Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Latest: Sebok and More on UltimateBet UB Poker Cheating Scandal!

Source: Poker News

When it comes to developments in the UltimateBet/AP superuser scandal, there are three major instigators: DonkDown Radio, Haley Hintze, and Joe Sebok. Over the past week, the poker world had the opportunity to hear from all three, and each fueled the flames to the UltimateBet scandal. What were the new developments? They involve new cheating allegations, TwoPlusTwo and Twitter drama, and allegations connecting former UltimateBet CEO Greg Pierson to the superuser scandal.

Password Cheating Allegations

On Wed., March 16, 2011, DonkDown Radio revisited the idea, first presented by Travis Makar, that UltimateBet employees had engaged in cheating above and beyond the superuser scandal. DonkDown alleged that employees identified players with high balances on the site, gained access to their accounts by changing their passwords, played under those accounts, and “transferred or dumped the money back to their own account” if they won. On the other hand, if they lost, they hoped the player wouldn’t notice. Furthermore, it was alleged that players were sent a “security e-mail” that claimed “the system automatically changed their password for security reasons.”

DonkDown went on to post an email it had obtained from a player that seemed to corroborate Makar’s allegations that the cheating continued to occur even after the management change (note the date):

From: "UB"
Subject: Your password was reset
Date: Sat, 5 Dec 2009 17:15:30 -0500


As a security measure, your password has been securely and randomly reset by the system. Your temporary password is ********. Please log into your account using this temporary password. We strongly recommend changing your password to a more personalized and easier to remember password as soon as you log in. To modify your password, simply select "Update Profile" from the "My Account" menu and then click on the "Change Password" link. If there is anything else we can help you with, please do not hesitate to contact us via email at We are always here to assist you.

We look forward to seeing you at the tables again soon!


The UB Team

While the above e-mail is not proof by itself, the recipient explained that his attempts to obtain more information from UB have been ignored. DonkDown Radio co-host Todd Witteles elaborated in their forum by providing examples on how a password change could benefit cheaters and pointed out that neither PokerStars or Full Tilt Poker “randomly” force password resets. He went on to say, “I think Travis has to be onto something here, even if his details aren't 100% correct.” One thing is for sure, the emails helped fuel the fire when it came to Makar’s allegations.

Sebok Addresses TwoPlusTwo

Encouraged by his friend Shane Schleger, Joe Sebok started a TwoPlusTwo thread to "address some UB-related comments," among other things.

In the post, Sebok reiterated some facts about the UlitmateBet superuser scandal, which are summarized below:

He admits that the new UB management has made some mistakes, but he does not believe they: “a) actively helped the individuals who cheated to do so or get away with it, b) have doctored hand histories themselves to cover things up, or c) have attempted to hide facts to pay less money out in refunds.”
Both UB and Sebok want any and all information to be released.
UB does not censor, encourage, nor control what Sebok says and does.
Sebok continues to believe that the current ownership is different from the former ownership.
He will attempt to answer reasonable questions on TwoPlusTwo
Indeed, Sebok went on to answer selected questions and tried to establish “some common ground” on some of the UltimateBet facts. The question-and-answer thread, which has been active over the past few days, can be viewed in its entirety on TwoPlusTwo.

Just Conjecturin’, Volume 30

Haley Hintze has been as diligent as anyone in investigating the UltimateBet superuser scandal. In fact, she very well may be the world’s foremost authority on the situation. In her blog, she has posted volumes of information regarding all things UltimateBet in a series known as “Just Conjecturin’.” In her most recent blog, aptly titled, Volume 30: Naming Names — Greg Pierson, Hintze wrote that “Pierson, the President and CEO of ieLogic and Iovation, the company behind the company behind UltimateBet, was another of the likely superusers behind the scandal.”

In that blog, Hintze explained how Pierson’s wife, Janelle Lynn Pierson, became involved in an expensive legal battle after having an affair with one of her high school students. Apparently, the whole debacle put the Pierson's in a tough economic position, which was a possible motivation leading to the cheating scandal’s inception. From there, Hintze laid out Pierson’s position within the company, one that would allow him to develop the “God Mode” program, along with his relationship with Russ Hamilton and Mansour Matloubi, noting, “It was Pierson who had to have held the programming reins, and who reached an agreement with Hamilton and Matloubi [the operational bosses of UltimateBet] to allow the God Mode code to be inserted into the UB client, which in turn allowed the cheating to take place.”

Hintze went on to suggest that perhaps, “Pierson got cold feet about the cheating and decided to cover his own tracks while leaving other cheating accounts in place that could be easily tied to others, as in those pointing to Hamilton.” Hintze’s argument, which is simply summarized here, is backed up with plenty of facts and circumstantial evidence that lends credence to her hypothesis.

For more on the subject, check out Hintze's entire blog.

