Posts Tagged ‘poker-ethics’

WSOP Ride-alongs, Dayclub Dreams, and Ethical Quandaries at the Table

by , May 28, 2013 | 2:46 pm


Why do I watch Celebrity Apprentice when I know it’s just gonna tilt me!?

It’s the 10th anniversary of Chris Moneymaker, and the big poker events are here — starting with the WPT World Championship, where the final table looks to be a lesson in makeup and collections. But hey, even at only $1.1 million for first, a televised $25k buy-in is still enough to make Bellagio the busiest room in Vegas again. Meanwhile, Dave finds the new lowest stakes action on the Strip in a $.50/$1 NL game at the Quad (which ain’t a bad way to chase the Megabeat) … and does yours truly find his poker passion re-ignited by a missed connection at Red Rock, where a self-professed high-stakes online pro says he’s really impressed by my $1-3 play. (Argh, why didn’t I get his name!?!) Meanwhile, Andrew is keeping it real and chill poolside, with the opening of a new dayclub flavored by the Light Group and Cirque du Soleil. And in our version of “What Would You Do?” the VG crew breaks down an ethical quandry about dealer error and cards speaking when the table won’t … which begs the question: is there a difference between angle shooting another player and pocketing cash from a casino slip?

Oh, you know you want it like we do …

Vegas Grinders 1.15

Spencer Bachus Hit with Ethics Probe

by , Feb 11, 2012 | 6:07 pm

Online pokerers can get their schadenfreude on, as one of our game’s staunchest opponents, Spencer Bachus (R-AL) faces a Congressional ethics probe for insider trading violations.

The independent, non-partisan Office of Congressional Ethics believes Bachus was “betting” the stock market with privileged information, the Washington Post reports.

OCE says they’ve been looking at the current Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee for more than a year to confirm suspicions that, essentially, Bachus, an active trader, was operating like a stock-options superuser! OK, maybe not exactly, because you gotta think Bachus woulda banked more than a few thousand bucks here and there if he were truly the Russ Hamilton of Wall Street politics. But still …

DC Power Broker? A leader in the cause of stifling online poker, seen here with his wife at an event honoring Rafe Furst and Phil Gordon, two Full Tilt Poker pros.

Regardless of whether or not this level of OCE censure might ultimately land Bachus in prison a la Martha Stewart (it’s often a fine line between unethical and illegal) Bachus’ woe is a big win for poker because such allegations alone effectively neutralize his power and influence on Capitol Hill. In the War on Poker, Bachus has been a General for the other side post-UIGEA, and twice before has shown the ability to stop online poker legalization efforts in their tracks by persuading other members to line up behind him on our issue. But not this go-round, it would seem …

Satellite Squeezed: Dirty Chop Dodginess

by , Jul 8, 2009 | 8:20 am

UPDATE: Savvas Zenonos is the bad guy.

Actually, a picture of this ethically challenged poker player is available.

Despite Annie Duke’s assertion that “poker players are the most awesome people in the world!”, we all know the truth: you’ve got some bad apples in the mix. That became very apparent in one of the last $1,060 mega-sats for the main event — where 22 players agreed to a chop, but one of them reneged on the virtual handshake and ran off with more money than he was supposed to keep, effectively ganking $2,400 from the prize pool.

Hey, these are tough times. It’s been a long month+ on the poker frontlines … pressures are high, bankrolls tapped, and casualties have mounted. Character-testing times, to be sure … and save for a few multi-bracelet winners, we’ve all had to re-evaluate not just our play but also our purposes in life at some point during this Series. Thus it’s with little shame that Pokerati has decided to get into the business of morally righteous extortion poker collections.

So here’s the deal, dude: You have until the start of Day 3 — roughly 48 hours — to make good and pay up, or we’re going to out you as a shyster and do our best to make sure that anyone googling your name sees the post revealing you as a poker crook. Cool? It’s not libel when it’s true; and just because you told a few people, allegedly, “I’m going to screw you” prior to doing so, that hardly constitutes “fair” warning.

