New Statements on Ultimate Bet Scandal From Former Lead Pros

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New Statements on Ultimate Bet Scandal From Former Lead Pros

It took some half a decade and the release of some surreptitious recordings, but the former lead pros for Ultimate Bet Poker – Phil Hellmuth and Annie Duke – both recently released statements offering their perspectives on the cheating scandal at UB.

The Ultimate Bet recordings

The recordings in question were both made and released by Travis Makar, who is believed to be a former employee of Ultimate Bet. The recordings are of a meeting of UB management. Neither Hellmuth or Duke are present at the meeting, but both of their names are raised repeatedly.

The recordings cover a fair amount of ground, but the core topic is a discussion of how the financial and public relations impact of UB cheating scandal could best be mitigated.

According to those in the meeting – including Russ Hamilton and Greg Pierson – Hellmuth knew nothing about the cheating as it was taking place. Duke is also not implicated in the cheating, which was accomplished via a feature of the Ultimate Bet software that allowed insiders to view the hands of the people they were playing against.

Pierson was back in poker headlines last week as Ultimate Poker (no relation to UB) came under fire for their relationship with his company Iovation.

Over $20mm in restitution was paid to players as a result of the scandal, but many contend that even that amount was insufficient. The scandal remains a prominent reminder of the need to play only at the most secure and reputable online poker sites.

Statement from Hellmuth

Hellmuth’s statement was issued indirectly via his agent and posted on TwoPlusTwo by a site moderator.

Hellmuth said that hearing the tapes “brought this situation back into the forefront of my thoughts. To hear them discussing this situation and actively deciding to keep me in the dark disgusts and infuriates me.”

As to why he remained at Ultimate Bet even after the cheating was starting to be uncovered, Hellmuth claimed he “was led to believe that if I left UB right away the business would be impacted and then less likely to pay it’s obligations to the victims. As such, I made the decision to believe the leaders of UB and stayed on in the hopes that they would make right to anyone cheated.”

The general reaction to Hellmuth’s statement has been positive, although players are understandable curious as to why such a large amount of time elapsed between the actual incident and a public comment on the matter. Some believe his silence has slowed the progress of US online poker, but it’s hard to place blame on any single individual for such a complex problem.

Duke says she never saw hole cards

While Hellmuth was never implicated on any level in the cheating scandal that engulfed so much of Ultimate Bet, his fellow UB pro Annie Duke was the target of player criticism last week after talk on the UB tapes implied Duke had some level of access to the cheat function of the Ultimate Bet software.

Duke issued a lengthy statement on Facebook strenuously denying that specific accusation and generally disputing that she every at any point had any level of access to such a function. According to Duke, she  was “never shown any non-public hole card information, during or after hands.”

As for how her name came up in the discussions captured on the tapes, Duke says that “at one point Russ Hamilton mischaracterizes my legitimate role as a commentator as he tries to concoct a cover story for his scheme,” explaining that the “delay” function Hamilton references is nothing more than Duke “providing commentary as we watched live play, and the broadcast of our comments was delayed as is standard practice to avoid affecting play.”

Duke’s Facebook statement came after a number of tweets in which she attempted to defend herself against the implicit accusations in the UB tapes. When those answers proved ambiguous, Duke released the more formal statement, which was accompanied by companion statements from John Vorhaus, who was a co-commentator of Duke’s, and Joanne Primm, UB’s former Pro Relations manager.

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