An unattributed statement released late in the week on behalf of Absolute Poker continued that company's attempts to put the best spin possible on the still-unfolding scandal focused on the site. That situation involves the acknowledged ability of several insider accounts having the ability to view hole-card information for all players (or having that information relayed) and thereby gaining an unfair advantage at the tables which was exploited for a large but uncertain amount.
The "Interim Statement" was sent only to a couple of highly-respected posters closely involved with exposing and tracking the scandal and posting about it at the popular poker forums PocketFives and 2+2; the interim statement itself was not released directly to any major poker news media outlet. The statement also did not carry any indication of its connection to Absolute Poker and mentioned no names specifically, either connected to the ongoing investigation or with the commenting on or creation of the statement itself. PokerNews queried the Canadian legal firm believed to be responsible for the mailing but has not, to date, received a reply.
In the statement, the unknown author portrayed Absolute as the "victim" of the situation, and reaffirmed an earlier assertion in a release from Absolute Poker owner Joe Norton that only a single "consultant" was involved in the scandal, contrary to widespread postings and selected media speculation indicating otherwise. The complete body of the as-yet-unverified statement as it appeared on poker forums reads as follows:
October 24, 2007
Absolute Poker (AP) today issued the following statement concerning the recent security breach in its system:
"Recently, AP was the victim of a breach of security in which a high-ranking consultant to the site devised a sophisticated scheme to manipulate internal systems and access third-party computers and accounts to view the hole cards of other customers during play and without their knowledge, resulting in unfair play. AP deeply regrets that this incident occurred and is committed to taking whatever steps are necessary to ensure the highest levels of security, privacy, trust and integrity throughout its entire system.
"Upon learning of the incident, AP immediately contacted Gaming Associates, an independent worldwide expert in audits, interactive gaming tests and information security, to undertake an internal investigation. Immediately thereafter, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC), AP's governing licensing authority, opened its own inquiry into the scheme. These investigations are active and on-going. AP is cooperating fully with the KGC investigation.
"The Company's internal investigation is ongoing, and its preliminary findings are subject to the final audit findings. Thus far, the Company's preliminary findings are as follows:
1. The perpetrator of the scheme was immediately terminated upon discovery and the case was turned over to the KGC.
2. AP has fully corrected the problem that allowed its system to be unfairly manipulated and is working to enhance its existing safeguards.
3. Since the initiation of the internal investigation, the databases have been locked down to ensure the integrity of the auditors' inquiry.
4. The scope of the audit will not be limited to a certain time period.
5. The suspected period of time of the security breach has been identified. This period is recent and confined to a relatively brief period. The actual dates will be publicly released upon confirmation by the third party auditor.
6. A thorough review of the game play has begun to identify all of the adversely affected players.
7. AP is committed to refunding 100% of the losses incurred by its affected customers. AP has begun the process of reimbursing its customers, and will continue to do so as quickly as possible until all customers are refunded in full.
8. Even after completion of this audit, AP intends to continue working with third party auditors and security firms to ensure that the highest level of game integrity is upheld.
9. AP is instituting strict guidelines to restrict its employees, consultants and contractors and members of their households from playing for money on its sites.
"These preliminary findings remain subject to its final audit. AP expects its internal inquiry to last for at least several weeks, and it will continue to cooperate with the KGC's investigation and to work with Gaming Associates until these outstanding investigations and inquiries are complete. AP will continue to issue interim statements related to its internal investigation as appropriate."
In related developments, former AP-sponsored pro Mark Seif, who began endorsing the site in June of 2004, provided a video commentary on the situation which was posted jointly at RawVegas.tv and wickedchopspoker.com, this shortly after a brief audio interview with Seif was posted at pokerati.com. In the RawVegas/Wicked Chops interview, Seif commented on both the Absolute situation and separate allegations attempting to link him to the scandal; those allegations against Seif remain wholly unsupported by any published evidence to date.
The Seif video is noteworthy, however, for several things. First, Seif names AJ Green in connection to the scandal. While Green — also the subject of rampant speculation as to whether "Green" is his original name — has been widely mentioned as the "consultant" in other published reports, Seif's mention was the first acknowledgment of Green's involvement by any present or former AP-connected official or public figure.
Seif also addressed persistent allegations concerning his own rumored involvement in the scandal, insisting in the video that, "I had nothing to do with this." Seif also referred to an internal chat log between he and an unnamed AP support person that he forwarded on to Nat Arem for publishing on the aforemtioned poker forums; Arem, for his part, remains at the front of the poker-playing public's quest for more information on the situation. That log, however, highlights one inconsistency in the more "official" Absolute statements, where the unnamed support person mentions, "everything being demolished by a couple of stuipid" [sic] "and ignorant maniacs."
Seif also revealed that Absolute has already reimbursed "upwards of a million dollars" to accounts affected by the known cheating, with additional reimbursements likely as Absolute continues to examine the play of the various cheating accounts.
PokerNews will continue to monitor the Absolute Poker situation and report as new events warrant.