Posts Tagged ‘Russ Hamilton’

UltimateBeat Documentary to be released this Month

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

For the past few years, poker investigator/blogger Scott Bell has been compiling evidence on the UltimateBet cheating scandal, which saw dozens of high stakes players defrauded by superusers. And now, Bell is set to release his documentary via Video on Demand on October 22nd.

Bell’s production company, Doublehead Pictures, explained what players can expect with the following synopsis:

The story tracks an intersection of old school hustlers and technology during the “poker boom”. After successfully launching a popular site, a group of insiders used software access to defraud players over a period of years without detection. When discovered, they went to great lengths to cover-up the crimes in order to repay less than the amount stolen.

Nobody was ever investigated, arrested, indicted or prosecuted for the crimes. The subtext is how a small group of players crowdsourced an online investigation to force the site into repaying far more than they intended, if not fully.

Some of those who were cheated in the scandal will be featured in this documentary, including Brad Booth, Mike “trambopoline” Fosco and Todd “Dan Druff” Witteles. Besides appearances by victims, UltimateBeat will also include bits with Travis Makar, who, earlier this year, released taped conversations from Russ Hamilton and Iovation CEO Greg Pierson – two of the biggest figures behind the UB cheating scandal.

Now, six years after the UB scandal broke, many people still have questions they want answered. How much money did UB actually refund to affected players? What was Phil Hellmuth’s stake in the parent company? Did Annie Duke play a role in this scandal and/or cover-up? How are the original figures behind the cheating scandal set to capitalize on legal online poker today? Hopefully UltimateBeat will help answer some or all of these questions.

Did Annie Duke cheat at UB Poker?

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

The biggest poker story from last week involved audio tapes being released that finally prove who was involved in the UB “God Mode” cheating scandal (2003-2007). In the tape, Russ Hamilton, Iovation CEO Greg Pierson, and Ultimate Bet lawyers, Daniel Friedberg and Sanford “Sandy” Millar all discuss how Hamilton cheated players out of millions through the God Mode (see other players’ hole cards). They then talk about ways to minimize the damage while repaying as few players as possible.

One of the most interesting names brought up during this discussion is Annie Duke. The former WSOP champion is said to have possibly used God Mode – although not nearly to the extent that Hamilton did. In Duke’s case, she used God Mode (according to Hamilton) when it was on a 15-minute delay.

This means that she didn’t see opponents’ hands in real-time, like Hamilton, but she would’ve been able to access hole cards that might not otherwise be available through hand histories. So our question is, would Duke be considered a cheater?

Assuming Duke did indeed use God Mode, you’d have to consider her a cheater, even if it were on a 15-minute delay. Being able to see other players’ cards after a session provides a huge advantage because you’d get to see what range they played in various situations. So if we take Hamilton’s word at face-value, Annie Duke is a cheater.

But that’s the thing: do we believe what Hamilton says? Based on his reputation and actions, the likely answer from most people is “no.” Sure Duke draws the ire of the poker community for her failed run as the Epic Poker League commissioner and promises of a $1 million freeroll which never materialized. But to lump her in the same boat as Russ Hamilton based on his word alone…now that’s hard to do.

One final thing worth mentioning in this discussion is that Duke never had amazing online cash game results like Hamilton. So based on this evidence alone, it’s another piece supporting the theory that Duke isn’t really a cheater.

Daniel Negreanu rants on Full Tilt Poker

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

To those who follow Daniel Negreanu, it’s pretty clear that he hates two things in life: 1) the Lederer family, and 2) Full Tilt Poker. And lately, Negreanu has been ranting on both of these subjects in-depth through some recent video blogs that he has released.

Now the whole point of the video blogs isn’t to bash Full Tilt Poker because Negreanu also discussed his trip to Sao Paolo, Brazil for the recent LAPT event. However, the videos have gained the most attention for what Negreanu has to say about FTP and the former owners.

In the first blog, which was entitled “VBlog with some Real Talk,” much of the blog was centered on how Jason Somerville came out and said that he was gay. The Canadian was a big supporter of Somerville coming out, and said that he was proud of the New Yorker for admitting he was gay.

Moving on to Full Tilt Poker subject, KidPoker backed up earlier comments he had made about how somebody should take a baseball bat to Howard Lederer’s testicles. Negreanu continued his rant on the former FTP owner by saying that he and the other owners were “scumbags” for not speaking at all about the situation. He finished by saying that Lederer hides out like a “shameful little weasel,” and Full Tilt knew they had no money, yet still took player deposits.

The following week’s video blog contained some more rants on Howard Lederer as well as Chris Ferguson. Negreanu also talked about how Doyle Brunson made a mistake in defending these two in a recent blog post. He went as far as to relate Brunson’s post to the time when Barry Greenstein defended Russ Hamilton after the UB mess.

In any case, it’s nice to have a high-profile pro like Daniel Negreanu ranting against guys like Lederer and Ferguson because of how badly their company mismanaged player funds. Now that we’ve covered all of this, you can see the video blogs below.

