Monday, December 22, 2008

Ultimate Coincidence

I know I said I didn’t want to write about UltimateBet for a while. But, really. This is too much.

PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online PokerFirst, though, I want to report I had a fun time yesterday helping out with the live blog for the Main Event of the World Blogger Championship of Online Poker.

Kind of a manic little tourney they had there, with 369 players getting whittled down to one in about six hours or so. The levels were just 10 minutes each, so it didn’t take too long -- about two-and-a-half hours -- to get down to 100 players and the “money” (i.e., the various Step tickets & tourney entries most of the winners received). Just a half-hour later they were down to 50. Then about an hour or so after that they were down to the final table. The FT went relatively quickly, too, except for heads up which ended up stretching over 100 hands.

I didn’t know any of the players who made it to the endgame, but I did know several others who qualified for yesterday’s Main Event. It was fun following my buds, for sure, including (but not limited to) Easycure, gadzooks64, Haley, heffmike, Luckbox, OhCaptain, the Poker Grump, the Poker Shrink, and the Spaceman. There were others whom I know who I’m pretty sure were in there somewhere (F-Train?), though I don’t know their screen names. And a couple more buds I know were playing but I’m not sure want to be identified as having played.

The live blog is fun to do. I think that overall we did a good job with it, and I know the players involved get a kick out of it, too. Kind of an added bonus from PokerStars for playing in the suckers.

Of course, when the tourney is that fast-paced it gets a little crazy trying to report everything accurately and in a timely fashion. The fact that it is an online tourney -- meaning every detail of every hand is usually fairly easy to recover -- kind of cuts both ways. One wants to be complete and precise, but there simply isn’t time to report everything. Thus will the occasional glitch occur, but I guess that isn’t any different from what happens at a live event, too.

Cereus cologneSpeaking of the occasional glitch, speculation continues regarding that weird limit hold’em hand that happened on UltimateBet-slash-Cereus early Saturday morning in which Phil Hellmuth was awarded a pot in which he had the worst hand. If you haven’t heard about that, see my post from Saturday, “Honey, I Was Supposed to Lose That Hand!

And yeah, there is an actual cologne out there called Cereus. (Not affiliated with the funny-smelling online poker network.)

Apparently Cereus cologne (also released earlier this year, coincidentally) is being marketed toward “affluent men aged 35 and older.” I am not making this up.

In that suspicious LHE hand from Saturday morning, Hellmuth made it to the river with ten-deuce (sooted) on a board of J-K-K-2-9 versus a player named DOUBLEBALLER who held K-Q. However, despite the fact that DOUBLEBALLER had the better hand at showdown, the $5,599 pot somehow got shipped to the Poker Brat.

Greylocks points out that what happened very likely was not, technically speaking, a “glitch,” since that term implies the event was an aberration that won’t be repeated. Indeed, in his UB blog post, UltimateBet COO Paul Leggett described what happened as a “software malfunction,” not a “glitch.” He also says this is the “first incident of this kind we have encountered.”

Greylocks suggests what we have here is more likely a “bug” (my word) or problem that may well occur again (if it hasn’t already). Some of the posters over on the still-growing thread on Two Plus Two are also making similar arguments, amid all of the less persuasive conspiracies being put forth.

I’m no techie, but it does seem like there has to have been some sort of connection between the software incorrectly awarding Hellmuth the pot and the weird pop-up message DOUBLEBALLER saw that said he’d been disconnected and missed three blinds, even though (as far as he knew) he had remained connected the entire time. It sounds like the program indeed got its signals crossed in there somewhere, thus causing the mistake.

Of course, the fact that this “first incident of this kind we have encountered” happened during a hand involving Hellmuth makes all of this especially intriguing. One hell of a coincidence, there, wouldn’t you say?

We’d like to assume that when Hellmuth plays on UB the software is exactly the same as when anyone else logs on, but here we have an incident occurring that at the very least makes us wonder whether that is the case. And -- it goes without saying -- such an incident inevitably brings to mind those special (or “super-user”) accounts that facilitated the cheating on Absolute Poker and UltimateBet in the past.

Not necessarily looking to fuel the conspiracy fires here. (It really does appear to be a software mistake that could have occurred no matter who was playing.)

But, really. This is too much!

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Blogger Greylocks said...

I have no way of knowing, of course, but it wouldn't surprise me if UB had some special code in there just for Hellmuth, to track his play. It's not inconceivable that his agreement with them requires him to put in a certain number of hours at the tables per week or month. It would also not surprise me at all to learn that this code, should it exist, had been hastily added and not tested as thoroughly as the "regular" code is, because it's only "for Hellmuth". All programmers hate testing and will find an excuse to do as little as possible (I plead guilty myself).

However, as I said, I have no way of knowing exactly what caused this bug.

12/22/2008 11:37 AM  

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