Ultimate Poker (UP), the first licensed online poker room to launch in Nevada, announced this weekend that as of late Thursday, May 9th, it has “discontinued the use of all services from Iovation.” Iovation was used to verify the identities of new UP customers.
The connection to Iovation became publicly known the very first day UP went live, as some players received errors upon signup that revealed the Iovation name. Then the outrage started. Those who have been active in the poker community for years recognized the name Iovation as the company that provided UltimateBet’s (UB) software. Greg Pierson, the CEO of Iovation, was one of the key conspirators in the Ultimate Bet cheating scandal in which a “God Mode” tool was used to see players’ hole cards in real time and use that information to cheat those players out of millions of dollars. It has not been 100 percent confirmed that Pierson was one of the people actively using God Mode to cheat, but he likely, at the very least, gave its use his blessing.
Needless to say, once the Iovation link became known, concerns about the safety of Ultimate Poker grew. At a minimum, players did not fancy the idea of Pierson and others involved in the UB scandal making money off legal, regulated online poker in the United States. There was also the fear that these people, already known for their criminal conduct, would do untoward things with the personal player information being sent to Iovation, information that includes social security numbers.
Of course, another worry is that Iovation and Ultimate Poker are actually related. Despite the similarity between the UltimateBet and Ultimate Poker names, there does not appear to be a direct relationship between Iovation and UP. Iovation is a subcontractor of the company Verifi, the parent of another company called CAMS. CAMS is licensed by the Nevada Gaming Commission to verify player identities (Iovation is not).
In the week following Ultimate Poker’s launch, while much of the gaming community celebrated the dawn of a new era in online poker in the United States, many called for players to avoid Ultimate Poker because of its use of Iovation. On the whole, people appreciated Ultimate Poker’s launch and respected its efforts to address the concerns of its customers (there were many signup and location verification issues in the first days), but fears of Iovation’s history and current leadership were just too much to overcome.
Now that Ultimate Poker has decided to jettison Iovation, UP has received kudos for listening to the poker community and fixing a problem. Whether it was done for public relations reasons or because UP genuinely didn’t understand the full shadiness of Iovation isn’t known, but regardless of the reason, UP will not be using Iovation for identification purposes anymore.