About two months later (January 2008), news of an even larger cheating scandal over on UltimateBet first appeared. With subsequent reports we learned of the jawdropping magnitude of the UB scandal. Cheaters with access to opponents’ hole cards played on the site from June 2003 to December 2007, with 32 different people -- including 1994 WSOP Main Event champion Russ Hamilton -- linked to over 100 different accounts apparently having been involved.
Those numbers came from a September 2009 “final decision” by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, an outfit “empowered to regulate and control” online gambling sites by issuing them licenses. That “final decision” reports that Tokwiro Enterprises (who now owns UB) had paid $22,054,351.91 back to players who had been cheated on the site, as well as a $1.5 million fine to the KGC. The site got to keep its license, but is now on a one-year probationary period.
Needless to say, I was glad I got off UltimateBet when I did. I probably would’ve never looked back except for the fact that later in 2008 I heard UB spokesperson Annie Duke (on Poker Road Radio) saying that anyone who had played on the site and who wanted to obtain copies of their hand histories could receive them.
As I say, I only played on UB for about six weeks, and in fact only intermittently. According to my records, I had played only a little over 1,100 hands. And at my low limits, I was fairly certain I had not been up against any of the cheaters in my games. Still I was curious to see my HHs, and so made a request. I received a couple of promises back over the following weeks, but eventually UB support stopped answering my emails and the HHs were never sent.
In September 2009 -- a couple of weeks after the KGC’s final report -- we heard the surprising news that Joe Sebok had signed on with UB as a spokesperson and “media and operations consultant.” Like Duke before him, Sebok was saying things about making hand histories available, and so I once again submitted a request. I received a prompt reply that I would be getting my HHs “ASAP,” but weeks went by and nothing came. I sent another email in late October, and it was returned as undeliverable.
I sent a brief note on Twitter stating what had happened, and Sebok -- whom I’ve met a couple of times while covering the WSOP -- ended up responding to me. He said he’d look into it, and try to ensure I got my hand histories. It took nearly a couple more months, but I finally did get an email back from the “Poker Security Manager” with a ZIP file full of hand histories.
The ZIP file contains 614 text files, some of which include just one hand and others that have multiple hands (dunno why). The histories themselves are a bit difficult to parse -- they are not the clean-looking ones you get from PokerStars or Full Tilt Poker -- but I can make out the action at least. They’ve also sent me a large number of hand histories for hands in which I was just sitting out, meaning of the 854 HHs included, there are only about 700 hands of mine in there.
Since I keep my own records for all of my sessions, I can see that a number of hands I played on UltimateBet are missing, including two entire sessions. In all, it looks like I’ve gotten back hand histories for about two-thirds of the hands I actually played on UB.
To be honest, I’m not that interested in taking it any further and trying to get the missing hands sent as well. I know this amounts to fairly minute trivia, all things considered, but for the sake of completeness I wanted to report here how my little hand history saga has concluded. Kind of silly to think it took this long (over a year) just to send me these 700 hands (and that there are still 400 or so for which I didn’t receive HHs). But I do appreciate Sebok getting involved and helping me out here.
Still no plans to revive that account, though.