TheTrooper97 Interview #collusiongate

Tim Watts, infamously known as TheTrooper97, has recently come under fire and intense scrutiny for one of his recently released vlogs titled “Harry in Las Vegas” which you can see below.

The purported accusation of collusion occurred back in 2012, when TheTrooper97 and good friend Harry cleaned house in Single Table Sit n’ Go’s to the tune of $34,000 during the WSOP. A witch hunt of sorts ensued based largely on assumptions. PokerTube also decided to get involved, pouring gas on what was already a raging dumpster fire, publishing an article in which their journalistic integrity was questionable at best. They failed to let Tim voice his side, with the bulk of the articles content being quotes taken directly from known trolls in the 2+2 poker forums whom went to great lengths to defame Tim’s character. We here at 9to5poker decided to ask the Trooper some pointed questions, and give him a chance to redeem his reputation and clarify his actions.

Because defamation of character is an equally serious matter, TheTrooper97 wishes to restore his image as it is currently at risk of being tarnished. He may, or may not have, naively failed to clarify some prudent issues in the Vlog at question. But that is a matter of perspective and the viewers interpretation.

Would he really be so brash to publish a video incriminating himself and risk ruining his reputation in the poker world forever?

Or was the video made all in good fun and Tim Watts was just a bit naive to the way it was going to be received?

If Tim and Harry were colluding and making so much money without getting caught, wouldn’t any rational person continue to do it? And wouldn’t they have made much more than $30k?

These are just a few of many logical questions one must ask themselves to determine if this was a pre meditated attempt to cheat as has been alleged.

Or was this just a case of two good friends innocently pursuing their WSOP dream without any ill intentions? People should hold off judgment until all the facts are presented and give TheTrooper97 a chance to refute the claims.

The Voice of Reason in the poker world, Doug Polk himself, recently gave his opinion on the matter when he was interviewed on Joey Ingram’s YouTube Channel in the video titled “Doug Polk Responds to Alec Torelli’s Viral Video!!!(REAL & UNEDITED).” If you’d like to check it out, it starts around the 22:30 minute mark.

Doug admittedly said he hasn’t seen the vlog, and that his understanding of the whole matter is from reading the ongoing thread on 2+2. Because everything on 2+2 is pure fact and without bias right? Bang Bang.

Now in Doug’s defense he is a very busy man, and was commenting on the matter based solely on heresay, but that is part of the issue with #collusiongate, and why it has gotten out of hand. People are making serious accusations without concrete facts. Doug makes some good points in defense of TheTrooper, but also clearly has some of the facts wrong. For example:

Doug stated “They always play together and chop their action.”

As you will see in the Trooper97 Interview below, he said he and Harry only played at the same table approximately 20/450 times, which occurred by chance when other tables weren’t available. If you do the math this comes out to about 4% of the time.

In Trooper’s defense, Doug argued that swapping action in High Roller Events is extremely common, and in a way similar in certain aspects to what TheTrooper97 was doing. Albeit at much higher stakes.

Doug stated, “In High Rollers its a buffet of this.”

“Its very standard of people to have 3, 5, 10 pieces of other players in the same tournament.”

Now this brings up a poignant question..

Where must the line be drawn when it comes to collusion in poker?

There still seems to be quite a bit of grey area of where this line stands, and it is definitely not black and white. Especially in these types of scenarios where people are swapping action.

So is it fair to convict someone of something so damning when a concrete line doesn’t yet exist?

How can you quantify how much more or less of an edge the High Roller guys whom are swapping action have than say the Trooper’s scenario?

Especially if they end up at the Final Table with multiple people whom they have swapped pieces with. Is this going to be fair to the other players at the table whom don’t have pieces of each other?

Deception being a key component in poker, it seems a bit hypocritical to include the question of ethics, morality, and poker in the same sentence. Dan Colman infamously caused quite the stir after winning the Big One For One Drop a few years back. Despite winning over $15 million in one of the most accoladed and highest buy in tournaments of the year, he refused to give the traditional and obligatory winners interview afterward. What would be considered an honor to many, Dan was reluctant to endorse a game in which he said the majority of players lose. Now this is a completely different scenario than the topic at hand, but the backlash that ensued for Dan is a great example of how sensitive the topics of ethics and morality are within the poker community. Reminiscent of this, the recent accusations against TheTrooper97 have struck a similar chord.

Poker players are keen on protecting the sanctity of the game we all love. And rightfully so. Collusion being the most sensitive and serious accusation of them all. Collusion has been around since the birth of poker and it takes on many forms. It occurs across the board in all sports where people are looking for an edge against their opponents. Pine tar, steroids, spit balls, and corked bats in baseball. Doping in cycling. Deflated footballs in the NFL #deflategate. And now we have #collusiongate.

Without further ado let’s hear from TheTrooper97 himself…

TheTrooper97 Interview

1) At what frequency did you and Harry sit at the same table? And was it purely coincidence or intentional when you did end up at the same table? Can Harry confirm this account?

Right off the bat Harry can confirm everything that I say. At the WSOP 2012, Harry and I played collectively about 450 single-table satellites. We probably ended up the same table 20 times. As to whether it was intentional, we were completely indifferent to whether or not we were at the same table. If we both wanted to play a certain level of game and there was only one starting, and there were two seats, we would take them. Of course the seats are random draws. But we didn’t care either way. We just played our own game and if it was the same table that was the same table. We each expect to earn our ROI over the long term no matter what. If there’s an argument to be made, it would be that we would not want to be at the same table because we actually lose equity that way because if he’s at my table, then that’s a seat that can’t be taken by a lesser-skilled player. I would much rather have a fish in his chair than him. Again we really didn’t care, it was just actually a little bit less efficient if we’re at the same table. The more skilled players in my game, the less efficient I am in that game.

