Saturday, August 14, 2010

Year of the Doomswitch Continues

As in life, so at the poker table. I fired up three SNGs to see if my 2010 malaise has abated. What a fucking joke of an idea that was.

First one, I made an isolation preflop re-raise with QQ and encountered a donkey jam by the BB, someone I already had notes on. This was an easy call, even though he turned up the expected AK. K on flop, IGHN. Checking back through recent tourney histories shows me at 3-for-19 the last six weeks when I've gotten the chips in with QQ against AK lately. Run-goot lolaments.

Second one, I get my chips in with AT against KT. Flop 89J, turn Q. IGHN.

Third one, I double up early after getting rid of some limpers with a raise to 300 (25/50) with TT. I get one caller. Flop 678. I bet, he jams, I call. He shows T7. What sort of idiot puts a fifth of his stack at risk preflop with ten-seven??? But whatever. Despite the odds of the nine coming for the chop being about 50:50, I somehow double up. I pick up another thousand when my QQ miraculously holds against 44, all in preflop.

But then, down to four players, I make the mistake of taking KK up against AJ. A on flop, of course. Next hand I have AT, moving in on a player who has me just outchipped but I think he's stealing light (and he indeed shows A7), and Mister AJ calls both me and another player... with K8. Flop KJ8. IGHN.

Enough, I tell ya. Just enough.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Just Conjecturin', Volume 24: Tying Together Some Leads

I added in the following thoughts in a 2+2 thread on these matters, and wanted to toss in a little bit more here:

Honestly, I don't know quite how to add up each and all of the pieces myself; I think I have it and then I rethink it again. Unless something hinky was going on, it just does not make sense. The original story about the crash included what appeared to be a nod and a wink about the passengers stating that they were flying to the Caribbean when the flight's registered destination was Cartagena. A Sabreliner's cruising range is 2500 miles, and it can get anywhere in the Caribbean with ease from Costa Rica. So -refueling- at Cartagena is out as a possibility, which is what I think the piece was winking at.

Look at this from both sides and you'll see the problem. Side A is that the money rumors had some truth to them. The persistent rumors involve money skimming and laundering, and if that were true, then a flight to somewhere like Antigua makes sense, because that's a little bit of a nexus (as is Netherlands Antilles) for some shady corporate banking practices. Panama has some of that, too.

Please keep in mind also for this that the amounts of money rumored -- if in American bills, the world's smuggling currency of choice -- would have filled up at least one duffel bag and maybe more if bills smaller than $100s were used. Such smuggling usually involves secretion inside the fuselage or similar subterfuge.

Now, if I were carrying a large quantity of cash and were moving it elsewhere, I'd be making an unnecessary stop in Columbia about when hell freezes over. So this line of reasoning ends in a big question mark, because there's clearly something false or wrong or missing or whatever among all these published tales.

Side B is that the rumors of large amounts of cash are wrong, and that the flight was indeed a wholly innocent, vacation-only trip. If that's true, and there was nothing wrong with the plane or no evidence of it being doctored in some way for use in smuggling, then why did the company owning it choose to abandon it after waiting two and a half years? That line of reasoning doesn't pan out either. The engines and electronics were barely or not damaged at all and were easily salvageable.

But all this really misses the point of the posts. No one has ever come up with a reason why the PotRipper cheating on September 12 was done so recklessly and with such wild abandon. All the stuff I've laid out, the timelines and stories and such in #22 and #23, point to at least one plausible theory: The person or people behind the PotRipper account needed money in a hurry to clean up a mess. That it turned into a bigger mess and brought down a cheating operation is just an indicator of how reckless it was.

* * * * *

One of the points raised in comments is very valid -- as noted in the first comment (and so far only) comment on the previous post, there may have been other legitimate reasons for the subsequent abandonment of the plane. The counterpoint to that is that there were a whole of strange happenings going on all at once, and when too many coincidences pile up, it's time to keep digging.

First, the PotRipper tourney was the first cheating done after the cheating accounts' operator(s) returned from St. Lucia/Antigua. It was also tournament cheating, as opposed to cash-game cheating; lower initial investment for a proportionately higher payout. It doesn't mean that other tournament cheating wasn't done at some previous point, but it does support the hypothesis that there was an urgent need for money, and let's not forget things like these withdrawals (and cancelled withdrawals) for the house-run Graycat account:

Notice all the cancelled withdrawals on September 8th, 2007, which happened while the cheaters were off in the Caribbean somewhere. The cheater(s) returned on September 12 and immediately cheated on a relatively new account, PotRipper. Four days later, on September 16th, there's a verified withdrawal of $150,000 from Graycat, just before the presumed remaining $30,000+ is seized and the account shut down.

