Friday, May 13, 2011

Amazing Grace?

Amazing StoriesThere are so many jawdropping twists and turns in this Absolute Poker/UltimateBet (or “UB”) story, nothing surprises us anymore. Not really.

I’m remembering just a little over a week ago, just after Haley Hintze shared with us that eyebrow-raising email exchange between UB COO Paul Leggett and Olman Rimola, operational head of the Costa Rica IDS office, sending out a koan-like tweet in response:

“Amazed at UB/AP's infinite capacity to amaze. #headasplode”

Was primarily intending to communicate there that even after everything else -- the cheating, the cover-ups, the relentlessly ironic PR machinations (not to mention a plane transporting millions of dollars crashing, the sex scandal, federal raids, and other international intrigues) -- it was a little surprising to discover yet another episode could successfully evoke a reaction, both in myself and in others. Hard not to feel a little sheepish after being amazed again and again and again by these guys.

We’ve now heard AP/UB has finally reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice concerning the return of funds to U.S. players. Both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker had done so previously, although the nature of their agreements differed in a few particulars, including that the PS & FTP ones included the return of domains (which the AP/UB agreement does not).

As far as cashing out goes, I’m in the same situation I imagine most of you are. I’ve successfully cashed out from PokerStars, having received my funds. (I requested a paper check, which came this week and which I was able to deposit without worry.) I’m still waiting like everyone else regarding Full Tilt Poker. Meanwhile, I haven’t done any business with Absolute Poker or UB since late 2007, but continue to follow the increasingly panicky exchanges among those who have.

By the way, for some good explanation and analysis of the various issues in play regarding player cashouts and the three sites, see Grange95’s lengthy breakdown, “Regulation, Segregation, and a 
Cereus Case of Déjà Vu.” Bill Rini’s post titled “Player Account Segregation Explained” provides further insight as well into what he thinks is going on with regard to Full Tilt Poker and AP/UB.

In any event, the agreement between AP/UB and the U.S. Attorney’s Office is similar to the previous ones with Stars and Tilt in that it explicitly requires that the sites “will not allow for, facilitate, or provide the ability for players located in the United States to engage in playing online poker for ‘real money’ or any other thing of value.”

The AP/UB agreement is dated May 4th, yet U.S. players continue to play in real money games on both sites as late as today (Friday, May 13th). There’s a provision regarding monitoring for compliance with the agreement’s terms -- put simply, AP/UB is charged with hiring a “Monitor” (who must be independent and meet with the feds’ approval) who will submit Compliance Reports to the DOJ. The first report is due within 45 days of the “Monitor” being retained, although it is unclear when the deadline is for that to happen (it must be by “a date solely within the discretion of” the U.S. Attorney’s office).

If "a Compliance Report identifies a defect” in AP/UB’s “internal controls” that violates the agreement’s terms, AP/UB "shall have ten (10) calendar days to cure the defect" from the date of the report.

All of which is to say, AP/UB is clearly violating the agreement -- right now -- but I suppose it may take some time for the violation to get officially reported. And, I suppose the DOJ could allow for a correction once the violation is reported, although they are obviously under no obligation to do so.

Is AP/UB counting on enjoying a brief, technicality-based “grace period” or some such here? Would be amazing to think that the DOJ could possibly grant such, given the way the sites’ criminal activities are characterized the indictment and civil complaint.

Did I say amazing? Damn. It happened again.

(Thanks to Kevmath and PokerScout for helping me out with this one.)

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Blogger Grange95 said...

Sex scandal?!? I missed that one, somehow!

Please tell me it involved Russ Hamilton, Prahlad Friedman, Tiffany Michelle, and a "superuser" hole card camera ...

No, wait. Don't!

5/13/2011 10:56 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...


See Haley's Vol. 30.

5/13/2011 11:43 PM  
Blogger Rakewell said...

I know you weren't trying to make a comprehensive list, but if you did, it would also have to include (1) the revelation that the back door to viewing opponents' hole cards was built into every copy of the client software, (2) the discovery that they didn't encrypt the data stream, leaving players open to having their accounts easily hacked, and (3) the alleged software glitch resulting in their biggest-name player being awarded a pot with the worst hand.

Oh, and perhaps most unbelievable of all: thousands upon thousands of people have CONTINUED TO PLAY THERE after all of the above became public! You just can't make this stuff up!

5/14/2011 2:41 AM  

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