Absolute Cheating Report Released

by , Jan 11, 2008 | 8:12 pm

The Kahnawa:ke Gaming Commission has concluded its investigation into malfeasance at Absolute Poker.

Click here to read the whole thing.

The main conclusions:

  1. Beginning on August 14 and continuing for six weeks, various accounts were used to view hole cards, and the person(s) responsible have been removed from any role at AP.
  2. After the activities took place, person(s) associated with AP operations deleted records and gaming logs to hamper the investigation.
  3. No evidence shows that AP sanctioned or initiated the activities.
  4. Principles of AP failed to contact the Kahnawa:ke Gaming Commission within 24 hours of becoming aware.
  5. AP reimbursed all players with interest, but anyone who still wishes to make a claim can do so within 60 days of this report.
  6. AP has taken appropriate actions to address the “vulnerability in its systems” to prevent this from happening again.

Sanctions against Absolute:

  1. AP operations will be subject to random audits of logs and records over the next two years, the costs of which will be paid by AP. The site must also implement a continuous compliance program, and any person(s) responsible for any part of the cheating scandal must be removed from any role at AP, which the Commission feels has been done.
  2. AP must pay a fine to the Commission of $500,000 due within 60 days.
  3. AP must give a security deposit to the Commission to be held for two years which may be used to offset the cost of any future breaches of rules, laws, and regulations.
  4. AP must pay the Commission for all costs incurred through the investigation, including the audit.

Finally, there is a resolution to this matter.

Yesterday, Chuck Barnett, member of the Board of Supervisors of Mohawk Internet Technologies, told me that the delay was due to the size of the audit report and the time it took to properly analyze it. Speaking of the members of the Commission, he said, “I will say that this has been at the forefront of their attention for the past month. I know that they’ve taken time away from their families during the holiday season to commit themselves to this task… This is a very serious situation which is being afforded the same sense of seriousness that it deserves.”

The only questions that remain have to do with Absolute Poker and Mark Seif. Will they make any statements with regard to the decision?

20 Comments to “Absolute Cheating Report Released”

  1. tomfmason

    They were only fined 500k? That seems like a drop in the bucket. I think that it should be at least somewhere in the puke level. By that I mean the fine should be so high that the upper management wants to puke after hearing it.

    I played $1/$2 nl at Absolute for about 6 months about a year ago. I noticed some very odd things during that time. I never really lost much money but I did see and lose enough to report it to security. I told them to refund me the money that I had lost to that point and to ban the cheating players. They sent me a canned response saying that AP couldn’t find any proof of cheating. So I withdrew my money and haven’t played there in over a year. I honestly think that the cheating had been going on for a lot longer then was stated in the investigation.

    Another network that I have seen odd things on is Dynamic Gaming Systems – Big Juicy Odds. For two weeks leading up to their fold they had the same 50 people in both ring games and tournaments. The same 6 people constantly made seemingly fundamental mistakes but yet these same 6 users won/cashed high in all of the daily guarantee tournaments. When I say fundamental mistakes; I mean going all in preflop with 78 off out of position and calling large preflop raises with junk hands and flopping gold. I know that this happens sometimes and is to be expected. However, it is statistically impossible for the same 6 people to make the same mistakes and when on a regular basis.

    I think that this couldn’t have happened at a worse time for poker in the United States. Furthermore, I would love to see poker become legal and regulated in the same manor that live casinos are regulated in this country. I know that I would feel more secure if one of the large casino chains opened their own online poker room.

    Both AP and Dynamic Gaming Systems give anti poker lobbiests two very solid examples of what is wrong with online poker. However, this could also be used the other way around. The PPL should use these two as examples as to why we need US based and regulated online poker rooms.

    For now I am going to stick with the big three. Poker Stars, Full Tilt and Bodog. However, after the Absolute incident how are we to trust online poker rooms? Until that point AP was considered to be among the top 5 poker rooms. One of the top 5 were caught with high level cheating and then trying to cover it up!… Scares me.

