Final Wager and Absolute Poker Scandal – What Truly Occurred?


If in case you have been round on-line poker for some time, the names of Final Wager and Absolute Poker are certainly ones you will have heard, not less than in passing.

It is because these two corporations and poker websites had been concerned in what stays the largest scandal on the earth of on-line poker to this date.

The 2 separate scandals occurred in the course of the first decade of the 21st century, with each websites in the end going beneath and remaining tens of millions of {dollars} in debt to the gamers.

In case you had been too younger to recollect it or just weren’t round poker again then, let’s make a journey down the reminiscence lane and assume again of the way it all went down.

I’ve ready a full breakdown of each scandals, the websites’ shutdown, and the aftermath all of it left behind. Sit again and take on this beneficial lesson within the potential risks of on-line playing.

Final Wager – The way it began

Final Wager was based again at a time when on-line poker was not but a giant factor among the many lots. Actually, it emerged earlier than the poker increase within the late Nineteen Nineties.

Two people, Jon Karl and Greg Pierson, had began a small tech firm beneath the title of ieLogic. The corporate’s early objective was to create software program for MMOs (massively multiplayer on-line video games), however that shortly modified.

ieLogic did create software program that could possibly be used for gaming, and this software program was the muse for the primary Final Wager poker platform within the early 2000s.

It was Russ Hamilton, a considerably well-known poker professional, who talked Pierson into creating this platform, which might cater to the restricted circle of poker gamers from Las Vegas and overseas.

The positioning was first launched in 2001, and it was Canada’s Kahnawake Gaming Fee that issued a license for its operation. This Fee, in fact, had no actual authorized standing within the USA.

Nonetheless, the location began working, and gamers flocked to it. With the likes of Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth selling it, quite a few poker professionals shortly began taking part in on the platform.

This was superb information for Hamilton and Pierson, as their firm was trying good from the early days. Final Wager began sponsoring reside Texas Maintain’em occasions as effectively, with many big-name professionals like Freddy Deeb and Eric Lindgren successful titles in a number of the early ones.

The breaking level for Final Wager got here in 2006 when the US authorities enacted the UIGEA. At this level, Final Wager’s mother or father firm was publicly traded on the London Inventory Change, and this was an issue.

Issues began to spiral as the corporate was bought to Tokwiro Enterprises ENRG, which was owned by Joe Norton, the Grand Chief of the Kahnawake tribe. This successfully made Final Wager, and shortly additionally Absolute Poker, the possession of the tribe.

Absolute Poker – The Beginnings and the Scandal

Like Final Wager, Absolute Poker was began within the early 2000s. The 12 months was 2003 when a bunch of scholars from the College of Montana created this on-line poker web site.

The enterprise thought appeared nice, they usually moved their firm to Costa Rica in order to be exterior of the authorized boundaries of the USA. Absolute Poker, like Final Wager, was licensed by the KGC.

For the primary few years, Absolute Poker was not huge, however when the UIGEA hit and plenty of opponents left the US market, AP caught round.

This meant that AP would grow to be one of many largest poker websites in America in a single day. Nevertheless, only a 12 months into it, the location was hit by what’s now often called the Absolute Poker scandal.

In late 2007, the poker boards had been beset with rumors of potential foul play on the web site. These weren’t your widespread rants about unhealthy beats however precise based accusations in opposition to explicit gamers.

One title, particularly, stood out! The participant beneath the nickname “Potripper” was displaying outcomes that had been defying math, logic, and customary sense.

A participant going beneath the alias “CrazyMarco” requested hand histories for considered one of his tournaments and, by chance, the location despatched him the grasp hand historical past, which proved his allegations.


Not solely was Potripper taking part in in ways in which defied widespread sense, however he was additionally primarily based in Costa Rica, together with a spectator on every of his tables.

The implications had been clear! A superuser account was feeding Potripper with details about his opponents’ gap playing cards.

The positioning initially rejected the accusations however later admitted that there was foul play at stake, though they by no means overtly took accountability for it. The Absolute Poker scandal stays not absolutely resolved to this present day.

