Russ Hamilton Speaks! Or Doesn’t — Same Difference!

RawVegas gets what 60 Minutes couldn’t

by , Feb 5, 2009 | 2:43 pm

Must-see … via Wicked Chops … the RawVegas red carpet crew gets some face-to-face time with alleged Ultimate Bet supercheater Russ Hamilton (wearing a visor, interestingly enough) to see what he has to say about being the Bernie Madoff of Poker:

Watch RUSS HAMILTON UltimateBet Super-User Cheating Scandal (Exclusive Video) on

Kudos, btw, to the WCP/RV guys for reminding us that old school gotcha journo-ing does have a purpose.

45 Comments to “Russ Hamilton Speaks! Or Doesn’t — Same Difference!”

  1. California Jen

    It infuriates me that he has no words! Can’t even defend himself… And Layne, hanging out on the course with an alleged criminal (one who has yet to even attempt to clear his own name), ducking from the cameras. Nice. Degeneracy at its finest.

  2. carmen

    Ummmmmm – WHERE is my link boy??????

    Don’t make me come over there!

  3. zachdealer

    oh my word, that looked comfortable

  4. DanM

    yeesh, carmen, did YOU have a russ hamilton interview? i must a missed that. 🙂

    check back in a few minutes, and you will make the blogroll.

  5. DanM

    BTW, listen to Farra’s question about “When 60 Minutes gave you a chance to clear your name, you declined. Would there be guilt associated with that?”

    I can swear you hear someone in the background say “Yes!”

  6. California Jen

    I heard that! I thought it might be one of the guys from the camera crew, though that wouldn’t be a professional thing to say.

  7. DanM

    Someone clearly needs to get Layne Flack drunk and/or hopped up on the drug of his choice to see what he knows.

  8. BJ Nemeth

    I see no purpose in this whatsoever.

    For several months, Russ Hamilton hasn’t given any comment on the UB scandal. So Raw Vegas ambushed him at a country club and took video of him … not giving any comment on the UB scandal.

    How does this qualify as anything even remotely newsworthy?

    If your lawyers tell you to be silent, you stay silent. And any lawyer (or interrogator) will tell you that pure silence is so much more effective than saying, “No comment.” Any engagement at all on your part is -EV.

    The U.S. Bill of Rights Clearly States That Silence ≠ Guilt

    I’m pretty sure Clonie is going to win her lawsuit, but you don’t hear her talking about it do you? It’s not because she’s “guilty, but because her lawyers told her in no uncertain terms that no good can come from it. She could accidentally harm her case, even if she’s 100% right.

  9. Russ Hamilton

    I’m ready to talk. Anybody that wants to finish this interview should call me at: [cell phone number removed]

  10. BJ Nemeth

    That may or may not be Hamilton’s phone number (not impossible to find), but I highly doubt that this is how he would choose to discuss this case, inviting anyone and everyone to just give him a call.

    If that turns out to be Russ Hamilton’s real phone number, please don’t make Pokerati look bad by calling and harassing him.

    Harassment ≠ Journalism

  11. DanM

    BJ, my fellow PokerBeat compadre and Pokerati alum … with all due respect, you are so wrong about everything!

    Silence speaks louder than words here. And from a poker perspective, it’s the first time we get a “read” on his face, as this was the first time he was confronted.

    Clonie’s situation is very different, as she HAS SPOKEN — in the form of publicly perusable very on the record comments in a court of law. Russ has faced NO accountability … nothing but allegations from the Kahnawake … and he has given no response!

    Perhaps Howard Lederer would be a better comparison than Clonie, as he has made no public comment about her lawsuit. But I think we understand why he can’t comment on that … and I am personally fine with that, because we know he will legally have to.

    Oh, also, just seeing him wearing a clubUBT hat is kinda telling of something — what, I’m not so sure — but still … clearly the guy doesn’t have any hatred for the COO of a company that has publicly accused him of stealing $20 million.

    RawVegas deserves props for their work, not dismissal. Because 60 Minutes woulda aired the same video had they gotten it.

  12. DanM

    Hey Presumably Fake Russ,

    Thanks for chiming in. You should like so get a gravatar, dude.

    Have you lost weight, btw? You are looking good.

