Absolute Poker debacle results in audit

It's pretty common to see comments such as "Online poker is rigged" in chat windows of your favorite online poker sites or on your favorite online forum. Of course it always ends up being some tinfoil-hat wearing fish waving the rigged flag, so it's usually easy to brush it off.

If these people used their common sense they'd recognize that online poker isn't rigged: thousands of players in the United States and abroad make a good living off playing the game online, and its integrity has never been brought seriously into question.

However, claims have surfaced about Absolute Poker that are hard to ignore. After a $1,000 multi-table tournament Sept. 12, rumors of a player cheating at the game by using a sort of "god mode" or "super user account" started to spread, and the story unfolded in several online forums.

It began with a player named Potripper winning the tournament when he made a miraculous call with ten-high, no pair, no draw while heads-up to win the tournament.

CrazyMarco, the player who finished second, was obviously instantly skeptical. In the days following the tournament he e-mailed Absolute Poker to ask them for the hand history from the tournament. What he received was a massive 10MB Excel spreadsheet.

When CrazyMarco opened the spreadsheet he had no idea what he was looking at. He was overwhelmed by all of the data and miscellaneous information that it contained. Not sure what to make of it, he promptly closed it and forgot about the file.

As the days went by he got to talking about the incident with some of his fellow poker players and mentioned this file. They decided to distribute it to a few people in the close knit 2+2 community. These individuals included N 80 50 24, ampokerdb.com maintainer and part owner of Bluff Media, and 2+2 forum poster SnagglePuss.

They independently examined the document with a fine-tooth comb. During the course of their communications, they realized that they were looking at the smoking gun. This file contained the entire hand history for the tournament, showing all tables and everyone's hole cards rather than just CrazyMarco's information.

It also showed the IP addresses and e-mail addresses of players both playing and observing the tables. So far, there's no explanation for how the document was released. Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics, said in his NY Times blog that he believes the file was leaked from the inside by a whistle-blower who wanted expose the cheater.

The hand history would turn out to be the most telling. Even if this was the only information that was extracted from the Excel file, it would still be obvious to everyone that something strange went on.

The data was plugged into a program that can take hand histories and play them back like a movie that is uploaded to YouTube. It was obvious to anybody familiar with the game of poker that something wasn't right.

First of all, Potripper played every single hand in the tournament. This playing style would cause any normal player to bleed money through the nose. However, Potripper never, ever made a wrong decision. He always made a bet when he was ahead, he always folded when he was behind, he always bluffed at exactly the right time. He never made a mistake.

Furthermore, the only time Potripper folded before the flop was when someone at the table held a high pocket pair.

The video can be watched at YouTube.

The giant Excel spreadsheet that was leaked also contained a wealth of other information. Whenever somebody joined a table it recorded their IP address, e-mail and user ID.

N 80 50 24 pored over all of the data, especially at Table 13 where Potripper was seated. What he found was that a player with a very low user ID, User 363, opened the table and observed it for the entirety of the tournament. The significance of this User 363 is that such an incredibly low user ID must have been created by Absolute Poker, probably as a test account when Absolute was in its beta testing stages. This "User 363" had a Costa Rican IP (Absolute is based in Costa Rica) and shared the exact same IP with another user, "Scott@rivieraltd.com."

Through further investigation, the Internet sleuths at 2+2 traced the Rivieraltd.com domain name back to the same servers that host Absolute Poker. They then set their sights on unmasking Scott@rivieraltd.com.

It didn't take them much longer to crack the case. The same IP had been used for an account on the 2+2 forums. Using this connection to 2+2, the IP address in question was identified as belonging to Scott Tom. Scott Tom was an executive and partial owner of Absolute Poker.

It was also discovered that the Potripper account belonged to AJ Green, alleged best friend of Scott Tom and former director of operations at Absolute Poker. Was this all just a big coincidence or evidence of a much more sinister scandal?

Despite the mounting evidence, Absolute Poker issued a statement denying any and all allegations made against the company. They claimed that Scott Tom has not been employed at Absolute Poker for more than a year. They also stated that it is impossible for any user to see everyone's hole cards.

Absolute Poker remained steadfast in their position that no "super user" account exists. Beyond that, Absolute hasn't answered any questions about the incident.

Now, Absolute Poker is set to undergo an "independent third-party audit" by the firm Gaming Associates, after the Kahnawake Gaming Commission asked them to investigate the situation. Absolute Poker is licensed in Canada by the KGC.

This debacle could not come at a worse time. The atmosphere around online poker and other online gambling is still in question in the United States where the government has already been working to ban the industry.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) passed in the U.S. in fall 2006 has already created extreme restrictions around financing online poker, and many in the American government are firm believers in "the horrors" of online gaming.

A fraud on this scale may only serve to solidify the opinions of naysayers.

Unfortunately, the scandal will shift focus away from the real debate. This is not a widespread problem. It is likely an isolated instance in which some former executives found a way to bamboozle their former customers.

It should be obvious to everyone that stepping up and dealing with a problem is going to be better in the long run for Absolute Poker than just stonewalling and flat-out denying any wrongdoing.

