Absolute Poker reports security breach

Ship Teh Chips

In the wake of allegations of cheating that have been rumbling through the online poker community for more than a week, Absolute Poker sent out a letter to players today confirming that there was a security breach on its site.

In its own words:

Absolute Poker has identified an internal security breach that compromised our systems for a limited period of time. The cause of the breach has been determined and completely resolved.

In addition, all necessary resources, both internal and external, have been engaged to ensure this does not happen again. Our investigation is not fully concluded, and we wish to thank the extended poker community for any and all assistance related to the matter.

Game integrity has always and continues to be of the utmost importance at Absolute Poker. The Management of Absolute Poker is appalled by these findings, and is committed to our players and to the integrity of our site and the online poker industry.

All players affected by the security breach will be identified during the audit process that has been initiated and all funds, including interest, will be returned.

Absolute Poker would like to apologize for the recent events and is committed to diligently working with outside security firms, auditing firms, the extended poker community and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission to ensure the situation is entirely resolved.

A comprehensive statement will be forthcoming shortly providing more details of the situation.

The question whether the site was secure or whether a player had been cheating came up after a $1,000 buy-in tournament in September. CrazyMarco came in second to Potripper, who made a miraculous call with ten-high, no pair, no draw to win the tournament.

CrazyMarco later asked for his hand history from the tournament and ended up with a 10MB document that turned out to be the entire hand history of the tournament for every player in it, including e-mail addresses and IPs.

He gave the document to two people in the 2+2 forums to figure out what it was and to analyze the information. What they were able to determine is that Potripper had not only played every hand of the tournament, but played every hand correctly as well - something that would be virtually impossible without clandestine knowledge.

They also made connections between the player's IP and Absolute Poker's servers in Costa Rica, determining that, based on those linkages, the player must be an executive from the poker site.

MSN.com has since had its own experts take a look at the tournament information as recreated in a YouTube video.

Roy Cooke, who was head of security at the pioneering poker site Planetpoker.com for six years, told the news site, "(He) can see the cards, and you can put my name on that."

The second expert was Michael Shackleford, a former actuary with the Social Security Administration who now has his own gambling information site. He said it was highly unlikely that Potripper's streak was simply attributable to good luck.

"It would be easier to buy a 6/49 lottery ticket in six different states, and hit the jackpot all six times," he said in the MSN.com article.

Initially Absolute Poker had denied that anything was wrong or that its system could have been breached.

Since then, however, the poker site's licensing body, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, has asked for an independent audit of the poker site. After that news broke on Thursday, the poker site began to change its tune.

Along with the statement from Absolute Poker to its customers, an anonymous employee came forward to talk to MSN.com about the situation. He told the news site that the hacker was an employee trying to prove a point about the site and took it too far.

"This is literally a geek trying to prove to senior management that they were wrong, and he took it too far," the spokesperson told MSN.com.

He said the poker site acknowledges that there was a significant internal security breach whereby a resource who was infinitely knowledgeable about the system was able to get into the accounts in question, play on those accounts and see hole cards.

The security issue has been resolved and the company has identified serious internal communication issues that Absolute Poker is also working to resolve.

PokerListings.com will continue to update you on the situation as more information is released and when Absolute Poker releases its comprehensive statement.

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