  13. California Jen

    BJ, your point that silence does not equal guilt is well received. But silence is NOT more effective than a no comment OR a statement of innocence.

    If I was accused of something so serious, I would be screaming my innocence from the rooftops. AND I would instruct my lawyers to express my innocence with public statements. Maybe that’s just me…

    What the RawVegas footage tells us speaks louder than words. Not only does he have NOTHING to say to the poker public, but he has the gigantic balls to wear a ClubUBT hat out in public. That is a slap in the face to all who were cheated in the scandal. Even if he’s completely innocent, framed, and being used as the Kahnawake whipping boy, he should never wear UB gear…anywhere…ever.

    Anything with Russ Hamilton these days is newsworthy. Why? Because he has successfully hidden from the public during the entire scandal, never having to respond to any charges. NOT FAIR.

  14. BJ Nemeth

    “RawVegas deserves props for their work, not dismissal. Because 60 Minutes woulda aired the same video had they gotten it.”

    60 Minutes probably would have used similar footage if they had it, because they were effectively telling the story for the first time — the first time he gives no comment, it is newsworthy.

    While it’s okay (perhaps even noble) for Raw Vegas to try to surprise Hamilton and get him to give a comment, their attempt is not newsworthy. If they try again in a week, and he has a different hat and a different expression on his face, is that newsworthy? Of course not.

    Look at this from Hamilton’s perspective — whether he is 100% guilty or 100% innocent, he has little to gain from speaking to Raw Vegas or 60 Minutes. His lawyers would tell him this much. Keep your comments to the courtroom, and let us speak for you, regardless of your guilt or innocence.

    The rare exception to this is Rod Blagojevich, who has become a media slut as he attempts to forcibly alter his legacy and possibly corrupt the jury pool for his criminal trial. But if you watch all of his appearances, and listen to his senate testimony, you’ll notice that he never addresses the most damning accusations or the taped conversations.

    So if silence implies guilt, does Blagojevich’s constant chatter imply innocence? I certainly hope not.

  15. BJ Nemeth

    “BJ, your point that silence does not equal guilt is well received. But silence is NOT more effective than a no comment OR a statement of innocence.

    If I was accused of something so serious, I would be screaming my innocence from the rooftops. AND I would instruct my lawyers to express my innocence with public statements. Maybe that’s just me…”

    Then you face follow-up questions. Do you answer those too?

    No, you have your lawyers draw up a clear and simple statement claiming your innocence (assuming you plan to plead not guilty), without going into any details. All details are saved for the trial.

    If Raw Vegas or Wicked Chops had run the footage under the headline, “Russ Hamilton Won’t Speak, But Loves His UB Visor,” I think that would have been funny and appropriate. But claiming that it’s newsworthy or that it qualifies as journalism doesn’t make it so.

  16. zachdealer

    buahahahaha someone here is defending Russ Hamilton. What he pay you off or something?

  17. DanM

    ***So if silence implies guilt, does Blagojevich’s constant chatter imply innocence? I certainly hope not.***

    That’s a funny comparison, BJ, and a good point. But you know, if I didn’t know better, I’d probably be into what he’s spewing. I just so happened to have a good friend from my Libertarian days that ran against Blago for US Congress in 2000 (and got 13 percent — big numbers for a Lib) … and so for 8 years he has been telling me Blago is as crooked as they come.

    So I’ll buy that. But anyhow — though I can’t seem to find the vids, my pal used to ambush Blago’s house with a video camera, asking him about his various crookednesses.

    Too bad nobody listened?

  18. shronk

    Looks like he lost weight.

  19. Steve L

    I can’t believe someone is defending Russ. Not sure what his angle is… but it’s there. Maybe I’m out of the loop, but what gets me about this whole thing is because of the questionable legality of online poker, the location of the companies (and servers) involved it is likely Russ will never have to go under oath about this… never have to pay for his actions… never reimburse the millions he stole… never spend a day in jail…. ever… and that’s not right. If he can be convicted in the court of public opinion, I’m ok with that. He’s needs to suffer some for what he did. And if sticking a camera and microphone in his face for two minutes makes him a little uncomfortable, then good for Raw Vegas. I’d like to see him removed from the Wall of Champions and have his WSOP title revoked.

