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Poker News | World Poker News

Absolute Saga – Public Relations and Popcorn Scandals

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With the current Absolute Poker scandal unraveling over the past month, Absolute Poker has been under a particularly bright microscope. Perhaps someone at the company may have anticipated that the poker players-turned-investigators who broke the cheating scandal might also look into other Absolute Poker business dealings gone wrong. But alas, it is too late as the stories have leaked into the press already.

First, there is a public relations situation involving Publicity Guaranteed, a marketing company in Fairfax, Virginia. The firm issued a press release within the past week alleging that they are owed $43,000 by Absolute Poker, a debt that stems back to services provided in 2005. The official statement was an attempt to bring attention to the owed monies in the hopes of receiving payment, especially in light of the other bad publicity that's hanging over Absolute Poker these days. And the attempt was successful, as the New York Times picked up the story.

In 2005, Absolute Poker conducted a "Win Your Tuition" promotion that consisted of freeroll tournaments that gave college students the chance to win a semester of tuition, laptops, iPods, and other prizes appealing to students. Publicity Guaranteed was hired to handle the mainstream print media campaign for the promotion, which was said to be a great success.

The bill delivered to Absolute Poker was for a total of $80,000, of which Absolute Poker paid none. In 2006, Publicity Guaranteed took Absolute Poker to court over a failure to pay for services and won the case. Upon the court order, Absolute Poker did pay $37,000 - not even half of the total amount owed. In an effort to recover the remaining unpaid bill, the firm went public with its story.

Nat Kurok, Senior Vice President of Publicity Guaranteed, said, "We're just saying we're someone else that got shortchanged by Absolute Poker, and this should be public knowledge."

The New York Times did reach someone at Absolute Poker, and though that spokesperson did promise a statement for the article within a certain time frame, they did not call in time to meet the deadline.

The second Absolute Poker mini-scandal has been dubbed by Gambling911.com as "Popcorn Gate." According to reports, it began when Absolute Poker hired scantily-clad women at the 2006 World Series of Poker to sell bags of popcorn outside the Amazon Room for $1 per bag, with all sales purportedly going to a children's charity based in Las Vegas called Sunrise Children's Foundation.

Rumors swirled of late that Absolute Poker never actually donated the funds, which reportedly totaled approximately $10,000, to the charity. However, according to a 2+2 forum member who spoke to an anonymous source at Absolute Poker, the charity did receive the funds via a wire transfer.

This source states that the donation was not made until February of 2007, more than six months after the WSOP ended. He said, "The guy who I spoke with admits that the timeframe for the donation was not ideal considering that the donations were received in July/August-ish of 2006. I'm told that it was largely an administrative screw-up due to a changeover in marketing companies."

If this is true, there is no mini-scandal at all, only bad timing and forum members anxious to accuse Absolute Poker of any and all possible wrongdoing. Regardless, a lack of timeliness on the part of Absolute Poker caused another situation to surface that didn't need to be an issue at all. However, Absolute Poker's lack of willingness to be forthcoming in the current scandal causes skepticism on the part of many people in the poker community toward Absolute Poker in general.

In summary, public relations debt owed since 2005? Yes. Popcorn scam? No. End of Absolute Poker rumors? No.

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