Haley's Poker Blog

No bad beats, but still a poker blog... hence the anguish.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Inside Barry's Hand Histories, Part 3

Back again with a bit more on the Barry/Mimi hand histories, which have become the topic of some conversation. When last I posted, I’d become aware that Seebs had mentioned my blog and ongoing research in his blog, pertaining to the runs of missing hands prevalent in the hand histories (HH’s) sent out to affected players in the wake of the online cheating scandal at UltimateBet, now renamed UB.com.

I posted some of the choppy card histories on 2+2 and here, and they were noticed, as I figured they would. According to Joe, he got in touch with his security contact at UB, who explained that the script… well… here’s what Joe wrote:

"Transactions that have no monitory value or financial impact on the hand have not been considered. Transactions types like sitting at a table or balance that have no wagering implications on the hand have been excluded. All other transactions types have been considered."

So what the balls does that mean? It basically means that that the script that is used to retrieve the hands from the database only considers hands where the suspect contributes to the pot, [but] hands where the suspect is sitting at the table but is sitting out or folds preflop are not retrieved. This applies to all hand histories that have been sent out. The data guy has mentioned that this is because the script to retrieve hands pulls hands where the suspect contributes to the pot and not hands where the suspect is simply dealt cards.
-- from Joe's blog

I inserted the [but] because otherwise it doesn’t make sense. Anyhow, let’s see if this claim holds up. Here is one of the later sessions where Barry/Mimi’s “crazyplayer” account is supposed to have played against one of the cheating accounts, in this case the account “ticketless”. Also, note that this is the first time I’ve walked through one of these sessions with this goal specifically in mind, so you and I are going to learn all this stuff together.

First, the session was split over nine (9) files, which I reassembled from the mess that was originally sent to Bear (Barry Greenstein, Joe’s stepdad). When I resorted it, it appears that the nine segments span a total of 75 hands that occurred on Table Fortenza on November 26, 2005, but only 55 of the hands are in these files. An additional 20 hands were not included, for reasons that none of us – even me, as I write this – have yet determined. Here’s the initial sorted roster of HH segments:

Nov. 26, 2005 Table: Fortenza Cheating Account Present: Ticketless
68720,638132_9173956_66782_66785.txt [4]
-- 1 hand missing here, and that one is where crazyplayer sits in and posts BB
68720,638132_9173956_66787_66788.txt [2]
-- 2 hands missing here
68720,638132_9173956_66791_66795.txt [5]
-- 3 hands missing here
68720,638132_9173956_66799_66804.txt [6]
-- 2 hands missing here
68720,638132_9173956_66807_66815.txt [9]
-- 3 hands missing here
68720,638132_9173956_66819_66819.txt [1]
-- 1 hand missing here
68720,638132_9173956_66821_66824.txt [4]
-- 1 hand missing here
68720,638132_9173956_66826_66826.txt [1]
-- 7 hands missing here
68720,638132_9173956_66834_66856.txt [23]
(notable table at the end, with Ozzy 87, durrrr and Mahatma also among those present)
Hands present this cluster: 55/75

One at a time, shall we?

Segment 1:
68720,638132_9173956_66782_66785.txt [4]

The [4] means that this segment contains four contiguous hands, numbered 66782 through 66785. The starting lineup:

- Ticketless is at seat 0 with $15716. 11/26/05 07:23:03 PM
- maxypaxy is at seat 2 with $7450. 11/26/05 07:23:03 PM
- FantaSizo is at seat 5 with $18112.50. 11/26/05 07:23:03 PM
- QuickSand17 is at seat 6 with $13033. 11/26/05 07:23:03 PM
- ggducky is at seat 7 with $9850. 11/26/05 07:23:03 PM
- Ozzy 87 is at seat 8 with $10000. 11/26/05 07:23:03 PM
- Fisher n Sons is at seat 9 with $9794. 11/26/05 07:23:03 PM
- The button is moved to seat 7. 11/26/05 07:23:03 PM

In this hand (#66782), Ticketless (our cheater) opens for $350 from under the gun with the lovely Kc-8c, though each and every of these accounts can be noted for their radically loose opening play. It’s part of how they operated; it’s not unusual. In this hand, though, after two calls, ggducky makes it $2400 to go and everyone folds, including the cheating account, ticketless. We can’t know if the cheating account was actually cheating here, since both explanations (seeing hole cards / not seeing hole cards) could fit; ggducky’s bet is for a quarter of his stack and the cheating account would have had no way to know how it was going to play out around the table. [By the way, think of Seat 0 as Seat 10; I think it’s just rendered that way to save computer memory.]

