Saturday, November 01, 2008

Obama and McCain Face-Off In Liar's Poker Match To Determine Election Winner!

Since cheating has been no stranger to US Presidential Elections (just remember the tainted Florida ballots that cheated Al Gore out of the presidency in 2000 and gave us 8 years of George Bush!), both Barack Obama and John McCain have agreed to settle any 2008 election controversies with the utmost fairness to both parties. In the event of an election too close to call, the candidates decided that the next president would be the one who could best the other in a game of Presidential Liar’s Poker. For those of you who don’t know what Presidential Liar’s Poker is, it is simply a game where one candidate makes a statement and the other either accepts it as fact or challenges it. If the candidate making the statement is not challenged, he receives one point. If he is challenged and proved correct, he receives two points. If he’s challenged and proved wrong, the challenger receives two points. It was agreed that the first candidate to reach six points would be declared President of the United States. A coin toss (with a Bill Clinton half-dollar whose both sides were tails) determined that Obama would make the opening statement after McCain called “Heads.” Please don’t ask me how it could have been a Bill Clinton half-dollar if both sides were tails…I don’t know.

In order to avoid further controversy in the event of an election too close to call, and to avoid having the deadlocked candidates have to face off against each other in person, where name-calling and other unpleasantness might be exchanged, the actual game of Presidential Liar’s Poker took place last night—and I, being one of the greatest liars and cheaters of all time, managed to steal the results! Well, I don’t expect you to be surprised by the outcome of the game, nor do I expect you to be surprised by the facts and fiction that came out of it. So, here it is:

Statement One by Barrack Obama: My name is Barrack, and I am not only not a Muslim, but I have no affiliation with the Muslim faith.

McCain did not challenge, and if he had, not only would he have been surprised but so would you. The fact is that Obama is actually Jewish! Barrack is a very Jewish name, even that of the main character in the classic film depicting the birth of the State of Israel, Exodus. Obama won the point.

Score: Obama 1 McCain 0

Statement Two by John McCain: I did not choose Sarah Palin as my running mate because she looks like my high school librarian who I used as a fantasy while masturbating 54 years ago.

Obama immediately challenged. Digging through McCain’s personal diary, which contains more than 6,000 pages and 2,000,000 words, evidence was found that Palin does look like a librarian whom McCain wrote about lasciviously. Obama was awarded two points, but then McCain challenged on the grounds that his masturbating using the Palin look-alike occurred 55 years ago and not 54. The judges reversed their decision and McCain was awarded two points.

Score: McCain 2 Obama 1

Statement Three by Obama: I never had any dealings with the Ku Klux Klan.

McCain looked very confused by the statement and then decided to challenge because he figured it was a trick statement. No records existed of Obama being affiliated with the KKK or any other hate group. Two points were awarded to Obama.

Score: Obama 3 McCain 2

Statement Four by McCain: I was held as a prisoner of war by the Vietcong in North Vietnam during the Vietnam war.

Obama looked very confused by the statement and considered challenging it. But he did not. But he should have. It was revealed that McCain was actually held prisoner by his own troops. McCain won the point.

Score Obama 3 McCain 3

Statement Five by Obama: Hillary Clinton made a pass at me after one of our primary debates.

At this McCain not only didn’t challenge but he chuckled as well, explaining that Hillary Clinton also made a pass at him. One judge, out of curiosity, suggested that the videotape of the Obama/Clinton tapes be replayed, but the two others said that such would not be in good taste. Obama won the point.

Score Obama 4 McCain 3

Statement Six by McCain: I did not have any plastic surgery that resulted in the uneven puffiness on both sides of the bottom of my face.

Obama laughed. The judges laughed harder. Obama then challenged, saying McCain had cause for a malpractice suit. A team of plastic surgeons was called in to the game to examine McCain’s face. They determined that McCain’s lower-face puffiness was due simply to his talking more than usual the last two years. McCain was awarded two points.

