POKER

Phil Hellmuth issues statement regarding Russ Hamilton’s secret tapes

TAGs: Phil Hellmuth, poker news, Russ Hamilton, Ultimate Bet

phil-hellmuth13-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth was once considered the face of the Ultimate Bet poker site. So when secret audio tapes prominently featuring founder Russ Hamilton discussing the UB cheating scandal surfaced a few days ago, Hellmuth didn’t waste any time releasing a brief statement regarding his reactions over the recorded conversation between Hamilton, Ultimate Bet co-founder and current iovation CEO Greg Pierson, and attorneys Daniel Friedberg and Sanford “Sandy” Millar.

“Trusting my gut has allowed me to be at the top of my profession and develop a lifetime of friends and great experiences,” Hellmuth said in his statement, which was first published by independent poker news compiler Kevin “Kevmath” Mathers on the 2+2 forums.  “Unfortunately, I made a horrible read regarding my relationship with the founders of the now defunct online poker site Ultimate Bet.”

Hellmuth’s relationship with Ultimate Bet dates back to the early 2000’s when he became one of the company’s early investors that led to a minority ownership stake. Hellmuth eventually left UltimateBet in December 2010 before the site suffered the wrath of the Black Friday crackdowns. But after listening to the tapes with agent and Poker Royalty president Brian Balsbaugh, it became clear that Hellmuth should have jumped ship a long time ago, perhaps even soon after the UltimateBet cheating scandal erupted in 2008.

“When I became aware of the cheating scandal, I immediately insisted that everyone be paid back and whoever was responsible be banished from the company,” Hellmuth added. “At the time, I was led to believe that if I left UB right away the business would be impacted and then less likely to pay it’s obligations to the victims. As such, I made the decision to believe the leaders of UB and stayed on in the hopes that they would make right to anyone cheated.”

It certainly added to Hellmuth’s disgust that the participants of the conversation decided to keep him out of the loop on the full breadth of the company’s cheating ways.

“I should have said something about this long ago, but until I heard the voices on the tapes myself I never really knew how wrong and misled I really was. I empathize deeply with the players who were taken advantage of through UB.”

Phil Hellmuth’s full statement below:

I’ve made a living off of reading people at the poker table and in the business world. Trusting my gut has allowed me to be at the top of my profession and develop a lifetime of friends and great experiences.

Unfortunately, I made a horrible read regarding my relationship with the founders of the now defunct online poker site Ultimate Bet.

I trusted their team and believed in their ability to run a first class website and business. Most importantly, I allowed them to convince me that they were honest and forthright. I’ve never been more wrong about anything in my life.

When I became aware of the cheating scandal, I immediately insisted that everyone be paid back and whoever was responsible be banished from the company. At the time, I was led to believe that if I left UB right away the business would be impacted and then less likely to pay it’s obligations to the victims. As such, I made the decision to believe the leaders of UB and stayed on in the hopes that they would make right to anyone cheated.

Listening to the recently released audio tapes of the UB founders has brought this situation back into the forefront of my thoughts. To hear them discussing this situation and actively deciding to keep me in the dark disgusts and infuriates me. They lied to me about their activities and I made a big mistake in trusting them for way too long.

I should have said something about this long ago, but until I heard the voices on the tapes myself I never really knew how wrong and misled I really was. I empathize deeply with the players who were taken advantage of through UB. Whether it is this or Black Friday, too many of my fellow poker players have lost confidence and their financial savings simply by playing the game they love. I hope that in the near future we have a strong, regulated online poker environment in the US so that we can all get back to playing the game we love. In the meantime, I want to pass along my support to everyone affected negatively through UB and my apologies for my initial support of people who didn’t deserve anyone’s trust in the first place.

 

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