An audio tape secretly recorded by disgraced UltimateBet cheater Russ Hamilton was released on Friday by Hamilton’s former computer expert, exposing the roles played by Hamilton, Greg Pierson and others in the insider cheating at the site, which was at one time the third-largest US-facing online poker room.
“Hamilton, Pierson and the attorneys also discussed ways to not issue refunds to some of the players, if reasons could be found to not pay them.”
The long-term cheating at UltimateBet, which was done through special software that allowed Hamilton and others to view the hole cards of opponents at the UB tables, occurred from 2003-07. Hamilton was later named by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission as the sole perpetrator of the cheating, for which UltimateBet later refunded more than $20 million to cheated players.
The release of a three-hour recording, secretly made in 2008 by Hamilton himself, features an extended conversation between Hamilton, UB founder and current iovation CEO Greg Pierson, and two UltimateBet attorneys, Daniel Friedberg and Sanford “Sandy” Millar. The men discuss both the specifics of the cheating and proposed ways for covering it up, refunding some affected players, and otherwise minimizing the impact of the cheating. Hamilton, Pierson and the attorneys also discussed ways to not issue refunds to some of the players, if reasons could be found to not pay them.
The recording’s apparent genesis, from the early 2008 timespan when the scope and nature of the cheating became apparent to independent investigators and players, reflects the realization by UB execs that simply ignoring complaints about the cheating was no longer an option.
“Among those specifically mentioned on the tape as being cheated, whether by name or by their UB screen names, were Prahlad “Mahatma” Friedman, Mike Matusow, Mike “trambopoline” Fosco and Robert Williamson III.”
In addition to Hamilton admitting responsibility for the majority of the cheating, the tape also confirms a handful of players previously reported to be among the victims of the long-term theft, which occurred largely at UB’s high-stakes cash-game tables. Among those specifically mentioned on the tape as being cheated, whether by name or by their UB screen names, were Prahlad “Mahatma” Friedman, Mike Matusow, Mike “trambopoline” Fosco and Robert Williamson III.
At one point, Hamilton admitted even paying taxes on money that he stole from other players and later withdrew from the site.
The recording was released as part of a large data dump by Travis Makar, who for years worked for Hamilton as his personal computer expert. Much of the other data published by Makar has previously been released,including screen grabs of account information for various UB insiders and a collection of photos showing some of the cheating accounts used by Hamilton and a computer rig assembled by Makar to allow Hamilton to evade UltimateBet’s and iovation’s own fraud-prevention software.
Makar, in a private e-mail to this reporter, cited the reemergence of iovation in connection with Nevada’s new online-poker industry as one of his motivations for the latest data release. Iovation has contracted, through CAMS/Verifi, to provide player-identification services to Ultimate Poker. Ultimate Poker (unrelated to UltimateBet), is the online site launched by Fertitta Interactive last week, the first fully legal, Nevada-based online poker site.