Burning Bridges and Getting Banned From Full Tilt Poker

This is post #20 in an ongoing series of articles about my work as a poker bot developer.

In a previous post, I described how I was banned from PokerStars. Basically I think I was playing the bot too much, PokerStars security got suspicious, reviewed my account, and figured out it was a bot.

I actually built the bot to run on both PokerStars and FullTiltPoker (FTP), but due to problems interfacing with FTP’s software, I abandoned it and focused on PokerStars.

October 2, 2008 was the day the bot was banned on PokerStars. In June 2009, I started writing about it on this blog. On July 14, 2009, less than a month after I started writing about it here, I got the bright idea that I should double check with FTP that I was still able to play on their site so I emailed them. Keep in mind I was not banned from FTP at the time I sent this email…


I have a bit of an odd question.

I have an account with FullTiltPoker under the name “…” that I used for a few weeks in early 2008 to test a poker bot I was developing.

The bot played about 300 low stakes Heads Up SNG’s but mostly due to the difficulty of building a bot for the FTP software, I turned my efforts to PokerStars and continued my work there. My account at PokerStars (“kaon”) lasted until early October 2008 when it was promptly suspended for operating the bot. I have not attempted to run the bot since that time on PokerStars, FullTilt, or any other network for that matter.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have written about my work on my programming blog (see: http://www.mattmazur.com/category/poker-bot/).

I may be intersted in playing poker again at some point in the future and I’d like to do it on FullTiltPoker if possible. For what it’s worth, I have no intention of ever running the bot again–indeed, I wish I had never tried to make it in the first place. Why tell you all this? I’m afraid I might build up a significant bankroll and then somehow your security team will learn of my former bot transgressions and suspend my account.

If I never violate Full Tilt’s Terms of Service again, can I play on your service without fear of having my account suspended?

I’d be happy to answer any questions you have.

Regardless of your decision, thank you for the excellent support.

Matt Mazur

Surprise surprise, they did not take kindly to this otherwise friendly email. Three days later they responded:

Hello Matt,

Thank you for your mail and for your candor.

Unfortunately, we have taken the decision to exclude you from the site. We have taken this decision as a precautionary measure to protect the integrity of our site. Whilst we understand that this decision will be frustrating we are exercising our authority to close any account as outlined under Term 3 of our End User License Agreement:

Full Tilt Poker retains authority over the issuing, maintenance, and closing of players’ accounts at Full Tilt Poker. The decision of Full Tilt Poker management, as regards any aspect of a player’s account, use of the Software, or dispute resolution is final.

Which can be seen here:


You are not permitted to set up any more accounts with Full Tilt Poker. Should you do so, any further accounts will be closed and their balances may be forfeited.


Full Tilt Poker

I kind of smacked myself in the head after this. Why, oh why, did I email them in the first place? I had no intention of playing poker at that time and there was no indication that they were investigating me (though they could have looked up my account by my name), so what value did emailing them have?

After a bit of introspection, I realized the answer: I wanted to burn the bridge. Having an active FTP account was good because it enabled me to turn back to poker should I ever need extra money. But getting banned from FTP, the largest poker site next to PokerStars, was great because it forced me to abandon poker as a possibility. Sure, I could probably grind it away on some of the less popular sites, but PokerStars and FTP are where all the money is. With poker not a viable option, I had to focus on my startup pursuits because I had no fallback plan.

Was it a good decision? Check back in five years and I’ll let you know. :)

What’s your backup plan? Would eliminating it give you a better chance at succeeding at your current endeavor?

4 thoughts on “Burning Bridges and Getting Banned From Full Tilt Poker

  1. Tweets that mention Matt Mazur » Burning Bridges and Getting Banned From Full Tilt Poker -- Topsy.com

  2. should have just opened up an account in a friends/relatives name, saved all the hassle.

    But hey, you could still do that now.

    I’m sure you are aware of the measures necessary to set up an account without being worried of Full Tilt ever realising it is linked to you.

    • Yes, I’m very happy I moved on from online poker. It was fun for a while, but much better to focus on producing value in the world than grinding away a living at poker.

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