Since the Isildur1/Brian Hastings story broke last week, everyone, including us here at PokerNews HQ, has been discussing whether or not data mining and the rule Brian Townsend broke should be viewed as a serious offense, or whether it's something that needs to be reviewed and thought of as part of the evolution of poker. We reached out to a number of poker professionals to see what they thought.
"What Brian did, although against the T&C, is a relatively small offense. He could have acquired the same information merely by opening the tables and watching the other matches Islidur1 played. He should be punished since he violated the T&C, but whether it should be in the T&C in the first place is definitely up for debate. I personally think this whole issue is being blown way out of proportion. In football, is it an unfair advantage for teams to watch tape of the games their opponents had played the previous week?"
"In my opinion anyone playing for that amount of money online, even heads-up, needs to have an expectation that the player on the other end is playing on a combined bankroll, and how can we be sure that Isildur1 is not doing the same thing? There is a lot of information out there on how someone plays so again I believe players' studying goes without saying."
"This reminds me of some of the stuff with imper1um. Just because you can do something online does not mean it is okay. I have heard arguments about account buying that since it is easy to do and relatively undetectable that it should be allowed. Of course, this is very fuzzy thinking. If Full Tilt has a clear rule against what Hastings and Townsend did then Hastings and Townsend are in the wrong, regardless of whether it is easy to do with the data or hard to detect. They signed the same ULA we did and, especially as Red Pros, they should be following the posted rules of the site."
"I think this is minor compared to the previous offense that Townsend got suspended for - playing on other accounts!"
"I don't think this issue is being blown out of proportion at all. Poker is an industry in its infancy, I'm happy that (finally) people are discussing this stuff openly and intelligently. There's a lot of noise, a lot of finger-pointing, a lot of generally uninformed opinion being thrown about, but there's also a lot of wisdom and a lot of careful thought if you look for it. Wherever this goes, I think it will be good for poker. Fortunately, situations like this lead to new rules and policy, so let's knock on wood that online poker runs good and we get clearly defined policy that spells out rules that make sense, punishments that fit the crime, and policy that better protects all players."
"In my view, this is expected behavior. Mining data in poker should be as common as mining data in stocks. South, Townsend and Hastings are skilled and they worked harder than everyone else during the times these games were going, so it's not surprising that their average results were good."
"I personally think it's a joke that Townsend gets a slap on the wrist, when it's far from his first offense. If anybody else had the previous offenses he had, then got caught with this, they would probably be banned. Double standards are never a good thing."