    Clonie is a poor analogy… she is the PLAINTIFF!
    Lederer is a poor analogy… he will have his day in court. (if it isn’t settled by mutual agreement).

  20. David Alexander

    And if he had this handled with an attorney…

    Why wouldnt he just say….

    Talk to my attorney…


    My attorney’s are handling this….

    And why do the guys who are walking out with him…
    All the sudden duck and hang back….

    It might not be great journalism… but, it wasnt
    for lack of trying…

    Maybe a one of them spy ear things and a round of golf
    is needed…

    Or should they have tortured him to get him talk…

    This is the age of video and internet, and info moving a the
    speed of light… things won’t be hidden as easily
    as in times before….

  21. DanM

    I agree, David. Normally I hate the gotcha journalism, especially by local TV reporters and the O’Reilly factor.

    But this … catching up with a guy who has dodged everything. Well the video really does tell more than people realize, or at least raises more questions.

    * Why was he wearing a UBT hat? Does he have no animosity for being thrown under the bus by UB? Or is it his way of telling his friends/colleagues/golfers that he’s not a totally bad man, and that he’s still in good with them?

    * Is Layne Flack carrying his bags?

    * And what is Layne doing hanging out with Russ. I’m not saying that in and of itself is bad. Because honestly, I would golf with him, too, if I had the chance. But I also would’ve golfed with OJ Simpson.

    I’m all for innocent-til-proven-guilty … but let’s call a spade a spade here. Even though it’s likely UB isn’t giving us the whole story, it is likely that RH was one of the major bad guys.

    There are people out there I know of who’s lives have been in a downward spiral since “allegedly” getting cheated in heads-up matches against Russ. (And they haven’t gotten their refunds yet, because the money transfers between them and RH have them flagged for investigation.)

    We’re talking people going broke, getting divorces, taking up drugs …

    We should remember this was anything but a victimless crime here. And even if we do give Russ presumed innocence, there are still lots of people who want to know at least a little bit of what he knows, and a good person would be concerned with those folks and address them in some way — if even just to apologize for not being able to say more.

    Heck, we ended up taking Russ’s cell phone number off this comment thread. But I still have kinda mixed feelings about that.

    Maybe people SHOULD hassle him, and at least force him to get a new number … at which point at least the cell phone company would know who really really cares about staying in touch with the guy.

  22. BJ Nemeth

    First, let me say that I am *not* defending Russ Hamilton. Clearly, the people who are saying that don’t know me.

    What I am defending is (1) the Constitution of the United States, and (2) quality journalism.

    I love Wicked Chops Poker, and I think that even though their site definitely brings the funny, more often than not they wrap it around good journalism. Unfortunately, this video they posted does neither for me.

    This video apparently has value, if only because it has gotten so many people talking about the scandal again. And that’s good. But there is nothing newsbreaking about “Remember that guy who wouldn’t comment for a few months? Well, he’s still not commenting. And he’s playing golf.” For those of you who think this is newsworthy, did you forget all about this case? Out of sight, out of mind?

    And unfortunately for the court of public opinion, we live in the United States of America. No matter how little he talks, or how guilty he looks, that’s not enough. Yes, it sucks that he might be able to commit a heinous crime and walk free. But that’s because our politicians think that our morals are better protected by making a safe and common recreational activity illegal rather than bringing it out in the open and regulating it. If that were the case, then Hamilton would have his day in court. (Much to his annoyance, I’m sure.)

  23. BJ Nemeth

    Dan said, “Heck, we ended up taking Russ’s cell phone number off this comment thread. But I still have kinda mixed feelings about that.”

    Anyone who feels a strong enough need to call him can take a little effort and track down his phone number. Does anyone here feel personally feel wronged? Did he personally take money from any of you? Then spend an hour of time and find his phone number yourself. Or, camp out at the country club and challenge him face to face, without a camera. But he still may not talk to you, because after this incident he probably fears a hidden tape recorder. (I’m not sure of the secret recording laws in Nevada; is it a one-party or a two-party state?)