    Good Luck,

  2. DanM

    Jen, my question is about the spelling of Kahnawa:ke. What’s with the colon?

  3. California Jen

    This is the way Kahnawa:ke spells it on their official documents. There is also a little apostrophe thing above the third “a” but I couldn’t figure out how to do that on my keyboard.

  4. DanM

    ***Finally, there is a resolution to this matter.***

    Is there really? Or was this just a shakedown from the Kahnawake? I’m not sure I fully understand their involvement. Was this the “internal” audit, or was this something different.

    And why would the Kahnawake, if they have any control over Absolute, punish them by allowing them to still operate, but just paying a hire rake? Oh, wait, I think I just answered my own question.

    (Note: Advance apologies to Chuck Barnett if I’m getting this all wrong. My bad, this is just how it seems.)

  5. Chuck Barnett

    Hi Dan,

    I’ll do my best to explain the framework, and you’ll forgive me if I overlook anything, as these are elements of my daily life and its possible I may not understand the question fully. (If you check the Rounders Radio podcast from ealier in the week, I provide a similiar explanation.)

    The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is the regulatory body charged with ensuring regulatory compliance among all online operators licensed within the jurisdiction, and enforcement of “The Rules and Regulations Concerning Interactive Gaming” which govern the activities of such licensed operators.

    In short, the KGC is (among other things) responsible for enforcement of the following:

    A.) Ensuring that potential operators are of suitable background and character to be granted a permit (known as a CPA-Client Provider Authorization) following an exhaustive due diligence and probity examination.

    B.) Ensuring that games are fair and that players have a reasonable chance at winning.

    C.) Ensuring that all winners are paid.

    As a result of the player complaints, the KGC secured the services of Gaming Associates to undertake the full technical audit of AP’s systems and all available data associated with the player complaints.

    Gaming Associates secured and digested the data into a report which was submitted into the KGC’s investigation.

    Following the investigation and subsequent deliberation, yesterday’s ruling was made public.

    Im not entirely sure I understand the last part of the question, so please bear with me, but Im reading it (the “rake” comment) as inferring that the KGC receives some form of revenue from this, or any other licensed operator.

    All of which would be incorrect, as the KGC as a regulatory body and administrative extension of the local (Kahnawake) goverment charges only the annual license fee to each of the online operators, intended to cover the costs associated with regulation within the jurisdiction.

    The agency which I represent, Mohawk Internet Technologies, is the utility company which commercially engages with the licensed operators for the purpose of providing network infrastructure, bandwidth, colocation services, electrical capacity, etc…

    Our company, (MIT) is also licensed by the KGC, holding a “master license” of sorts (Im simplifying) to which all other operator licenses (the CPAs) are appended.

    Should the KGC render a decision to suspend an operator’s permit, they may instruct MIT to immediately suspend all connectivity to the licensed entity.

    If (completely hypothetical) we would ever fail to comply with the KGC’s order, they may as a result suspend our own Interactive Gaming License (IGL), and by law enforce that measure by suspending all network activity at our facility.

    As approximately 60% of the world’s i-gaming traffic flows through the MIT facility, failure to comply is not an option for us.

    I realize this was a bit long winded, but I hope that this is of some help.

    BTW-The “colon” is what is referred to as a “glottal stop”. The glottal stop is the sound made when the vocal cords are pressed together to stop the flow of air and then released. Here is an example: the break separating the syllables of the interjection, “uh-oh”.

    Yes, I hear people mispronounce “Kahnawa:ke” every single day, making it sound like, “KAN-uh-wacky”, or something equally as wrong. The “Ks” sound like the English “G”, as in “guts” or “govern”.

    Examples of Mohawk words found in American English:

    Ohio-pronounced O’hiio, meaning the good route/road.

    Kentucky-pronouned Ken’take, often referred to as the dark-bloody place.