Click below for the breakdown of how this main event satellite finished up and a good chop went awry — leaving several players, including DonkeyBomber, coming up short when it came time for payouts:

Cereus Launches Today

by , Nov 25, 2008 | 6:23 am

Reminded via a Tiffany Michelle MySpace status update — “Excited about the Cereus launch this week!”:

The player pools, tables, tourneys, etc. from Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet magically merge today.

Trying to keep an open mind … because theoretically it is possible that the combination of two sites caught in the biggest cheating scandals in the nascent history of the online poker industry — having learned painful lessons firsthand — could become a paragon of integrity and security, a model for fully legal American online poker in the future.

But I just can’t help to think back to the Dallas underground … when a saturated market had rooms and games beginning to merge, two shady operators joining forces seldom led to anything good (save for some pretty juicy opening-weekend tourneys).

That’s my bias, I suppose … but with that in the back of my mind, I can’t help but think of how one of these sites seemed rotten at the core (with the exception of Mark Seif, I’ve yet to hear any former employee say anything good about Absolute), and the other … well, sure, they’ve changed management and have plenty of good peeps working for them (Annie Duke, Phil Hellmuth, Mean Gene, et al.) … but the top of the pyramid hasn’t really changed as far as we can tell. And with all due respect to those who are just trying to throw good poker times … the mysterious, closely-guarded nature of Tokwiro+Kahnawake+UB+Chief Joe operating on the protected lands of the Mohawk Nation (with offices in Costa Rica) … that’s the definition of shady! Sorry, it just is.

Still, with $22 million in refunds, the action’s gotta be good.

Barometric Poker — New Poll

by , Aug 8, 2008 | 9:31 am

The readers have spoken … and 42 percent of you are so damn principled that you wouldn’t even consider accepting tournament buy-ins from Ultimate Bet or Absolute, while 22 percent have a more mercenary attitude and/or have forgiven UB/AP. 18 percent of us aren’t sure, 12 percent have become so cynical that what’s the point of trying to lead a good life, and 6 percent are saying random shit that makes them kinda unclassifiable. So there you have it.

There’s a new poll up (on the right) where I’m curious … with our current knowledge of the poker world, business developments, main-event final-table hype in action, the state of poker on TV, political wildcards, and, of course, intangibles … how big do you expect the main event in the 2009 WSOP to be?

RE: Tiffany Michelle Signs with Ultimate Bet

by , Aug 4, 2008 | 3:22 am

I really don’t know where I stand on this — especially without knowing the backing details and long-term intangibles — nor whether or not it’s even my position to have a stance when I think just about everyone is stupid, lame, and corrupt for working for The Man!. So I have put it to the readers … new unscientific poll on the right, asking how you would handle a potential business relationship with and de facto endorsement of an ethically challenged poker enterprise.

Tokwiro Completes its (Self) Investigation at UltimateBet

How Many Companies are Trying to Own This Investigation?

by , Jul 30, 2008 | 7:40 am

Despite the fact that things are finally happening and some progress is being shown with regards to the UltimateBet investigation, it seems that everyone involved wants to suddenly be a part of bringing the scandal to some sort of resolution. After six months of acknowledging and investigating and hoping it goes away, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, Gaming Associates, Frank Catania, Tokwiro Enterprises, and UB all care deeply about getting this done.

Funny how when a third party is brought in to investigate Tokwiro Enterprises, owner of UltimateBet and Absolute Poker, Tokwiro suddenly concludes its own UB investigation days later. Wait, Tokwiro was investigating its own company’s scandal? Sounds a little like the U.S. Government…but I won’t get into that here.

In a statement published on the UB website, Tokwiro comes to the surprising conclusion that it had no part in the cheating that took place on UB prior to the purchase of the company. It notes that there were 19 accounts and 88 usernames associated with the “complex web of player-to-player transfers and withdrawals” that took place to scam real players on the site, and refunds to cheated players are in the process of being determined and issued. All results of the investigation have reportedly been turned over to the KGC.