Anyhow, during the hand, another player joins in:

- mierbi has joined the table at seat 1. 11/26/05 07:23:23 PM
- mierbi brings $10000 to the table. 11/26/05 07:23:23 PM

But just as the last player folds and the pot is awarded, crazyplayer joins in:

- crazyplayer has joined the table at seat 3. 11/26/05 07:23:48 PM
- crazyplayer brings $5000 to the table.

One second later the hand officially ends and the next begins:

- Hand 9173956-66782 ends. 11/26/05 07:23:49 PM
- Hand 9173956-66783 begins. 11/26/05 07:23:50 PM

On to hand 66783, which the HH includes, even though crazyplayer is sitting out, waiting for the BB. That’s contrary to the explanation given to Joe, which should have precluded this hand from appearing. However, one other player did sit in during the hand, filling the table:

- Gamble4You has joined the table at seat 4. 11/26/05 07:23:58 PM
- Gamble4You brings $10000 to the table. 11/26/05 07:23:58 PM

Hand 66783 was boring anyway. QuickSand17 made it $450 to go from middle position and everyone folded, even Ticketless, who had posted the $100 big blind but held only 9s-4h.

In hand 66784, crazyplayer is still sitting out, waiting for the big blind, but we still get to see the hand’s action. Ticketless posts $50 from the SB and gets a ho-hum Js-4d, but folds it, despite the only pre-flop action being a limp-call from QuickSand17 in seat UTG+2. mierbi checks his option, the flop comes Qc-10s-4h, mierbi checks, QuickSand17 bets $250 and mierbi folds. Totally ho-hum, if we ignore the possibility that Ticketless might have been cheating here, saw that QuickSand17 was slowplaying a monster, and decided not to complete from the SB. There’s just not enough evidence to say, one way or the other, though that’s not the point of this exercise, either.

Hand 66785, the last of the four, starts this way:

- Ticketless is at seat 0 with $15216. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- mierbi is at seat 1 with $9900. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- maxypaxy is at seat 2 with $7000. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- crazyplayer is at seat 3 with $5000. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- Gamble4You is at seat 4 with $10000. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- FantaSizo is at seat 5 with $17762.50. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- QuickSand17 is at seat 6 with $13427. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- ggducky is at seat 7 with $11050. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- Ozzy 87 is at seat 8 with $10000. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- Fisher n Sons is at seat 9 with $9644.

Ticketless is now the button, mierbi the SB and maxypasy the BB. crazyplayer continues to sit out until the following hand. In this hand, it’s folded around to the Ticketless on the button who makes it $350 behind Qc-10c. Both blinds, mierbi and maxpaxy, call, and it’s three to a flop of 9s-7c-6d. Here’s some fun action for y’all to ponder:

mierbi checks
maxypaxy checks
Ticketless bets $1050
mierbi raises to $2200
maxypaxy folds
Ticketless goes all-in for $14866
mierbi folds

Mind you, that’s a stone-cold bluff reminiscent of the type we saw in the famed “potripper” sequence. One can’t help but wonder if mierbi had A-K or A-Q or A-8 and tried to steal it, and was snapped off by a cheating account that could see his bluff or semibluff in progress. But without the hole-card info, we can’t really say.

Besides, it’s not the point of this exercise. ;-)

Hand #66786 arrives! Our hero, crazyplayer, posts the big blind of $100 and joins the fun! Except the hand’s not here for us to see, being omitted from the HH’s supplied. I think that runs contrary to the assertion Joe received from the UB security guy, but that only makes it four hands out of five so far that we could say that about. I’m getting frustrated already. I’m a firm believer in Hanlon’s Razor, which states: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. But dammit, UB, you can only take stupidity so far before it ceases being a viable explanation. Maybe you really did only hire one Craigslist intern to process these things and then give him Japanese Hirobo toy assembly instructions as his sole guidance. But this is awful.

One thing we can do, which has some value, is to compute the closing stack amounts at the end of hand 66785, and see how they compare to the starting stacks for hand 66787, which is part of the next HH snippet provided. Hand 66785 started with these stacks:

- Ticketless is at seat 0 with $15216. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- mierbi is at seat 1 with $9900. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- maxypaxy is at seat 2 with $7000. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- crazyplayer is at seat 3 with $5000. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- Gamble4You is at seat 4 with $10000. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- FantaSizo is at seat 5 with $17762.50. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- QuickSand17 is at seat 6 with $13427. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- ggducky is at seat 7 with $11050. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- Ozzy 87 is at seat 8 with $10000. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- Fisher n Sons is at seat 9 with $9644.