Just look at Poker Stars and how they handled The V0id and his multi-account playing during the WCOOP. Granted, that isn't as serious as a player being able to see hole cards, but nevertheless Poker Stars looked into the matter and discovered that there were activities going on that were against the rules. They dealt with the problem swiftly by disqualifying The V0id, seizing his $1 million in prize money and redistributing it to the proper winners.

Poker players need to be to feel at ease playing poker online. They need to be able to believe that if something like this happens, as rare as it is, the support on their site will come to their aid and do the right thing. Absolute Poker needs to step up and take responsibility: it needs to admit that some shady activities went on, make reparations for them and enact measures that will prevent incidents like this in the future.

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About Daniel Skolovy

Daniel Skolovy started out in the gaming industry as a lowly dealer, spending countless graveyard shifts dealing blackjack, pai gow, carribean stud, baccarat, etc. He quickly became bored dealing games that were so obviously weighted in the house's favor.

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sae as 2014-01-29 03:14:07

the fbi and all top 20 countries need to help people.. the poker site and all gambling site is gonna send a bunch of people suicidal and pist off making them a walking weapon to the world. i won some hand in poker heads up that make no sense .

Brian 2013-12-12 12:12:18

Paddy power poker is the biggest scam I have ever seen.i have had some good wins, but as soon as I make a little cash,if I play on the very same thing happens,in the last 2hours I have been beaten with aq v a10,flop come jqk, I was dominating ak v a2 he hits trips,guy calls an all in reraise from me preflop with my kk and turns over 2,7 worst hand in game,hits a house.its rediculous whenever I win I usually get retarded good luck too even when I don't need it. It's like they build you up if they know ul keep playing,and they give you a good hand so ul put all ur chips in the pot,before some poker bit sucks out on d river. There should be some way this site especially can be brought to justice,it is rife with these scenarios on a hugely consistent basis,having just read this article I have decided to delete the account it is an absolute crime and these crooks should be burned alive!!

big blue 2012-05-07 13:18:36

how many times on pp do you see big slick and aa turned over,especially by the chip leader,if your low stack and going up against chip leader you may as well turn off your computer,cause you have no chance,,another thing how many times do you see split pots,,playing live for 10 years in casino poker and iv never seen one,,course its rigged.

kieran 2012-01-29 17:44:25

i dont think the program is dealing random cards.i'm always beaten as low stack.in live poker i've often come back from low stack to get in the money.never with paddy power.this speeds up the game.perhaps you'll play the next tournament-more money for them.if this is the case and i strongly suspect it is (see patrick harrison comment above)then we should ask for the site to be investigated and ask for our money back.if they are running a program which favours big stacks then the site is not fair and we should ask for our money back.

kinca 2011-12-09 13:51:16

Hey all, I have played on Bwin more than half a million hands, got breakeven. I am not an idiot to balme a pokersite for my failure but: whenewer I moved up, got my 80+ situations screwed, but ok. Some day there was there a player, who spoke french, cant understand that language properly, but he mentioned my name, MY FRIGGIN NAME. Not my nickname, my BIRTHNAME, then he went away fast. You may think, I have registered at a site and may have given my name, but I have not, definetely not. My OPINION Bwin is rigged, but that is only an opinion. I have cashed out and now I am giving a shot to IPOKER, where after a few ten thousand hands I make over 10bb, micro stakes although. GG all.

Fred Jewell 2011-11-27 10:30:38

All the sites are the same. Ive played twenty or more ,iam the best live poker player in my city, when playing online you see unrealistic calls ,which is fine explains donks, but the unrealistic part is they should lose about 70to80 percent of the time statistically, instead they win 65 percent its a fixed program to keep money circulating until all is given to rake.

Steve 2011-10-26 14:00:23

Of course THE SOFTWARE is rigged. the scam is to drag as many players to the river as possible and make maximum profit for the website. you needn't worry about other players cheating you, worry about the fact that the FBI is going after these "honest" people who run these websites for 3 billion dollar pozi schemes and it only stands to reason to anyone with a brain in his head that the software is staged to make these websites max profits. it's software. it does what they tell it to do. therefore poker is OBVIOUSLY rigged.

Paul 2011-10-05 23:15:57

completely agree about ppp, won $500 in a tournament a couple of weeks ago, was in the bottom of leaderboard for most of the tourny and shouldnt of won, been getting river raped ever since, losing to low o/s hands against AA,AK,JJ etc., I've been trying to convince myself that it's been in my head but it just keeps happening, time to change

joey 2011-10-03 22:02:28

just playing a free-roll. had a lot of chips so called a guy with only 10's just to see if he was bluffing. he wasn't had a full house so i mucked.
Another guy at the table said "you called with 10's". nobody else knew what he meant.

micheal 2011-09-16 21:33:08

paddy power poker is so rigged. its absolutely disgraceful. just after playing cash game. had kings. fella went all in pre flop for 200euro. i called and he turned over 8,3 off suit. he hit trip 8's. i then put in another 100. went back in to the same table. got dealt kings again. i went all in for 90euro. was called by 10, 5 suited and he hit trip 10's. this was all in the space of 15 minutes. how can that be possible. its unbelievable how fucked up that site is. i think ur playin against ppp players. why else wud u be called with that shit

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