Poker News Round-up
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Poker News Round-up: Week #11
It was way back in early January when claims first emerged that something suspicious was going on at Ultimatebet (UB). Several high stakes players proposed that, just like with Absolute Poker a few months previously, someone had access to a superuser account and was using it to cheat the biggest games by viewing opponents’ hole cards. The claims were backed up by some pretty compelling statistical evidence (see 18th of January 2008 News Report), and UB was asked to provide an explanation. Having promised an investigation, the silence since has been deafening and people have been left to draw their own conclusions from UB’s apparent unwillingness to address the matter publicly.
Still, it was not exactly a surprise that they were in no rush to confirm accusations that cheating had occurred on their site, but when UB announced that it was ready to release an official statement this week there was much interest in what they finally had to say:
“On January 12, 2008, UltimateBet was alerted to allegations that a player with the online handle “NioNio” exhibited abnormally high winning statistics and was accused of having an unfair advantage during play. These allegations were made both directly to UltimateBet by concerned players and the KGC, and indirectly through several web forums. The allegations also included reports of suspicious activity concerning the deletion of the NioNio account and other accounts that may have been related to this scheme.
We immediately launched an extensive inquiry involving an independent third-party expert to review hundreds of thousands of hand histories, all of which were promptly locked down and made available to this expert. The initial findings of our third-party expert confirm that the NioNio account’s winning statistics were indeed abnormal, and we have expanded the investigation to look into whether an unfair advantage existed, how such a scheme might have been perpetrated, and whether additional accounts beyond those of NioNio were involved...
...UltimateBet is determined to complete a full and thorough investigation. We pride ourselves on providing a safe, secure playing environment for our customers. The investigation has proven to be extremely complex and, therefore, has been more extensive and taken much longer than initially expected. We continue to aggressively pursue the matter and will communicate the findings of our full investigation to our regulatory authority and to our customer base as soon as practicable.”
So, after two months of “full and thorough” investigation, Ultimatebet’s inquest is underwhelmingly able to confirm that someone winning at an absurd rate against the site’s best players whilst having virtually no regard for hand selection is indeed abnormal. And they promise they will now look into whether an unfair advantage (not the c word) might possibly have existed. Keep up the good work guys.
Whilst UB players have been left wondering if they have been cheated, at least one Scandinavian pro knows for sure that he has been. The player (thought to be Johnny Lodden) called in security software specialists after he suspected that something was amiss following several sessions in which he could do nothing right. The computer consultants found that he had been attacked by another player he regularly faced who had sent an email with a hand analysis tool (although it has also been suggested that it was instead an invitation to a tournament). That tool had Trojan software embedded in it meaning that without the recipient’s knowledge, the sender was able to capture a screenshot of his opponent’s monitor and easily win by looking at the hole cards. The identity of the scammer has not been made general knowledge, but rumours are circulating that it was Mohamad Kowssarie aka The Terrorist. Kowssarie made news in the summer of 2006 when he won what was generally agreed to be the largest pot ever online. His opponent that day in the $465,461 pot – Johnny Lodden.
Beyond the virtual world, someone else behaving badly in live poker has been Lesley Thornburg who was doing rather well at the World Series Of Poker Circuit $300 preliminary event in Caesar’s Atlantic City. Play was down to the last five from a field of 1056 and after his unorthodox play had inflicted two bad beats in quick succession, Thornburg sat at the table as chip leader. He had become a major irritant to other players though with loud unsportsmanlike behaviour and was also unco-operative with tournament officials’ requests. Thornburg, thought to be tired and emotional, had already received two warnings when he went a step too far with a string bet which led to his disqualification from the tournament. The $19,026 he received for fifth place will have allowed for plenty more refreshments, but presumably a moment of clarity will at some point have ensued when he would surely regret denying himself a great chance to have won the first prize of $76,104.
Back in London, the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour had a sell out on both day ones of the £1000 main event meaning that with alternates there were 424 runners in total. After four tough days, the most recognisable faces to have made the final table were Steve Jelinek and Maria Demetriou, who has been a regular feature on tv in recent weeks with decent performances in Late Night Poker. She was involved in one of the craziest hands imaginable when her pocket kings ran into pocket queens and two other players both holding pocket aces. As if that wasn’t enough excitement pre-flop, the queens flopped a set and Maria then hit a bigger set with a king on the river which set her up nicely for a run to the final.
Demetriou’s exit in fifth place was one of four consecutive eliminations inflicted by Ketul Nathwani, who then held 90% of the chips in play as he met Tony Phillips heads up. On the very first hand between the two, Phillips moved all in with his bare ace and Nathwani found a hand good enough to call with in pocket fives. There would be no improvement for Phillips and in a trice Nathwani had made it five bust outs on the trot to take the title. For his efforts, Nathwani receives £119,780 plus a seat at the champion of champions tournament later in the year.
Last week Full Tilt released a player from their stable, but this week there were plenty of additions as Team CardRunners members Taylor Caby, Andrew Wiggins, Brian Townsend, Brian Hastings, Eric Liu, Mike Schneider and Cole South all signed up. Despite there being seven new acquisitions, only six new accounts could be created though as someone had already called himself Brian Townsend on the site. Full Tilt initially made an offer of 100 tournament dollars for the holder to relinquish the account, but whilst this was being mulled over Townsend personally offered a free lifetime subscription to Cardrunners which was enough to seal the deal. Townsend is now tearing up the high stakes games under his own name, and his low stakes former impersonator has moved on to a new account. Whether it’s showing some enterprise or just profiteering from somebody else’s name is open to debate but he certainly seems to have got a pretty good deal for doing not very much.
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