    If anyone wants to harass him on journalistic grounds, then write a full, in-depth article on the subject. You may not be able to get it published in Card Player or Bluff magazine (both of which probably still accept ads from Absolute and UB), but I’m sure Dan would happily post it for you here at Pokerati with full credit. Compile all the evidence, links to all statements on the scandal, excerpts from Barry Greenstein & Joe Sebok’s proxy interview with him on PokerRoad Radio, and then, in that context, you can ask him — again — if he has any comment on the situation. You probably won’t get a comment, but give him the chance, and then report “No comment” in your article. (Because he still won’t talk; he’s not stupid enough to ignore his lawyers’ advice.)

    But Dan, keeping Russ Hamilton’s phone number posted here would be an implied endorsement of harassment. Pokerati is and always has been better than that.

  24. Russ Hamilton

    **BEEP** …Hey. ummm. This is Russ. I don’t know if you remember me. We met a few years back. You probably dont. Thats cool. I mean, you weren’t really into poker too much back then. Anyways. So… Yah… I just wanted to uh give you a shout and see how things were…. I left my number here yesterday. Not sure if you got it or not. You’re probably really busy, though. But I just wanted to make sure. No big deal…. Ok, so,…. give me a shout. We should get together. You know,… If you have time. …and want to. No big deal …either way. Alright… so, um. Talk to you soon. Ok. Bye.

  25. Earl Burton

    I have to agree with B.J. here. What would have been newsworthy was if Russ Hamilton had actually SAID anything regarding the situation (and I use that term instead of delving into legalese). As it has been apparent that his (or maybe UB’s?) attorneys have told him to be quiet on the issue, doubt that we are going to hear anything unless the case does actually end up in court.

    I will say that the RawVegas people went the additional step that 60 Minutes didn’t. Instead of an alleged phone call to Hamilton’s home, they actually staked him out and put his feet to the fire. While it was fruitless, they actually out-worked what was at one time considered the bastion of investigative journalism.

    The comparisons of the Hamilton case to the Gowen/FTP issue is apples and oranges. Where they are the same, however, is in that neither one will ever see a court. Trust me, there will be some negotiated settlement between Clonie and the PTB at FTP and we will never hear another word about it; at the same time, there isn’t a court in the world that has the jurisdictional custody to prosecute anyone involved with either the Hamilton/UB case or what happened at AP.

  26. Poker Shrink

    I, too, am with BJ. And for the record, expressing an opinion that the interview added nothing to the discussion is not an endorsement of Russ Hamilton. Just like being against a war is not being against the troops. There is a clear difference between blog-spew and journalism. Accusing BJ or anyone else here of supporting Russ Hamilton is just nonsense.

    What I wonder about is why everyone is so kind to Russ and the other crooks; why the “Alleged Cheater”? He did it! We all know he did it, the only problem is that he did it where no court has jurisdiction. So, yes he is going to get away with it. The bigggest angle shot in poker history.

  27. BJ Nemeth

    It feels good to have Earl and the Poker Shrink on my side. 🙂

    Earl said, “The comparisons of the Hamilton case to the Gowen/FTP issue is apples and oranges.”

    You’re absolutely correct, of course. I only meant to compare the standard advice from lawyers in pending legal situations — SAY NOTHING! Your guilt or innocence is irrelevant to that advice, and the only time people talk about pending lawsuits is when there are extraordinary non-legal factors — like politics.

    Poker Shrink said, “And for the record, expressing an opinion that the interview added nothing to the discussion is not an endorsement of Russ Hamilton”

    Poker Shrink expressed my thoughts better than I did. I should have simply said, “That video added *nothing* to the discussion.”

  28. DanM

    We can argue all day of what’s newsworthy … imh-journalistic-o, the RawVegas guys get the difference in red-carpet coverage and black-carpet coverage. I for one am happy that some folks I kinda sorta know gave me a GLIMPSE into the life of a bad guy.

    I mean heck, can you imagine how this would all go down if RH wore fur? He should feel lucky that people aren’t throwing eggs at him in the grocery store.

    I’m sure they will be soon, actually, or at least something equivalent.

    Am I the only one here who believes in karma, and that in the end, this guy (and the company whose hats he wears) will get exactly what he deserves?