The plane crash may or not have a direct bearing on some of these other things, but the "needed some money in a hurry" theory as it relates to the desperate method of cheating exhibited in the PotRipper tourney is not a concept that can be dismissed with a wave of a hand.

* * *

This image is unrelated -- I just can't connect to my free image-hosting site this morning, and need a spot to upload a miscellaneous doo-dad. Please ignore:

Friday, August 06, 2010

Just Conjecturin', Volume 23: So What Happened to the Plane?

Last post, I reprised the history of the non-fatal 2007 plane crash of the rented jet carrying AP executives Scott Tom and Hilt Tatum and their spouses, showing how the crash and a possible resumption of the intended vacation by the two executive couples corresponding with a brief gap and subsequent Caribbean island-hopping jaunt by one or more of the people behind the AP insider cheating scandal, showing that the dates offered some interesting circumstantial connections.

Not included in that post was the fact that the crashed Sabreliner was flown over to Costa Rica from Panama, picking up at least one passenger in San Juan (if not all of them), and its subsequent destination from Costa Rica as reported here was Cartegena, Columbia, not St. Lucia or Antigua.

Those same forums and stories I linked to in the previous post included many wild rumors and allegations, including one that someone on the crashed plane was carrying $2-3 million in cash, hence rampant speculation about the planned Cartegena flight.

That stuff is rumor. The following is far more factual: The Panamanian company that rented the plane, Jet Lease Corp., Inc., decided to abandon the lightly crashed plane at the Juan Santamaria airport in Costa Rica, despite significant salvage value estimated at $350,000 of the plane's original $1 million worth. It's more curious because parts from the plane are now showing up on the Latin American black market for airplane parts, as detailed in this piece.

Why would any company abandon a third of a million dollars in plane parts that can easily be sold, as has now started to happen?

Just Conjecturin', Volume 22: It's the Plane, Boss, the Plane!

With a tip of the hat to the late, great Herve Villechaize...

... as well as one to 2+2 poster TookURCookie, for reminding me about the plane crash involving Absolute Poker executives back in 2007. It occurred at 12:50pm on September 3, 2007, at the Juan Santamaria International airport in Alajuela, Costa Rica, just north of Costa Rica, wherein a rented private jet blew a tire just prior to takeoff and left the runway, skidding to a stop. No one was injured in the incident, but in leaving the runway the jet's landing gear collapsed and its fuel tank ruptured, closing the airfield for about six hours. There are some nice photos of the plane, the accident and its aftermath here.

Some of the earlier reports said that in addition to the pilot and co-pilot, two passengers were aboard. Other reports said there were four passengers, and those reports were correct: The passengers were AP executives Scott Tom and Oscar Hilt Tatum IV (two of the four Montana frat brothers who founded the firm), and their wives. Hilt's wife was five months pregnant at the time so she was transported to the hospital for a brief examination, but was quickly released.

(By the way, if anyone starts posting wedding photos on 2+2 again after reading this, I hope the mods permaban them.)

What the crash did was start off a whole series of lurid posts and stories, including some of the wildest allegations levied in all of the AP affair's aftermath -- up to $7 million in stolen funds from the AP site, Tom and/or Tatum having $2-3 million in cash on the crashed plane, allegations of cocaine use, and of course the reputed "American Beauty"-style portrait of reputed scandal kingpin and AP operational exec AJ Green (Allan J. Grimard) lying naked on a futon, mostly covered in $100 bills. That's just the start of it.

Looking back, did or do any of these tales have legs? That is, besides the reputed legs of AJ on the futon? In a future post we'll look at some of that stuff, and at least try to separate the pure rumor from what is known or can be discerned from mainstream media reports.

For now, though, it's about the crash itself, and its timing in relation to other events.

A couple of days ago, an anonymous poster on 2+2 using the handle CantStayQuietAnymo posted some usage logs and timestamps, as mentioned in my previous post. I did not have the DoubleDrag usage info, so let's put that in here, with another hat tip, and follow it by once again showing the user info for Graycat and PotChopper:

DOUBLEDRAG: Registered with IP

Shared computer with account names: PAYUP, SOX, GRAYCAT,

Only used one Computer, Device ID 11451887

IP's Used
9/6/2007 Location: ST. LUCIA
9/6/2007 thru 9/9/2007 Location: ANTIGUA
9/10/2007 Location: ANTIGUA
9/11/2007 Location: ST. LUCIA
9/13/2007 Location: COSTA RICA
9/16/2007 Location: COSTA RICA

And the two usage logs for Graycat and the one for PotRipper (click to enlarge).