Score McCain 5 Obama 4

Realizing that McCain needed only one point to clinch the election tie-breaker, Obama strategized that he had to get McCain to challenge his next statement, which if upheld to be true would win him the Liar’s Poker game and thus the presidential election by a score of 6 to 5.

Statement Seven by Obama: I was never really leading in the polls the week before the election.

McCain immediately challenged as he praised the “Great American Underdog” and cited the 1948 Presidential Election between Thomas Dewey and Harry Truman. As if he’d anticipated Obama’s statement, McCain even pulled out from his jacket pocket the famous Chicago Herald Tribune headline that read “Dewey defeats Truman!” A team of the nation’s top pollsters was called in to verify that Obama did indeed lead by at least 5 points in every nationally recognized poll. The margins of error were calculated and recalculated. Everything pointed to the validity and accuracy of the polls—until McCain pointed out that there had never really been any polls. Citing from a Holocaust deniers manual, McCain, who had clearly gone crazy long before the election, submitted that the whole polling system in America was nothing more than a conspiracy to get a black man elected president. He then demanded of the judges that they get actual proof to show that there were polls and records of every person who said they would vote in the election. The judges, at first aghast at the reference to Holocaust deniers, actually seemed to weigh McCain’s points with some seriousness. But before it went any further, McCain recanted his challenge, chuckled and then suddenly said that the nation needed his work on the world financial crisis more than it needed him for president. He looked at Obama earnestly, then apologized for making a fool of himself and left the studio. The judges, after a three-hour debate, decided to give Obama two points, thus winning him the game and the election by a score of 6 to 5.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

CBS' "60 Minutes": The Ultimate Poker Cheat Gamble

I came across this very interesting piece written by Wendeen H. Eolis about CBS' upcoming segment about online poker cheating scandals and its implications. Definitely worth a read!

Until CBS correspondent Steve Kroft and his 60 Minutes crew arrived at the World Series of Poker last summer, the biggest buzz in the tournament arena had centered on Harrah's decision to delay the final table proceedings of the main event until November 9th.

Will WSOP or 60 Minutes Play Second Fiddle?

The WSOP finale will air "nearly live." The final nine players will duel November 9th until they are down to two players. The last two players will return November 10th to determine the winner and runner up, and the event will be broadcast by ESPN November 11th.

Meanwhile, insiders in the poker world are holding their collective breath wondering if the WSOP festivities may be upstaged by Mr. Kroft's highly anticipated piece, which may be slated for November 9th, the same night the final table players ("November 9") reconvene for their final duels. Rumors of the November 9th airing date are hot and heavy-not only in poker circles but also in at least one CBS corridor

Writer's Disclosure:

In the interest of full disclosure, CBS has been a client of a company in which I have an interest. Friends at CBS have provided various off the record information and comments that have been helpful to my presentation of this article. Both investigations to which I refer are instructive in understanding the mindset of news organizations and the trickiness in participating in a story over which you have no control.

Online Cheating is Publicly Exposed

Last summer, Mr. Kroft was openly on the prowl, with an apparent plan to nail down a compelling story about the multi-billion dollar online poker industry, and more particularly about various claims of large-scale cheating scams in online poker rooms. CBS asked WSOP officials for access to its fabled Amazon Room to shoot interviews for the proposed piece. Harrah's obliged. One Harrah's executive has said, "It was not a comfortable situation, but what else could we do?"

The Kroft team set up shop, welcoming several well known poker personalities to the interviewing table. Over several months- before and after Kroft's WSOP visit-60 Minutes investigators reportedly talked with a wide range of sources. Most of them were anxious to remain off-camera and out of the limelight.

The Makings for a Show

Among those interviewed by 60 Minutes was Nat Arem, an internet player and key researcher in both the Absolute and Ultimate Bet scams. He is generally credited with having unearthed the smoking guns that brought public admissions by Tokwiro Enterprises of its own discovery of cheating at both sites. Tokwiro Enterprises, a tribal gaming company domiciled near Montreal, is licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. Tokwiro also conceded that it had delayed telling its customers of these findings, and has since been severely fined by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

Even with proof positive of crucial information, approval for production of a 60 Minutes segment apparently does not proceed on automatic pilot or at the whims of a correspondent. It is reportedly a laborious process in which vetting the extensive information obtained in an investigation is one part of it and analyzing potential interest by the mainstream public is an important second part.

