Sunday, November 11, 2007

Update on the Updates

Did ya hear the latest?The Absolute Poker website offers nothing in the way of information regarding the recent cheating scandal. Absolutely nothing.

Under “Press Releases,” the most recent items one finds are a couple from last week -- “Absolute Poker Packages $325,000 in Triple Header Mondays” and “Absolute Poker Celebrates Thanksgiving with Free Turkey Bowl Tournament.” In other words, players who don’t venture over to the forums, blogs, or some of the news sites wouldn’t necessarily know the first thing about the scandal.

As a customer of Absolute Poker, I have received exactly two emails from AP since the scandal broke. The first was dated 10/19/07, and began “Absolute Poker has identified an internal security breach that compromised our systems for a limited period of time.” I cashed out my remaining funds shortly thereafter, leaving behind 74 cents as AP (like other sites) insists one round off withdrawals to the dollar.

I received a second email from AP on 11/9/07 inviting me to participate in a 10-cent rebuy tourney next week. (I’m guessing everyone with less than a buck in his or her account gets such an invitation.) Puh-leeze.

No, rather than actually tell its customers directly what is going on, Absolute Poker has decided to communicate such information either as posts on AP spokesperson Mark Seif’s Bluff Magazine blog or as email messages sent to a select group of individuals. I’m not sure what criteria AP is using to decide who gets the emails, but recipients seem to be folks who can be counted on to forward the messages to the rest of the community via posts on 2+2 and Pocket Fives. Eventually these missives have been turning up on CardPlayer, PokerNews, and other news sites.

As far as I can tell, to date there have been four such officially unofficial (or unofficially official) statements.

The first came on October 12th via Mark Seif’s blog. This was Absolute’s first response to the matter, and the message was titled “Official Absolute Poker Response To Player Fraud Allegations.” This was the statement that denied any funny business other than chip dumping by “at least one of the accounts” investigated. (Wouldn’t that have to be at least two? It takes two to tango.) The statement was punctuated by the following bit of stonewallery: “The result of our investigation is that we found no evidence that any of Absolute Poker’s redundant and varying levels of game client security were compromised.”

On October 17th, we got another statement via Seif’s blog that “AP Agrees to Independent Audit” to be conducted by Gaming Associates, a consultant firm that specializes in online gaming. One of GA’s clients is the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, the group that essentially oversees Absolute Poker. According to the AP site, the KGC “is empowered to regulate, control and licence all forms of gaming and gaming-related activities conducted within and from the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake.” A group called Tokwiro Enterprises ENRG owns Absolute Poker and exists within the Mohawk Territory, so that means if the KGC wants to refuse a license to Tokwiro to run AP, they can run ’em out of the territory.

Late in the day on October 18th, Adam Small posted a note over at Pocket Fives that AP would soon be confirming that yes, indeed, cheating did occur. Then on October 19th came the statement from Joe Norton, the owner of Tokwiro “which holds a 100% interest in Absolute Poker.” This was the admission “that the integrity of our poker system was compromised by a high-ranking trusted consultant employed by AP whose position gave him extraordinary access to certain security systems.” That was the day I got my email, too, which mostly stated the same information.

Weeks passed, during which time we had Mark Seif making other “personal” statements on his blog and on RawVegas. He’s the spokesperson for a company for whom he does not speak.

Finally, on November 8th came a new communiqué, this one titled “Absolute Poker Issues Interim Statement on Security Breach.” I saw it first over on 2+2 where it had been posted by Adam Schwartz (of Rounders, the Poker Show). You can read it over on PokerNews as well.

The 11/8/07 interim statement again reiterates the security breach has been “resolved” and AP is “absolutely secure.” The statement says that “all players known to have been adversely impacted by the security breach have been fully reimbursed with interest.” (Incidentally, a quick glance at the forums suggests all the players who played with potripper, graycat, steamroller, doubledrag, payup, supercard55, and romnaldo have not been reimbursed. And some are pretty miffed about it.) AP states that the cheaters “won” around $800,000 and that the company has paid out twice that amount already in compensation. (No mention here about criminal charges.)

AP also says the cheating began on August 14th and lasted for “approximately 40 days” before the breach was discovered and closed. I’ve heard several people mention how the cheating began with the recent software upgrade that took place at Absolute. That upgrade (to “version 8.0”) was actually launched on August 24th, although I suppose the breach might have opened shortly before that date during the testing phase.

AP goes on to claim “no evidence of the current or past existence of a ‘super-user’ account,” although clearly the breach created the essential equivalent of such an account. Not sure why Absolute sees the need to make this sort of assertion when clearly the denial can only be technically true.

As far as I know, that’s all we’ve heard from AP to date. And by “we” I mean people who read blogs, forums, and the like, since Absolute ain’t sayin’ much of anything to anyone directly. Indeed, the one email I received (on 10/19) came after I had sent an inquiry to them about the incident. I wonder if those who didn’t email them about the cheating even received the message?

As we await further word, I recommend checking out the multi-part interview PokerNews is conducting with Nat “N 82 50 24” Arem. You can read the first part here. Arem was at the center of the detective work last month that helped break the scandal, and he recently was flown down to Costa Rica by PokerNews to meet with officials Absolute Poker and Gaming Associates. Let me also point you to Nat’s blog, where he is additionally posting reports from his trip.

Amazing how we have to get information here via such backdoor, indirect means. (Kind of like how the cheating itself took place.)



Blogger Jordan said...

Never got an email from them at all :(

11/15/2007 4:58 PM  

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