Ultimate Bet Followup

It’s been an interesting week. I’ve gone from being not involved at all to being heavily involved and it’s been a pretty crazy week on 2 plus 2.

As you may know, I went on PokerRoad Big Poker Sundays to talk about the latest developments in the scandal. See my post here. I also just finished listening to PokerRoad Radio with Barry Greenstein and others regarding their meeting with Russ Hamilton.

The general idea behind their show this evening was that they talked to Russ, Russ doesn’t know what’s going on, his lawyers won’t let him talk publicly and that everything will be resolved within three months. Honestly — I find it hard to believe that Russ doesn’t know what’s going on. I do concede that, in a very extreme circumstance, it is theoretically possible that Russ didn’t have any idea what was going on, but I just don’t believe it. I need to see the evidence showing otherwise in order to change my mind.

Regarding whether Russ actually did the cheating — he told Barry & Co that it wasn’t him doing the cheating and that the investigation will prove that. Once again, I find it hard to believe, but I find a denial of his direct involvement less hard to believe than I do that he doesn’t even know what happened. Once again, it’s possible that his friends either purposefully or inadvertently set him up to look like the beneficiary of the cheating. Definitely possible. Hard to believe? Absolutely.

I’m pretty torn here. It seems to me like pretty much everyone except for Gavin Smith and Phil Hellmuth tends to think that Russ is a shady character. I’ve never met the guy — I wouldn’t know. But other people certainly don’t go around saying nice things about him. So it isn’t like some unscathed fairy is being dragged through the mud here — I believe he’s a self-admitted hustler (and if it isn’t self-admitted, then my mistake). That being said… IF (emphasis on if) he’s innocent, it’s certainly unfortunate that the evidence pointed towards him before the full story came out. I won’t apologize for what I did because all I did was show hard evidence to the community at large (note that I never said he cheated people, I just said it was a home that he owned on a cheating account — that’s definitely true), but I would actually feel bad for the guy.

On the other hand, a part of me just wants to say: “**** that guy, his fingerprints are all over this, he deserves it.” And he hasn’t said a peep publicly yet to say “I’m being set up” or “This is all my friends doing this stuff and I had no idea” or even the AP story of “It was a highly trusted consultant acting alone” or whatever else could possibly be a reason why he wasn’t involved. That smacks of guilt. Would an innocent person sit there quietly and/or only talk to people when lawyers are sitting there? I don’t know. I know that I wouldn’t. Maybe there’s something that I’m not considering about why he wouldn’t defend himself publicly.

Either way, this has been a bit of rambling entry, but I guess we don’t have any choice but to wait and see how this shakes out. I’m definitely interested to see what sort of story comes out about why Russ wasn’t involved at all in this cheating. I’m sure it will be some variation of being set up, not paying attention to what his friends were doing, some rogue employees or something along those lines. Personally, I won’t believe it unless the story is detailed, realistic and the people who are guilty are both named and punished (and we are sure that they’re actually punished). There’s no way I’d ever believe it if Russ came out and said: “A highly trusted friend of mine did this under my nose with the cooperation of a single rogue programmer. As a team, they systematically cheated the system under everyone’s nose for years and this comes as a huge shock to all of us. Both individuals have been taken off of my Christmas card list.” — that won’t fly because, frankly, it’s bullshit. Who gave “CH” the order to change those names? Why did “CH” listen to that person? Where did all of the money go? Why are the Makar name and Hamilton address attached to one of the many cheating accounts? There are about 100 other questions to be asked. Either way — details, names, punishment… I want to see it. Then there’s a chance I’ll change my mind.

For now it’s waiting game.

5 thoughts on “Ultimate Bet Followup

  1. Levi Lewis

    Hi Nat,

    I just wanted to thank-you for all the work you are doing on behalf of the poker community. I’ve been reading your blog since the AP scandal came to light, along with related posts on 2 plus 2 and pocket fives. You seem like a very brave, honest and reasonable person. I would definitely be proud to have you as a friend. :-)

    I sometimes wonder if you would prefer not to be tangled up in all of this. It almost seems like you were fated to solve the AP and UB mysteries, like some sort of reluctant Sherlock Holmes.

    It seems like there are still many questions to be answered, loose ends to be tied up etc. Is there any connection between the Big Chief, Scott Tom, and Russ Hamilton? Are they all a part of some organised crime syndicate working for Mr. Big ?

    Do you think that anyone will ever be prosecuted in the U.S. for these crimes? It surprises me that the Feds took the Neteller guys in for questioning along with some other poker site execs but they seem disinterested in this case. With so much money involved, the authorities must be monitoring the situation, watching for money laundering and connections to known criminals.

    Please take care of yourself Nat.

    All the best, Levi

  2. PB

    Hi Nat -

    I’m a poker player too, along with a 2+2 user, and I have been following the Ultimate Bet issue since you and Steven Ware brought it to our attention.

    The evidence you provided allowed us to make conclusions for ourselves. 2+2 players, as well as good players in general, tend to follow inductive reasoning pretty well. Cheating was going on. Who was responsible? The support is pretty clear in my mind. Note, you never said that Russ was the *guy*…the other users came up with those conclusions because the support for it is very clear.

    I think Russ is still culpable and there is nothing that would sway me otherwise. If I’m wrong, I don’t care. He has done *nothing* to help his cause before, during, or after. I followed those threads carefully, read what was said and implied, and surmised that desperate people will do and say desperate things (“tempt not a desperate man” is a favorite quote of mine from Shakespeare) when caught to avoid punishment.

    Thanks for writing. I understand everyone’s predicaments, but Mr. Hamilton had a chance to make things right and he didn’t. Unfortunately the new ownership of UB will have suffer for it (and it’s a place I’ll never play).

    Good luck to you.


  3. Pud's Poker

    Good work as always Nat.

    One thing I can’t believe is that the new UB management knew nothing of this. Surely if your are investing millions of dollars in software you’d have someone go through it with a fine toothed comb before commiting any funds. Would you buy a house without a survey first or a car without a test drive? No didn’t think so.

  4. MW

    It would be quite interesting if an AG’s office, or the DOJ, decided to press charges against him and subpoena’d his bank records. The only problem would be if he was using offshore accounts, which ignore U.S. law enforcement. The key to the truth actually coming out lies at the feet of UltimateBet. They are the only ones with records of where money was sent from their site via withdrawals by the players with superuser accounts. Obviously, they had to send the money, all of which was stolen from the poker playing public, to someone’s account. If UB wants to prove that they are not culpable, they will provide such information to authorities when it is requested, rather than carefully releasing minimal amounts of information and forcing others to just draw conclusions. Beyond any legal repurcussions, simply exposing each and every cheater, the amounts they stole, how they did it, and all other relevant details to the court of public opinion would suffice. Such cheaters have their reputation tarnished forever, and this may be a bigger blow than any criminal charges could ever bring.

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