Cheating Claims Pre-Date Online Sites

This is not the first time that 60 Minutes has been intrigued by alleged cheating in poker games. Several years ago, two renowned cheaters-calling themselves the Gambling Cheaters Analysts (GCA)- contacted the program, offering to reveal the unseemly underbelly of the poker world and rampant cheating schemes, particularly in California mega-card rooms.

In the case of 60 Minutes' GCA investigation, their researchers poured through thousands of internet poker Usenet group postings, not only from the cheaters, but also by other protagonists, including a highly respected player turned investigatory sleuth. A 60 Minutes team hopped planes to California and Washington State to interview the cheaters and other players for a bruising exposé. They returned home poised to go forward, but higher-ups slowed down the process. The program's bosses were intent on scoring top names, in a high stakes game, at a ritzy casino in Las Vegas for on-camera interviews. The proposed segment was summarily dropped-without ever completing investigation of the cheaters' allegations, once it became clear the desired glitz wasn't going to fall into place.

60 Minutes Gets Lucky

The poker celebrities that have participated (or have agreed to participate) in filmed interviews, all have had historical connections with online poker sites. In contrast to the obstacles that the 60 Minutes reporting team faced last time around, this year's investigation of poker cheating has been a walk in the park for Kroft and his crew. CBS not only secured the glamorous WSOP venue as a backdrop for filming, but also a parade of high profile poker personalities who were champing at the bit to speak their piece on national television. They also lucked out with a bevy of brilliant researchers for free-internet poker players who were wizards in analyzing statistics and motivated to do the work and publicize it.

The poker celebrities that participated in filmed interviews all had historical business connections with online poker sites-Linda Johnson and Mike Sexton with their associations with Party Poker, WSOP Champion Greg Raymer as a current member of Team Poker Stars, and Mark Seif as a long-time sponsored player at Absolute Poker. Seif was apparently unfazed by the unpleasant scrutiny he had earlier faced on online poker forums questioning his ties with Absolute Poker. Instead, Seif took the lead, long before Kroft showed up in town, to opine publicly on the "wonderful opportunity" that the 60 Minutes segment would provide-a chance for online poker industry representatives to make the case for taxing and regulating online gaming.

Poker Players Alliance Has a Plan

Most of the poker participants, including many of the internet players who helped to bring pressure on Tokwiro to insure a full, credible internal investigation, actively support the goals of the Poker Players Alliance. The PPA seeks "to establish favorable laws that provide poker players with a secure, safe and regulated place to play." Johnson and Raymer are members of the PPA's Board of Directors.

It is not yet known whether Kroft's on-camera interviewees outplayed their host so as to turn potential bad press into a golden opportunity for advocacy of congressional legislation that will allow online gaming in an appropriately taxed and regulated environment.

Harrah's Gambles Too

At the time that Harrah's welcomed the 60 Minutes crew to the WSOP there was not yet any hint of searing evidence of cheating by a former World Series of Poker Main Event Champion. Earlier this month, however, Tokwiro Enterprises publicly fingered 1994 WSOP winner Russ Hamilton as the chief perpetrator and beneficiary of a multi-million dollar cheating scam at the Ultimate Bet site.

This is the kind of material for which 60 Minutes salivates- a glamorous venue, a powerful link between the venue and the story line, a group of high profile participants and a top name in the thick of the intrigue. The story has powerful legs and is better than a good bet to air-sooner rather than later.

Hopefully the collective cooperation of responsible members of the poker community with the 60 Minutes investigation will prove beneficial, by promoting the very sensible mission of the Poker Players Alliance.

Was Ex-WSOP Champ and Alleged Online Scammer Mastermind Russ Hamilton Once My Casino Cheating Partner?