2) If you guys were able to crush Sit n Go’s at such a high rate, why did you not continue to play Sit’ n Goes and split profits beyond 2012?

We were both a little burned out on being on the road. And Harry was less motivated to travel as he was getting into coding for mobile apps. And we weren’t crushing because we were both playing, we just both beat those games. The only reason we pooled money was to lower variance in a particular series. Harry continues to travel from time to time and play singe table satellites, in fact that’s why he was in Vegas this year.

3) Why do you no longer play Sit’ n Goes, instead focusing your energy on cash games as that seems like it was your most profitable poker venture to date?

There’s definitely no arguing my hourly in sit n go’s vs. my hourly in cash. Cash is definitely inferior. The only problem is, sit n go’s only happen certain times of the year. The reason I didn’t focus on sit n go’s this year is because it requires a larger bankroll in order to get that higher hourly because of the variance. Harry, who is an expert at sit n go play, has gone on 19 game losing streaks before. I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to commit the amount of time required to try to plow through the ups and downs. A lot of people think I don’t work, but I work all day every single day on the blog and the T-shirt shop and trying to squeeze poker in as much as I can.

4) What happened with PokerTube? Is there a hint of some form of retaliation possibly from a business relationship gone sour? Do you believe they have ulterior motives to possibly get back at you in some way?

Pokertube hates me at this point because they did me dirty and then I didn’t allow them to do it. In January, Pokertube contacted me and asked me to go to Amsterdam to do something similar to what I did in Aruba. Intertops was not involved. Before they contacted me, I had committed to going to Austria with Intertops. The way Aruba worked, Intertops paid Pokertube to be promoted on Pokertube’s Facebook and website. Pokertube hired me to be the guy to go make the videos. For Austria, Intertops was paying me to promote on my YouTube channel. One had nothing to do with the other. It would be the same thing as advertising on NBC, and also running an ad in a magazine. When I was on the phone with Pokertube in January discussing the offer for Amsterdam, I let them know that I was going to Austria in late February with Intertops. John from Pokertube immediately got really pissed off and thought that Intertops was trying to screw Pokertube in some way, which makes absolutely zero sense. He started to bad-mouth Intertops to me and gave me an ultimatum and said that if I go to Austria then he cannot allow me to work for them in Amsterdam and wasn’t sure that he would ever want to work with me again. I had committed to doing Austria and felt like Pokertube was overreacting and was out of line so I respectfully inform them that I would be going to Austria.

Fast forward a few weeks later and my flight is delayed leaving for Austria. I was in the hotel room at the Orleans waiting for the flight the next day when I received an email from Intertops explaining in further detail what they wanted me to do on the trip. When I read in that email that they wanted me to send short videos to Pokertube each day I lost my shit. I was on the phone with Intertops moments later feeling certain that I was going to bail out and not go. I was furious that Pokertube had withdrawn an opportunity, had bad-mouthed Intertops, and basically said if I work with Intertops I cannot work with Pokertube. I explained to Intertops that I would not be sending anything to Pokertube and that I do not want to be associated with Pokertube in any way. Intertops also revealed to me at that point that Pokertube had been bad-mouthing me behind my back to Intertops. I explained to Intertops everything that had transpired between myself and Pokertube. At that point, Intertops informed me that they would be withdrawing from their agreement with Pokertube regarding Austria and that they may work with Pokertube again but they would not be sending any of my material from Austria to Pokertube.

In Pokertube’s little article the other day, which by the way was based almost entirely on comments from known trolls in a gossip thread on two plus two, Pokertube made some negative comments about the job I’ve done for them in Aruba. But in the airport in New York on my way back I was on the phone with John from Pokertube and he was super excited and pleased about everything that had happened in Aruba and explained how much better it was than anything they have done in the past and how they couldn’t wait to do more things in the future. It turns out that Pokertube is two-faced, maybe more than two, and will say and do anything to anybody behind anybody’s back to make a buck. Obviously they are retaliating against the fact that whatever Intertops was going to pay Pokertube for Austria didn’t go through. Pokertube is dirty and I would never have anything to do with them again. That’s not how I do business.

5) What does Harry think or have to say about all of this?

I talked to Harry quite a few days after this stupid internet fire got started and he really didn’t know much about it. And when I explained it all to him, he really didn’t care. He knows the truth. I know the truth. We never colluded, we never soft played, we never dumped chips, we never did any of that. The videos that these people are all up in arms about have been on the internet since 2012. It’s common knowledge. We did nothing wrong, we broke no rules, and we actually only made about half of what we expected to make at the WSOP in 2012.

In Conclusion

We are not here at 9to5poker to be the final judge on #collusiongate, but we wanted to give Tim Watts a platform to organize his thoughts on paper, and present him with questions that we felt the poker community wanted answered. There are two sides to every story, and thus far it has been a one sided witch hunt. Now that you have both sides, and some logical questions to ask yourself, hopefully you can fairly decide what it is that exactly occurred here.

5 Comments

  1. jason R July 17, 2017
  2. steven July 17, 2017
  3. Bill July 17, 2017
    • Ryan July 18, 2017
  4. Bill July 18, 2017