The Absolute Poker Scandal
At first it was only a rumor at the poker forums; players that had lost a lot in the past were all of a sudden winning large amounts at the high-stakes tables. Some players posted statistics that indicated that certain players were winning a lot more than normal.
Potripper rips it up
Things blew wide open after a $1,000 buy-in tournament on 13 September 2007. The tournament was won by the player Potripper, who had lost a fortune on multi-table tournaments and then decided to quit in 2006. He was now back and won the highest buyin tournament on Absolute Poker in a spectacular way.
Potripper managed to beat CrazyMarcos heads-up after some strange play and made a very spectacular call in one of the last hands. CrazyMarcos re-raised all-in with only nine high and Potripper called with ten high! Afterwards CrazyMarcos couldn't believe his eyes and demanded to get the hand history for the tournament.
He got more than he hoped for. The AP support sent him a huge data file. With some help from adanthar and Nat Arem from PocketFives, the file was decoded. It contained a lot more information than a usual hand history. You could see the cards of all players in the whole tournament, the IP-addresses they were sitting on and their account email addresses.
The hand-history revealed that Potripper folded the first two hands and after that saw every flop as long as none of his opponents had pocket queens or better. And he never lost a showdown in the whole tournament! Further analysis of the AP file revealed more information. After Potripper had played his first two hands (which he folded) user 363 entered the table as an observer and remains at the same table as Potripper through the entire tournament. The low user number indicated that the account was connected to Absolute Poker. It was suspected that user 363 was a so called super account that could see all the hole cards of other players.
Nat Arem makes a cross-check of the IP address and discovers that user 363 and Potripper sit on the same IP address. He also discovers that the email address of Potripper belongs to A.J. Green - the former Absolute Poker Chief Operating Officer, and current Vice President of Operations at nine.com. Now there is no doubt in the online poker community that cheating has occurred, seemingly by using a super-user account. It is seems like A.J. Green is the guy responsible for the scam, maybe in collaboration with the former AP CEO Scott Tom.
Absolute Poker comes clean
At first AP denies that anyone has been able to see other players' hole cards. But on October 21, Joe Norton, the owner of Absolute Poker releases a statement verifying that there has been a security breach, and that a player really has been able to see other players' hole cards, winning at least $800,000 in cash-games and tournaments.
The matter is resolved
Absolute Poker decides to make a thorough internal investigation and also open up for an independent investigation by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.
The commission came to the same conclusion; that cheating had taken place by using a super account. Absolute Poker had to pay a $500,000 fine and the Commission will make running inspections.
Absolute Poker has decided to compensate affected players:
"All players affected by the security breach will be identified during the audit process that has been initiated and all funds, including interest, will be returned. Absolute Poker would like to apologize for the recent events and is committed to diligently working with outside security firms, auditing firms, the extended poker community and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission to ensure the situation is entirely resolved."
Absolute Poker together with the Kahnawake Gaming Commission has done everything in their power to resolve the issue. Money has been paid back to the affected players. We are certain that AP, after everything was reveled and appropriate steps to resolve the issue was taken, once again provides a safe and secure gaming environment.
Note (May 2010): Absolute Poker has now teamed up with UB.com (Ultimate Bet) and they are trying to put their history behind them. No other poker sites are putting as much effort into creating a safe site for the players as AP and UB; it would be suicide not to. If you're interested in the new, improved Absolute Poker, read our Absolute Poker review.