Here is the statement in full:

MONTREAL, CANADA – (July 25, 2008) – Tokwiro Enterprises ENRG (“Tokwiro”), proprietors of (“UB”), one of the ten largest on-line poker cardrooms, today announced that it has concluded the investigation into allegations of unfair play on UB’s web site.

Tokwiro has compiled complete forensic evidence including the IP addresses, devices, transfer and withdrawal histories, and names associated with the player accounts that benefited from illicitly viewing hole card information. The results of Tokwiro’s internal investigation have been turned over to the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) and its auditors, as that regulatory body continues its independent investigation. These results are in addition to the data which Tokwiro has already shared with the KGC.

Tokwiro has identified a total of 19 accounts and 88 associated usernames that were involved in the cheating, including the accounts that were named in Tokwiro’s publicly posted investigation updates of May 29, 2008 and July 8, 2008. The same perpetrators that were previously identified controlled all of these usernames. There are no new perpetrators involved, only new usernames. Usernames were changed many times over the course of the cheating scam in an apparent scheme to avoid detection. Our complete list of usernames involved in the cheating scheme has now been turned over to the KGC, and the Company does not expect to uncover any additional usernames.

Paul Leggett, Tokwiro’s Chief Operating Officer, said, “Make no mistake: our management team is outraged that this cheating occurred on our site through illicit software placed on the UB servers prior to our purchasing UltimateBet. Tokwiro is aggressively pursuing legal avenues of redress in order to protect and compensate our players and the business. Rest assured that we will release more information to the poker community and to the public at large as we enforce our and our players’ rights.”

“With respect to refunds to the affected players, we are continuing our analysis in order to determine the refund amounts. We will move forward with another round of refunds in the weeks ahead. We thank the poker community for its invaluable contributions to this investigation and assure it that we remain committed to fully investigating any claims of fraud on our site,” Mr. Leggett said.

The investigation revealed that the perpetrators logged into the client software, using an account that had the ability to view hole cards. The ability of a specific account to view hole cards was enabled by illicit software that was placed on the UltimateBet servers prior to October 2006, which was before Tokwiro acquired the business.

The account that was used to view hole cards never actually played in a game. Instead, the perpetrators used hole card information gained from logging in with this account while playing on other accounts, which thereby benefited from the cheating. The money won by the accounts that received hole card information was then moved around and off the site in a complex web of player-to-player transfers and withdrawals. This contributed to the complexity of Tokwiro’s efforts to uncover the truth.

Mr. Leggett concluded: “We cannot over-emphasize the fact that Tokwiro and its entire management team had no knowledge of the illicit software until it was revealed by our investigation; and no one associated with Tokwiro was involved in the cheating scheme at any point.”

Attempted Cheater Caught on Tape

by , Jul 11, 2008 | 4:04 pm

These shots were taken on Day 2, and they show the player sitting to Pat Poels’ left trying to sneak a peak at his hole cards. I told Pat about this, btw, and like Tommy Grand or Joey Greco, I showed him the surveillance footage of the disappointing truth.

“It’s better that you know,” I told him.

But Pat reassured me that it’s OK, his opponent didn’t see anything, because “I’m very good at looking at my cards,” he said with a straight face as if he were being totally serious about a practiced skill. “Just ask Robert, he’s told me before when trying to sweat me he can’t see my cards.”
DSCF2238 DSCF2237 DSCF2236

Pat is currently on break in Day 4 of the main event — 450k in chips with 350 players remaining, one of whom is not the guy at right.

RE: WSOP Miscellany

by , Jul 10, 2008 | 3:51 am

Johnny says: Ask Dan to post about garbage men and chip dumping. He had some interesting ideas on conspiracty theories…

Indeed … today we moved from yellow-chip ($1k) threat level to orange ($5k) — with tighter than usual security notably apparent during the green-chip race-off today. After clearing out the fans then players, the perimeters around the table we’re extra secured: no media allowed in, no masseuses, no waitstaff. A couple people did wander in unknowingly and were quickly and sternly ushered out. It was all taken so seriously — making sure every chip was properly accounted for, one can only presume. For as empty and quiet as the entire Amazon room was — only about a dozen small-stakes cash games going — it was totally abuzz. Floorsuits half-running down the aisles, barking questions, answers, orders … dealers making sure the chip trays were aligned at the perfect angle … all done with a certain military efficiency that suggested they had done the dress rehearsal, and now it was go-time.

