The Persecution of Jack Bates, Part 1: Legal Irresponsibility

(Author’s note: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 of this series are available through these links.)

The UltimateBet and Absolute Poker insider cheating scandals remain emblematic of the worst online poker can offer, but even as the stories themselves slowly age and fade into poker history, a few interesting side topics remain.  Among them is the tale of former UltimateBet programmer Jack Bates, who was involved with UB parent ieLogic (also known as Excapsa, and later split in two with one part becoming iovation) during the company’s formative days.

excapsaBates wasn’t with ielogic / Excapsa for that long a time, later jumping to Full Tilt in a similar role before abandoning the online-poker business world altogether, but the subsequent exposure of cheating led to a general spotlight being shone on all early UB / ieLogic employees, Bates among many others.

But the fact that Bates remains tied to the story and has even been publicly accused of being complicit in the scheme remains one of the travesties of the whole affair.  It’s been enough of a bother to Bates that he recently hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread on Reddit, a discussion forum with a techie-centric flavor, a natural home for programmer/engineer types like Bates.

Why it was all necessary, well, that’s the larger part of the story.  Bates has seen his former employment with the company later known for the largest cheating scandal transformed into something that dogs him even today, possibly costing him lucrative employment and business opportunities, with people even using his former employment in an attempt to extort information from him.

The two people most to blame in this regard are supposed UB scandal filmmaker K. Scott Bell and California attorney Alan Engle, who worked together (at least briefly) as Engle filed a civil case on behalf of several former UB highrollers who sought redress against UB.  That case fizzled quickly, but not before Engle included this passage in his official filing of the California complaint regarding the possible identities of defendant “John Does” 1-10:

17.  At this time, Plaintiffs suspect but do not know the identities of DOES 1-10.  Evidence, some of which is discussed below, has arisen that some of the founders and management of UltimateBet and Excapsa, including Greg Pierson, Jon Karl, Jack Bates and Russ Hamilton, and others who formerly operated (and may continue to be involved in the operation of) UltimateBet were likely aware of or involved [in] the conspiracy to cheat players.  However, because the identities and activities of UltimateBet and those who have profited from its operation have been intentionally shielded through numerous agents, subsidiaries and foreign corporations, it will be necessary to conduct significant discovery before a complete list of defendants can be identified.  After such discovery, Plaintiffs will seek to amend the Complaint to add additional defendants.

The implication of the passage was clear: those four named were part of whatever went on at UltimateBet, and numerous outlets ran with the news of the four men listed in the complaint when news of the case being filed made headlines in January, 2012.

Stick something out there in an irresponsible way, and as we learned over the weekend in the Rayner prostitution story, some poker-news outlet will be just as irresponsible in how they report it.  Regarding Bates, the very worst of the misreporting came from PokerListings in this piece of bad info (emphasis mine), which they’ve never bothered to correct:

The complaint’s supporting material reads as a detailed history of the Ultimate Bet super user scandal and investigation, clearly implicating founders and management of Ultimate Bet including Russ Hamilton, Greg Pierson, Jon Karl and Jack Bates.

The PokerListings story duly included a longer version of the complaint extract included above, but the fact that they used the Engle complaint as the source doesn’t mean the stuff was right.  See, Bates was a programmer, and neither a company founder nor management.

Bates, in fact, never even received any of the employee-ownership stock later granted to the company’s workers, though his dissatisfaction with the company’s early operations may have helped other employees receive those secondary benefits.  Bates left the company in disgust owing to his personal enmity with and distrust of company founder Greg Pierson, only to have his own name dragged through the mud years later, seemingly by people wanting to use Bates to get at Pierson.

The ultimate (no pun intended) responsibility for this part of the story has to rest with Engle, though the whole saga is far more complex.  It’s a strange tale, and we’ll pick it up here next time…





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