    Canada-pronounced Khanata, meaning the village/place where the people live.

    Ontario-pronounced originally as Kania’tariio, meaning the place of the nice water (Lake Ontario).

    As a note, the people of Kahnawa:ke are called Mohawks, as recently Im seeing (and hearing) a lot of people refer to us as “The Kahnawake”, which is incorrect, and sort of akin to calling California residents, “The Californias”.

    Again, feel free to reach me if you need anything else, as facts beat speculation any day.

    Chuck Barnett
    Board of Supervisors,
    Mohawk Internet Technologies
    Kahnawa:ke Mohawk Territory

  6. California Jen

    Thanks, Chuck, for taking on that explanation.

    And for the love of all word meanings, who looked at Kentucky and thought “dark bloody place?” Everything else is named for its nice water or other positive attribute. Poor Kentucky.

  7. tomfmason


    Thanks for the clarification on those issues. However, I think the point that Dan M was trying to make is that the fine seems really small considering the size and scope of there operation. I also think that he was also pointing out that in the end it will be the players that pay this fine and I would not be at all surprised to see AP raise it’s rake rate to compensate for the fine.

    So in the end what purpose did this investigation and action taken from it really accomplish? In my opinion it did nothing other then give us a proven example of cheating. Please remember that the offenders where either extremely high ranking staff members or former high ranking staff members. So in essence this was a company that cheated it’s clients out of untold millions and the punishment does not seem to fit the crime.

    This was not a network or bandwidth related issue. It was a software issue. Who are the people that regulate the software? If these people had done there jobs correctly in the first place this “super user” account would have had tighter security measures in place. So in my opinion this shows that the people regulating the software were either in on the scam or have some serious holes in their software management and inspection process.

    From what I get from Chuck’s response is that there is in fact no one that regulates and inspects the software for security holes such as this. If this is true then the Kahnawa:ke Gaming Commission is partly to blame for this issue. My rational behind this is that the software is 95% of the enterprise. How could they not have been aware of potential security holes such as this?

    The offical release from the Kahnawa:ke Gaming Commission states that:

    “AP has taken appropriate actions to address the “vulnerability in its systems” to prevent this from happening again.”

    Once again, who is responsible for testing the security of the software regulated by the Kahnawa:ke Gaming Commission? Are we just supposed to trust that they have fixed this security hole and that no more exist? I think that the people that have this job or contract should be terminated and a third party security firm should be contracted.

    This goes back to a point that I made in the previous comment. I have nothing against the Kahnawa:ke Gaming Commission but I would honestly like to see some online poker rooms operated and regulated in the US by the same regulation procedures in place for brick and mortar casinos.

  8. The Pokerkeep

    Hi Chuck,

    I want to thank you for taking the time to answer all these questions.

    I must say that I’m very pleased to see the results of the audit and investigation have finally been released to the public, this has been a long time coming.

    The one thing that seems to be missing is the names of the actual AP executives who were responsible for the cheating. It’s common knowledge that AJ Green and Scot Tom have been named as conspirators. It’s also commonly believed that AJ Green was the “consultant” who was fired. I’m assuming that by publishing the user names of the culprits instead of their real names is some sort of attempt to appease the masses. But, in an effort to come completely clean here don’t you think we (affiliates and players) have a right to know the whole story?

    Was Scott Tom involved? Has he been blocked from further access to AP’s offices, servers, systems? Is he still involved with AP in any capacity.

  9. Lisa

    Jen – Think Hatfields & McCoys. :O)

  10. Mario S

    Hi Chuck,

    The truth of the matter is KGC and MIT stepped in to licence and regulate e-gaming law when there is no real international online gaming regulation or auditing standard. Your organizations are a joke and will be obselete whenever real governments decide to step in and do the right thing.

