On Friday, new leaked audio tapes from a secret meeting between Ultimate Bet's founder, CEO and lawyers further implicated former owner Russ Hamilton in the theft of over $50,000,000 from UB players.
Hamilton's former assistant Travis Makar released the three-hour recording of a 2008 meeting in which Hamilton admits to cheating and taking money from players. The group included UB founder and CEO Greg Pierson, and Ultimate Bet attorneys Sanford Millar and Daniel Friedberg. Hamilton has been the primary face of the scandal for years, and it appears as if he recorded the meeting to protect himself from being the only person tied to the scandalous, infuriating affair.
The men began by discussing the "God Mode" software that allowed its user to view opponents' hole cards during real-money games. Hamilton admitted to stealing between $16 and $18 million from players using the program, saying, “I did take this money, and I’m not trying to make it right." He attempts to counter balance his cheating by stating that he game much of the stolen cash to pros in order to push the UB brand.
The group also discusses the option of falsely claiming that Travis Makar acted on his own. Annie Duke would later echo this argument while testifying at a congressional hearing in 2007.
Hamilton also named some of the players greatly affected by the scandal. Among the high-profile victims were Ben Affleck, Mike Matusow and Robert Williamson III.
Here's an edited 10 minute version that highlights the low-life's lowlights...
Here's a link to a full version of the leaked tapes.
Phil Hellmuth and Annie Duke, former endorsers and sponsored players for Ultimate Bet for many years, were also mentioned during the recording. While Hamilton and the others discussed keeping Hellmuth in the dark about the "God Mode" program, Hamilton claims that Duke was aware of it and even used the software herself "on a 15-minute delay".
Duke did not respond to our request for comment, but she did post tweets in which she refused to accept any responsibility. Upon hearing about the release of the audio tapes, Hellmuth issued the following statement through his agent:
I’ve made a living off of reading people at the poker table and in the business world. Trusting my gut has allowed me to be at the top of my profession and develop a lifetime of friends and great experiences.
Unfortunately, I made a horrible read regarding my relationship with the founders of the now defunct online poker site Ultimate Bet.
I trusted their team and believed in their ability to run a first class website and business. Most importantly, I allowed them to convince me that they were honest and forthright. I’ve never been more wrong about anything in my life.
When I became aware of the cheating scandal, I immediately insisted that everyone be paid back and whoever was responsible be banished from the company. At the time, I 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.
Listening to the recently released audio tapes of the UB founders has 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. They lied to me about their activities and I made a big mistake in trusting them for way too long.
I should have said something about this long ago, but until I heard the voices on the tapes myself I never really knew how wrong and misled I really was. I empathize deeply with the players who were taken advantage of through UB. Whether it is this or Black Friday, too many of my fellow poker players have lost confidence and their financial savings simply by playing the game they love. I hope that in the near future we have a strong, regulated online poker environment in the US so that we can all get back to playing the game we love. In the meantime, I want to pass along my support to everyone affected negatively through UB and my apologies for my initial support of people who didn’t deserve anyone’s trust in the first place.