From the “You Don’t Really Expect Me to Buy This BS, Do You?” dept comes Absolute’s explanation of what actually happened. According to MSNBC a source within Absolute who would only be quoted anonymously said:
“This is literally a geek trying to prove to senior management that they were wrong and he took it too far,”
The article also quotes Adam Small from PocketFives.com as saying that he was told by someone from Absolute:
“What they said on the phone was that it was not Scott Tom … and that he has sort of framed Scott Tom,”
Somehow this all seems far too convenient for Absolute. First Absolute says that some rogue employee did it to prove to senior management that it was possible and then they say that this same employee went out of his way to frame a former executive of the company (who is rumored to be not so “former” and is still in control of the company). That just doesn’t pass the sniff test. If you’re trying to prove to senior management that there’s a security flaw in the system why would you frame a former executive to do so? And if he did it simply to prove to senior management that it could be done why didn’t he do it and then demonstrate the fact that it could be done to . . . senior management? Remember when this scandal erupted Absolute denied their systems had been compromised so anybody who was doing this to prove a point sort of dropped the ball by not standing up and claiming responsibility.
And if it was a programmer doing this just to claim the glory of showing top execs wrong then why in a $1000 buy-in tournament? There’s also some very convincing evidence that this was not a one time instance of a player playing a little too perfectly. Deep in the bowels of the 2+2 and P5’s threads are other player names and other games where the a player was just a little too good. The whole wanting-to-prove-it excuse simply doesn’t fly based on the facts at hand.
But there is a bigger issue here, by Absolute’s own words, they don’t listen to their tech staff when they are told about possible security issues. Why would an employee go out and commit such an act if the company had a responsible security audit team in place? So in a unintended way, Absolute is admitting that they have long given security related issues lip service.
If Absolute’s story had any shred of credibility their security manager and CTO would also be getting the boot. How do you allow such a serious security breach under your watch? How can you trust these guys to prevent other security breaches when this one went undetected?
Remember that Absolute claimed to have investigated the cheating allegations when this story first began to come together and they said that their internal investigation reveled that no cheating had occurred. Michael Shackleford of Wizard of Odds did a post where he said that:
“It would be easier to buy a 6/49 lottery ticket in six different states, and hit the jackpot all six times,”
How in the world can a security team look at something so statistically improbable and defiantly conclude that no cheating was taking place? It boggles the mind to think someone who is charged with catching fraud and collusion could look at those hand histories and not think that cheating was going on. That’s what these guys do for a living!!!
But the more likely answer is that this is simply more BS from Absolute. So far, they seem to be adopting their statements to evidence being uncovered by the internet community. First they denied any cheating. Then they screwed up and sent a hand history containing data that the poker community used to throw into doubt Absolute’s statements so they changed their official stance. But both the facts and their actions don’t support that stance. They sent out an email to customers recently informing them of the breach but you can’t find anything about this on their website.
“What if the latest release from AP is all that they can give you?” “Are the people causing the most uproar over this going to risk killing online poker just to hang someone?”
Uh sorry, that doesn’t sound like we’ve heard all the facts just yet. Notice that they said “can give you” and didn’t say “is the truth.” It sounds like what Absolute has said so far is all they can say without taking down the entire company.
Watching this unravel and having the full truth come out would not take down the entire industry. It would certainly take down Absolute and Ultimate Bet but the rest of the industry would be just fine because I’m confident that most sites could reliably demonstrate the integrity of their processes and systems. Most would have no problem opening their systems to real independent auditors like PricewaterhouseCoopers.
This entire industry is based on trust and the integrity of the games. Half-truths and covering-up wrongdoing destroys the very foundation of the industry. It’s bad enough that draconian US laws force most operators to hide behind a shell game of legal entities so complex as to make it impossible to discover the real owners or officers but to cover up a major security incident for the sake of one company is simply unacceptable.
The KahnawÃ¡ke Gaming Commission needs to suspend their license until all facts are out and the results of an independent auditor are released if the KGC wants to be seen as anything more than simply a facade of a licensing organization. Absolute has admitted to a security compromise. How can any legitimate licensing organization not demand that the site discontinue operations under their license until it can prove that it has resolved the issue in such a way as to protect players from future occurrences?
The is an opportunity for the industry to shine. If the licensing and regulatory bodies act swiftly and decisively to protect the interest of players and not the operators it will add credibility to the industry.
Edit: There’s a good rundown coming to a similar conclusion but from a systems and programming perspective at eGaming Today.
On a side note: While I give MSNBC’s Mike Brunker kudos for actually running this story in a mainstream media outlet, I have to take issue with his research. In a little callout titled “Top Internet poker sites” it lists PokerStars, FullTilt, Absolute and Ultimate Bet. Um, what happened to Party, iPoker, Ongame, and Everest who are all bigger than Absolute and Ultimate Bet? In fact, Party is still in second place above Full Tilt.