I have been getting tons of e-mails lately asking me if Russ Hamilton, the 1994 WSOP Main Event Champion and alleged mastermind of the $60 million UltimateBet cheating scandal, was ever a member of any of my infamous casino cheating teams. If you’re wondering why people all over the world suspect that Hamilton was once my casino cheating partner, I will refer you to “Dirty Poker,” my 2006 exposé of the poker cheating worlds, both online and off. If you read the book, you may remember that I revealed that a former WSOP champion had once indeed been my partner cheating casinos before he became famous as a poker player. And now that Russ Hamilton has been exposed as an alleged master online poker cheat, people are putting one and one together…or at least they think they are. So, what gives then? Is Hamilton indeed my ex-casino cheat partner? Well, maybe I’d like to say yes, but I have to say no—because he wasn’t. The truth is that the WSOP champion who once was my casino cheating partner is more famous than Russ Hamilton ever was as a poker player, probably still even more famous than Hamilton is now infamous. Of course I know you want me to reveal who that person is, but I can’t for now. I cannot prove his association with me, so if I were to name him I would be open to a libel suit. I do, however, promise that if ever cheating allegations such as those against Hamilton surface against my ex-WSOP champ cheating partner, I will come right out and identify him as such.

And no, it is not Jennifer Tilly! If you read this post carefully, you know it was a man.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

UltimateBet Adds Poker Pro Player Adam Levy To Its Team To Help Quell Cheating Rep!

UltimateBet has added Adam Levy, a well respected poker player with more than $1.6 million in online poker tournament winnings, to its team. According to Annie Duke, who has more or less become UltimateBet’s spokeswoman, Levy is an online poker player with the utmost integrity, and both she and Levy have expressed their wishes that lost players who were either victimized by the site’s giant $60 million insider hole-card reading scam or quit the site because of it will return to UltimateBet’s games and tournaments. As far as Levy goes, I do not have any information suggesting his involvement in any poker cheating scams, online or off, although I cannot vouch for the integrity that Duke has assigned to him. In any event, if there is another major online poker scam at either Absolute Poker or UltimateBet, I am going to contact them and ask them to sign me up as a member of their team! LOL!

Russian Casino Cheat Team Collared In New Gorica`s Perla Casino!

Never heard of New Gorica? Well, it´s a quaint and very pretty resort area in the Alps of Slovenia near the Italian border that is home to the Perla Casino, the largest casino in the region which also now hosts major poker tournaments on the European Poker Tour. A cheating Russian roulette crew was apprehended there last week after beating the roulette wheels for more than 100,000 euros. The early reports I'm getting is that they were using laser scanners and cell phones to track the revolutions and speed of the roulette ball and then determine in which sections the ball would land. It seems to be a scam very similar to the London Ritz roulette scam pulled off in 2004 by other Eastern Europeans.

More on this when I get it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jennifer Newell Interviews Tokwiro COO Paul Leggett

Poker Player writer Jennifer Newell recently interviewed Tokwiro COO Paul Leggett about the giant Absolute Poker and UltimateBet Scams. Although what Leggett had to say is certainly interesting, he wouldn´t publicly lower the boom on 1994 WSOP champ Russ Hamilton as the major perpetrator of the scams, but I am sure his hushiness on the subject is nothing more than his lawyers instructions.

Here is Newell´s review of her interview with Leggett:

It started with the Absolute Poker super-user scandal, and continues with the UltimateBet cheating scandal. There are many similarities between these two cases that involve two online poker sites, but the one overriding tie that binds is their joint ownership. Tokwiro Enterprises ENRG is a Canadian company that was established to purchase the two companies and bring them together under one roof.

The investigation into the Absolute Poker scandal was reportedly concluded, though none of the alleged perpetrators have been prosecuted to the best of our knowledge. And the inquiry into the UltimateBet cheating operation has been ongoing since January 2008, which has since branched into several concurrent investigations, remains unresolved.

