The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) has hired an independent auditor to investigate claims that Absolute Poker's security system was breached during a $1,000 buy-in tournament held last month. There is speculation that a former Absolute Poker employee shared holecard information with the winner of that tournament.
Absolute Poker approached Gaming Associates, a company that provides accreditation and security services to casinos, to conduct the audit. However, according to Gaming Associates, it will work directly with KGC, the poker site's regulating body, to perform "an audit into the current and historic activities of Absolute Poker and interaction with its gaming and financial systems."
"We are commissioned by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission," said Alan Pedley, a principal consultant for Gaming Associates who is directly involved in the Absolute Poker audit. "To be fair to Absolute, they were interested in commissioning us. However, we prefer not to be engaged by operators. We prefer independence and to deal directly with government regulators. So, I guess to underline that, this isn't just being forced upon Absolute; it would appear that they genuinely want to get to the bottom of all of this."
KGC regulates and controls gaming and gaming-related activities conducted within and from the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake. Located in Quebec, Canada, the Commission, according to its website, has issued permits to hundreds of gaming operations, including Absolute Poker and many of the largest and most respected online poker sites.
Pedley said that Gaming Associates is completely independent from both the Kahnawake Gaming Commission and Absolute Poker, and it has never audited Absolute Poker before.
Absolute Poker has agreed to provide Card Player
with a final copy of the Gaming Associates report. A deadline for the final report has yet to be established.
The entire statements released by both Absolute Poker and KGC concerning this issue are published later in this article.
Hand History Raises Questions
The investigation stems from a request made by professional poker player Marco Johnson, who plays under the screen name "CrazyMarco." Immediately after the tournament, which took place on Sept. 12, he requested the hand history for a final table from Absolute Poker after a player named POTRIPPER called his all-in bluff with a busted nine-high flush draw with just 10 high.
Instead of the hands for the final table, Absolute Poker sent Johnson a spreadsheet containing a large amount of information about the first 94 hands of the tournament.
obtained a copy of this hand-history spreadsheet from Nat Arem, the first member of the poker community to analyze the spreadsheet in depth and share his findings with a number of prominent poker forums. The document is a little more than 9 megabytes in size (very large for a spreadsheet) and contains 65,536 lines of information.
The hand history shows a pattern of unorthodox poker play, wherein POTRIPPER maximizes his profits and minimizes his losses perfectly in each hand. The entire hand history is available in a video format on YouTube.
Unorthodox play, however, wasn't the only information that was documented in the hand-history spreadsheet. It also included e-mail addresses, IP addresses, and user ID numbers of some players and observers. An observer with a very low user ID number, 363 (an ID number likely created very early in Absolute Poker's history), was watching POTRIPPER's table for all but the first two hands of the tournament and was never documented as having left.
Questions arose when the IP addresses of that user and one other observer were scrutinized. As stated, user 363, with a Costa Rican IP address, watched POTRIPPER's table throughout the tournament. Then, an observer using a different Absolute Poker account, but from the exact same IP address, (which, in this case, means using the same Internet connection as user 363, likely from the same computer or household), opened up a different table in the same tournament. That observer's registered e-mail address was email@example.com. Riveraltd.com is a domain that is registered to Absolute Entertainment in San Jose, Costa Rica.
The person behind the e-mail address may be Scott Tom, who Absolute Poker confirmed as a former employee.
Absolute Poker, in its statement, says Tom "has not been involved with Absolute Poker for over a year, and to the best of our knowledge, information, and belief, has not had access to any of Absolute Poker's systems, databases, or information." It has, according to its statement, requested a formal investigation into that matter, as well.
Absolute Poker says that holecard-viewing technology does not exist in its company or any company it manages.
The entire statements from Absolute Poker and KGC on the situation follow:
Absolute Poker Official Management Statement
Absolute Poker Management wishes to inform the poker community of the following information in response to the most recent claims posted over the past 48 hours on the 2+2 and Pocket Fives forums wherein again it is alleged that some person or persons breached Absolute Poker's redundant and varying levels of game client security.
As was stated in Absolute Poker's Official Response released on Friday October 12, 2007, Absolute Poker conducted an extensive investigation in response to the claims it was made aware of and received. The results of that investigation indicated that to the best of Absolute Poker's knowledge, information and belief there was no security breach. Specifically, Absolute Poker's internal investigation determined that it is impossible for any person, device, program, script or other means to see hole cards.
Based on the most recent claims that Absolute Poker has been made aware of and at the request of some of our players and business partners, Absolute Poker has agreed to retain a widely acclaimed independent third party auditor, Gaming Associates, to conduct an independent audit of Absolute Poker's security systems. Specifically, Absolute Poker has requested that Gaming Associates conduct a thorough and extensive review of Absolute Poker's practices and security system's to determine whether it is possible for any person, device, program, script or other means to see hole cards thereby gaining an unfair advantage.
Absolute Poker has agreed to fully cooperate with Gaming Associates and its investigative team and to provide the above with unfettered access to all systems, protocols and databases at Absolute Poker worldwide. Absolute Poker has also agreed to allow Gaming Associate's final report to be made available to Pocket Fives and Bluff Media for their review.
With respect to the claims that Scott Tom, a former Member of Team Absolute Poker, is in anyway involved in wrong-doing, Absolute Poker has requested a formal investigation into that matter as well. Mr. Tom has not been involved with Absolute Poker for over a year and to the best of our knowledge, information and belief has not had access to any of Absolute Poker's systems, databases or information.
Absolute Poker reserves the right to pursue any and all remedies whether in law or equitable which may procure to it as a result of any unlawful and injurious actions taken by any individuals who may have falsified any information, documents, files, or have by other means attempted to disparage and/or harm Absolute Poker, its Players, its current our former management, employees, business partners or affiliates.
Absolute Poker shall bear all expenses related to such investigation and is eager to learn about Gaming Associate's findings. Absolute Poker highly values and intends to protect its players, shareholders, business partners, and affiliates.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission's Statement
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) announced today an audit into the current and historic activities of Absolute Poker and interaction with its gaming and financial systems. As a KGC license holder Absolute Poker is obliged to adhere to the Regulations Concerning Interactive Gaming. Absolute Poker has agreed to fully cooperate with the KGC and / or its agents.
Mr. David Montour, the Commission's Chairman, said, "This week allegations of impropriety have been bought to the attention of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. We have appointed experts to conduct a thorough audit of all circumstances, provide findings and recommendations to the Commission. The audit will not be restricted to examining theories circulating in Internet chat rooms and for a (sic)".
The Commission has instructed Gaming Associates to conduct the audit and report to the Commission. Gaming Associates is acknowledged world wide as an expert interactive gaming test and audit house - accredited by regulators worldwide. Gaming Associates' consultants are pioneers in interactive gaming regulation - recognized as experts in this field since the 1990s, and information security experts.
"It is essential that all online gaming and wagering is conducted in a fair and honest manner where customers are protected. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is committed to ensuring fair and honest gaming. Nevertheless, it is important that we, as a Commission, act on findings and not allegations alone."
For information on this release, please contact the KGC in writing. firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Pajich, Shawn Green, and Justin Marchand contributed to this report.