PotRipper, for all its infamy, was a brief-lived and seldom-used account. It was Graycat that by all indications was the chief inside cheating account, and look at its usage history, where it was logged into on September 2, 2007, not at all on September 3 or 4, briefly on September 5. We can see DoubleDrag present in St. Lucia on September 6, and then that account corresponds with Greycat, which turned up in Antigua on September 8 and St. Lucia on September 11 before returning to Costa Rica on the afternoon of September 12, where Doubledrag also shows up the following day. Wednesday, September 12, 2007, for those of you paying attention, was also the day of the infamous PotRipper/CrazyMarco tourney that eventually exposed all the cheating.

Back to the plane crash, and an original quote from a Teletica news report:

"Los ocupantes del avión eran el piloto Mario Quesada y el copiloto David Vos, además de 4 pasajeros: 2 parejas que iban de paseo hacia el Caribe." Yahoo's BabelFish translation is wretched, but what it's saying in addition to listing the pilot and co-pilot is that the passengers were off to start a Caribbean vacation, which it reiterated a few paragraphs later on.

If one surmises that after a day or two of dealing with the airplane mishap and its aftermath, then perhaps the Toms and Tatums -- continuing under the presumption that either Scott or Hilt or both were involved in the cheating -- went ahead and rebooked a flight and tried to enjoy the rest of a Caribbean-hopping vacation.

See, if any of the accounts Graycat or PotRipper or Doubledrag were in active use at about 2:50 pm on September 3rd, it would go a long way toward exonerating Scott Tom and/or Hilt Tatum IV. Such is not the case. Even though the evidence is circumstantial, it points in the opposite direction and keeps the fingers of blame pointed squarely in the same direction, at Scott Tom and those immediately surrounding him at the top of the AP operational heirarchy.

CantStayQuietAnymo added this in his recent post:

"Now what does all this mean? Were 2 fratboys hopping islands superusing the (sh)it out of customers. Or was their only one person traveling alone using two computers to commit the crime. The latter is my guess."

He'd guess the latter? I wouldn't. The cumulative timestamps indicate that it might very well indeed have been two fratboys island-hopping and superusing the shit out of customers, with or without AJ Green's contributions, at least in the days immediately prior to the Potripper affair.

More on the plane crash later.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Just Conjecturin', Volume 21: Graycat the Traveler

Every once in a while the news peppers us with one of those feel-good stories about a cat that goes off on unintended journey of thousands of miles, hitching a ride in an airplane's cargo hold or climbing up inside a nice, warm engine compartment of an auto, only to wake up and start mewling a couple of time zones away.

Famed Absolute Poker house cheating account Greycat did that, too, seemingly, as did PotRipper. Since they'd resurfaced in different form in a recent thread on 2+2, I wanted to return to some of the information I first published regarding Graycat, Potripper, Doubledrag and the other cheating accounts, as published back in Conjecturin' 11 and 15. These images verify what's recently been published there.

Again, here's part of how Graycat traveled throughout Latin America and the Caribbean during the main cheating period. Clicking on them shows the larger version:

And here's similar for PotRipper:

Now, I can't yet find the related posts, but when the story first broke and AP peddled their original cover-up press releases, one of the tales being floated about supposed mastermind AJ Green (Alan Grimard) was that he was house-sitting at Scott Tom's Costa Rica house, thereby also attempting to explain away how the key IP residence was traced to Tom's residential address. If someone can point me to those posts or has reason to correct my memory, please contact me and I'll be happy to add it in here.

As with AP's claim about no cheating funds ever leaving the site, the evidence suggests the contrary about the whole "house sitting" tale. The reports I've heard are that AJ was one of the high-level office/operations managers, not the one doing all the traveling (even if he did some), though if an Interpol-type investigation ever dug into those Castries, St. Lucia resort registrations for the period in question, we'd know for sure, not that that's likely to happen. There aren't a lot of hotels and such there, just three or four, the largest of which seems to be the Sandals Regency complex.

About AJ Green: While it seems as though several top-level AP people were involved with participating and/or covering up the AP cheating shenanigans, AJ stands out because he's not a shareholder, to the best of my knowledge. That made him the logical choice to take the public heat, since when the fire's big enough, someone always has to get burned. There's a reasonable chance that he was paid a good chunk for doing so and was shuffled off to a parallel position with another AP division or connected company, perhaps also alleviating some of the antagonism between AJ and Costa Rican office statements that also surfaced at the time. Statements that I have received support the possibility that AJ, as with Scott Tom, remains firmly ensconced within the AP/Cereus family and related operations.

Graycat, as previously shown in this post, was an AP house account. It was originally Phil Tom's account, though Scott Tom has been reported to have used it at length as well. Phil had (perhaps still has) two cats, a gray one and a black one. They were named Graycat and Blackcat, respectively. Queue up the mouse jokes, everyone.