In that hand, Ticketless picked up $350 from maxypaxy and $2,550 from mierbi, which means that the stacks at 66785’s conclusion (less that $3 rake!) should be these:

- Ticketless is at seat 0 with $18113. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- mierbi is at seat 1 with $7350. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- maxypaxy is at seat 2 with $6650. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- crazyplayer is at seat 3 with $5000. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- Gamble4You is at seat 4 with $10000. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- FantaSizo is at seat 5 with $17762.50. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- QuickSand17 is at seat 6 with $13427. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- ggducky is at seat 7 with $11050. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- Ozzy 87 is at seat 8 with $10000. 11/26/05 07:25:08 PM
- Fisher n Sons is at seat 9 with $9644.

The next HH provided includes two hands, 66787 and 66788. At the start of 66787 these stack amounts were reported:

- Ticketless is at seat 0 with $18113. 11/26/05 07:27:22 PM
- mierbi is at seat 1 with $10000. 11/26/05 07:27:22 PM
- maxypaxy is at seat 2 with $6600. 11/26/05 07:27:22 PM
- crazyplayer is at seat 3 with $4900. 11/26/05 07:27:22 PM
- Gamble4You is at seat 4 with $10000. 11/26/05 07:27:22 PM
- FantaSizo is at seat 5 with $17762.50. 11/26/05 07:27:22 PM
- QuickSand17 is at seat 6 with $13427. 11/26/05 07:27:22 PM
- ggducky is at seat 7 with $11200. 11/26/05 07:27:22 PM
- Ozzy 87 is at seat 8 with $10000. 11/26/05 07:27:22 PM
- Fisher n Sons is at seat 9 with $9644.

ggducky won hand 66786 with a preflop raise that no one called. Meanwhile, mierbi topped off his stack, restoring it to what was likely his original $10,000 buy-in.

Here’s how hand 66787 went. It’s another hand that is open to multiple interpretations, depending on whether you believe that Ticketless was actively cheating at this moment in time. We do know that Ticketless received 6s-6d in the hijack, and crazyplayer (Barry/Mimi) had Ks-5c in the SB. Preflop action:

Two folds to ggducky, who limps in. Two more folds to Ticketless, who makes it $450 with his pocket sixes. Everyone else (including crazyplayer) folds back to ggducky, who calls the extra $350.

Flop: 7c-8c-5s, and Ticketless has an underpair and an open-ender. The betting action goes:

ggducky bets $350
Ticketless raises to $700
ggducky calls

Turn: Jc

Chances are that the Jc was a really ugly card for Ticketless, and indeed the action continues like this:

ggducky bets $1,800
Ticketless folds, $1,800 returned to ggducky
ggducky wins pot of $2,447

Ticketless’s min-raise on the flop bet might be curious, because one could argue a flat-call or a bigger raise would both be better options. Without seeing ggducky’s holdings, however, it’s just conjecture, and I’d conjecture Ticketless knew ggducky had the flush draw and tried to squeeze some more money into the pot while leaving room to bail if the club came off, which is what happened.

On to hand 66788. In this hand, crazyplayer is on the button and receives the powerful 5s-2s, which is dutifully dumped in turn after other pre-flop action occurs. So according to what the UB guy told Joe, why are we seeing it here? Ticketless gets the just-as-powerful 3h-2h and limps in with it after QuickSand17 limps UTG. Gamble4You folds what must have been crap in the SB and BB FantaSizo checks his option, so three players see this flop:

8s-9h-2d

Ticketless has flopped bottom pair (deuces, no less), has no conceivable draws other than the runner-runner heart flush, but he still calls QuickSand17’s $350 post-flop bet, with FantaSizo having checked but still in the hand. (Yes, Barry, I know I’m a solid-style player, but this is out there even for LAG types.) FantaSizo folds out of the hand, and after the Qh turn, giving Ticketless a draw to a flush, the action goes like this:

QuickSand17 checks
Ticketless bets $1,200
Quicksand folds

It looks like a classic float-‘n’-steal, but in the context of all these supposed better-than-average players and a session where Ticketless does this stuff time and again, it just doesn’t smell right. And by the way, C-bets absolutely suck at a table where another player can see your cards.

Hands 66789 and 66790 were omitted from the HH sequences sent to Barry, so the run picks up again with a five-hand sequence beginning with hand 66791. Now, here’s where UB’s dumbness gets insulting. We know that at the end of hand 66788, crazyplayer (Barry/Mimi) had a stack of $4,850, the $5,000 initial buy-in minus the $150 for the first small and big blinds.

