On Rounders Radio this week, Ultimate Bet pro Phil Hellmuth joined the Ultimate Poker Show to discuss the incorrect awarding of a pot in a hand on his home site. The UB-sponsored show is hosted by Mark “P0ker H0” Kroon and Annie Duke. Hellmuth spoke about the fallout from the software glitch as well as the Russ Hamilton-led scandal that rocked the online poker site.
In the hand in question, which was number 1162170993, Hellmuth held two pair, kings and deuces; his opponent, DOUBLEBALLER, had three kings. However, at the moment the software awarded the pot to DOUBLEBALLER, he disconnected. By default, the CEREUS software shipped the pot to Hellmuth, who was still seated at the table. Following the hand, a strange interaction between Hellmuth and DOUBLEBALLER occurred in the chat, which included phrases by the UB pro such as, “I play U limit, right now.”
While a thread on popular online poker forum TwoPlusTwo was generating a considerable amount of discussion, Hellmuth was on Skype with Full Tilt Poker pro Mike Matusow. Hellmuth explained, “Ultimate Bet just changed its software and I’m probably one of the most watched players on the internet. It was just a total accident. What I like about Ultimate Bet is that they realized their mistake immediately and sent the money to the guy. Then, they went back and looked at it millisecond by millisecond to see exactly what happened.”
Within a few days, Ultimate Bet’s parent company, Tokwiro, released an explanation of what caused the pot to be given to Hellmuth. It also revealed that in the process of trying to fix the error, additional hands were adversely affected. A Tokwiro press release explained, “While enhancing the software to prevent this malfunction from occurring again, we introduced a new defect that caused 36 hands to award incorrect payouts. All players have been reimbursed for these hands as well.”
Following the hand, Hellmuth noticed that his bankroll was a bit higher than he had expected it to be. He told Kroon and Duke, “I was surprised that I was up as much as I was. When [DOUBLEBALLER] went back and looked at the hand, he e-mailed Ultimate Bet. That’s just online poker.” The trio recanted several instances in which they accidentally or purposely closed windows while hands were still in progress. However, pots were still often awarded correctly even if a player had already left the table. Duke suggested, “If a player is involved in a hand, it shouldn’t matter whether they get up from the table or not. Clearly, that money should still be awarded to their account. Obviously, that’s a bug that’s going to be fixed.”
The hand history appeared on TwoPlusTwo within minutes of its occurrence. It prompted a series of responses berating Ultimate Bet, which was the subject of a feature segment by CBS News program “60 Minutes.” On the show, the cheating scandals on UB and its sister site, Absolute Poker, were profiled. Hellmuth reiterated that players affected by the cheating efforts were reimbursed. Over $20 million was refunded to customers of both online poker rooms. Duke felt that if a conspiracy were actually taking place, Hellmuth would not be at its center. She commented, “To be fair, if there were some sort of conspiracy going on, I highly doubt that in the light of day, they would be awarding pots to Phil Hellmuth knowing that everyone is going to be watching his table.”
Hellmuth is one of the most decorated players ever, holding a record 11 World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets. He won the 1989 Main Event for $755,000, becoming the youngest champion of the featured tournament at age 24, a mark that was just broken by 22 year-old Peter Eastgate. Hellmuth shared that his reputation is among the best in the industry: “You earn your reputation and I think it’s safe to say that I’ve had a perfect reputation for honor, ethics, and integrity in this business.”