Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just Conjecturin', Part 5: If a Forrest is Silent, Does That Mean There Aren't Any Trees?

Yeah, it's been a while since I ventured into the land of UltimateBet, as it's not a joyful thing to have to sit down and write. Nonetheless, even as the general cowardice and cravenness of the poker world never ceases to amaze me, I note that someone has to do this stuff. So, before I'm off to wash my hands yet again...

When last I brought up the topic of UltimateBet and its original Excapsa ownership bloc, I referenced the 56% of the original 200-plus million shares whose owners (by formal entity) had been made public. That list read as follows:

Erik E. Pierson -- 10,128
Leonard L. Pierson -- 5,000
Melva S. Pierson – 5,000
Fred (J.) David -- 1,680,000
Daniel P. Cunningham and Melissa M. Cunningham - 2,085,872

RBC Trustees (CI) Ltd. (trustee of The Westwood Trust) -- 3,279,792
Charles Schaupp -- 3,843,504
Omaha Beech Investments LLC -- 4,000,000
The Desert Palm Irrevocable Trust -- 4,304,730
Molly O'Hearn Living Trust -- 4,304,728

The Tip Top Irrevocable Trust -- 9,385,822
The Rising Son Irrevocable Trust -- 13,220,816
Dale Lovett – 10,256
Leonard J. Morgan -- 5,000
Charles F. Fletcher II -- 5,128

Tamara Jean Smith -- 5,128
Tamara J. Smith -- 5,000
Julia Bodine -- 5,128
Richard S. Yugler – 5,128
Stephanie Harlen – 8,000

Rick Vail – 5,128
Joel N. Cunningham -- 12,300
James B. Cunningham – 75,944
Corwin Swick -- 20,000
Whitney Arnold -- 70,000

Scott Kirkowski -- 84,000
Jason Karl -- 255,984
Daniel Friedberg and Raywa Friedberg, (JT TEN) -- 331,069
Gerald Fujii -- 443,997
Melissa L. S. Gaddis -- 737,952

Uri Kozai -- 1,200,000
Daniel Friedberg -- 1,360,000
The Clearwater Irrevocable Trust -- 2,085,872
Chomvilai Hanchena -- 2,935,512
Roger K. Gaumnitz Family Partnership -- 3,074,800

The Jack McClelland and Elizabeth McClelland Trust -- 1,229,920
Manchurian Living Trust -- 1,574,800
Duane J “Dewey” and Judith K. Weum, JT TEN -- 1,974,800
Fluffhead LLC - 2,975,839
Monsour Matloubi -- 3,846,256

Russell W. Hamilton, Jr. -- 4,304,720
Brett David Calapp – 5,128
Carolyn Heick -- 587,952
Derek C. Morgan – 2,500
IGL Group IM – 46,153

Kirstin Thomas – 80,000
Daniel P. Cunningham, Dorothy B. Cunningham (joint tenants) – 130,740
Nicholas M. and Aimee K. Leonard, TEN COMM – 275,000
The Mountain Ridge Irrevocable Trust – 410,792
James P. Hendrie – 537,952

(Ida) Susan Albrecht – 922,480 [widow of James Albrecht]
The KMJ BelleFountain – 2,128,000
John G. Lowe – 2,774,800
The Tranquility Irrevocable Trust (Close Trustees Cayman Limited TR) – 3,279,784
The Rough Diamond Irrevocable Trust (South Dakota Trust Company, LLC) – 3,384,800

MS Irrevocable Trust – 4,804,720
The Vision Irrevocable Trust – 7,489,323
The Grandview Irrevocable Trust (trustee, Meridian Trust Company Ltd.) – 13,220,816

In addition, a number of other entities were mentioned as owners in documentation accompanying an Excapsa legal matter, including one of what is believed to be several entities tied directly to Phil Hellmuth. But what I hadn't gotten around to was a look at some of the names behind the trusts; many of these remain well hidden, while others were outed due to good work at 2+2 and other poker forums. I'll add still more to that.

While Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke, Russ Hamilton and Mansour Matloubi were already known to be associated with UltimateBet, the big name who was outed as a UB owner was none other than Professor Backwards himself, Ted Forrest. More formally known as William Ted Forrest, the venerable "Big Game" participant was tied either by proxy signature, facsimile cover-sheet phone number (LOL), or physical street address to three major ownership entities from the above list:

Omaha Beech Investments -- 4,000,000 shares
The Desert Palm Irrevocable Trust -- 4,304,730 shares
The Clearwater Irrevocable Trust -- 2,085,872 shares

That's a minimum of 10,390,602 shares of Excapsa stock which belong to Ted Forrest, which makes him among the most significant player/owners involved with the company. Hellmuth's total shares remain unknown, while Duke has a known bloc of 2,975,839 shares under her Fluffhead LLC entity, Russ Hamilton had 4,304,720 shares (since forfeited), and Matloubi's one known bloc -- there may be others, which also holds true for the other pros cited here -- checked in at 3,846,256 shares.

