Posts Tagged ‘UB Poker’

Daniel Negreanu reveals why he chose PokerStars over FTP, UB and Party

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

It seems like Daniel Negreanu has been the face of PokerStars forever. So it’s hard to remember him representing a different online poker site at any point in time. However, going back to 2004, Kid Poker was actually involved in his own poker room called FullContactPoker.

Some players today may recognize this site because it’s where Negreanu writes all of his blog posts from. But back then, it was a full-fledged internet poker room that mainly attracted Americans.

Negreanu helped FullContactPoker quickly experience success by undertaking a massive promotional effort. This included doing up to 50 radio interviews a day across the United States and Canada, plus getting the word out through other channels. His poker site showed such promise that one company even wanted to buy him out for $170 million.

However, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) came about at the end of 2006, thus throwing the US-friendly poker market into disarray. This forced Negreanu to quickly find something else to do with FullContactPoker. So he ended up signing a deal with PokerStars and moving his player base there.

While this and the $170 million deal are interesting enough, the selection process used by Negreanu to pick PokerStars is a story in itself. Here’s a look at what he told about why he ended up choosing Stars:

Signing with PokerStars was as simple as this, there were several sites interested in having my services including UltimateBet, Full Tilt Poker and PartyPoker. For me it came down to integrity and which site I trusted the most, had the best software and the best vision for the future. It wasn’t about the highest bidder for me; it was about who’s the biggest, who’s the best, and who’s going to be the biggest in the future.”

I believed in PokerStars from the start, as the company was built by a group of IBM professionals. They weren’t some random poker-playing dudes who wanted to be businessmen. Full Tilt was off the mark; I wasn’t going to sign with them, because I didn’t trust the infrastructure even back then. If I was going to attach my name to something, game security, integrity, and longevity were most important.

Given that Party Poker’s player base has dropped considerably, Full Tilt had to close before being bought by Stars, and UB Poker went completely under never to resurface again, PokerStars definitely proved to be the right choice. Furthermore, it appears as if Negreanu is about as good at reading business deals as he is with poker opponents.

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.

US Government should start making Full Tilt Payouts this Week

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

For well over two years, former US Full Tilt Poker players have waited for their money. Some of these grinders are even owed $1 million or more! Now it finally looks as if players might finally get their money back.

The Garden City Group, which has been tasked with making the payouts, claims that they’re very close to returning funds. It’s unclear exactly what day this will happen, but Garden City says that payouts should start being delivered by the “end of the week.”

When PokerStars purchased Full Tilt for $731 million last year, this amount covered $184 million that was owed to Americans. This being said, many US players expected their money quickly. But people started getting worried when months passed by with no payouts being made. However, the wait looks to be over with Garden City Group ready to make transactions.

An estimated 1.3 million Americans are owed money from the old Full Tilt Poker. Noted pro Blair Hinkle is one of these people, and he’s still due over $1 million from an FTOPS Main Event victory. There are plenty of other pros who are owed fortunes as well.

As for Full Tilt, they were busted along with PokerStars, Absolute Poker and UB Poker by the US Department of Justice on April 15th, 2011 (Black Friday). Just two months after this, they lost their license when it was revealed that that they didn’t have enough funds to cover player deposits.

When Full Tilt went down, they owed players $330 million, over half of which included US player deposits. For a while, many people wondered if they’d ever see their funds again. Then PokerStars bought FTP from the US DOJ and quickly allowed international players to get their money back. Now it looks as if the US government will finally pay the rest of the players.

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.

Joe Sebok claims Nude Photos Extortion Plot ruined his Career

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Once a solid tournament pro with almost $1.9 million in winnings, Joe Sebok has been off the poker radar for the past few years. In fact, he’s gotten more attention for his blue collar job of crushing grapes than he has for playing poker. And now Sebok is blaming an extortion plot involving nude photos for his rapid drop-off in the poker world.

Two California men named Tyler Schrier and Keith James Hudson, and a Philadelphia man named Ryder Finney were the perpetrators in the crime. Schrier and Hudson were recently sentenced to 42 months and 24 months in prison, respectively, for charges including hacking into a protected computer, stealing naked photos, extortion and hacking into an email account. Finney has yet to be sentenced since he’s in a different state.

Sebok and a number of other people were victimized by the trio in 2010. According to the Los Angeles Times, the hackers got into Sebok and others’ computers to steal sensitive information and emails. They then used this info to extort thousands of dollars out of the victims. When Sebok refused, they sent his naked pictures to an estimated 100 people.

The 36-year-old told U.S. District Court Judge James Otero that this incident had an extremely negative impact on his career and “instantly damaged my ability to sustain my livelihood doing what I had been since 2005.”

He continued by saying, “In short, I was no longer able to maintain my then-current level of participation in the poker industry, representing the brands that I had been previously, as well as greatly destroying my ability to do so with new companies moving forward.” Sebok added, “Without belaboring the point too much, it was a nightmare, and one that I was forced to live through with millions of people watching.”

Since 2010, when the extortion plot took place, Sebok has only earned $24,792 in live tournaments, thus indicating some truth to his courtroom statements. Furthermore, Sebok hasn’t been sponsored by a poker site since his controversial signing with Ultimate Bet in 2009. Many people labeled him a sellout for joining UB Poker based on the room’s previous scandals. To this day, many people continue to loath Sebok for representing UB.

UB Poker Documentary covers Scandals, Hellmuth

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

It’s been a few years since the UB Poker superuser scandal took place, but that doesn’t mean the poker world is any more accepting of this unbelievable cheating incident. In fact, many people still want blood for the millions of dollars that players were cheated out of when certain UB employees used superuser accounts. And while that blood may never come due to the non-regulation of online poker back then, at least those involved with the incident can be further shamed.

