Friday, January 23, 2009

The UltimateBet Follies (Winter 2009 edition)

Ultimate DunceA quick search of all my January posts (aside from the 2008 recap ones that came at the start of the year) reveals I have yet to mention the online poker site UltimateBet a single time.

I did make a passing reference earlier this week to the Cereus network -- which includes both Absolute Poker and UltimateBet -- in a post about the Kentucky Court of Appeals having reversed that domain-seizure case. Otherwise, I’ve managed to resist yapping about any of the nonsense we continue to hear about UB.

Decided it time to break that streak today, though, and give a little update. Julius Goat often likes to offer us what he calls “Your Weekly Dose of Crazy.” (Incidentally, the one from this week is especially cra-a-a-a-azy.) Consider this your seasonal dose of UlimateBaloney.

1. The Ultimate Poker Show

Back in November, UltimateBet decided to launch a new weekly poker podcast called “The Ultimate Poker Show.” The show is hosted by a couple of the site’s pros, Annie Duke and Mark Kroon, an adult man who probably wishes he hadn’t chosen that name “P0ker H0” way back when he first started playing online.

I’ve listened to a few of the episodes, including the one on which fellow UB pro Phil Hellmuth came on to tell about that hand of $200/$400 limit hold’em from late December he had lost to “DOUBLEBALLER” but was nevertheless shipped the $5,599 pot. You remember, that was the show where Hellmuth casually (and crazily) claimed “this has happened 100 times,” a statement that didn’t quite jibe with what Paul Leggett (UB’s Chief Operating Officer) had just said over on the UB blog where he claimed UB “never had an issue like this reported previously.”

That conversation (from the 12/28/08 episode of the podcast) also didn’t really fit well with the previous weeks’ crowing about all the great new software updates going on at the Cereus network. As one might expect, while “The Ultimate Poker Show” does include some poker strategy discussion here and there, it mostly serves as a weekly ad for UB, showcasing its pros and promoting various promotions and tourneys happening on the site. In other words, safely skip.

2. New Possibilities for the Multi-Accounter?

More recently, Serge “Adanthar” Ravitch, the New York lawyer who was among that group of cybersleuths who uncovered the cheating scandal at Absolute Poker, made a post in mid-January reporting yet another jaw-dropping software (and security) issue at the Cereus network.

You might recall Ravitch appeared on camera briefly during that 60 Minutes report back in late November. In his reaction to the segment, WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla said Ravitch “came across as one of the most positive faces of the entire segment,” and especially appreciated the level-headed way Ravitch spoke about the scandals “without the hyperbole and apprehension that everything and everyone out there might be corrupt.”

Like me, Ravitch was purposely avoiding writing about UltimateBet on his blog, saying in his 1/15/09 post that he had “no intention of continuing to spend X amount of time every day documenting more Cereus scandal(s) fallout and/or security holes.” But then he pointed us to a Two Plus Two thread that suggested it was possible for a player to log into his Absolute Poker account and his UltimateBet accounts at the same time and subsequently enter the same tournament twice.

This may or may not be the case, actually, although like I say I wouldn’t expect Ravitch to fan the flames without reasonable suspicion. I do recall that prior to the merger of the sites it was apparently possible for multiple users to log into UltimateBet from different locations using the same username/password. (Wrote about that glitch about a year ago.)

3. Bad Mouth UB, Lose Yr Cabbage

Another thread on Two Plus Two caught my eye a week or so ago, one in which a poster was sharing the terms of service for the recent UltimateBet Online Championship series. Apparently, if one were to enter any of the UBOC tourneys and cash, one was subsequently restricted from saying anything critical of the site or risk losing one’s winnings.

The rule (part of Rule #18) specifically states that “UltimateBet® may cancel or terminate the UBOC and/or may cancel or terminate the awarding of any Prize(s), and cease distribution of any outstanding Prize if... A Prize winner commits embezzlement or theft against or from UltimateBet®, commits any public act of disrepute, publicly disparages UltimateBet®, or commits any other act that diminishes or that may diminish the value of UltimateBet® or any one or more of its brands.”

So be nice, y’all, if you happen to have won anything on UltimateBet. (Clearly I now have yet another reason never to play on the site!)

4. More False Promises

Finally, just a quick update on the status of my request to UB to send me all of my hand histories from the very brief period when I played on the site. You might recall back in December I posted about having heard Annie Duke claim over on the PokerRoad podcast that as part of UB’s efforts to make “everyone whole,” the site would “send anybody who requests it their lifetime hand histories.”

I was actually surprised to hear that, since a couple of months before I had made such a request to UB and was told then that “due to the amount of information, we are not able to send you all your hand histories.”

Incidentally, regarding the voluminous “amount of information” to which UB refers, I went back and looked up just how many hands we’re talking about here. A little over 1,200. That’s right. How many man-hours you think it takes to recover that heaping pile of hands?

I wrote UB again on 12/16/08, referring to Duke’s claim, and received a response telling me that yes, in fact, they could send me all of my hand histories, “however, because it is a lot of information we will need to look for that information in our server, this process could take up to 2 weeks.” I wrote back to thank the support person and to say that would be fine.

Two weeks passed, and I heard nothing from UB. So I wrote again (on 1/3/09), asking what was up. I got the automated response telling me my email had been “forwarded your email to the appropriate department,” but heard nothing further.

Send another message into the void on 1/19/09, and haven’t heard back. Clearly the claim made by Annie Duke that UB will send anyone their hand histories is a bunch of applesauce. The site disappoints again and again and again.

Wait a minute, what’s this? Looks like just this morning I received an email from Absolute Poker? Let’s see here...?

“$10 waiting in your AP account.”

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Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for the well displayed info as always...amazing how awful these companies are managed.

I wish we had the power to shut them down.

1/23/2009 10:57 AM  

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