Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ultimate Bet Nionio Scandal Widens According to Kahnawake Gaming Commission

According to 4Flush.com, the Ultimate Bet online poker cheating scandal is creeping up on the notoriety scale to the point of sharing the top rung with its sister site, the even more notorious Absolute Poker. All this has fallen in the lap of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, whatever that means! Firstly, I wonder about the Kahnawake Gaming commission. What exactly is it? If you break down its name "Kahn--awake," you notice that the last three syllables of it (if it is indeed pronounced kahn--a--wokee) spell the word "awake." But what really makes the name funnily ironic is the first syllable of the name, "kahn." Do you know what "kahn" means in an ancient tribal language? No, I didn't think so. But it means "never." So if you go a little out of your way to translate "Kahnawake," you come up with the definition "never awake!" And it seems that is what this so called online gaming commission is!

Anyway, apart from the morning's comedy, 4flush.com says that the online poker industry as a whole has made a stand. Following the first incident of cheating, online poker rooms and the Kahnawake Gambling Commission, who in the opinion of many (me included) poorly mishandled the first case of cheating in poker rooms, are in this newest case of cheating poker players showing a united front.

On January 12th Ultimate Bet learned of a poker player who’s numbers just did not add up. NioNio a player on the popular poker website was showing irregular winnings, some suggested that a player could not have numbers that high unless he was playing with an unfair advantage, perhaps something similar to the case at Absolute Poker where certain players had access to their opponents hole cards.

On January 12, 2008, UltimateBet was alerted to allegations that a player with the online handle “NioNio” exhibited abnormally high winning statistics and was accused of having an unfair advantage during play. These allegations were made both directly to UltimateBet by concerned players and the KGC, and indirectly through several web forums. The allegations also included reports of suspicious activity concerning the deletion of the NioNio account and other accounts that may have been related to this scheme.

There is another similarity between this story and the one we watched unfold at Absolute Poker a few weeks ago. In both cases it was not the software or security that unfolded the cheating scandal, but the high stakes poker players themselves. Additionally, there is an unamed ‘expert’ mentioned in the Ultimate Bet press release, players are asking why the ‘expert’ or at least his position is not being disclosed.

Though according to industry experts, it took some time for representatives of Ultimate Bet to come forward with a statement. It has been months since the issue was originally raised in popular poker forum 2+2.

Only one account has been fingered in these cheating allegations, the account of NioNio, primarily a high stakes cash poker player.

“UltimateBet is in regular communications and contact with its regulatory authority, The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC), and will continue to cooperate fully with that body.

“UltimateBet is determined to complete a full and thorough investigation. We pride ourselves on providing a safe, secure playing environment for our customers. The investigation has proven to be extremely complex and, therefore, has been more extensive and taken much longer than initially expected. We continue to aggressively pursue the matter and will communicate the findings of our full investigation to our regulatory authority and to our customer base as soon as practicable.”

And do you all remember the post that WSOP bracelet winner Brett Jungblut made on the PocketFives poker forum last November. Jungblut, posting as "gank" (I wonder if he chose that name because it rhymes with "skank" and that's how he felt about online poker cheaters), wrote the following on PocketFives, claiming he had inside information from an employee at Ultimate Bet:

"Well, I guess I have become the reporter everyone trusts to talk about what goes on behind the scenes while protecting my source's identity, as I have been contacted by and had a long conversation with an employee at UB who wished to shed light on the company. Again, I will protect my source and not be releasing his/her name to anyone, ever.

I will list the all the important points from the conversation as best I can.

1. It is possible to have upto 25 usernames registered to 1 players name on UB, they know about this and are ok with it as a company.

2. If someone does have multiple accounts, even if they are registered to the same name and use the same IP address, they are permitted to play at the same table, cash games and sitNgos and tournies. UB knows about this, and are OK with it.

3. Although my source is not sure if hole cards could be seen during the hand by a superuser account, my source does know that as soon as a hand is over with, UB personell has access to see everyones holecards even those that didnt go to showdown. This has been used by some UB higher ups at times while they were playing. Not a direct form of cheating, but definitely an unfair advantage if the person has access to this while playing.

4. A higher level executive was fired not to long ago, because her 19 year old son, who she got a job at UB, was caught cheating games at the UB office. It is unclear to my source if holecards were able to be seen during the hand, but it is a possibility. He definitely was cheating customers somehow, maybe a cobination of the above things mentioned at the very least.

edit: Another close, reliable source has just talked to me and told me "the woman's son had"administrative access" which let him see hole cards." and that the source "wouldn't besurprised if administrative access still exists" The person went on to say "there's also evidence that at least a couple months agoAJ (Green) was overseeing day to day operations"

5. "Someone" was brought on board by UB to help clean up the site. He figured out the problem was that they were using a version of the software from 1998 that had security holes in it(i.e. no security firewalls were/could be put in place) that couldnt be fixed without a complete overhaul of the software, which was estimated at costing 6 million dollars. UB decided it was not in their best interests to upgrade the software.

6. My source also voiced their concern for my safety for vocalizing these points.

I bring this to light because I feel that this is the important stuff that our community needs to be aware of."

Well, all this sounds credible to me.