Haley's Poker Blog

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

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Just Conjecturin', Volume 26: Who or What is Riviera, Ltd.?

Some new documents connected to the ongoing Excapsa/Cereus/AP legal maneuverings have popped up over on the wsbg.com liquidation site, and I'll return to the topic of Avione soon enough. Just note that business name for a bit; it's important. It is, however, just one important element in the net of shell companies surrounding all things Cereus. Today we'll post a bit on other matters, mostly because I already have this post largely written and I haven't published anything of note in a couple of weeks.

One of the difficulties I've encountered in researching various aspects of the scandals is deciding when to release certain pieces of information, balancing the information itself against the need or promise to protect many sources' identities. It's that which makes me agonize at times over releasing various items. I believe there will come a time when all can be told, but I also believe that patience in some matters is best, knowing that there are internal pressures afoot that continue to slowly force these entire stories into public view.

There are three dynamic groups presently battling over Cereus assets and control. Two of the three are aggrieved shareholder blocs -- one each on the Excapsa (UltimateBet) and Absolute Poker sides -- with the inner core group currently in control at AP euphemistically referred to as the "Toms and Tatums" (plus a few privileged others), which may now include a select few eWorld players who came along for the ride, post-acquisition. It seems clear that the power brokers at both companies left the rank-and-file shareholders grasping air back in late 2006, only to see the whole pyramid totter when the reverberations from the multiple cheating scandals came clear. The scandals combined with the UIGEA fallout left significantly less revenue to play with, leaving these various groups to fight for whatever was left.

I have many, many e-mails and anecdotes about certain people's involvement, but perhaps a bit of hard evidence is needed today as a change of pace. Both UB and AP were crafted in layered, obfuscating ways, and as indicated above, Cereus's structure today is another slathering of layers over the top of what previously existed, made even more obtuse by the recent paper sale to Antigua-based Blanca Games. The Blanca sale seems to have been put together in early July, a very rush-rush deal, perhaps precipated -- and this is my opinion only -- by Joe Norton no longer wanting to be tied to the Cereus stink. To think this is anything other than a shell sale designed to hide assets is folly. As one of my trusted friends wrote to me a few weeks back: "Re: stupid... Stuart Gordon is your knight in shining armor??"

Gordon has been alleged to me to be a friend of one of the AP frat boys, closely tied to the Costa Rica scene. 'Nuff said. (With apologies to Stan Lee, natch.)

Today, though, let's drift elsewhere. Before one can fully grasp the state of Cereus present, one needs to flesh out a better picture of Cereus past. The old bones are still there if you look in the right spots.

People may remember that when Nat, I and at least one other person honed in on the importance of the infamous "scott@rivieraltd.com" address in CrazyMarco's spreadsheet, the folks at AP seem to have gone into a panic to change things and cover them up. Mind you, this was late 2007 -- meaning the operational people who then set out to cover things up were the same people, by and large, who remain working at Cereus today.

I haven't gone back and pulled the chat logs and e-mails Nat Arem and I had, because by themselves they're of little importance. Without even looking at those, though, I can tell you that it was late the night of October 15, 2007 when the search got this breakthrough; I was on chat with him that night a couple of different times. I knew he had the greater tech capability and asked him to look closer at "rivieraltd.com," and Nat is the one who pinged the domain, did some other checking and found the direct link to the Mohawk server farm. Here's how Nat typed in his findings back then on 2+2:

10-15-2007, 11:32 PM #517
N 82 50 24
Pooh-Bah

Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 5,024

Re: lolz super accountz
Wow, I just found something else that I think is huge. This whole thing could run reallllly deep.

Okay, so, the email of the 2nd guy (ie, NOT user 363) is at the domain "rivieraltd.com" -- that is the domain registered with Domain Discreet.

I don't know why I didn't think of this earlier, but I pinged rivieraltd.com to get the IP at which it is hosted (going to the website doesn't show anything except the email login). The IP address is 66.212.244.147.

I then ran a traceroute on 66.212.244.147 to see where it is hosted. That IP address traces back to "po12.dr4.kdca.mohawk.ca" ... which is obviously connected to Kahnawake.

Simple explanation for those who don't understand:

The guy who was on the same IP as the user 363 had his email set to an email that is hosted by Kahnawake Gaming Commission.


But that's not at all the story. What happened was that the uncovering and recognition of the rivieraltd.com domain seems to have set off a frantic coverup of both the domain itself and the people behind it. "They're changing things!" is how I remember Nat relaying this, even as 2+2 participants discussed the findings and their significance in this thread. Among other things, the whois for the domain ownership record was immediately changed, locked and sealed in such a way that these days I think it'd take a court order or action by government investigators to uncover it in its original form. The internet records show that it had swung over to October 16, 2007 as these changes started to be made, time calculated by whatever or wherever location officially tracks such matters.

However, the act of covering stuff up leaves its own distinctive footprint, much the way that using bleach to destroy a bloodstain gets rid of the DNA but tends to leave big bleachy residue stains where none ought to appear. The people responsible changed stuff repeatedly over the next several days, as shown by the historical whois, which simply notes the dates changes are made and which is public record:



At least one change was made to the site each day on those shown above, all starting on October 16, when the corporate coverup shifted into panic mode. Note that the above screen only shows those days when changes were made; in all likelihood, multiple changes to the records were made on one or more of those days as well.

