Absolute(ly) Scandalous

by Lou on October 18, 2007

Allegations of cheating in an Absolute Poker online tournament have circulated on a large number of poker message boards during the past few weeks. But now things seem to be coming to a head with the help of some good detective work by a variety of interested parties.

Here’s the gist of the story. Online player CrazyMarco loses in a tournament to a guy named POTRIPPER who made a bizarre call with ten-high against Marco’s nine-high flush draw. A perplexed Marco emails Absolute Poker’s support for a hand history. He wants to check out POTRIPPER’s play. By that time rumors that POTRIPPER could see hole cards had begun to circulate. Marco received a huge xls file from Absolute’s support that he could not analyze, so he set it aside for a few weeks.

The story continued to develop a life of its own on the internet. Marco shared the Excel file with his roommate Jared “TheWacoKidd” Hamby and some others. Rather than a simple hand history, they realized that what they had was a history of the entire tournament. It was probably sent in error, but it contained every table and every hole card of every player for every hand.

The file in question also contained IP addresses and other user details, including email addresses of players and observers.

One user, User 363, observed POTRIPPER’s tables during the entire tournament. He missed just two hands at the tournament’s start. Potripper played every single pot before the flop for 20 minutes. He did not fold until a player behind him had pocket kings and POTRIPPER presumably assumed that the player with the pocket kings would raise and so he declined to enter that pot before the flop.

The IP address for User 363 was tracked to an email account hosted by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, but it actually belonged to Absolute Poker. Additional detective work showed that the IP address was that of a guy named Scott Tom, who had been high up on the Absolute Poker food chain.

Absolute Poker, in a statement said, “… Mr. Tom has not been involved with Absolute Poker for over a year and to the best of our knowledge, information and belief he has not had access to any of Absolute Poker’s systems, databases or information.”

They also said, “Specifically, Absolute Poker’s internal investigation determined that it is impossible for any person, device, program, script or other means to see hole cards.

“Based on the most recent claims that Absolute Poker has been made aware of and at the request of some of our players and business partners, Absolute Poker has agreed to retain a widely acclaimed independent third party auditor, Gaming Associates, to conduct an independent audit of Absolute Poker’s security systems. Specifically, Absolute Poker has requested that Gaming Associates conduct a thorough and extensive review of Absolute Poker’s practices and security systems to determine whether it is possible for any person, device, program, script or other means to see hole cards thereby gaining an unfair advantage.

“Absolute Poker has agreed to fully cooperate with Gaming Associates and its investigative team and to provide the above with unfettered access to all systems, protocols and databases at Absolute Poker worldwide. Absolute Poker has also agreed to allow Gaming Associate’s final report to be made available to Pocket Fives and Bluff Media for their review.

“With respect to the claims that Scott Tom, a former Member of Team Absolute Poker, is in any way involved in wrong-doing, Absolute Poker has requested a formal investigation into that matter as well.”

Gaming Associates confirmed that the audit will not be paid for by Absolute Poker, and that the audit’s scope will go beyond assertions circulating on the internet. Gaming Associates is a recognized test house and auditor of interactive gaming systems accredited by Government regulatory authorities worldwide, with more than a decade of regulated interactive gaming experience.

I think it’s time to await the audit findings and see what transpires. I’m certainly not willing to reach any conclusion at this point. While it seems a pretty clear case of cheating, I’m not sure who is behind it. Is Absolute Poker itself the guilty party? Is it Scott Tom? Although Absolute claims Scott Tom is no longer an employee, it seems he could have left himself any number of back door entry points into their system when he left. Was anyone else involved, and if so, who are they and what’s their relationship to Absolute Poker?

All I know at this point is that fish rot from the head down, and this fish is really beginning to stink up the joint. Will the last player left at Absolute Poker please turn out the lights.

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