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Poker News Round-up: Week #28

The unfortunate Motoyuki Mabuchi
The unfortunate Motoyuki Mabuchi

So the big one is now under way and somewhere within the massive field of 6844 runners someone will be crowned the new world champion. The structure of the main event has been modified slightly this year to allow for a little more play in the early stages, but nevertheless there was plenty of early action. As with last year the first player to be eliminated held AA as Barry Clancy saw his aces busted when his opponent’s jacks hit a set on the river. Stu Ungar used to say that pocket aces were good for winning a small pot or losing a big one and that proved true for several players on day 1a. Tom Dwan’s bullets were crushed early on but it was Motoyuki Mabuchi who lost with them in the cruellest way possible. Having made quad aces by the river Mabushi must have been hoping that the three diamonds on board gave his opponent a flush that he would not be able to lay down, and in that respect his wish was granted. Sadly for Mabuchi though it was a royal flush and the man from Japan was eliminated in horrid fashion.

With so many players bad beat stories abounded and the first player out on day 1b held KK which made kings full of nines only to see another player with quad nines scoop the pot. There were even quads over quads at one point. It’s a long and perilous road towards the title of world champion and as the bad beats continued along with the bluffs and silly calls eventually there were 3630 players left with chips after four starting days who would come back to play day two.

Hendon Mobsters Ram and Ross were not amongst those returning for day two having both struggled to get anything going on day one, leaving Joe and Barny to carry the flag. Day two was unkind to Joe though and whilst day three is in progress at the time of writing Barny has also been eliminated.

Whilst the main event still has a long way to run yet, the size of the field is of course known so WSOP organisers have now been able to release stats on how popular the series has been this year. The main event is up on last year’s attendance, but still smaller than the record field of 2006 which was always likely after the implementation of the UIGEA. That act may have had a significant effect on poker in other ways though as sites like Party Poker were forced to abandon the US market. In order to survive Party have been focussing on new markets in areas where they hadn’t previously ventured and the result is that poker is increasing in popularity across the globe. This year players from 118 different countries took part in the WSOP, which is more than double the amount that competed at the last series before the UIGEA just two years ago. The final table of the WSOP main event has historically been stacked with Americans but last year we saw different nationalities finish in each of the top five spots, and don’t be surprised if we see a multinational line up again this year.

Eric Lynch aka Rizen
Eric Lynch aka Rizen

Meanwhile, away from the Rio the reputation of Ultimatebet continues to take a battering. Last month Ub made several additions to their crop of sponsored pros, adding some well known online players in a move generally thought to be designed to appeal to the internet community. Eric Lynch aka Rizen was one of the names announced as a resident pro but just one month on from that announcement Lynch has decided that he no longer wants to be associated with Ultimatebet and will be withdrawing his money from the site. On his personal blog he is a little cagey about exactly what it is that has been bothering him but states “Since my main thesis behind joining in the first place was that UB had all their ducks in a row and that going forward they had all the pieces in place to make sure everything was handled smoothly and correctly, when doubts started to surface around that thesis I had to start to re-evaluate it...... I actually hope to god that my doubts end up having no foundation whatsoever.… It created enough doubt in my mind about the direction of the brand moving forward that I no longer felt comfortable associating myself with it.” Quite what having all their ducks in a row means is unclear, but he is not alone in having his reservations about Ub.

A poster at twoplustwo claiming to have access to Ultimatebet records says that he has decided to reveal more information on Ub because he has seen no evidence of an investigation there by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission despite their claims. After this poster, named BrainwashDodo, gave the names of other accounts that were alleged to have been part of the cheating ring, Ub admitted that they had previously overlooked these accounts and promptly added them to the list. BrainwashDodo (whose IP address is confirmed as coming from Costa Rica where Ub are based) has also reproduced a long list of player transfers which appear to be authentic and show a lot of money moving around various people on the Ub payroll. If these reproductions are genuine they show that one account appears to have been set up simply for the purpose of making transfers rather than playing poker, and after this account ships money out to someone it is replenished by Russ Hamilton (former WSOP main event winner who was heavily involved with getting the site established a few years ago.)

Amidst all the mundane data there is the extremely interesting entry which shows that this intermediary transfer account sent money to ShaqTack after it was created - one of the accounts that has since been named as being part of the cheating ring. As usual with this account, Russ Hamilton had re-imbursed it after it had provided funds to get the ShaqTack account up and running. If the whistleblower’s information is genuine, it is not surprising that people are now questioning whether the superuser accounts are actually traceable back to senior members of Ub management who were providing the funds to set them up in the first place.

It seems to just get messier and messier for Ultimatebet and there are suggestions that worse is yet to come if further information is revealed by their man on the inside.

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