That’s what poker player and writer Scott Bell is hoping to accomplish with the untitled documentary he’s currently working on. Bell recently did an interview with QuadJacks Radio about his UB Poker documentary, and the film will take a deeper look at the corrupt poker site and its main figures.

One of the biggest figures that will be discussed is current CEO Jim Ryan, who ran UB’s parent company, Excapsa. Bell believes that Ryan didn’t do enough in his role as Excapsa’s CEO when players were cheated out of money. Furthermore, he hints that Ryan and others took steps to cover up the extent of the superuser cheating.

Aside from profiling Ryan, Bell will also take a look at other big names who were associated with UB Poker. Phil Hellmuth is the biggest name that surfaced in the interview, and the 12-time WSOP champion has done his best to avoid answering any questions about the site he proudly represented.

If you’re interested in seeing the documentary, Bell said that he should be finished with it towards the end of the fall. Once it’s finished, players will be able to order DVD’s directly from Bell’s company.

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.



Everleaf Gaming bans French and US Players

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Everleaf Gaming made big news yesterday after announcing that they were banning players from France, Malta and the United States. Now those from these countries who try to log onto an Everleaf Gaming site get a message that says:

Client is blocked.Dear Member, according to our Terms and Conditions we regret to inform you that we are no longer able to accept traffic from your country. Your account has therefore been locked until further notice.

The main reason why Everleaf has taken these actions is because the US Department of Homeland Security sent them a cease and desist order. In other words, if the poker network continues to accept Americans, they’ll be in for quite a legal fight. So Everleaf has updated their terms and conditions to include the following:

No person who is resident in Malta, France and USA may open an account, play, or in any other way participate in the ELG offerings and/or services.

It’s unclear why the Everleaf Gaming network decided to pull out of France and Malta as well, but there’s a good chance that the Maltese Licensing Authority told them to pull out of these markets before any legal action happened.

Going back to the US market, Americans have increasingly fewer options for places where they can play poker. In less than a year’s time, they’ve lost the ability to play at PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, UB Poker, Absolute Poker and now Everleaf. Now their only real options include the Merge Gaming network, the Cake Poker network and Bovada.

Seeing as how the United States is attacking all of these offshore poker companies, it seems about time that they hurry up and give Americans some “legal” options for playing. Perhaps this is a sign that the federal government is closer to instituting their own online poker operation?


2011 WCOOP Main Event down as expected

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

The 2011 WCOOP Main Event attracted 1,627 players, and will be offering almost $5 million total to the top finishers. But while this is one huge online poker tournament, it doesn’t quite measure up to the 2010 WCOOP Main Event. After all, the 2010 WCOOP ME set records for an online poker tournament when over $12.2 million was offered in the prize pool. Another record was set when Tyson “POTTERPOKER” Marks hit the single biggest online score when he earned $2,278,098 for winning.

In any case, the 2011 WCOOP Main Event won’t come anywhere near these numbers since US players can’t enter the event. Sure $5 million is a lot of money, but we can be positive that it’d be worth a lot more if Americans could still play at PokerStars. However, the actions of the US Department of Justice continue to have reverberating consequences on online poker.

When the US DoJ cracked down on PokerStars and three other major sites on April 15th, 2011, it was pretty much expected that the World Championship of Online Poker would never reach its peak numbers again (unless regulation is ever approved and the US issues poker licenses).

But hey, at least PokerStars can still stage a major online poker event like this. Furthermore, at least they can run poker tournaments of any kind since the other three sites that faced the wrath of the US DoJ (UB Poker, Absolute Poker and Full Tilt Poker) aren’t even running. Both UB and Absolute Poker were sunk right from the get-go since they’d already been mired in scandals beforehand.

As for Full Tilt Poker, there was a glimmer of hope in the beginning that they’d survive, and players would get their bankrolls back. However, the Full Tilt Poker brand is all but destroyed now, and a civil suit has been levied against FTP; however, even if the suit is successful, it might only get players pennies back on their dollars.

In any case, it’s nice that PokerStars isn’t totally crippled by the whole DoJ ordeal, and can still run a great poker event.

2011 WSOP Attendance Fears

Monday, July 11th, 2011

One of the main concerns going into the 2011 WSOP was that attendance figures would be way down. And these concerns were certainly valid following Black Friday (April 15th), where PokerStars, UB Poker, Absolute Poker and Full Tilt Poker were temporarily shut down. On top of this, all four poker rooms were forced to stop taking US players, which cut down on their ability to offer as many WSOP prize packages.

One last thing worth mentioning is that many players who would’ve been at the WSOP couldn’t play because the bulk of their money was frozen on one or more of the largest poker sites. In short, there was a lot of stuff working against strong attendance figures in 2011.

But as logical as it seemed, the 2011 WSOP attendance figures have defied all logic since they smashed the previous records. Over 66,000 players entered tournaments this year, and a collective $121 million prize pool was offered throughout 58 tournaments.

So what’s the driving force behind the record numbers? Well it’s hard to pinpoint a single thing, but one aspect that certainly helped increase WSOP participation is that many of the online poker pros have been forced to turn to live poker. After all, their livelihood was taken, so they’ve jumped in WSOP tournaments as a means of filling this void.

Moving to a secondary reason, this year may have been more attractive to pros than any other because of the decreased number of amateur prize package winners populating the fields; this in theory would lead to smaller tournaments and a better chance of winning. Of course, the fields turned out to be saturated anyways because of how many people entered the events.

Whatever the case may be, it’s nice to see that the 2011 WSOP has remained popular – even after the events of Black Friday.