No doubt the new allegations will inspire new information and responses concerning the UltimateBet superuser scandal, in which case, PokerNews will be here to keep you abreast of the latest developments.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cheating Casinos Back in the Day...What Would it Have Been Like?

Las Vegas in 1931
Did you ever dream you could step into a time tunnel and step out way back when and apply what you know now about making money to back then? I am not talking about betting on a historical or sporting event for which you know the outcome even though it has not yet taken place. I am talking about applying a specific skill that you have today to a task in the past. One analogy would be to have twenty-first century equipment or weaponry to be used in construction or deconstruction (war).

Well, I have had this dream (although in a fully conscious state, so it's more a thought than a dream) of applying my casino cheating ability to casinos way back when. Let's say I stepped out of a time machine into Las Vegas, Nevada in 1931, the year that casino gambling was legalized in the Silver State. What casino moves would I do in 1930s Vegas casinos?

First, let's take a look at what casino surveillance was like back then. There were no cameras. There weren't even catwalks (narrow corridors above the casino tables whose floors has one-way mirror patterns so that the action could be observed from above). At the time, the only surveillance was slick ex-cheats and cons walking around the casino looking for suspicious activity that could be cheating.

So, would I run up to a roulette table and do a third-section pastpost?

Absolutely not! That's because the casino wiseguys lurking around the tables knew how easy and popular it was to pastpost roulette tables. And...they would have a great chance of seeing the pastposter's hands out on the layout when they weren't supposed to be there.

How 'bout my famed Savannah roulette pinch move?

Well, she would have worked but there would have been the chance that one of the sharpies could see the high denomination check hidden from the dealer from a position behind the bet. That big-value chip would have been sticking out in the rear. The Savannah move was really primed for beating the surveillance cameras.

What about the bread-and-butter blackjack ten-oh-five?

You hit the nail on the head! This move would have been the best because it is done when the blackjack player's hands are supposed to be on the layout, mainly when picking up the winning chips the dealer just paid him.

Okay, I know this posting is just mental masturbation--but OH how I would love to go back in time for just one day and go to work on Vegas's old-time casinos!

PS: Now that I think of it, I could have made a fortune by simply collecting the gold coins and silver dollars used in those casinos and bringing them back to today! I wouldn't have had to cheat!

Is Cheating at Chess Catching up with Cheating at Poker?...Read This!

The tranquil world of international chess has been thrown into uproar by accusations of intricate "cheating by text message" against three senior French players.

Two grandmasters and an international master have been found guilty by their own national organisation of "violating sporting ethics" at the Chess Olympiad – world team championships – in Khanty-Mansiysk Siberia in September.

The trio, who deny the charges, were accused of devising an elaborate scheme – using text messages and choreographed movements around the competition hall – to convey advice from a computer programme while matches were in progress.

One of the suspect games occurred in a match between England and France, in which the young French international grandmaster, Sébastien Feller, 19, beat David Howell, then also 19, the youngest chess grandmaster in the UK. Another occurred in a match between France and Georgia.

Two of the accused men, Mr Feller and Cyril Marzolo, 32, have been suspended from competition for two years. The third, the team captain Arnaud Hauchard, 39, – accused of conveying pre-arranged codes for moves by his own movements between tables – has been removed from his position. All three men deny the allegations, which seem certain to end in the courts.

This is the first time that formal accusations of cheating of this kind have surfaced in international chess. "There have often been suspicions but there has never before been such clear evidence of cheating at the highest level," said Laurent Verat, director general of the Fédération Française des Echecs.

Mr Verat said: "Even Garry Kasparov (the former world champion) has rung me about it. He is astounded."

The affair has split the country's best players down the middle – into the allegedly dishonest and, inevitably, black and the outraged, pure whites. Three other members of the team at the Olympiad – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Laurent Fressinet and Romain Edouard – have given public backing to the allegations against their team-mates.

The three accused men claim they are the victims of a conspiracy and internal team "jealousies".

Mr Marzolo was not in the team at the Olympiad. It is alleged he followed games on the internet from Nancy in eastern France. According to evidence given to the federation's disciplinary committee he fed the moves into Firebird, a powerful chess computer program.

Using pre-arranged numerical codes, he allegedly sent Firebird's recommended next moves to Mr Feller or Mr Hauchard in text messages which looked innocently like French mobile telephone numbers. Mr Hauchard allegedly conveyed the moves to Mr Feller while games were in progress, by moving between tables in the competition hall.

The tables, it is alleged, had been given pre-arranged codes equivalent to the standard notation of the 64 squares on a chess board between A1 and H8. If Mr Hauchard stood beside table B3 and moved to, say, table B4, Mr Feller knew that the computer recommended that he move a piece from B3 to B4.

The alleged manipulations came to light because Mr Marzolo did not have a mobile telephone of his own. As a result of financial problems he had been barred by all mobile companies. His telephone had been loaned to him by another senior player for whom he once worked, Joanna Pomian, the vice president of the federation.