The rivieraltd.com domain, in case you're wondering, was created in February of 2007, and it was at the time of its public outing a gateway to a mail server. Rivieraltd.com, in addition to whatever role it had/has, seems to have been the mail hub of choice for AP executives, managers, owners, etc., and I'm in possession of several e-mails showing AP VIPs using rivieraltd.com addresses for corporate matters. I choose not to publish these at this time, for multiple reasons, but may in the near future.

Still, the rivieraltd.com domain remains interesting, and it is still associated with AP and Cereus today. Soon after the discovery of its connection to Absolute Poker, the domain information was changed and blocked. However, either the information has been changed again, or the company just got lazy about keeping the information hidden between some registrar's anonymous hosting service. Today a public view of rivieraltd.com is again visible, though surfing to the site itself shows nothing but air:



The listed registrant, Diana Hunt, is a confirmed AP shareholder. More importantly, she has multiple connections to the inner ownership group, being another U of Montana graduate, and she's spent time in Las Vegas, Portland and elsewhere. She has (or has had in the past) connections on social networking sites with other AP notables, and is reputed to be close friends with Tom Wenz, who is also an AP shareholder and currently believed to be #3 in Cereus's present chain of command.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Now Doing Reviews -- Poker Books Wanted

A little bit of work comin' my way, it seems, as an under-renovation poker site wants yours truly to do an ongoing, extensive series of book reviews. Once the site is reworked and operational I'll post a link to it here. It's not for a whole lot of pay, but it least it gives me something new to write about.

While we're going to start out with many of the classic of poker literature and strategy -- such as they are -- I plan to review just about anything that comes my way. This includes books past and present, eBooks, and just about anything you could name, if all goes according to plan. Therefore, if you've got a book or books you'd like me to consider for review, please contact me for mailing instructions. (Random donations of old poker books will also be accepted.) I own perhaps 40 poker books already, which is not a largish library by any measure, but obviously those 40 I'd have no need to receive again.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Just Conjecturin', Volume 25: Flotsam, Jetsam and other Errata

While I'm waiting for a few hotter leads in the ongoing scandals to work themselves out, I've decided to go back and correct a few of the things I've gotten wrong in previous posts. From Post 1 of this entire series, when I didn't know nearly as much as I do today, I said I'd be willing to get things wrong and fix them later if that's what it took to force the full stories out.

That's why I named this the "Conjecturin'" series way back when. From yourdictionary.com:

Conjecture:

con·jec·ture (kən jek′c̸hər)

noun

1. an inferring, theorizing, or predicting from incomplete or uncertain evidence; guesswork: an editorial full of conjecture
2. an inference, theory, or prediction based on guesswork; guess
3. Obsolete occult divination


Definition #3 is cool, but a bit off track. Moving on....

It wasn't until after the first half dozen posts or so that new facts and evidence began to emerge, but by then it hardly paid to change the series' title. I even said this, back in that JC #1: "Note that I could be full of it on some of the details, but here's the start of my best guess as to how it all unfolded."

Way back in that JC #1, I theorized incorrectly that it was 2001 when UltimateBet came together. It was actually 1999, and the genesis of it may have been back in 1998. Though the date was wrong, my theories of how and why it came together seem to have been more or less on the mark, even if I now know those thoughts were very incomplete and described only a small part of the greater picture.

Probably the place where I went most off course was in JC #6, where I attempted a mathematical exploration of what happened to 2.6 million shares that were forfeited as part of the initial scandal developments at UB. It was clear that 4.3 of the 6.9 million shares that were forcibly seized belonged to Russ Hamilton, but the other 2.6 million's ownership was anybody's... conjecture. I attempted a complicated mathematical explanation that hinted that these shares might have been Fred David's, as David was a known key member of the operations staff and was indeed the person whose name was connected to the much-publicized "-fred-" internal transfer account, one of at least five such transfer accounts that existed. Those transfer accounts had no purpose for existing except to shuffle money around, sometimes legitimately, sometimes not.

But it now appears that Fred David was just the loyal soldier/company worker following orders from ownership, though of course time will tell all. The -fred- account may not even have been under his unilateral control. Moreover, his shares were not among those seized as part of the remainder of that initial 6.9 million cancellation, nor were his shares among those surrendered in the second round of share annulments, though those of three others were. I've held back from publicizing those three names because at least one of those was also innocent of the cheating, but was seemingly caught in some legal trickery. There have been some dirty lawyers afoot. Lots of them.

Also, the early JC posts that looked at hand histories were simply a false lead. The UB hand histories as released were nothing but a complicated attempt to obfuscate the real truth while attempting to justify the refunded amounts as being a whole and fair settlement. But it was always a shell game, and I wasted a couple of days back then trying to find examples of cheating that simply didn't, couldn't exist in what was provided. I won't delete those posts because I wrote them back then in good faith (and misguided effort), but except for exposing the bogus and chopped-up nature of the hand histories and how they were parceled out to players, the content within the hands themselves is pretty much worthless.

The reason why complete UB hand histories have never been released is very simple: Doing so would expose other accounts and different avenues of cheating and theft not already publicly acknowledged, even if in relatively smaller quantities than the $22 million or so accounted for in the one massive family of cheating accounts already partially exposed. There's more to it than that, but that's the bottom line.

That's enough for today, I think.