Absolute Poker Costa Rica Trip: Part 4

A followup to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Things that I am very confident in and I have proof for (although I cannot reveal the evidence for all of the points):

1. MCBILL did not cheat when he won the $100K Absolute Poker Dream Package

When I was in Costa Rica, I did a few things to confirm MCBILL’s innocence.

First, I looked at the name/address on the account. I confirmed that the information was the same as the info that I received from other sources online. In addition, I confirmed that there was a “MCBILL” registered with the same IP and email at thepokerdb. Therefore, I concluded with 100% certainty that Absolute Poker did not manipulate the data in MCBILL’s account.

Second, I examined the tournament history where MCBILL won the $100K Absolute Poker Dream Package. I viewed the entire hand history with hole cards exposed and while I cannot reveal the entire history for obvious reasons, I did clear certain hands for public release. The reason Absolute agreed to let me release these hands was because they went to showdown and were therefore available publicly to people observing and/or playing in the tournament. Here are the MCBILL Selected Hands. I think you’ll agree with me that MCBILL was not a superuser. In addition, speaking from the point of view of having seen the rest of the history, I assure you that MCBILL could not see hole cards on AP.

2. OSCAR133 is not Oscar Hilt Tatum (one of the AP execs mentioned in the investigation) and did not cheat during his tourney wins early in October 2007

I did similar things for OSCAR133 as for MCBILL. I would retype the same paragraphs here as I just typed for MCBILL, but there’s no point. He wasn’t cheating when he won the $150K weekly tournament. Like I did for MCBILL, I reviewed OSCAR133′s play and he was not a superuser. Once again, here are some OSCAR133 Selected Hands. And as I stated for MCBILL, the rest of OSCAR133′s hand history was not suspicious. Also, his satellite win into the $150 Weekly was not a suspicious hand history, although I did not clear any of those hands for public release, so I cannot do so.

3. Absolute Poker was operationally run, to a significant degree, by AJ Green

Why is this significant? Well, a major question in my mind was exactly how involved was Scott Tom and how involved was AJ Green. I simply didn’t know beyond what my sources had told me. Once problem was that a few of my “best” sources were actually not employees as recently as this past summer, so they didn’t know. Of course, my ex-employees sources were able to tell me that Scott and AJ used to be VERY involved in Absolute Poker operations, but that didn’t really speak to the cheating during this past August and September. So I used my time in Costa Rica to ask current employees questions about the two of them. I often asked different employees when others were not in the room a series of questions, some of which were dumb and obvious, some of which were more important to me. I received very very consistent answers about Scott and AJ’s roles at Absolute during the period in question. And everything pointed to AJ having significant operational control over Absolute and, to a certain degree, Ultimate Bet as well. In addition, the current employees that I talked to “off the job” (ie, some lower level people who weren’t officially showing me around) confirmed the same thing.

In addition, my friend Shaun Deeb (known online as shaundeeb, TedsFishFry, etc) provided me with the following email that was sent to him:

—–Original Message—–
From: [AP/UB employee email address]
To: [shaundeeb's email address]
Cc: ‘AJ’ [edited].COM>
Sent: Mon, 3 Sep 2007 12:42 pm
Subject: [edited]

Shawn
Great to talk to you – im excited for you about your Euro trip – i know your love it!
I hope you make it to Aruba – let me know when you have your seat and we’ll get you invited to a few special invite only events with the other pros.
All the best
[edited]

So, basically, AJ was still receiving CC’ed copies of customer-level emails on Sept 3rd. This basically confirms what I already knew — he was very involved in operations during the cheating period. For all intents and purposes, he was not a high-level consultant, but an operational manager.

