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Poker News | World Poker News

UltimateBet Scandal Not Over Yet, Russ Hamilton Allegedly Involved

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It is far from over.

The accusations of cheating from the inside of UltimateBet began coming to the surface in January of 2008, and the company took its time to acknowledge the problem, not issuing a statement to that effect until March. And after months of investigation by a third-party company, a statement was released on May 29th to acknowledge that superuser(s) had been able to abuse a software glitch to access players’ hole cards and cheat on the online poker site.

The “final” statement was issued just days before the start of the 2008 WSOP, seemingly in the hopes of putting the issue to bed and allowing UltimateBet representatives and players to attend the WSOP without hassle or question. However, the press release detailing the investigative timeline, superuser accounts involved, and remedies taken to ensure the safety of players going forward was not the end of it. In fact, as the WSOP played itself out, more facts came to the surface that would put UltimateBet under the worst kind of spotlight.

On June 5th, UltimateBet quietly released another statement on the news page of its website. The short announcement noted that players affected by the scandal began receiving refunds on May 29th – the date of the previous release – but added that additional accounts were found to have participated in the cheating. “We are confident that we have uncovered the majority of the usernames involved in the fraud and processed the corresponding refunds. However, we are currently analyzing data for additional usernames that appear to have suspicious activity… We expect to have the investigation concluded by June 30, 2008.”

Just over a month later, after the investigation was said to have been finished, UltimateBet issued another statement, this one noting that the investigation was continuing and more account names had been added to the list of accounts used by the cheaters. The new names were Crackcorn55, WhakMe, GrabBag123, gravitation, Bgroup, H_Curtis, Twenty 1, WacoManiac, Broke_In_L.A., ShaqTack, BlueBerry101, HolyMucker, 55WasHere, Xnomas, dannyboy55, Indy05, and SlimPikins2. The statement went on to announce the following:

“We have also confirmed that the cheating dates back further then [sic] we initially believed. We can now confirm that the cheating began in January 2005, long before Tokwiro Enterprises ENRG acquired UltimateBet from the previous ownership. Tokwiro regrets that we did not discover this scheme during our due diligence when we purchased UltimateBet in October 2006, and that we did not identify the fraudulent activity until this recent investigation…

“Tokwiro considers itself to have been a victim of this fraud and we are continuing to explore our legal options. As part of this effort, we are compiling all of the information we have gathered in regard to the perpetrators and their activities, for possible use in any legal action. We will continue to provide updates on our investigation, as we are still looking at a few accounts...”

The investigation is not complete. As of July 22, there have been no further updates from UltimateBet.

But there is more. Days later, a bombshell was dropped by none other than Nat Arem, the primary rogue investigator and blogger who broke the Absolute Poker scandal wide open.

On July 13th, Arem wrote in a blog post that he only recently got involved in the UltimateBet scandal after seeing some transfer histories and finding it difficult not to look at the evidence of superusers. Of the information he discovered, one piece was key. He took account information for the nvtease/NoPaddles/sleepless account, which were confirmed superuser account names released by UltimateBet, and traced them to an address in Nevada – the home address of Russell Hamilton.

For those unfamiliar, Russ Hamilton was the 1994 World Series of Poker main event champion, but more relevant to this situation, he was at least one of the previous owners of UltimateBet before Tokwiro Enterprises purchased it, though his exact role in the company – former or current – remains unclear. In addition, Hamilton was one of the founders of the Ultimate Blackjack Tour and the associated online blackjack tournament website. His fingerprints are all over UltimateBet, which makes the connection of his home to the superuser accounts and any conclusions drawn from that quite a bit more plausible.

Arem admits that his evidence is not conclusive, though he stands by the links he has discovered with regards to Hamilton. He wrote, “Once again, it’s possible that his friends either purposefully or inadvertently set him up to look like the beneficiary of the cheating. Definitely possible. Hard to believe? Absolutely.”

Hamilton is not speaking publicly. He did not return an e-mail request to be interviewed for this article. When Barry Greenstein and Joe Sebok attempted to interview him for an episode of PokerRoad Radio on July 16th, he Hamilton declined on the advice of his attorney. While he did meet with Greenstein and Sebok privately, he could only say that his name will be cleared in the end but with his attorney at his side, he couldn’t discuss the UltimateBet accounts or his connection, or lack thereof, to those accounts. In the end, and as far as the media is concerned, he has made no official statement, nor has his lawyer.

The UltimateBet scandal remains unresolved and more mysterious at every turn. With no acknowledgement by UltimateBet that Hamilton has been officially implicated, though Arem’s evidence points directly to it, the public again waits for answers.

Contrary to what UltimateBet claims, this investigation – or scandal, as it has truly become just that – is far from over.

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