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    Poker World Report Card: Week of May 5, 2013

    Posted by Mark Gahagan May 14, 2013

    Online poker once again dominates the headlines on this week’s Report Card. Lock Poker is having trouble keeping players happy, and the ghost of UltimateBet rears its head once more.

    Lock Poker Continues to (Not) Impress

    Last week I remarked how Lock Poker was getting an earful from the poker community (at last) for its really long cashout times. This past week did nothing to console the players, and in fact, if anything, they were alienated further.

    Since last Monday, Lock has had to revise its transfer policy not once but twice. 2+2 posters have been routinely uncovering ridiculous procedures and expenditures, and pros have started to leave the site as a result of what my fellow podcast host Chris Grove titled their “super fiasco.”

    Is it fair to say that Lock Poker is sinking? No, not really. But what is fair to say is that they have made a complete hash of their PR up to this point. Coming up with a cashout policy that basically makes backing someone on your site completely useless is not a good first move to addressing your cashout issues. In fact, if the problem is that affiliates are abusing their priority status, maybe make it so affiliates don’t have priority? If you have it set up that only your affiliates are getting paid, that smells like a pyramid scheme to me, so you might want to address that potential PR s—storm first. As I noted last week though, it’s safe to say that Lock reminds us why U.S.-regulated online poker is such a holy grail.

    Final Grades

    • Lock Poker – F: They got a chance to repeat the course and once again failed. Even if they are making attempts to right their own wrongs… Until the transfers start taking days/weeks instead of months/never, I won’t really hold my breath.
    • Lock CEO Jennifer Larson – C: She gave an interview to Gambling911, with some on Twitter giving it about as much credit as if the National Enquirer did it, but it was something. Was it enough to keep the criticism at bay? No, not really. In fact the core problem (the slow cashouts) are still a work in progress, but at least she talked, which is more than can be said for other poker “scandals” involving complete sites (more on that later though).
    • People Buying Lock Money for Cents on the Dollar – A: I know this sounds like outrageous optimism, but I get the feeling Lock will smooth out their cashout policies at least to the point that those getting bankrolls for 30 cents on the dollar will see a profit. Secondary market panics were bought to happen in the wake of Full Tilt Poker, but they are (at least based on present info) not the worst buy you could make.

    Ultimate Bet Data Dump Results in Damning 3-Hour Recording

    So after discussing a site with a current crisis, it stands to reason that we resurrect the dead and look back at the UltimateBet superuser scandal. In fact, you could say that UB was central to the entire news week, with the ghost of their scandals haunting the perception of Lock and a later story involving actors with former ties to the defunct site. Travis Makar, who had made a brief appearance before Black Friday re: the UB scandal, did a large data dump to UB materials, including a three hour recording where Russ Hamilton, Greg Pierson, and a couple of UB lawyers were discussing the scandal and ways to cover it up.

    A couple of things spring to mind immediately. First off, no kidding a meeting like this happened. It was clear that when one of your top guys is accused of cheating (and subsequently found guilty by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, of all organizations), that there was going to be a high level meeting to talk about mitigating the crisis. The cherry on top of the sundae though is that, according to Makar, Russ himself recorded the meeting, and this ends up being the most damning and direct evidence to date of his involvement. Second, if you listen to the recording or look at some summaries, you’ll find out just how blind Phil Hellmuth was made of this situation. People that were willing to give Hellmuth a pass, it seems, were right to do so, because he was one of the people they tried to keep the truth away from (to say nothing of the public at large). This is a serious burn to Hellmuth, not because he himself did anything wrong, but it puts an exclamation point on the bad decision that was being a sponsor for that site… Well, other than crashing race cars in a Vegas parking lot anyway. Lastly, the release of this info was no accident. As we will see in our final story, the UB actors still linger around today, and this can make people pretty antsy.

    Final Grades

    • Russ Hamilton – Z: I am inventing this grade, it’s 20 grades below an F and even that might be too generous. There was an incident I remember where Hamilton snapped at some players in a live poker room about how they didn’t know everything that happened with him and UltimateBet. If he ever says that again (assuming he has the huevos to grace another poker room with his presence), all you need to do is bring up the recording to shut him up. A disgrace to the game through and through.
    • Greg Pierson – F-: He gets off better than Hamilton if only because he isn’t Russ, but still it’s bad. The fact he has had a connection with Nevada online poker was one of the more “HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE THIS IS A PROBLEM???” stories of the week.
    • Phil Hellmuth – B: If there was a doubt in your mind that Phil was or wasn’t involved, I’m pretty sure you can put this to rest now. With the tape and the subsequent statement released via Brian Balsbaugh (and relayed to the public through Kevmath), Hellmuth is acquitted. The only reason he doesn’t get an A in my book is because I wish he had released a statement like this earlier, but better now than never.
    • Travis Makar – A: Speaking of better now than never, it’s about time this guy came through with something “earth shattering” like this. Man, if only we had this info in 2009, can you imagine what would have happened then…

    Ultimate Poker (No Relation to UB) Gets Rid of iovation After UB Connection Found

    …for one thing Greg Pierson would have been nowhere near Nevada poker in the slightest. iovation is an online fraud prevention company that was being used as a subcontractor to CAMS, LLC, which is a licensed service provider within Nevada. One small problem… Pierson used to be the CEO of UB, and is in charge of this company. Hmm, would you want to do business with a person who oversaw the largest trust and security breach in online poker history dealing with your fraud protection? Didn’t think so. Ultimate Poker pounced on this as soon as the public became aware, and in fairness to Ultimate Poker, this was a subcontract, so if you want to get on anyone’s case it should be CAMS.

    Does this hurt the reputation of Ultimate Poker though? In my opinion, it shouldn’t. One key thing to remember here is that the vast majority of the Nevada casino industry is very VERY new to this whole online thing, and it’s very likely they wouldn’t have made the connection in the first place. Even if they had, it wasn’t their contract and even if it was, I can’t see Ultimate wanting to screw themselves over PR-wise by hiring a former UB CEO just because they can. If everything has to be above board in Nevada, I get the sense this was an accident, and should be treated as such.

    Final Grades

    • Travis Makar – P (Pass): I’d argue he didn’t really take this story (course… whatever) for credit, though it’s fair to say he released what he did because of the revelations re: iovation. He helped us out in more than one way on this one.
    • Ultimate Poker – A: They are handling things really well as the dust of “FIRST!” settles. They’ve gotten Verizon onboard for their geolocation, they evicted iovation in record time, and their support continues to be top notch. While I wouldn’t be ready to give them top marks as a whole (still waiting for their updated client), they have done a good job keeping things going.
    • iovation – F: Yeah, no. Did you not realize the irony of being a fraud prevention company when your CEO helped with one of the biggest frauds in online poker history (Full Tilt notwithstanding)? Buh bye.

    QuadJacks – May 14, 2013

    About Mark Gahagan

    Mark is a co-host and producer of the Cardrunners news podcast Rabbit Hunt as well as a poker columnist. You can find his podcasts over at Cardrunners, and you can follow him on twitter @Mark_Gahagan.

    View all post by Mark Gahagan

    There is 1 Comment

    1. BS Britannica
      - May 15, 2013
        -   Reply

      Ummm… National Enquirer? This is the equivalent of the National Enquirer. Ever fact checked or do you just read tweets and other “articles” and write your stories? Did you ever listen to Travis Makar’s tapes?

    Write Your Comment

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