In early August of 2008, I had the opportunity to speak with Paul Leggett, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Tokwiro Enterprises. Though no questions were off limits, there were many topics he was unable to address in any detail because of ongoing legal proceedings. However, Mr. Leggett was surprisingly frank in many of his responses during the interview. The questions and answers, in their entirety, were first published in a three-part article on, though excerpts will be printed here.

Leggett first explained that Tokwiro purchased Absolute Poker and Ultimate Poker in October 2006, where they were held in trust for several months while Tokwiro solidified its operations and became fully functional by early 2007. One of my initial questions regarded due diligence where software glitches and former employee improprieties were discovered.

Leggett said, “There definitely was due diligence done at the time of purchase. The company did rely on a lot of the public information that was available to us and the audits that had been done previously … We reviewed a lot of the public financial statements that were done when the company was actually traded on the London Exchange, so we did rely pretty heavily at the time on those public statements and filings. We reviewed them and the software, and we met with Excapsa management to go over all the details of the business, but this is a very large platform that we purchased. Unfortunately, during this due diligence process, we simply did not discover the code [in the software that was used by the cheaters] that was put on there … We didn’t discover it, unfortunately, until this investigation.”

I asked if there was a consideration of legal action against the prior owners, to which he could only reply, “We are pursuing many, many legal actions right now. I’m confident that a lot of it will become public in the very near future … I expect there to be some public information about that very soon.”

When pressed about the possible involvement of former owner and 1994 WSOP champion Russ Hamilton, Leggett was again limited in his ability to answer. He said, “I cannot confirm or deny anybody that is involved or not involved at this point … There’s nothing that would give me more personal satisfaction that to do that, but unfortunately, our situation is very complicated. But I have a ton of evidence—IP addresses, withdrawal information, transfer information, addresses, names—and I’m confident in my own mind that I know exactly what occurred.

“But we’re involved in complicated legal action, and our litigators have forbidden me to say anything about who is or is not involved at this point. I’m very hopeful that we’re going to be receiving a very large sum of money as a result of our legal actions, something that represents some kind of justice in this whole thing, and I’m very hopeful and committed to doing everything I can to make sure that enough information comes out about this, whether it be through our legal actions or whatever, to make sure that the poker community and the public at large are satisfied at the end of this.”

Sorel Mizzi Adds PokerStars Ban To His Collection!


High profile online player adds to his Full Tilt ban

High profile professional Internet poker players, who should know better, continue to break the multi accounting rule at major online poker websites like PokerStars, Full Tilt and PartyPoker. Some of these role models are perhaps tempted by the significant amount of hard cash available in games on the Internet, and knowingly take the risk - but the embarrassing publicity of a ban often follows.

According to the poker information site this week, the latest to be caught out in this form of cheating at is the successful and high profile young pro Sorel "Imper1um" Mizzi who has been fortunate to have the six months exclusion originally handed to him for multi accounting reduced to three months after an appeal to the PokerStars management.

Mizzi should definitely know better - he was banned in an embarrassingly public incident at Full Tilt Poker last year for playing on another player's account in a major tournament.

On this occasion, Mizzi said he was playing in an important online tournament when he ran out of time and had to make a dash for the airport. Rather than abandon the game he asked a friend to continue playing for him. Details of how PokerStars caught on to the ruse are not available, but it illustrates the dangers of trying to pull a fast one on the world's biggest online poker website.

With the aid of Friend Google, a quick look back shows that multi accounting bans have been handed out to several top online players.

One of the most notorious involved Mizzi (again) and took place at Full Tilt Poker around this time a year back. Player "BluffMagCV", who subsequently turned out to be a poker writer, made some remarkable wins at the Sunday Millions tourneys at FT, repeating the success as "SlippyJacks" the following week at PokerStars. Quite an achievement. Until player "Kongsgaard" stepped forward with the news that the FT tourney had been awarded to him following a disqualification. It later transpired that Mizzi had been playing for "BluffMagCV" on the promise of a share in the significant winnings.

