Dewey Tomko

Nolan Dalla: Dewey Tomko Claims False Authorship Attribution re: Press of Atlantic City Op-Ed

More breaking news from the James Thackston anti-online poker front, where today’s stunner is Nolan Dalla‘s publication of information from a phone conversation with Poker Hall of Famer Dewey Tomko, wherein Tomko denies all knowledge of a recent controversial op-ed published in the Press of Atlantic City that lists Tomko as co-author.

That editorial, published on March 19th, has Tomko purportedly standing alongside fellow old-time Florida poker player Bill Byers and protesting that regulated online poker within the US is prone to use as an avenue for criminal money laundering and financing of terrorism, claims that are laughable for their lack of real-world relevance: regulated online poker sites are a horrendous channel through which to conduct such activities.

Dewey-TomkoAccording to Dalla, a long-time friend of Tomko’s, Tomko had nothing to do with the op-ed.  When Dalla asked Tomko if he wrote or contributed to the piece, Tomko responded, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. You know me. I don’t write columns to newspapers. I’ve got other things that keep me plenty busy.”

When Dalla followed up by asking if Tomko merely allowed his name to be attached, Tomko ruled that out too, telling Dalla, “No. That didn’t happen. No one every asked me about it. This is the first I’ve ever heard about it.”

Also according to Dalla, Tomko then downplayed his associations with the two Florida poker pros who have been shown to business partners of James Thackston, meaning Byers and Hilbert Shirey.  Regarding Byers, Tomko said, “Sure, I know Bill Byers. But I haven’t talked to him in ten years.”  And regarding former Tomko golfing buddy Shirey, Dewey reportedly said, “Sure, we’re friends….but I haven’t talked to Hilbert in at least three or four years.”

This is going to get more interesting in a hurry.  In a conversation with F5Poker, Press of Atlantic City Editorial Page Editor Jim Perskie claimed that they’d sent a verification e-mail to both purported op-ed authors, Byers and Tomko, and that their locations were verified via Google.  However, Tomko has also disclaimed being an active Internet user, raising the possibility that he was the victim of identity theft by Thackston and at least one of his former friends.

To be sure, the Press of Atlantic City piece reads as if it was written by Thackston, not by Tomko.  Here’s a segment of the piece, with certain inclusions but in boldface and numbered, for mention below:

An ad by the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling features a letter from the FBI to Congress (1) expressing concern about Internet gambling being used for criminal or terrorist financing. Apparently, criminals can use technology that poker websites cannot detect to hide both the identity and location of a poker player, enabling the corruption of virtual poker tables. Background information related to the FBI(2) concerns suggests that the technology enables multi-player collusion.

If criminals can do this, so can cheaters. Perhaps they already are.

Most players know cellphones are sometimes used by skilled cheaters to share card values to gain an unfair advantage. Two-way collusion is fairly easy to find. Add a third player, and it becomes a little more difficult. Add a fourth colluding cheater, and the team can gain a significant edge and at the same time make finding them reliably and consistently very difficult(3).

But collusion between four players with cellphones is not practical and can later be discovered by suspicious law enforcement. However, other technology may make collusion possible without detection. If three or more players at the same poker table can use hacker technology to effectively share card values in ways hidden from the poker website, a terribly damaging scandal becomes a very real possibility(4).

It is disturbing that the industry, regulators and organizations purporting to protect the interests of players have not addressed the issue, despite their claims that the game is safe. Rather than being comforted by the industry touting that there have been zero problems in Europe, New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada, we find that analysis less than credible. A more realistic view is that collusion and cheating are indeed occurring but going undetected.

Realistic tests of the Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey online-poker regulations should be conducted. But David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, did not even respond to a letter we(5) sent offering to stress-test New Jersey’s real-money poker websites.

Now, the related notes:

(1) Thackston sent that letter;

(2) Thackston sent his information as well, as also claiming in his attempted shakedown of Harrah’s (Caesars) that he was about to accept an FBI contract;

(3) Ridiculous scenario taken straight from the pages of Thackston’s own site;

(4) See #3;

(5) “We”?? Tomko didn’t send that letter; Byers and Thackston did.

What it all means is that in retrospect, the New Jersey op-ed is very fishy, and the Florida one is suspect as well.  Given that Thackston and Byers still appear to be partners in a software concern designed to sell identity protection, and that Hilbert Shirey may also still be a partner, it leaves only two possible scenarios:

Scenario A: Thackston and Byers (and any other possible associates, including Shirey), may have committed a form of identity theft regarding Tomko.  There’s also the tiny matter of defrauding the Press of Atlantic City;

Scenario B: Dewey Tomko lied to Nolan Dalla.  I actually put the odds of this as quite low, but it can’t be discounted as even an unlikely, thin possibility until Tomko issues a formal public statement and the Press of Atlantic City does likewise.

Stay tuned.



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