Sunday February 21,2016 : IOVATION AND ULTIMATEBET POKER SCANDAL REVISITED (Update)
Another look at how recently Nevada-licensed Iovation is associated with online poker's biggest ever cheating scandal.
Last week's news that Greg Pierson's geolocation and verification company Iovation has been awarded a Nevada Gaming Commission licence surprised many in the industry, and prompted investigative journalist Haley Hintze to revisit online poker's biggest yet cheating scandal.
Our readers will perhaps recall that Hintze is something of an expert on the UltimateBet scandal, having conducted a comprehensive and professionally documented investigation of the affair over the years and exposed much of the background and the individuals involved.
In her weekend article Hintze publishes a Q&A interview she conducted with ielogic programmer Jack Bates, who was there when the orders to the programming staff to create the used-for-cheating tool came down through iovation’s (then known as ieLogic) management.
Bates did not personally program "God Mode" as the cheating program came to be known (internally it was titled “Stealth Observer”) but he was with the company at the time.
The interview is a long but interesting and in-depth study of the historical situation on how "God Mode" originated, made currently relevant by the award of Iovation's new Nevada licence and therefore well worth a full read.
Cliff notes include:
* The programming of the original cheating tool and the ongoing maintenance took place Portland by ieLogic/iovation staffers;
* Programmer Brian Russ was the original coder tasked with creating the capability, and another programmer named Todd Bartleson did the necessary updates to maintain the facility;
* Hintze furnished the complete transcript of her original interview with Bates to the Nevada Gaming Commission three months ago, claiming that it shows the genesis of the cheating tool, and that UltimateBet was "absolutely, incontrovertible being operated from Portland, not Toronto."
* Prior to the creation of God Mode there was on the UltimateBet servers a capability for restricted personnel to examine log files, and even inspect live action;
* Access to those servers was strictly controlled and limited to Bates and three other senior employees: Daniel Cunningham, the company’s lead engineer and software designer, Chief Technical Officer Jason DeHaan and Brian Russ. Hintze notes that a fifth programmer, Scott Kirkowski may also have had access. In the interview Bates details the authority and responsibilities of those with access;
* The plan to create a purpose-built cheating tool titled Stealth Observer was broached as a security-anti-cheating measure at an engineering meeting in early 2003 attended by Bates and a number of named colleagues in Portland. Bates and some of his colleagues were not in favour of the idea and said as much to DeHaan, but this was disregarded and the programming was carried out by Brian Russ, who was not involved in the subsequent cheating;
* Bates gives a detailed technical description of the tool that emerged from this decision, noting that whenever a deal was done, that stealth observer could see all the hole cards at the table…and there were later additions;
* Access to Stealth Observer was restricted to Bates and three other senior employees: Daniel Cunningham, the company’s lead engineer and software designer, Chief Technical Officer Jason DeHaan and Brian Russ, although Bates did not use his access. Later in the interview Bates includes another programmer, Todd Bartleson who may have had technical access to update the program;
* Bates makes the point that many of the technical employees at ielogic were not poker players and in many cases did not really understand what was happening in terms of poker action through the servers;
* Bates knew of emails concerning Stealth Observer that were copied to Russ Hamilton, a shareholder in the company who was subsequently named by a KGC investigation as the principal cheater using "God Mode". Bates said there were frequent management orders of facilities Hamilton wanted;
* Hintze has promised further detailed revelations in the near future.