  29. DanM

    ***Poker Shrink expressed my thoughts better than I did. I should have simply said, “That video added *nothing* to the discussion.”***

    Though I will point to the above 20something comments to dispute the definition of the word “nothing” … I am OK with seeing this as the equivalent of junk food.

    Have you ever eaten potato chips? I’m pretty sure you can’t live off of them, but temporarily, for a blip, they can be oh-so-satisfying.

  30. BJ Nemeth

    The video sparked discussion, but didn’t add anything to it. I can spark discussion on a wide variety of topics without adding anything to the debate. That’s not newsworthy.

    Dan: “Am I the only one here who believes in karma, and that in the end, this guy (and the company whose hats he wears) will get exactly what he deserves?”

    You expect Karma to take care of this? Anyone who believes in Karma hasn’t learned from history. People very rarely get what they deserve, for good or for bad.

    My feeling on karma were summed up best by Han Solo: “Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, and I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen *anything* to make me believe that there’s one all-powerful Force controlling everything. ‘Cause no mystical energy field controls *my* destiny. It’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.”

  31. DanM

    Really BJ, we’re gonna go Star Wars on this — and Episode 4 no less?

    Fair enough … but yes, I think there’s a reason Ken Lay died the way he did, there’s a reason OJ Simpson is in prison for the next decade, and there’s a reason Jeffrey Dahmer got taken out. Looking forward to seeing Dick Cheney’s fate.

    I do hear what you’re saying as it pertains to poker, though, as all of us have seen too often the “bad people” get rewarded while the “good people” are still struggling and grinding.

    FWIW, I’m not saying we should leave matters to The Force any more than we should leave them to the Kahnawake. But somebody, somewhere is going to see RH’s hole cards, and that will prove to be very bad for him.

    With that said, what would be an appropriate punishment for someone who “allegedly” unjustly enriched themselves by Hamilton’s means? Prison would be a good place to start, but that’s still not fun enough.

  32. Poker Shrink

    Russ Hamilton is a thief but there are thousands of bigger thieves on Wall Street who have just about as much chance as Russ of ever seeing the inside of a court room. The lesson is, if you are going to steal, steal inside of the law or outside of any jurisdiction.

    Dan, I am OK leaving it to karma, but no one commenting on this site will ever see, feel or sense the ramifications of that karmic comeuppance.

  33. kerze

    Guys – the reason he is wearing a hat is because is his company. It’s the former UB skin that he owns in conjunction with the Ultimate Blackjack Tour to set up online Elimination Blackjack Tournaments (domain registration is to Sanford Miller/Centaurus Games LLC – Sanford Miller is one of Russ’s partners in the Ultimate Blackjack Tour). AFAIK, Russ hasn’t gotten ridden of his ownership in and UB hasn’t as far as I know disafffiliated

  34. Tom Schneider

    Screw innnocent until proven guilty. That has become such bullshit. Proven guilty does not mean anything. Just because someone has not been proven guilty means jack shit to me anymore. Our court system is too screwed up to use that as a basis to judge someone. If you don’t think Hamilton is guilty you are a dumbass, or you were on the O.J. jury.

    Second, I’m too lazy read back through the comments to see who said they would play golf with O.J. or Hamilton. Dan, if that was you, have you learned nothing from me? I can’t tell you how disappointed i was to see Layne playing golf with the piece of shit. That to me is what the video was about. How the hell does the asshole find 3 other guys go play golf with? (don’t stop me about the preposition b.s., I’m on a roll).

    The one thing this video did was to get me so pissed again about this whole thing. I have friends who borrowed money on their houses to pay off this asshole for loans he made to them while playing him heads up. I don’t have one ounce of innnocent until proven guilty left in me. Had he done to me what he’s done to others, I would for the first time in my life, (sans traffic tickets) feel good about breaking the law and living out the rest of my life in prison knowing I had rid the world of one of the most dispicable people in the poker world. i know that poker players around the world would visit me in jail. At least the game would be good. We’ll play for cigarettes.

    Innocent until proven guilty thooow! OK, I don’t know how to write a spitting noise like you high brow writers.

  35. Kevin Mathers

    How about pshaw! or pffffft!

  36. Poker Shrink

    Tom hit on one of the key elements of the whole UB scam. Loans were made to players, who then paid off in cash. It was a money laundering scheme using the hole card scam to get cash instead of online dollars. Now there is something the Feds could sink their rotten teeth into.

