On March 10th, 2008, the Absolute Poker “super-user scandal” was a story known by a large percentage of the poker community, but by only a small percentage of the general population (and most of us were happy for it to stay that way.) As of March 11th, that apparently is going to change.
The story of course begins with everyone’s favorite scandal lightening rod, Nat Arem (that’s right, the same guy who was instrumental in breaking down the hand history documents of AP’s super-user, and the same guy who traveled down to Costa Rica to witness AP’s investigation of the incident).
Apparently The Washington Post and producers from 60 Minutes contacted Nat regarding Absolute. Not telling anyone else at first, Nat decided to break his silence when he learned that other sources planned to leak the story. Via his blog, Nat confirmed his conversation with 60 Minute producers, and wrote the following:
“In terms of agenda, I’ve been told that the goal is to ‘tell the story from soup to nuts.’ I don’t really know if that means a negative agenda for online poker, but I get the feeling that it might.”
Nat seems to suspect that “60 Minutes” plans to treat the AP story more like an indictment of online poker than as an isolated black mark on an industry that cares deeply about integrity and fidelity.
Nat finished with, “In terms of the ‘certainty’ that this will get on the air… I’m not sure. I’ve been told that it’s definitely happening.” (click here to read more)
Rumor right now is that Gary Wise (columnist for Bluff and ESPN.com) is also going to be involved in the piece. I know Nat and Gary pretty well and if 60 Minutes ACTUALLY lets both men tell the real story, what originally appeared to be yet another detrimental blow may in fact turn into something beneficial for online poker.
Unfortunately, I have very little confidence any of that will happen.
We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat
On the heels of the whole “60 Minutes May Be Telling the Story of the Super-User Scandal to Everyone And Their Mother” mess, Absolute Poker received more bad news when word got out that it’s partner site, Ultimate Bet, recently faced similar accusations.
In a statement released to twoplustwo.com, UB revealed :
“On January 12, 2008, Ultimate Bet was alerted to allegations that a player with the online handle ‘NioNio’ exhibited abnormally high winning statistics and was accused of having an unfair advantage during play.
These allegations were made both directly to UltimateBet by concerned players and the KGC, and indirectly through several web forums. The allegations also included reports of suspicious activity concerning the deletion of the NioNio account and other accounts that may have been related to this scheme.”
Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker are operated by the same company, which has lead to speculation that similar holes in their software development allowed NioNio to gain information about opponents’ hole cards.
UB says they are going to launch a full investigation into the allegations and that “initial findings of our third-party expert confirm that the NioNio account’s winning statistics were indeed abnormal, and we have expanded the investigation to look into whether an unfair advantage existed, how such a scheme might have been perpetrated, and whether additional accounts beyond those of NioNio were involved.”
Paging Nat Arem.