During the championship, she accidentally discovered a message from Mr Hauchard in Russia which read: "Hurry up and send the moves." She checked the records of the line and found Mr Marzolo had sent 180 messages to the other accused men during the competition. Most consisted of telephone numbers.

Investigations revealed that the third and fourth digits corresponded with the sequence numbers of recommended moves and the fifth to the eighth digits were coded references to squares on the chess board.

Not so fair players

* Major Charles Ingram and former college lecturer Tecwen Whittock were convicted in 2003 of conspiracy to cheat TV quiz programme Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? out of £1m. Whittock, who sat in the audience, coughed to signal the correct responses to Ingram, who sat in the hot seat.

* In 2007, Yau Yiv Lam made around £250,000 by using spy equipment to cheat at poker in six London casinos. A mini-camera hidden up his sleeve filmed cards as they were dealt and relayed the footage to an accomplice sitting in a nearby van. The accomplice then radioed card details to a third cheat sitting at the poker table with Lam, who profited from the set-up. The player's never-ending luck prompted casino bosses to raise the alarm and the trio were later jailed for nine months.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

When Should a Poker or Casino Cheat Say "No?"

Okay, you're the chief of a professional poker cheating or casino cheating team and you heard that a particular casino or poker room is really ripe for the pickings. So, is there anything that should stop you dead in your tracks from hitting this potential poker room or casino gold mine?

You bet your ass there is!

Here's a good example: Back in 1979 I was lying on the beach in the south of France enjoying a day off after hitting the casinos along the French Cote d'Azur. My partner Joe Classon was lying next to me reading the Herald Tribune. He came across an article about a new casino opening up inside the Istanbul Hilton (yes, that's Turkey!). Full of enthusiasm, he immediately jumped up as if he wanted to pack his bag right there on the spot and catch a boat across the Mediterranean to Turkey. But just two weeks before I had seen the movie "Midnight Express." If you don't remember, that's the real-life film where Billy Hayes, a young American, got caught at the Istanbul airport boarding his plane to New York with a few pounds of hashish taped around his torso. The film depicted his four years in a horrible Turkish prison.

Get the message?

If not, there was also the possibility in Turkey of thieves getting their hands cut off instead of doing jail time...or both!

Get the message now?

Back in 1993, we were lying on another beach, this time in Greece, and Joe was reading (he loved to read) an article about ex-PLO chairman Yassir Arafat's new casino opening on the West Bank. That's right! If you didn't know it, Arafat and the PLO once operated a casino right on the West Bank.
When Joe jumped up again, full of even greater enthusiasm, and said, "Richard, let's go bomb Arafat's casino!" I looked at him as if he were crazy and said, "What are you, nuts!...Did you forget you're Jewish?

My point: Casino and poker cheat teams had better investigate the laws and penalites for those caught cheating in each venue they dare to venture!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Two More Cases of Insider Dealer Cheating in Singapore--This Time It's Roulette

Crooked Casino Dealers in Singapore's cheat-plagued casinos have been working in cahoots with gamblers to cheat the country's two giant casinos, Resorts World Sentosa and the Sands Marina Bay. Mostly the casino-cheat partnerships have been attacking the big-money wheels and the Pai Gow tables, but now we are getting news of two major insider roulette cheating cases. One involves the dealer actually controlling the spin of the ball to a point just enough to make it a profitable casino cheating enterprise, both involve deliberately overpaying winning bets.

In early October, 2010, 24-year-old Ng Wuey Kiang and 39-year-old Leong Teck Leong cheated the Resorts World Santosa out of $30,000. Ng controlled the landing of the roulette ball to within 20 of the 38 numnber slots on the wheel with a close to 90 percent accuracy, which is good enough to get the money. I do not know how good his spins looked, meaning that they could have been very short spins that would be much easier to control than a long legitimate spin. In any case, the dealer and his accomplice both received 21 months in prison. Singapore is handing out pretty stiff sentences to casino cheats, trying to make examples and stem the wave of casino cheting that has hit these two young casinos since they opened last year.

To make matters worse, when Ng missed the 20-number target he overpaid Leong n the next winning spin to make up the money they lost on those spins that didn't hit the group of numbers, something really stupid. Surveillance cameras finally caught on to the overpayments if not the crooked spins.

Casino surveillance departments in Singapore are quite weak, which is understandable, and they need to get some serious game protection training as its casinos are rivalling Foxwoods in Connecticut as the casino-cheating candy stores of the world.

Leong's attorney told the judge that his client had quit hia job and become a compulsive gambler, losing his life savings of $50,000. The judge did not take that into consideration at sentencing.

My take: I can only imagine how much insider casino cheating is going on in Singapore's two casinos. It has to be massive, and we are only hearing about the few crooked casino dealers getting caught.