The Final Wager Scandal Uncovered

Only some months after the occasions at Absolute Poker, Final Wager was shaken by an identical scandal. It’s value noting that at this level, each websites had grow to be part of the Cereus poker community, owned by the Kahnawake tribe Grand Chief.

A participant beneath the nickname “NioNio” was the suspect this time round, as his outcomes appeared to copy people who Potripper had at Absolute Poker simply months prior.

Much like Absolute Poker, Final Wager ultimately admitted that some foul play was occurring, and plenty of accounts and gamers had been implicated.

When all was mentioned and finished, the ring appeared to depend on info obtained by somebody utilizing the nickname “Auditmonster2,” who had the power to see participant gap playing cards throughout all tables.

A press release that was launched by Final Wager in Could 2008 confirmed that dishonest had gone on for over a 12 months, and the KGC fined the corporate for $1.5 Million.

Regardless of the corporate admitting the Final Wager scandal and being fined by the KGC, many gamers misplaced their belief within the Cereus poker community by this time, and the names of Phil Hellmuth and Annie Duke suffered nice injury.

Black Friday – The Nice Shakedown

April 15, 2011, will go down in historical past because the worst day ever for on-line poker. On that day, the American DOJ determined to close down a number of of the largest poker websites nonetheless working throughout the USA.

This included PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker. These domains and different property related to the websites had been seized as part of the operation that seemed to implement the Wire Act, UIGEA, and different legal guidelines pertaining to unlawful playing and cash laundering.

PokerStars and Full Tilt shut down and didn’t attempt to reopen, however Absolute Poker reopened beneath a unique area and stored serving gamers within the US effectively into 2012.

When all was mentioned and finished, the location owed its gamers over $50 Million whereas clearly having made tens of millions of {dollars} over the course of the years from the rake.

Whereas just a few of the mid-level folks at Absolute Poker did obtain fines of $300.000 and the corporate’s head of fee processing Brent Beckley was sentenced to 14 months in jail, the general fallout of the scandal was minimal.

Hamilton and Pierson in on the Dishonest?

Initially, the Absolute Poker and Final Wager scandals had been portrayed as gamers who gained entry to superuser accounts and used them to take benefit. Nevertheless, was this actually the case?

Because the early days, there have been suspicions that somebody on the firm was really abusing the superuser account, principally as a result of the tremendous customers had been positioned in Costa Rica.

In 2013, Travis Makar, who used to work for Russ Hamilton for years, launched plenty of recordsdata and supplies that painted a clearer image of what went down.

Amongst these, a three-hour dialog between Hamilton and Pierson, in addition to a few firm attorneys, was launched.

This dialog contained some very incriminating remarks, together with Hamilton overtly admitting that he benefited some $18 Million from the rip-off.


The supplies confirmed how Hamilton went across the web site’s safety, gained entry to superuser accounts, and used them to amass tens of millions for himself.

Issues Made Proper In Half

Gamers who had been scammed as part of the Absolute Poker and Final Wager poker scandals had been by no means compensated for his or her losses.

To this date, these scandals stay a number of the largest within the historical past of on-line playing, and those accountable are clear. But, Russ Hamilton and his co-conspirators had been by no means punished.

The funds that Absolute Poker owed its gamers after Black Friday had been partially recovered, because the DOJ repaid some $33.5 Million to over 7,000 gamers affected by the shutdown.

The funds had been paid by way of a third-party facilitator beneath the title of Backyard Metropolis Group, and additional rounds of funds could but come, though it appears much less probably by the day.

Thousands and thousands extra had been misplaced within the course of, and plenty of gamers determined to not even file claims, fearing potential prosecution for tax evasion or cash laundering for being related to the businesses.

These scandals smeared not solely the names of Absolute Poker and Final Wager but additionally the KGC, which continues to concern gaming licenses to this present day.

So, if you’re trying to gamble on-line, taking part in at websites licensed by this entity could also be one thing to assume twice about when different choices can be found.

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