Brad Booth calls out Phil Hellmuth over UB

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Several years ago, Brad Booth was at the top of the poker world since he was one of the richest and most respected players on the planet. And it didn’t hurt matters that “Yukon Brad” had an interesting back story to go along with all of his success that included grinding in the tiny Yukon Territory town of Whitehorse.

But these days, he is simply known as a has-been who lost his fortune due to bankroll mis-mangement and the UB superuser scandal. The latter ended up costing Booth over $2 million, and he cites this as the reason for a downward spiral that caused him to question his playing style and lose lots more money.

Keeping all of this in mind, Booth refuses to drop the UB scandal, and is going after anybody who knew about/was involved with this injustice. The 35-year-old has taken his story to the TwoPlusTwo forum recently so he can bring more light to the situation. He made the following post, which directly mentions Phil Hellmuth and Russ Hamilton:

I didn’t expect to hear from Russ, and it has thrown me for a little loooop- i was supposed to meet face to face with him the other night, but he backed out the 11thhour— sick riv.

on another note– they couldn’t offer me 5 million dollars tomorrow to keep my mouth shut…i will NEVER sell out to myself or the Poker community- the guys involved need to be held accountable…. no more free passes- Now lets start listening to the people that actually have investigated this stuff !

i also had a 45min convo with Phil Hellmuth the other night– i believe he owes and has some explaining to do to the Poker Community– lets ask him for some clarity

Judging from his words, it doesn’t appear as if Booth thinks Hellmuth is a superuser or anything like that. However, he does believe that the Poker Brat knows more to the story and needs to let the poker community know everything.



UB and Absolute Poker Bankruptcy is Not True

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Both UB Poker and Absolute Poker have been embroiled in scandal ever since 2007 when “super user” incidents on both sites permanently damaged their reputations. Former WSOP champion-turned-villain Russ Hamilton was at the center of the UB scandal, as he could reportedly see other players’ hole cards while he was playing. Since the scandal, Hamilton has been ostracized from the poker community, including an incident where he was mercilessly taunted at a live tournament until he broke down and left.

As far as Absolute goes, numerous members started getting suspicion when they were losing massive amounts of money to certain players like eventual super user “Potripper.” Nate Arem was one of the members, and he managed to break the file encryption, only to discover that frat boys/Absolute founders Scott Tom and A.J. Green were cheating with super use accounts right from the Costa Rica office!

Since these disturbing events, where the perpetrators escaped into the Costa Rican sunset, both sites have combined into the CEREUS networks, and have worked to put the incidents behind them under new management. Things were going well for a while, until the bankruptcy scare earlier this week when chief shareholder Madeira Fjord tried to file for bankruptcy protection in Norway. Was this the third and final crushing scandal at UB/Absolute, where those who had trusted the parent company, Blanca Gaming, were burned one more time in the form of non-refunded deposits?

Thank god this isn’t the case yet, as Blanca Gaming released a statement the other day that said they are both restructuring the company, and working with the US government to pay players. Apparently, the whole bankrupt fallacy arose when Fjord filed for bankruptcy because Blanca told her that there were “terminating debt payments” and the company’s relationship with her. From what I gather, she got mad after the relationship deteriorated, and filed bankruptcy protection. But you can make your own conclusions by reading the letter below:

As previously stated, Absolute Poker and UB ceased their U.S.-facing operations due to recent legal developments in the United States. The company is currently restructuring and is focusing its resources on consolidating its non-U.S., rest-of-the-world operation and software business. In order to have a more efficient and successful future business, an immediate need to downsize and streamline operations significantly at both online poker rooms has been required. Absolute Poker and UB continue to operate their non-U.S.-facing business.

This decision comes after considerable review and analysis of the impact that ‘Black Friday’ has had on the business as a whole. The workforce has been liquidated, and the process of rehiring approximately 20% of staff in key positions has commenced. All affected employees have been informed of this necessary restructure.

A company spokesperson said: ”We regret that we have been compelled to take these actions. We have worked tirelessly to create a truly amazing company that is filled with extraordinary people. We have always been and still remain fully committed to our employees and players. At the same time, we are confident that this restructuring will strengthen the company and its future.”

The Company spokesperson also addressed erroneous reports that Blanca has filed for bankruptcy. The apparent confusion over this issue stems from the fact that Blanca recently informed a debt holder, Madeira Fjord, that it was terminating debt payments to, and its relationship with them. As a result, Madeira Fjord apparently filed a notice of bankruptcy in Norway. This notice has no negative impact upon Blanca, the operating company, or its brands. As stated previously, Absolute Poker and UB continue to operate their non-U.S. facing business around the world.

For non-U.S. players, Absolute Poker and UB have increased their maximum withdrawal limits to $1000 for Visa withdrawals and $500 for all other methods. The number of transactions being processed per day has been significantly increased as well. Players are still restricted to one transaction per week, but we are working to return non-U.S. withdrawals to
normal service levels as quickly as possible.

As confirmed earlier this week, the company’s legal counsel is in continuing discussions this week with the U.S. Attorney’s office to formalize an agreement that would facilitate the return of funds to U.S. players.