  11. The Pokerkeep

    I’m curious…
    Who actually owns AP at this point?
    Who is in charge there now?
    At one point during the scandal Chief Norton claimed ownership.
    We all know Scott Tom and his friends and family were the true owners then.
    We know it was Scott Tom who issued the original press releases from AP when the scandal first broke.
    We know Scott Tom was spamming 2+2 as recently as last summer.

    And, on a related note…
    Were the executives who were fired/barred from AP also barred from Ultimate Bet?

  12. California Jen

    Mario, the Mohawk “organization” has been around longer than our “real” government, and all our U.S. government has done thus far is try to tell us that we can’t play poker for money in the privacy of our own homes. Personally, I’m not counting on our government to do “the right thing.”

  13. California Jen

    The PokerKeep:

    Joe Norton served as the Grand Chief of the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory for about 25 years, and after his retirement, he became the principal owner of Tokwiro Enterprises, which is the company that owns Absolute Poker. So, in effect, he does own 100% of AP.

    From my understanding, Scott Tom never had any ownership in AP, but he was a high-ranking executive at the company. However, I have no confirmation of this. Where did you read that he was part of the ownership? I was told that Joe Norton is the sole owner of Tokwiro.

  14. DanM

    It should be noted that this sort of confusion wouldn’t happen with the likes of PartyPoker. Being a legit, publicly traded corporation … all this sort of information is out in the open. Should be that way for PokerStars, Full Tilt, et al. … but when you think about it, even these sites operate a little bit in the shadows. (Lots of rumors out there about how Full Tilt works, for example, but we don’t really know.)

  15. The Pokerkeep

    Hi Jen,

    I’ll try to clarify things here although this story is complex and the history and answers to your questions are spread over hundreds of posts in dozens of forums and blogs.

    Scott Tom and his frat pals started AP with family money. AJ Green was one of his pals. As for Norton owning AP – take a good luck at the corporate structure. There are several companies involved. Tokwiro does not own the part of Absolute where the money comes from. Norton claimed ownership in one press release back on October 21, 2007 but that was just part of the smoke screen they were throwing up.

    Here’s a quote from Nat Arem’s interview with Poker News
    “PN: Another person frequently mentioned in connection with the AP scandal is Scott Tom. Who is Scott Tom?

    NA: Scott Tom is the main founder of Absolute Poker. He came up with the idea and got the initial funding and brought on friends to help him. He’s been an integral member of the AP organization from the start and has continued to be as recently as this past summer. I’m not personally sure of his current involvement.”

    This is the link to those interviews: http://www.pokernews.com/news/2007/11/absolute-poker-QandA-Nat-Arem-PartTwo.htm

    Check the threads on twoplustwo for confirmation. Or Nat Arem’s blog has a good history. Here are a few links to how this all unfolded.

    I hope these links are still active since it has been several months since this story broke.

  16. JackMehoffer

    What a joke, bunch of crooks. No wonder the U.S. banned these online sites

  17. Enrique

    I played 15/30NL with one of the cheating accounts (DoubleDrag) and was refunded money…now it appears that some accounts on Ultimate Bet are under investigation. What now Kahnawakes?

  18. Tim B.

    im pretty sure the colon (in Kahnawa:ke) is a glotteral stop…

  19. Michael Josem

    What action is being taken against the individuals who were responsible for perpetrating the fraud?

    Were the cheaters:
    a) fined; or
    b) gaoled; or
    c) something else?

    I understand that AP’s poor systems allowed the cheats to occur in the first place – but if a key finding of the KGC is that “No evidence shows that AP sanctioned or initiated the activities,” then what action was taken against the people that *did* attempt to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars?

  20. Justin Wilson

    For all the outcry, nothing really happened. No charges were ever brought as far as I know. 3 months down the line, an inconclusive investigation by Kahanwake seemed to be enough to silence the masses. Absolute Poker went onto a feel good campaign and seem to have profited from this sorry mess. Its like the court giving up half way through a murder trial because everything had been said already. It seems a case of the defense, “Go home and stop whining!!!” Case close, NEXT!!!