(Even in the hallways, I saw for the first time semi-armored chip carts, arriving empty, and by the end of the day returning full.)

The only non-tourney staff allowed in to the tournament area was the sanitation crew. On breaks, they pick up empty cans, bottles, discarded magazines, general poker waste, etc. while wheeling overstuffed black trash bags between the tables. For all the effort that went into protecting the integrity of the 2008 main event race-off, these necessary laborers were the security weakness should anyone want to engage in shenanigans. Pay these guys off with something akin to their annual wages and before you know it those garbage sacks arrive amid the floorstaff frenzy stuffed with a orange chips machine guns or even bigger and stun grenades … poof, a little slight of hand while cleaning, and whammo, a dirty player returning from break finds a few big chips tossed onto his stack or wedged between the felt and rail. At least that’s what I would do.

What, you think it doesn’t happen? Probably not … but it would make a good movie if it did.

You Make the Call

Correcting an overchipped table after the start of play

by , Jun 23, 2008 | 9:53 am

There haven’t been too many difficult floor decisions this year. There was supposedly a confusing situation during the heads-up tourney where two players took the wrong seats after the break and played out a few hands before the mistake was realized … but other than that, the most difficult theoretical situation was handled rather quickly and decisively without much alteration to tournament purity:

The event was one of last week’s big-field $1,500 NLHs … and the problem began with a single table in which every player started with an extra 1k in chips. Conclude what you will about donkament ethics and how the “prisoner’s dilemma” applies to poker … but no one said a word, and cards went in the air with every player at one table given a 33 percent starting-stack advantage.

It was supposedly about 20 minutes into play when a dealer recognized the problem. Floor supervisor Jimmy Sommerfield made the quick decision to rectify things by removing 1,000 chips from each player’s stack. Sounds simple enough, and in this situation it really was — very few chips had moved around, and not many decisions affected by falsified stack sizes. And besides, every one of them at the table was technically a dishonest bastard, so what are they gonna say?

But what if a few more hands had passed, and one of the players had only 900 chips remaining?


Programmer reveals his secrets …

Rise of the (Real) Poker Bots

Artificial opponents emerge from Dallas underground, collude online

by , Jun 10, 2008 | 3:14 pm

A declared working poker bot operation in Dallas, TX, and on PokerStars.

A fascinating (if not challenging) story that you can only presume would be of great interest to anyone in the online poker-room security biz, or anyone who wants to philosophize on the meaning of “good for poker”:

How I Built a Working Online Poker Bot, Part 3: The Million Dollar Pet Project

The programmer in question draws inspiration from Big Blue, the IBM supercomputer that challenged chess champ Gary Kasparov. And thus, at any given time online, here’s what you’re potentially up against:

click to enlarge

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Going for Broke

by , Jun 1, 2008 | 7:12 am

photo: Jackie Endsley
Putting your last dollar toward a bad-beat jackpot may not have been the best career strategy for this guy.


I got a call yesterday at the WSOP from the Butler. I haven’t seen the guy for a couple months — not since me and my jiu-jitsu coach and heavy metal teacher got booted out of our sweet pad (pool table, poker table, dart board, 65-inch HDTV, Strip-view bedroom, fireplace/jacuzzi bathroom, no utilities) on the Eastside. We of course knew all was headed south when the Butler — the guy who set the whole housing arrangement up — walked into our casa unannounced to do a cocaine deal, and shortly thereafter got busted by The Boss (who owned the house, in theory, though not on paper) for stealing rent money.

(I met the Butler last year at the WSOP, as he was trying to sell his private concierge services to poker players and convince me to turn him into a recurring character on Pokerati.)

