Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Just Conjecturin', Part 2: Sebok Signing (Update)

Saw this morning that Joe Sebok's signing with UB was finally announced. Back in July there were several "rumor" stories on a handful of sites, such as this one. It was one of those open secrets. Now we can ascertain that UB was likely waiting for the official KGC release on the UB insider cheating scandal to drop (and settle down a hair) before going forward with the official Sebok signing.

I also think Pauly was aware of it but was just teasin' his readers a bit over at Casa TaoPauly this morning. Seems as though Pauly is channeling Iggy and has disabled comments, too.

As for Joe, he's a great guy and I wish him the best, even though it looks like he's already been caught a bit by likely having signed off on an official announcement some time ago and then having UB veer off in a different direction. To me the signing reads as though UB has purchased Joe's good name, and we'll have to see how it all plays out. But from the release, quoting Joe:

"The first order of business with my position at UB has been to help aid in the release of not only ALL of the hand histories from the super-user scandal, but also the accounts that were used to perpetuate the scandal itself and the actual physical names of those individuals who we believe to have been directly involved in disparate ways with the actual cheating. As most of you know, two-thirds of this has now been accomplished."

Make that one third, not two. Sometime between Joe signing off on this release and its official distribution, UB seems to have found itself unable to pull the trigger on sending out the hand histories. If they can't send out those histories and allow people to begin to assemble pictures of their own exposure to the scandal, then there's less reason to believe that Joe's announced plan to help make those 31 names public will succeed. Still, I wish him the best. It's possible there will be a very quick move here by UB to begin sending out those histories, too.

Meanwhile, since idle hands are the devil's tools, I've been playing around a bit, assembling my own list of who might be among those 31 people actively connected to Russ Hamilton in the scandal. I've identified seven probables to date, but I've barely started this stuff. Only two of the seven I think the list will contain are recognizable poker names, and neither Annie Duke nor Phil Hellmuth are among them. I think Duke and Hellmuth have acted to preserve their own financial interests in the manner they thought, right or wrong, was best, but it seems clear they were not among the cheaters.

UPDATE: I've been following the 2+2 thread on Joe's signing today, and as expected, the consensus opinion is negative. Perhaps the most interesting thing within the thread is a post from Barry Greenstein (a PokerStars "A"-lister, and also Joe's stepdad) confirming that Barry was against Joe's signing and that it was a highly risky move.

Barry's statement is a typical Barry post, detailing several items and not dodging the hard points. Barry's a pretty straight shooter and generally considered to be one of the game's good guys. That said, there's one eyebrow-raiser in Barry's post today: "3. I'm pretty sure the Ub cheaters who were with the company are gone, and also the company has been sold since the cheating occurred...."

If Barry has one blind spot, it seems to be a willingness to faithfully accept what other people tell him, those people being somewhat less trustworthy than he. He did it once by originally stating that he though Russ H. was innocent -- since retracted in the face of increasing evidence against Hamilton being made public -- and he's done it here by accepting at face value the party line about UB being sold, with the implied continuation that the sale was to new ownership. The company was sold, surely, but [seemingly] mostly to itself, based on Canadian court documents on related matters. There's also no public evidence yet that all those complicit in the scandal have been removed, even though we know that Hamilton's shares in the company were revoked in 2008, though well after the "sale" of the firm in late 2006. The revocation was also based on the KGC investigation, which was concurrent with but not identical to the freezing of payments made in connection with the sale/restructuring to Tokwiro.

Think of it this way: If the company had been sold from one set of owners to an entirely different and new set of owners, and the original owners were therefore no longer involved, then Hamilton's shares would have been worthless and there would have been no need for any revocation. At the time of the settlement between Excapsa and Tokwiro (the ownership bloc added to the overall UB umbrella), the money flowed to Tokwiro from the old Excapsa bloc, not the other way. The Hamilton revocation was a show pony.

It all means that Barry's line above just doesn't hold up under any real scrutiny. But when one accepts and retells what one's friends are saying, these things happen. Barry wants to protect his friends, as any good friend should, and he certainly wants to look out for both his stepson and his business interests.

I'll be looking at that ownership structure in a future post. Fortunately for interested observers, a good portion (but not all) of UB's original ownership structure was laid bare during the dissolution of the original holding company, and it's a learning experience to see how a company such as UB came together. It's a shame that a lot of good and honest UB owners lost quantifiable chunks of money settling up for the messes that the cheaters made, but a couple of old saws apply: Saw #1: Ya dance with who brung ya. Saw #2: You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

Next time: The 56% Solution.


Pauly said...

FYI... my comments are not disabled.

Haley said...

Nope, don't seem to be -- but they definitely were not showing up on your blog when I wrote that. I scanned up and down the blog looking for comments and they weren't showing up.