Russ Hamilton, Greg Pierson, Others Incriminated in UltimateBet Cheating Coverup
More new information has emerged overnight in the years-old UltimateBet cheating affair, in which more than $20 million was stolen by insider executives of the site via cheating software that displayed the hole cards of others at the table. Yesterday, Travis Makar, the “computer guy” for Russ Hamilton, made a major dump of data files connected to the cheating.
The role of Hamilton, a former World Series of Poker main event winner, in the cheating was already known; Hamilton was the only person officially named in the Kahnawake Gaming Commission’s official findings on the cheating. However, subsequent investigations into the cheating have uncovered evidence that more people than just Hamilton were involved, including Greg Pierson, the founder of UltimateBet and the CEO of iovation, a Portland, Oregon online security company with a long online-gaming history.
Many of the files released by Makar yesterday have already been made public previously, including screen grabs of account information regarding prominent UltimateBet officials, pictures of the computer rig Makar hiumself assembled for Hamilton, allowing Hamilton to circumvent iovation’s own anti-fraud software, and listings of many of the multiple accounts and passwords used by Hamilton in the cheating. Hamilton was the largest cheater, despite the roles played by others.
The new data dump, however, includes evidence not yet released publicly: complete audio files, secretly recorded by Hamilton himself, of meetings held with other UB executives, in which both the cheating and plans to cover it up were discussed.
One such meeting, labeled a .wav file labeled as “meeting”, runs to three hours and features Hamilton discussing the cheating with Pierson and UltimateBet / Excapsa lawyers Daniel Friedberg and Sanford “Sandy” Millar. While brief snippets from this meeting had previously been released, yesterday’s release by Makar represents the first time they have been shared publicly.
FlushDraw will publish transcripts from the tapes in the days ahead, though highlights from the tape include Hamilton admitting to a majority of the thefts, Pierson hoping to implement plans to minimize the cheating and pay back as little money as possible (as little as five million dollars, in one specific instance), and Friedberg talking about a plan to blame the cheating on a consultant with access to the system, an imaginary perpetrator who would have been described as having “hacked into” key areas of the system to conduct the cheating.
Numerous excerpts and quotes from the “meeting” tape have already appeared on poker forums, on YouTube, and on social networks such as Twitter, confirming the poker public’s continuing interest in the tale.
As for Makar, he noted in an e-mail to this writer that one of his motivations for the latest release was the revelation that iovation, owned in large part by the principals behind UltimateBet, had succeeded in being a supporting player in the new Nevada online-poker era.
Said Makar, “Yes, it was hearing that iovation was involved [in Nevada],” in response to an inquiry. “Since Black Friday, I don’t feel the need to hold back for fear of being sued or threatened.” Makar had previously released snippets from the “Meeting” tape, though not the entire three-hour conversation.
Iovation, as a subcontractor for CAMS/Verifi, is conducting player identification and verification on behalf of Fertitta Interactive’s Ultimate Poker, the first poker site to go live in Nevada. Whether or not the Nevada Gaming Commission investigates this relationship remains to be seen. (Disclaimer: this writer recently sent information about iovation’s past to NGC officials, upon learning of iovation’s involvement.)