Friday, September 25, 2009

On Those UltimateBet Hand Mysteries, er... Histories

UltimateBet Under the Magnifying GlassListened to The Poker Beat’s latest episode last night, and -- as I expected -- the hosts didn’t seem to pull many punches with regard to the Joe Sebok signing at UltimateBet. Pretty clear all of those who spoke -- host Scott Huff, Pokerati Dan, Gary Wise, and John Caldwell -- are less than thrilled at Sebok’s decision to sign on with UB, expressing varying degrees of skepticism and trepidation in their conversation.

The good news there, of course, is that the content of PokerRoad’s most interesting show doesn’t appear to have been unduly affected by PR’s CEO having become a sponsored pro and “media and operations consultant” for UltimateBet. As I say, I didn’t really think it would -- though I suppose that like with other matters we’ll have to wait and see how long things remain as they are at present over at PR. (Will be most interesting, of course, to hear the next episode of PokerRoad Radio, the show Sebok himself co-hosts.)

On yesterday’s episode, Pokerati Dan shared his funny story regarding his recent request to obtain his hand histories. As you might have heard, Sebok published a blog post informing everyone how to get their hand histories from UB, and Dan followed the Cub’s instructions. Apparently after his initial request, Dan was sent a form letter instructing him how to look at previous hands while playing at UB -- i.e., a useless non-response. He did get another, less impersonal reply afterwards (not discussed on the show), but it didn’t jibe with Dan’s memory of his UB (mis)adventures. (Dan’s interactions with UB support are being chronicled in the comments to this Pokerati post, if you are interested.)

Some readers of this blog might recall my own struggles with trying to get hand histories from UB, a site which I joined in the fall of 2007, then quickly decided to leave on the heels of the Absolute Poker cheating scandal. Knowing that UB and AP were owned by the same folks, I didn’t see any reason to risk remaining on UltimateBet and so pulled my money off of the site a couple of months before the scandal broke over there.

Anyhow, it was in the fall of 2008 that I put in a request to UltimateBet to get copies of all of my hand histories -- not so much because I was worried about having been cheated (I play at low stakes, and thus apparently below the range of the cheaters), but simply as part of my efforts at the time to get hand histories from all of the sites on which I have played. Incidentally, my requests to PokerStars and Full Tilt were entirely successful, with both sites able to supply me with four years’ worth of hand histories within days.

The response to my October request was that “unfortunately, due to the amount of information, we are not able to send you all your hand histories.” Of course, we’re only talking a couple of months’ worth of play on the site, so while I was skeptical, I didn’t pursue the matter.

Then on 12/14/08 Annie Duke appeared on Sebok’s PokerRoad Radio podcast and said "We'll send anybody who requests it their lifetime hand histories." So again I sent in a request, and this time was told it would take a couple of weeks, but I could get my hand histories. After three weeks of nothing, I wrote back, but received no response. Tried one more time later in January, but once more my email went unanswered.

So I gave up, but decided this morning to try again. My request concludes with the following paragraph:

“I played on UltimateBet for only a couple of months -- Aug.-Sept. 2007 -- and according to my records only played a small number of hands, relatively speaking. I also played low limit stakes, and so while it is likely I was not affected by the cheating that occurred on the site, I would like to see my hand histories nonetheless. UB’s response to my request will determine whether or not I wish to return to the site, and also whether or not I will be recommending to others that they consider playing on the site.”

I’ll note in the comments to this post what sort of response I get from my request (if any). Perhaps some -- including those handling the hand history requests at UB -- might for various reasons view my case as relatively unimportant. Indeed, I wouldn’t disagree that there are those who played on the site for whom there is much greater urgency here than is the case for myself.

Tin foil hat ShamusNevertheless, I was a customer at UB. And I’d like to know with utter certainty I wasn’t cheated while playing there. Indeed, I recall how during my last session on UB -- not long after the Absolute Poker merde had hit the fan -- a weird hand or two led to thoughts of the possibility that someone could see my hole cards. Which led to the realization that I couldn’t keep playing on the site, whether or not my paranoia was justified. (As it happened, the cheating was still going on at UB at the time -- although as I say probably not at my low limit table.)

So, we’ll see. Can’t believe, really, we’re all chirping about UltimateBet again like this.

Of course, some are worried about other highly important stuff. No, I am not referring to Phil Hellmuth threatening to mastermind an alternative poker site/series to compete with the World Series of Poker/Harrah’s (check it out). I’m referring to the pressing need for casinos to ready themselves for the possibility of pot being legalized in California and Nevada. No shinola! What is this, poker news or freshman comp? Got nothing but love for my bud-loving buds, but legalization is still a huge longshot. And casinos letting players get high in the poker rooms? Pure fantasyland. (Of course, the author does suggest at one point he thinks most of his readers might well be high, so maybe I’m somehow missing the big picture here, man.)

To be honest, I think it is only slightly more possible that all 31 names of the cheaters alluded to in the KGC “final decision” on the UltimateBet cheating scandal will be named. And maybe a little more likely all these friggin’ hand histories will finally be shared. Even so, I think we can all agree these are still matters worth discussing.

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Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Update: Later on Friday, Sept. 25, I received an email back from UB telling me my email was "forwarded to our upper management for further review of your request."

I next heard from UB on Oct. 1. A "Poker Security Manager" emailed me. "As you correctly state on your email your account was not affected by the cheating incident on," he wrote.

"I will work on getting your data to you ASAP," he continued. "Please remember that we are dealing with and increased amount of requests from affected players so your patience is appreciated."

10/04/2009 12:13 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

After three weeks of nothing, I decided to write back to the "Poker Security Manager" who had emailed me on Oct. 1. My email is returned to me as undeliverable, the note saying the email address does not exist. (Shamus exhales.)

10/24/2009 12:17 PM  

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