The day that saw Isildur1 lose $4.1M


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It’s December 8th, 2009 and a young man who is rapidly becoming an online legend, takes a seat at the virtual tables to play a session against Brian Hastings. Railbirds clamour in the chat box, cheering on their new found hero – a man who single handedly devastated Tom Dwan‘s bankroll several months earlier. Isildur and Hastings have a bit of experience of playing together, but only know a little about each others game. As the cards are dealt for the first of what will be a 3,000 hand session, nobody watching realises that they are about to see the most catastrophic losing session of online poker in history. Isildur becomes the victim of a $4.1 million assassination as the worst online cash session in history unfolds. The railbirds and online world are astounded at what they have just seen.

In this session Isildur clearly didn’t run well, but Hastings has come more heavily armed than expected. Having watched the young Swede burst onto the poker scene and shake the high stakes poker world to it’s core, Hastings undoubtedly fears that he may meet the same fate as Dwan if he sits opposite Isildur. In order to swing the balance in his favour, Hastings devised a plan. Or rather, Hastings and his friends devised a plan.

It all began when Brian Townsend used prohibited data mining software to gain access to hands that Isildur has played in the past.

Players are not allowed to gather data from hands that they have not personally been involved in, but Townsend decided to do exactly this, before bringing his findings to Hastings, and fellow pro Cole South. He collected a total of over 50,000 hands on Isildur1. The three of them then sat and dissected every tiny aspect of Isildur‘s game,formulating optimal strategies to combat his style of play, using the data they are not entitled to. Hastings pens a blog post to tell the world about his “very special day”. In his haste tell the world every detail, Hastings lets slip about the teamwork and data mining. A very public backlash follows. As Full Tilt launch an investigation into the matter, many call for Isildur to be reimbursed, at least partially. To the dismay of Isildur and his fans, Full Tilt eventually conclude that sharing strategy is acceptable, but that the illegal data mining should be punished. Brian Townsend was sentenced to a rather lenient looking one month ban,and Isildur was left with his bankroll decimated. This does not mark the end for the young prodigy though, as he slowly rebuilds in the following years. 2015 sees Isildur win $3.5 million at PokerStars cash tables,and while he drops $1.3 million on Full Tilt that year, his comeback is complete. Isildur still plays online at the very highest stakes.

Script and voice by Craig Bradshaw/ Video par Bruno Thienard



Craig Bradshaw

Graduated in Journalism at the University of Essex, Craig Bradshaw has been part of Somuchpoker from the beginning. Joining Somuchpoker after 5 year of being a semi-professional online poker player, his in-depth knowledge of the game and the community has provided great value to the site and has made his writings and articles easily relatable to the audience he is addressing.

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