Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Fallout From UltimateBet Cheat Scam Focuses Attention On Phil Ivey And Other Top Pros!

The UltimateBet Scandal and CBS' "60 Minutes" coverage of it has now led to some negative speculation about some of today's big name poker pros, besides the alleged UltimateBet Scam mastermind Russ Hamilton. The scrutiny spotlight seems to have hit top pro Phil Ivey square in the face.

The question: Is it a conflict of interest for a part-owner in an online poker room the likes of Full Tilt Poker to rack up over $8 million in cash games over an 18 month span there? Last week, Phil Ivey's impressive statistics for his winning ways on Full Tilt Poker were published on the Internet for the entire world to see. In a span of about 18 months, Ivey is up more than $8 million in cash games ranging from Omaha to Stud to Hold em. You can name any game and Ivey has been beating it impressively. While his accomplishments were mind-boggling on so many levels, some people have brought forth some question as to the ethics behind the numbers as some people of players have called those results into question. While no one has come out and questioned the validity nor method in which Ivey has won what he has, some people do cite concerns of a bit of a conflict of interest in Ivey winning so much money on a site in which he has legitimate business interests.

Phil Ivey is largely regarded as one of the best, if not, the best poker player in the world. The man wins, consistently, no matter the game, stakes or venue. However, as a program which aired on 60 Minutes on November 30th shows, there were ways that people with inside knowledge of a large poker site's operations were able to profit from their standing with the site. With all the talk about superusers being able to see other players' hole cards, it was just a matter of time before other players looked at winning players with suspicion. Naturally, since players can now point to a real dollar figure to see how well Ivey has been doing, the inevitable marriage of paranoia was just a matter of time. However, most people have been quick to defend Ivey and do not believe for a moment that he has done anything wrong.

In fact, many of the people coming to Ivey's defense cite very obvious reasons as to why they are not at all suspicious of Ivey. For starters, as one of the world's best poker players, it is expected that Ivey is a big winner. Secondly, as Full Tilt Poker's moniker is "play with the pros", part of the allure of the site is having the opportunity to play with professional players whom most would never be able to play against otherwise. So he is not deceiving anyone into playing with him. If one decides to face him on the virtual felt, they do so at their own risk. To further this fact is that Ivey does not try to hide his identity at all as his screenname is "Phil Ivey" and his avatar is in his likeness. Lastly, those who know Ivey view him as a person of high character and one who does not need any unfair advantages at a poker table.

In being a part owner of Full Tilt, Ivey stands to make more money should Full Tilt Poker's success continue to thrive, not if he unwittingly brings it down in some type of cheating scandal. To jeopardize a consistent personal revenue stream would be an unnecessary risk. So if he is doing nothing wrong the question becomes, is it ethical for a person who is part owner of a poker site to take his clients money? Those chiming in online answer with a resounding yes. After all, the whole point of a game of poker is to take away another players money. So when one sits down to play, they understand the inherent risk and should they choose to play, that is completely on them.