Yet, as the HH’s resume in hand 66791, we find crazyplayer sitting in mid-late position (Seat 3), with $6,197. Ticketless is down a few hundred, too, but not to crazyplayer, as later inspection determined:

- Hand 9173956-66791 begins. 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM
- 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM
- Hand #9173956-66791 at Fortenza (No Limit Hold'em) 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM
- Started at 26/Nov/05 19:30:53 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM
- Ticketless is at seat 0 with $17560. 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM
- maxypaxy is at seat 2 with $10597. 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM
- crazyplayer is at seat 3 with $6197. 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM
- Gamble4You is at seat 4 with $9400. 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM
- FantaSizo is at seat 5 with $17612.50. 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM
- QuickSand17 is at seat 6 with $12977 (sitting out). 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM
- ggducky is at seat 7 with $12347. 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM
- Ozzy 87 is at seat 8 with $10000. 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM
- Fisher n Sons is at seat 9 with $9644. 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM
- The button is moved to seat 7. 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM
- The button is at seat 7. 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM
- 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM
- Ozzy 87 posts the small blind of $50. 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM
- Fisher n Sons posts the big blind of $100. 11/26/05 07:30:53 PM

Let’s see… I’m eight hands into the first sample I’ve selected at random from among the groups showing gaps in the HH sequences, and already the assertion by the UB security guy as stated to Joe can be proven to be a pile of worthless shit. Are you really –that- incompetent, UB?

I’ll continue on with this, I guess, but it continues to just depress me. It’s all so hilariously awful, after all.

- - - - - -

Ok, I reread Joe's post and noticed something, and another poster PM'd me at the same time, and I've done some quick checking, which leads to this: The statement by the UB security might be true some of the time, but not all.

If you go back to the lists of hand sequences I posted, some of them are choppy and some of them aren't. The ones that are all chopped up may only include hands where the cheating account(s) gave action, voluntarily or not, meaning SB and BB hands are automatically included. Hands where the cheating account folds pre-flop were excised.

However, that only accounts for about half of the sequences. Others like these listed below include longer, contiguous runs of hands, where one can find many examples where the cheating account(s) did fold preflop:

May 27, 2004 Table: Flushing Cheating Account Present: NCWolfpac
68720,147524_1612888_17406_17480.txt [75 hands in file]

June 6, 2004 Table: Flushing Cheating Account Present: Starbucs
68720,40018_1747573_6712_6748.txt [37]

Mar. 25, 2005 Table: Oolong Cheating Account Present: 2yung2fast
68720,147524_5026496_3190_3190.txt [1]
-- 2 hands missing here
68720,147524_5026496_3193_3230.txt [38]

May 27, 2004 Table: Flushing Cheating Account Present: Starbucs
68720,40018_1612888_17144_17180.txt [37]

Oct. 19, 2005 Table: Blundeston Cheating Account Present: Skipmyloo
68720,40018_8513464_43158_43260.txt [103]

Oct. 20, 2005 Table: Bhipak Cheating Account Present: Skipmyloo
68720,40018_9100457_387_476.txt [90]

So at least two different extraction methods were used, and I think we could have guessed that, but now we may know why.

I'd guess that the more-chopped-up files were the later ones to be extracted, after the overall scope of the cheating became clear and greater containment methods were called for.

It causes this problem: One of the most blatant ways that people recognized the cheating in the famed AP example was in those rare hands where another player held an AA or KK monster and the cheater wanted no part of it. With the sequences chopped up in this way, there's no way to determine exactly which player might have had the monster, unless each and every player at the table got together and compared their own notes and hole-card holdings. That is unlikely to happen for several reasons.

Even then, this is the sort of cheating-by-withholding-fair-action that's not included in the bottom lime of the scandal, which was instead most likely calculated by summing the net cashouts through the known cheating accounts. UB's made it clear that they're not going there, and I guess now I realize that these chopped-up histories fit that game plan.

5 Comments:

Blogger Kevin Mathers said...

I assume you meant this is part 3, or there's a mystery part 2 blog that disappeared into the ether.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Haley said...

Yes, I renumbered them, O Master Archivist!

10:24 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

Fascinating stuff. I trust that almost everyone involved would just like to forget about it and move on.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Good stuff!

Although i'm a nobody I think you do some great work and I'm following this intensely! Keep it up!

Good luck finding a steady job.

Michael

3:11 PM  
Anonymous KenP said...

Would email this if I had an address. It is about my comments that are a bit long to include here.

http://www.pokerperambulation.com/2010/02/08/gypsies-tramps-and-thieves-2/

You're welcome to delete the link as you wish.

8:58 AM  

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