4. Absolute Poker does not have significant poker knowledge within their organization

You know, when I made my post way-back-when outlining these points, some people made some sarcastic comments about this point. They were like, “oh, gee, really?” and generally clearly thought this was something that I shouldn’t have focused on. I disagree. I find it to be a very important point. Here’s why…

Basically, Absolute Poker is claiming that a certain high level person said “there’s nothing to see here, move along” and that the rest of the company said “oh, okay, sounds good” and that the issue was therefore ignored internally. In order for that story to be even remotely believable, isn’t the level of poker expertise in the company pretty important? I don’t think people realize exactly how compartmentalized the departments are at a poker site like Absolute. For instance, I spoke with a well-known Montana guy who basically runs the payments at Absolute. He *clearly* did not focus his daily efforts on actual gaming. I doubt he’s reviewed a hand history in years. He spends his time moving money around, making sure they can get deposits smoothly (he told me some funny stories re: deposits), making sure cashouts happen fast, etc. There’s no way he spent time reading BBV or customer-level stuff. Lots of the higher level people don’t EVER look at hand histories or even play poker at all. They’re business people. Would you expect someone in the accounting department at Tylenol to know about cyanide in the pills? Or how to even figure out what went wrong? As poker players, we take it for granted that anyone with a clue about poker would know that something was wrong. What about people who never looked at the hand history because someone told them it was okay or about people who looked at it but didn’t know the first thing about poker? Would your brother/sister/parent who doesn’t play poker know something was wrong? The answer is probably not.

Therefore, I needed to know what the lowel-level people at Absolute knew about poker. I’m talking about the people who might actually review a history that was reported as suspicious. What I found was shocking. Basically, VERY few people at Absolute Poker understand poker at all. Their “security” department is mainly a credit card fraud prevention outfit. They don’t have poker experts in the same vein as PokerStars support. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this thread on 2p2 about how Absolute Poker support did not even know the rules of Razz (in addition to their software being incorrect). Everyone I spoke to from current employees in charge of showing me around to ex-employees to people generally familiar with Absolute told me the same thing: They don’t know anything about poker in their security department. Now, is this excusable? No, certainly not. Absolute Poker, as one of the largest poker sites online, is being paid significantly to employ the best available poker security experts. It’s actually an enormous organizational fault of theirs that they have not brought in significant poker expertise to catch issues like this. And just imagine, if they can’t spot this, how in the world would they ever spot sophisticated collusion? The answer is that the chances of them catching skilled cheaters are slim to none.

I should note that the person who is now running the Absolute Poker organization has told me that he wants to significantly change the poker expertise in their organization. He says he’s been given a quasi-”blank check” to get it done. I haven’t heard, specifically, about anything being done as of the writing of this blog. However, the audit is still not out (as far as I know, I think was was supposed to be out on Friday the 7th) and I understand that it takes time to move on things like this. You can be sure that I will post and update everyone on the “poker expertise” matter as I find out over the next few months what has/hasn’t been done.

That’s it for this part, I may be posting a part 5 at some point in the future. Also, I’ve received some comments about why I am not posting this stuff on 2p2, P5s, etc. The reason is that I don’t want to be seen as spamming and there aren’t good/already-made threads to put these posts in. So if someone else wants to do it, great. If not, so be it. I’m just not going to be the one to do it and I figure it will get posted/linked eventually at some point if there’s something of value.

8 thoughts on “Absolute Poker Costa Rica Trip: Part 4

  1. Pingback: » Nat Arem publishes new installment of Absolute Poker trip report - Part Time Poker News

  2. Jud

    Question: Was AJ actually playing the potripper account or was he on the phone with someone who was actually playing? I’m thinking it was the latter since someone must have folded the first few hands before AJ arrive. If someone else was playing the account, any ideas who?

  3. FoxInTheHenHouse

    Well done Nat. You’ve been amazing throughout this scandal. So you’ve proven AJ was involved with the company and we are all assuming he was the “fired” consultant.
    What’s the word on Scott Tom?
    Is he still in the picture?
    Are you convinced that Tom and Green are both out of the loop now?
    Most importantly, are you convinced the new boss is running a clean operation?
    In your opinion, is it safe to to play at Absolute/Ultimate Bet? :)

  4. JamesAt15

    Thanks for all the hard work and investigation.

    Any sign of the official audit results yet? Have they given a new expected release date, or will we even hear about it?

  5. JamesAt15

    Ah, nevermind, I see the “Nat’s newest Absolute Report posted” thread on 2+2. I wasn’t exactly holding my breath, either.

  6. Rob C

    I really do hate it when this kind of dark cloud descends over the gambling and poker industry.

    Thanks for your work and detailed reports.

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