Anyhow, so I got a call from an unknown 973 number yesterday that I answered in the press box. “Hey, Dan, it’s John. Are you at the Series? How’s it going?”

“Um, uh, pretty good? We’re just getting rolling … so what’s up? Did you make it to Kansas City?”

“Yeah, and it’s not good. I’m calling because I need a stake.”

“Yeow, dude … can’t help you out. Wouldn’t know how to get you money if I could.”

“Western Union.”

“Sorry, man Have you tried Tom? His number is 602-97… .”


(Way) Outside the WSOP (Day 2 Evening Update)

by , May 31, 2008 | 7:30 pm

What I’ve been doing while waiting anxiously for Jeffrey Pollack’s next blog post:

Day 1a of the $1,500 almost sold out, as over 2,000 started play. The play was fast and furiousEarlier this evening there was about 400 spots left for Sunday’s day 1b field, giving the appearance that the overall field will top 4,000 (beating the WSOP prelim record by over 800). The tournament went on its dinner break after level 6 about an hour ago; tournament staff decided play will end with either 225 left or 4 more levels whichever comes first. Contrary to what happened yesterday, someone did receive a 1-orbit penalty for CALLING with the nuts (recall yesterday a player checked down a royal flush and only got a warning).

Day 2 of the $10k PL Holdem event is in the hand-for-hand stage as there’s 37 left, with 36 hitting the pay window. Patrik Antonius, Eli Elezra, Phil Laak, Mike Sexton, Mark Newhouse and Dustin Woolf are among those still in the field at the time of posting.

8:20 Edit: Scratch Newhouse from that list, he finishes in 30th.
More from the rest of the Pokerati staff later tonight…

The Anarchist’s Pokerbook

How to Build a Poker Bot

by , May 10, 2008 | 1:18 am

James in Dallas sends along a link to some talk going on among not-so-pokery programmer types about how to build a poker bot. (I sent a reply to the Craigslist ad — using a different email address even — but for some reason those poker-bot hawkers haven’t yet replied.)

Anyhow, the code monkeys have been chirping about details for nearly two years, and now, perhaps like scientists working on the Manhattan Project, some are showing their work:

Poker bots, underground online poker boiler rooms, and collusion are a reality. That doesn’t mean online poker’s not worth playing, just that it pays to be educated about what’s possible. Furthermore, there should be public discussion regarding what to do about it because one thing’s certain: computers and programming languages aren’t exactly going to be getting less powerful. The rise of the poker bots is a virtual certainty. I’d like to see the major online poker venues open up their famously vague “bot detection” and “anti-collusion” strategies to public scrutiny, as cryptography and security providers learned to do years ago. The best security algorithms and techniques all have the weight of public review behind them and I don’t see how online poker’s any different.

Jonathan Little Booted from Full Tilt

by , Mar 5, 2008 | 4:46 pm

Jonathan Little’s most recent accomplishment was making the “Elite 8” in the NBC Heads-Up Championship, scoring a $75k payday before being slapped by eventual winner and Full Tilt honcho Chris Ferguson.

While account-sharing is hardly the worst offense when it comes to poker ethics, it is in violation of Full Tilt T&C’s for their pros. So Little, who’s FT stock was on the rise, is now out. Stupid kid Yo, bummer dude.

Confirmed by Full Tilt here.

When a player on Full Tilt Poker plays against and chats with a red pro on the site, it is imperative that they be able to trust that it is really the advertised pro playing the account. Given that Mr. Little violated that trust, we have decided to sever his ties to the site, and close his account.

The first well-known pro to get busted for online account-sharing was Phil Hellmuth (outed here, and confronted about it here).

After that, Howard Lederer reportedly sent out a memo to all the Full Tilt pros letting them know that if they ever did something similar, they would be canned immediately. Little wasn’t part of the team when that went down, so maybe he didn’t embrace the seriousness that Full Tilt places on its integrity. Gotta wonder if these sorts of indiscretions will occur more regularly as Full Tilt continues to sign up more and more pros. Also wonder how long Little’s FT page will stay up online.

Brick-and-mortar tournament success here.