Phil Hellmuth Releases Statement After UB Audio Tapes Come to Light
An additional chapter is unfolding in the saga of the Ultimate Bet scandal, with new recordings surfacing that leave little doubt that the owners of the site perpetrated a major fraud against their customers. The recordings were posted online by a former employee of 1994 WSOP champ and one of the founders of the online poker room, Russ Hamilton.
The Ultimate Bet scandal is perhaps the biggest ever to rock the world of online poker, and dates back to 2005. Hamilton and others at the site created and used so-called “God” software that allowed them to view other players’ hole cards during real money games, which in turn allowed them to swindle millions of dollars from unsuspecting players. Hamilton is said to have pocketed between $16 million and $18 million in this fashion.
When the scandal first made headlines in 2008, representatives for the company attempted to minimize both the impact of the matter and its longevity, claiming that the cheating took place for a period of more than a year and a half, from March of 2006 until December of the following year.
Later, however, Ultimate Bet released a statement acknowledging that in fact the existence of fraud on the site was going on even longer, having first started back in 2005.
The statement said, in part, “We have also confirmed that the cheating dates back further than we initially believed. We can now confirm that the cheating began in January 2005, long before Tokwiro Enterprises ENRG acquired UltimateBet from the previous ownership.”
The newly-publicized recordings, posted by Hamilton’s past employee, Travis Makar, are of Hamilton speaking with two high-ranking Ultimate Bet executives, Dan Friedberg and Greg Pierson, in 2008. On the recording, Hamilton shows a distinct lack of remorse for the losses suffered by the site’s players, including some well known names, like actor Ben Affleck.
“I did take this money and I’m not trying to make it right, so let’s get that out of the way,” Hamilton said during the conversation.
Hamilton has been the most prominent face of the scandal, however the audio recordings make it clear that he was not the only involved. In 2008, a story produced by 60 Minutes and the Washington Post called the Ultimate Bet scandal the worst fraud ever committed in online gambling.
Hamilton, utilizing his position as a well-known and previously well-respected member of the poker community, encouraged other pros to sign on to promote Ultimate Bet, including Phil Hellmuth, who this week released a statement on the 2+2 forums condemning the actions of Hamilton and the others.
“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,” Hellmuth’s statement read.
The full three hour long audio recordings can be found here.
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