubble, a short stack has 15 chips left after posting the big blind.  He folds to a flop bet.  He is all-in on the next hand and three of us limp to eliminate him (I have like 10,000 chips).  The button (the same guy who bet with overcards) raises the limpers with the short stack all-in for 15 chips.  I call him with great annoyance with JTs.  The flop comes T73 and we check to him and he shoves causing me to cuss at the screen because I know he is such an idiot he could possibly be shoving with AK there.  Fortunately another player, who was somewhat rational, calls him all-in before I have to decide so I fold my JT.  Sure enough, the idiot shoved AK, but the other guy called with a set of sevens to eliminat the all-in player and get us all paid.  Stunning stuff.


Big Sunday

I had high hopes for the Guiness World Record event.  After all, I had probably won 20 seats to the damn thing.  Unfortunately, I busted in 8,860th place where 8,750 got paid.  I was short and shoved KQs which got looked up by A9.  I didn’t hit any of the cards I needed and I was out without collecting my $20.  I lost a big pot for about half my chips a short while earlier when AK whiffed on the flop and a big stack moved in on me.  I struggled along with my short stack for quite a while, doubling with AQ against AT, but never really got much traction.  I got three bet a lot in the middle stages, probably by legitimate hands but it was a rough slog.

I also won another seat into the Sunday Million.  In a feat of stupendous bankroll management, I went ahead and played it.  A whopping 16,260 runners showed up and I had a pretty good run.  I was really finding a lot of good spots in the early going and ran above average for pretty much the entire event without really taking much risk.  I didn’t get very far out of line and certainly never showed anything that would suggest I was out of line.  I was above average when the bubble broke and I collected $325.60 with my FPP investment.  Unfortunately, I had no cards whatsoever after the bubble during the silly period when there were called all-ins on almost every hand.  I went from 150% of average to below average without playing a hand in fairly short order as people busted right and left.  Unfortunately, the next payout level was about 2,000 bustouts after the money, so I needed to get something.  I got down to 42k when the blinds were 3k/6k/600, playing a very patient short stack.  I found QQ in EP and got isolated by AJo in late position.  Seemed like a great spot to chip up to 100k and be back around average, but the flop was AAJ and I didn’t hit runner-runner quads.  I was still happy with my return and felt like I played a good tourney.

The real highlight was my slug chop.  I started out with $0.71 from Dan Kimbell in the Guiness WR event.  Then I picked up $8.33 from Wack in the Full Tilt Holiday points freeroll thingie.  Then Matthew went ahead and won the damn thing, so I got a cool $500 for that.  So I won about $850 on my FPP bankroll rebuild quest in one day.  I’ve spent almost half of my FPPs now, but my roll is like $1,700 now.


FFP cash rate on the upswing

The Guiness event seems to have made the FFP sats even softer than usual or I’ve just been lucky.  I have cashed in 2 of the set of 4 sats at least three or four times and I’ve even cashed in 3 of the 4 once.  In addition, Stars gave me some free money because they have been so slow with my cashout.  Merry Christmas to me!


I now have more data on the 70/210 FPP sats

I’ve now seen at least 100 2 outers and 3 outers in these things. You see silly all-ins in the early stages when people seem to think gambling it up is the most fun way to proceed and then you see them later once the blinds get crazy. As a result, I’ve seen more bad beats in a week than I saw in my whole life!

I’ve taken to playing these sats four at a time. I fire up a 210 and then three 70s to run at the same time. The one table 70s actually take a bit longer. I pretty consistently win one of the four sats. That means that I earn 11 T$ per 420 FPPs. We’ll call that 25 T$ per 1,000, which would translate to an earn of $1,750 or about a 50% premium over concierge.

I’m pretty sure that I actually do better in the 210s than the 70s. The bubble play in the 210s is shockingly bad. The last one I played was a classic WTF? example. There was a player who was certain to be all-in in exactly one more hand. He had only enough chips to pay the antes. The hand before he is set to go all-in for less than the big blind, a player calls all-in with A7s. My brain almost exploded. Somehow, his insanity was rewarded when he caught an Ace to crack 88. The next hand, the shorty is all-in and four people have enough sense to call the big blind to minimize his chances of surviving. The flop comes down A65hh and one of the four people who called him shoves! This actually lowered my IQ by 20 points as I attempted to make sense of it. If any of us win the hand, the game is over and we all win. What could be possibly be thinking to make that bet? In classic donk fashion, he had A2o. The all-in player had J5. If he had caught two pair, I think it would legally justified to hunt the guy down ad shoot him. It would be merciful, right? He can’t possibly survive in the wild.

I also played in the Blogger PLO8 tourney tonight. I busted 110/396 where 72 pay. I had a huge stack, when a guy raised the CO with QQxx unsuited. I re-raised pot with KKxx double suited. He shoved (for like 5% more) and of course flopped his Queen. I then lost a big pot when all the money went in on the flop. I had top set on a JT7r board and got called by AK32. The turn was a 6 (I just knew he would split the pot with me) and the river was a Q. I guess the split would have been better. I busted with KQJTss on a JT7 board against a set of 7s. He actually played fine, as I didn’t have many chips left on the flop.

I should have just sat out when I was among the chip leaders so that I could lock up my seat in the main event, but I’m too stupid to do that.