  37. Tom Schneider

    sorry Kevin, neither one of those work for me. Anyone else?

  38. Short-Stacked Shamus

    Makes sense to me to dismiss usual legal criteria here b/c the case largely exists outside of legal jurisdiction. That is to say, those who were stiffed by RH don’t have legal recourse avail. to them. (Of course, it sounds like the IRS apparently might — but that’s another issue.) So, yeah, “innocenct until proven guilty” does ring hollow here.

    Re: the appropriate onomatopeoia, high brow types generally go with “ptooey.”

  39. DanM


    So by that argument, yes, RH should clearly be treated as an enemy combatant and sent to Guantanamo.

  40. Vaughn Sandman


    One thing I do not get about this whole scenario, is why people are not going after Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke and any other UB-sponsored famous players.

    I think we can all agree that no penalty is too severe for Russ, and we can all hope and pray that someday he’ll get his. Ditto for any of his actual accomplices.

    But when this whole thing broke, UB basically denied it until presented with clear proof. And it seems to me that Russ’s access to super-user accounts had to be related to his onetime ownership stake in either UB or the software company that did its progamming. It was not some random dude who pulled this off from the outside…it was someone who was connected to UB.

    Are my facts wrong? Do I not have this right? If so please correct me…

    As far as I am conerned, well-known poker pros who failed to end their sponsorship and business partnerships with UB as soon as this scandal became public have condoned cheating and are at least tacit accomplices, albeit after the fact, of the crooks who cheated their fellow poker players.

    As a community, why have we tolerated this?

    I do not play on UB anymore, and I never will. It galls me to no end that other players continue to patronize their business and pay their rake. But Phil and Annie and others still walk around shilling for these scumbags and it seems like we’ve given them a pass.

    Maybe I’ve missed public statements these pros have made condemning the cheating and offering assistance to players who have been scammed and the like, but I hardly think that is sufficient. Poker is a community where honor plays a significant role, and as far as I am concerned anything short of immediately and publicly ending all affiliation with UB means they have squandered theirs.

    I think it would be fair and effective if every time they showed up to play a tournament wearing their UB gear, the other players at the table called the floor over to protest having to be seated with known cheaters. I have every intention of doing this myself should I be seated with them in the future.

    Were it not for the collective efforts of the poker community, this scam would never have been uncovered. I would think it would be up to us to bring enough pressure to bear on enough visible people that those responsible are properly punished.

    Let me be clear that I am not suggesting that Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke or other UB pros participated in or profited from Russ’s scam. I would imagine they are infuriated by it. But their continuing to profit from the organization that permitted it to happen and tried to cover it up entitles them to as much shame as we can heap upon them.

    That’s just my opinion, and as I stated above–if my facts or interpretation of them are incorrect, I hope someone will duly correct me and I apologize for my ignorance…

  41. Tom Schneider

    ptooey Shamus? Yes, I have seen it used before, but it sounds a little gay in the situation where I am spitting mad. I knew a Greek guy that would say “Ptoo you muther”. Yes, I think I like that.

  42. DanM

    In the Arab world, there’s no greater insult than hurling your shoe at someone. Tom, you should stake out RH on the golf course and do something similar. Just be sure you’re not wearing soft-spikes that day.

  43. Kajagugu

    I am late to the party so I will go to the Al Capawned post and give you my insights there. Please stay tuned.

  44. DanM

    We are obviously all on pins and needles, KJGG!

  45. Short-Stacked Shamus

    DanM Says:
    February 10th, 2009 at 1:03 pm


    So by that argument, yes, RH should clearly be treated as an enemy combatant and sent to Guantanamo.

    Sorry if I was misunderstood. When I say it makes sense to dismiss the legal criteria here, I don’t mean to imply some sort of punishment should be carried out outside of the law. Rather, I’m just referring to Tom’s point about withholding judgment because the law sez “innocent until proven guilty.” It doesn’t appear Hamilton will ever be proven guilty of anything here (other than perhaps the tax stuff); thus, it doesn’t seem to make sense to wait for the law to confirm/deny folks’ judgments.