When Annie Duke first approached me about signing a sponsorship deal with UltimateBet I had a very simple reply, “No, thanks”. There was just too much swirling around the way they handled their super-user account scandal that left a bad taste in my mouth. I had come out publicly against the way it was handled and I truly believe that Ub couldn’t possibly have bungled that situation up worse than they did.
Flatly put, it was an absolute disaster and the powers that be made it worse with every passing attempt to seemingly cover it up and distort the facts. To this day there are still many questions that have no answers and that situation remains in a certain amount of confusion. I couldn’t imagine me being involved with an organization that had these kinds of problems in their past.
Some time went by however and Annie and I chatted about the possibility again of me joining the Ub team. I told her that I just wasn’t comfortable with what it seemed like the setup had been over there. She surprised me then…and agreed with everything I said. She said that she also thinks that things couldn’t have been handled any worse and that there was a commitment with the organization to never let something like that happen again.
While this was certainly nice to hear, I still was more than wary to possibly get involved with Ub. Just slapping that logo on my chest says something different for me than it does for the other sponsored players. I, as owner of PokerRoad.com and an incredibly active member of the poker community CANNOT support a company that I believe is cheating their customers within my own industry. I can’t and I won’t. It simply wouldn’t be right on any level, regardless of dollar signs.
I then embarked on an exploratory last few months with Ub as an organization. I had many calls with Paul Leggett, Ub President, regarding the company, it’s past, and where it was headed. I just recently returned from a trip down to Costa Rica to meet up to basically review every department of the company, including Marketing, Security, and Management.
We discussed why the scandal happened, how it was handled poorly, and what steps have been taken to ensure that it won’t happen again. We spoke in detail about what loopholes were exposed in the security of the site and what safety measures and checks & balances have been put in place to strengthen the guard now.
I can say now that I honestly believe that nothing of that kind is going on at Ub today. I have had many conversations with Paul, and talked through several of my concerns and we addressed them together. Now, does this mean that all is forgiven and Ub is an angel organization now? The answer to that question is a resolute, “No”. I explained to Paul that I would only get involved in the company if they agreed to two conditions: 1) They always allowed me to speak my mind 100%.
I would never be a P.R. spinning machine for them and they shouldn’t expect that. If something were to go down at Ub while I am there, I will be the first to blow the whistle and force the company to be accountable, not the last. 2) They also agreed to create a role for me within Ub that was more than just sponsored player. I would never be comfortable with Ub’s history unless I could have a direct impact on making sure that it never happened again.
With that said, I will also still be running PokerRoad obviously, but will also be taking part in reviewing their processes and adding my opinions as a formal consultant with the team over there as the “Media & Operations Consultant”. Yep, it’s a mouthful, but hopefully it illustrates how involved I plan to be moving forward in the direction of the company. You now have a watchdog over at Ub in me, to keep an eye on things moving forward.
I did think long and hard about if joining the Ub team was the right decision for me, as well as the right decision for PokerRoad. Whether or not I always like it, I have to consider all of YOU when I make these kinds of decisions now.
The bottom line is that we have created a community here and I want you all to know that I weighed all the pros and cons of joining the team very carefully…and in the end I decided that it made more sense for me to join up and help UltimateBet not only strengthen their brand and their commitment to their customers, but also to help ensure that everything is run with honesty and integrity within the company.
With all of that said, I honestly feel comfortable working with the Ub leadership as it stands today, and I believe resolutely that there is a commitment to security and integrity within the organization. I will still work vigilantly to make sure that all of the facts continue to come out regarding the past scandal as well, so I don’t see my position there as simply moving forward.
I also have some retroactive work as well. The bottom line is that the situations that had us all so upset with UltimateBet happened in the past and I believe are no longer going on in the present. With myself on board, we will work to ensure that they also have no chance of occurring in the future.
The first order of business with my position at Ub has been to help aid in the release of not only ALL of the hand histories from the super-user scandal, but also the accounts that were used to perpetuate the scandal itself and the actual physical names of those individuals who we believe to have been directly involved in disparate ways with the actual cheating. As most of you know, two-thirds of this has now been accomplished.
Please take this as a first step in showing that things will be different at UltimateBet moving forward. I commend Paul and the management team over at Ub for being open to this release and making it happen at my insistence . They deserve all the credit in the world today in taking these first steps in ensuring that this case gets closed, and closed correctly.
The future of Ub is now quite bright with so many positive and exciting moves on the horizon. This couldn’t have been taken on without the sewing up on the past though, and now that loop has begun to be closed.
Ub and I first started talking about a possible sponsorship almost 4 months ago and I made it very clear that I wouldn’t be able to come aboard unless we progressed on flushing out all the names from the previous scandal. Paul Leggett, and the Ub team, have been instrumental in beginning this process and I now feel comfortable, and excited, coming aboard the team, as we are heading in such a bright direction.
This process isn’t complete of course, but I count that among my responsibilities moving forward and intend to continue it. I am very happy to be joining up with Ub today and look forward to our future. I am looking forward to improving the organization and strengthening UltimateBet’s commitment to correcting the mistakes they have made in the past, as well as ensuring that they can’t happen again. Here is to a new, reformed, and improved Ub in the future. It is looking bright from here on…