The PartyPoker case against "JJ Prodigy" aka Josh Field was the subject of extensive publicity. At 16 years old, he was caught by PartyPoker as a multi accounting cheater, initially attracting attention by boasting on IMs to friends after winning a $140 000 plus first prize in a $500 000 guaranteed event. Unfortunately for "JJ" his friends took up the boast on poker forums and other players realised that the winner of the tourney had actually been one "ABlackCar" - "JJ" had actually busted out early. Hoist by his own petard, JJ was busted in another, and even more unpleasant way, by the PP management. And he was stripped of his prize, together with $40 000 in another account.

Field also ran afoul of PokerStars when, already banned, he apparently opened new accounts, funding the accounts via accomplices and the PS transfer facility. When this was discovered, PokerStars threw the book at this multi-accounter, along with his "friends" and bans were handed out all round, precluding Field from participating in at least one major and lucrative tournament. For reasons best known to himself, "JJ" exacerbated the issue by publicly apologising....admitting that he had continued to multi-account after the ban!

Both PokerStars and Full Tilt multi-accounting bans were handed to Nick "gbmantis" Niergarth after the discovery of a sophisticated cheating scandal involving other players including JJProdigy. Niergarth played in the biggest tournaments on both sites regularly and was caught using the accounts of "friends" to play, taking over late in tournaments after he had already been eliminated.

Full Tilt pro and CardRunners instructor Brian Townsend was caught multi-accounting in some of the biggest online poker games online. Playing 25-50 Pot Limit Omaha all the way up to 200-400 Pot Limit Omaha, Townsend, who is respected as a formidable cash game player and uses the online screen name "sbrugby", created a second account as "Stellarnebula" under another 'handle' to disguise his identity from opposing players. He was accused of doing the same at PokerStars using the screen name "Makersmark66."

British pro Mark Telscher made the multi-accounting headlines in the widely publicised "TheV0id" affair, which cost him a huge prize purse when PokerStars stripped him of a WCOOP first prize worth $1.2 million - one of the biggest in online history. A successful and experienced player, Telscher set up "TheV0id" account in the name of his sister Natalie. He was then found to have used the account to play after he had himself been eliminated. The duo initially kicked up a huge fuss but PokerStars prevailed.

Then 20-year-old Justin "ZeeJustin" Bonomo was accused by both Party Poker and Pokerstars of multi-accounting and suffered a ban and the confiscation of some $100 000 from his accounts. Reports suggest that he brought suspicion on himself by boasting on a poker forum about his discovery of a PartyPoker software flaw that allowed a player to rapidly click on the Party Poker icon and open up new sessions. Each new Party Poker session could be logged in with a different account, and this is what he was accused of doing, using up to 6 accounts in the same multi-table tournament. It transpired that he had multiple accounts and was entering multi-table tournaments at both Party Poker and Poker Stars.

CBS "60 Minutes" Online Poker Cheating Segment Now Set To Air November 9th

Rumors have begun circulating that the American television investigative news program 60 Minutes will not be airing its long-anticipated story on the Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker cheating scandals this Sunday.

According to numerous reports, the segment will now air on November 9th, during the final table competition at this year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP) event in Las Vegas. This date could also be further affected by the upcoming American Presidential elections, as it would be the first Sunday following the vote. In any case, I think it is a great time to air the story!

The CBS television program has allegedly joined forces with a major newspaper for the story on the cheating, which began in 2005 with Ultimate Bet, an online casino operator licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. The regulator issued a report late last month that identified the chief perpetrator as former World Series of Poker champion and former Ultimate Bet executive Russell Hamilton.

“The Commission found clear and convincing evidence to support the conclusion that, between the approximate dates of May 2004 to January 2008, Russell Hamilton, an individual associated with Ultimate Bet's affiliate program, was the main person responsible for and benefiting from the multiple cheating incidents,” read the report.

“Furthermore, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission is currently in contact with the appropriate law enforcement agencies and intends to fully cooperate in the prosecution of all individuals involved in the Ultimate Bet cheating incidents.”

The statement claimed that over $60 million in fraudulent play was involved and ruled that all affected players must be refunded while Ultimate Bet was fined $1.5 million.