Here's some imagery to firm up Forrest's and Duke's ownership connection to UB. First, the top of a fax sheet sending back the signed proxy for one of Forrest's ownership blocs above:

I've redacted a portion of the phone numbers for Forrest and Oregon-based Iovation, which was running ownership matters for Excapsa (UB) at this time, and cropped out some of the white space so the photo fits better here. While it seems that Iovation principals have always had a major say in UB operations, it's a bit sloppy to leave a paper trail such as the above that connects a US firm to a company directly involved in online blackjack. The poker, no problem, but UB had/has an online blackjack division as well. So we'll just call that one a big LOOOOOOOOOL.

As for Annie, let's compare the signature on the "Fluffhead" proxy to that appearing on a signed Annie Duke corrugated-aluminum poker chip case which appeared on eBay a few weeks back. Most public figures have two forms of their signature, a fancier "presentation" sig for special uses, and an "everyday" sig fo stuff like this. While one can find fancier Annie sigs, these two examples are of the "everyday" variety:

That seems to be a match, and verifies Duke's UB ownership in the absence of any contradicting evidence. (And LOOOL again at being asked to sign a corrugated aluminum poker chip case. That sucks.)

Other poker notables found in the above ownership list are Dewey Weum and two veteran insiders of the poker industry, Jack McClelland and the late Jim Albrecht. It also brings up an idle point of thought for those whose minds, like mine, are apt to wander: Given that both McClelland and Albrecht were closely tied to the Jack Binion poker/casino machine, what are the chances that the great Binion himself has a secret hidden slice of UB? It's not a big chance at all, given the damage that exposure of such a stake could cause to Binion's other casino interests. But still, there's a tiny chance, perhaps one or two percent. Put it this way: It's highly unlikely that Jack Binion owns a piece of any online room, but if he does, it's quite possibly UltimateBet.

I'm still searching into the identities behind some of the more "secret" trusts on the list above, although it's nothing I'm wasting major blocs of time on uncovering. Most of the hidden entities are theorized to tie to Iovation and Excapsa bigwigs Greg Pierson and Jon Karl, and though there's a belief that some of the entities in the above list are Hellmuth's, I'm inclined to disagree. There's another 44% of Excapsa stock whose specific ownership is unknown, and the one small ownership entity that can be tied to Hellmuth, The Michelle Hellmuth Trust, is not on the list of the 56% who voted in favor of the liquidation-related action causing the publication of these shares. It seems unlikely that any of the major players would be splitting up their votes, especially since the issue at hand seemed to be whether to cash out $40 million in liquid assets or reinvest it in the company, in the face of the blossoming UB insider scandal. (Note: If any major UB owner wants to send me a note and clarify whether this was indeed the battling point, I'll be happy to adjust this theory.) Therefore, according to my theory, Hellmuth's shares are among the 44% not specifically voting "yes" on this matter. There are probably two or three other notable "poker" names among that 44%, but those identities may never see the light of day.

However, it's easier to note for fact's sake the true identities of some of the other names on the list. A lot of the tiny 5,000 and 8,000 shares seem to be either low-level Iovation employees or relatives and friends of major owners who received small stakes as gifts. They pretty much don't count in voting matters. Buried in the UB court documents is a reference to one of these minor shareholders, an Art Stoop, who unsuccessfully tried to cash out his tiny holdings around the time the UB scandal broke but was apparently told no. Poor Art probably got himself a $250 dividend a few months back, but the matter of ongoing Excapsa dividends is, again, a topic for a future post.

Some of the ownership stakes here, though, are bigger. The "Roger K. Gaumnitz Family Partnership" traces to Wisconsinite Roger Gaumnitz, who seems to be a wealthy business friend/associate of Milwaukeean Dewey Weum. There is a spurious tie to Hellmuth's dad, Phil Hellmuth Sr., through a U. of Wisconsin donor list, but the Weum tie is solid, since they witnessed each other's proxy signatures.

Another friend/relative relationship explains the 2.935 million shares of Thailand's Chomvilai Hanchena, who is closely connected to Mansour Matloubi. Hancheni's stake isn't that far shy of Matloubi's own 3.8 million share stake.

Then there's folks such as Washington state physician Gerald Fujii, whose 443,997-share stake probably originated with his friendship with one of the big Iovation bosses, perhaps Pierson himself. He even faxed back his proxy from his doctor's office, hard-working dude that he is.

Next time out: a look at the known Russ Hamilton ownership stake, and the amount of shares provably forfeited in the UB scandal. Do they match? Of course not.


TenMile said...

This UB story is almost as much fun as watching Congress.

Anonymous said...

Charles is aka Chuck Sharp, the legendary 80's Las Vegas sports bettor closely associated with Russ.