Annie Duke Releases Statement on UB Tapes

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On Saturday, poker pro Annie Duke released a statement to express her thoughts on the audio tapes of a secret meeting hosted by former UltimateBet (UB) owner Russ Hamilton that were released earlier this month by UB insider Travis Makar. The recordings implicated several people in the infamous cheating scandal, revealing that UB’s higher-ups were well aware of what was going on and even if certain people were not directly involved, they gave Hamilton their blessing to steal money from players through the use of a “God Mode” program. The tapes also showed that those in power tried to cover up as much as they could and avoid paying back those who were wronged.

Annie Duke was one of the people mentioned in the conversation, though she was never outed in the tapes as someone who was directly involved in the cheating scandal. Hamilton said that she had used the “God Mode” tool on a few occasions, but only on a 15-minute delay.

In the beginning of her statement, which was posted on her Facebook page, Duke wrote:

Listening to the leaked audio that describes an elaborate attempt by some of’s founders, including Russ Hamilton and Greg Pierson, to cover up cheating reminds me once again how much I regret having been associated with the people that were involved in this conspiracy. The release of this audio has spurred accusations and I want to make it clear that I have never used a tool on a delay or otherwise that gave me or anyone else access to hole cards for use during real money play nor was I aware that such a tool existed until the scandal broke.  

She goes on to say that she is sorry that it took so long for those who were cheated to receive their money back and that she never would have encouraged people to play on UltimateBet had she known what was going on. Duke then uses much of the rest of her statement to defend herself against the accusation that she had used the “God Mode” tool, even if it was on a delay.

“…the data dump from Travis Makar and others also make it completely clear who the perpetrators of the cheating were, and that I was not involved in their scheme in any way,” she wrote. “…at one point Russ Hamilton mischaracterizes my legitimate role as a commentator as he tries to concoct a cover story for his scheme. I can only assume that he is referring to the several times that I commentated on tournaments in which a delayed broadcast was provided to the public, as this was the only delay that I was ever aware of.”

In describing exactly how her tournament commentary went, Duke wrote:

The facts are that during commentary, what I saw as the hands were being played was exactly what every other spectator of the table was able to see. I and other co-commentators were providing commentary as we watched live play, and the broadcast of our comments was delayed as is standard practice to avoid affecting play. The screen that I saw was captured and streamed onto the internet along with my commentary so anyone who tuned into the broadcast saw exactly the same screen that I saw. The broadcast delay was designed to protect the integrity of the game by making sure that the hands my co-commentators and I were commenting on would be finished BEFORE our commentary was broadcast on the Internet. The existence of the delay was made public during the broadcasts. And we were never shown any non-public hole card information, during or after hands.

After that, Duke talks about the discussion of an “h_curtis” account that was brought up in the recording meeting and why the people in the meeting did not want it to appear on any public list of cheating accounts. She said it belonged to her friend, Houston Curtis (in the tapes. Hamilton acknowledges that Duke knows Curtis). If that account was outed as one which was involved, Duke hypothesized, Hamilton knew that she would’ve asked Curtis about it, who would have, in turn, informed her that Hamilton was the only other person who had access to the account. Hamilton would have then been in the spotlight. This intentional hiding of the “h_curtis” account proves, according to Duke, that Hamilton and his cohorts were actively trying to hide the cheating from her.

Annie Duke’s statement concludes with brief paragraphs from friends John Vorhaus and Joanne Priam, who were involved in the commentary Duke discussed. They backed her story.

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