PokerRoad mastermind Joe Sebok has joined forces withUltimateBet as one of the site's sponsored players and has also taken a company position as a media and operations consultant. According to a recent UltimateBet press release, Sebok will act as a an intermediary between UltimateBet staffers and the site's all-star roster of players.
According to Paul Leggett, chief operating officer of parent company Tokwiro Enterprises, Sebok is a perfect addition to the site's growing lineup of top-flight players. "We are ecstatic to bring Joe onto Team UB. He will not only serve as a pro player representing the brand, but more importantly will be instrumental in helping us create a poker site for and by poker players. His commitment to the brand was invaluable as he worked closely with me to help begin to bring closure on the details surrounding the cheating investigation from last year. I'll continue to work with him to ensure that we always do everything possible to satisfy the poker community’s concerns and will continue to work together to make UB the premier poker site. I couldn't be happier to welcome Joe to the team today," he said.
Although heavily involved with PokerRoad, Sebok said UltimateBet started pursuing him several months ago, but he had to make sure things were on the up-and-up with the site. "They told me that they were very interested and initially I was too turned off by the past scandal to even consider it. We kept talking, though, and it quickly became apparent that both Paul Leggett and I were on the same page with wanting to not only to do things completely differently, but also to atone for the way things had been handled in the past. From that point, it was just a matter of getting a few things started to make us both feel comfortable" Sebok said in an interview with Pokernews.com.
Having drawn a line in the sand, Sebok felt there were three hurdles to get over before he could take Leggett seriously. "For me personally, I wanted to get three things accomplished: get the cheating account handles out in the open, open up the access for players to get all their hand histories, and get the actual physical names of the cheaters, besides Russ Hamilton, out in the open. We succeeded in getting two-thirds of that list done and that was enough for me to come on board and continue to work for #3 on that list," he said.
According to Sebok, the company's willingness to take action helped fan the negotiations. "I can’t say enough about Paul and the UB team and how dedicated they have been to righting this situation at this point. There are a number of factors which make it tough to release the physical names of the cheaters, but we are working on some of those. The team at UB understands that things were handled poorly in the scandal and are genuinely working to try and correct those mistakes."
For Sebok, Tokwiro's willingness to be transparent with its information once the Kawanake Gaming Commission's report was released is the biggest reason why he decided to join the site's ranks. "It was something I felt UB needed to begin getting accomplished before I came aboard. Paul agreed and we worked to get those releases prepared and out in the open. The real work was all Paul, though, and the UB team. They certainly deserve the credit for beginning this process of disclosure. There’s no arguing for the way that UB handled the superuser scandal initially, but all parties now are dedicated to correcting some of those mistakes and moving forward with complete transparency and integrity," he said.
While UltimateBet courted Sebok, he took time to go to Costa Rica to observe the business for himself. "My trip down to Costa Rica was to get a feel for things in terms of processes within the company, as well as to meet the entire team. I’m incredibly lucky in terms of really being able to get involved as more than just a sponsored pro. As the “Media and Operations Consultant” for UB, I sat down with the heads of marketing, security, management and the entire team and talked through some of the problems that had come up in the past and what steps had been taken to ensure that those couldn’t rear their heads again. It was fear-assuaging to talk through some of the security concerns, identify what leaks had enabled the cheating to take place, as well as how those leaks have been plugged. We also came up with a few creative ideas to strengthen the UB security in the future as well, so I was very happy with the meetings for sure. In addition, I was physically walked through each department and got a feel for UB’s daily operations."
According to Sebok, he needed to make sure his requisites were met before taking the plunge with the controversial operator. "My goals were to make sure I was making the right decision and joining up with a team that I felt looked at things the same way I did, as well as had the same dedication to righting the UB ship, which I found everyone did. From marketing to the other teams, I was absolutely welcomed and have been given a truly uncommon opportunity to get involved unlike most other pros and I can’t thank UB enough for that."
Although Sebok's decision was an easy one once he saw evidence that Tokwiro was taking steps to ensure its legitimacy, he was deeply concerned about the poker community's reaction to his decision. "I was, and am, very concerned and certainly nervous. I have worked very hard for my reputation in the poker community and I know that I may be taking a negative shot for joining up with UB. That’s why the deal took so long for us to hash through. Paul wanted me to be comfortable in every way and I can’t thank him enough for that. He was often the one who suggested that we put things off a little longer if there was anything that didn’t sit well with me. At the end of the day, I was thoroughly pleased and impressed with UB. The company is headed in the right direction and they are aware of the issues that they need to conquer in order to correct what went wrong. The fact of the matter was that UB leadership did handle the superuser scandal terribly in the past. There is no arguing that. It’s a fact, and one which their leadership understands," he said.
Sebok believes he can take a hands-on role with the company thanks to his new position. "I intend to be incredibly active and this won’t be a lip-service title of any kind. As far as the media side of things, UB’s marketing team and I have already begun to collaborate on some sick awesome ideas coming up, and you’ll see the fruits of those conversations very soon. I’ve learned quite a bit about what poker fans want while running PokerRoad.com and I intend to bring those lessons to the UB team to contribute to some very cool stuff and ideas they already have. I don’t want to let any cats out of any bags yet, but trust me when I say it’s going to be very sick, and very fun. Poker fans and the UB roster of pros are in for a treat very soon."
In addition to improving the operations side of things, we all thought it very important to keep that title set as “operations,” as I intend to travel down to Costa Rica often to work with the team. I have already sat with the security team and worked through their processes and was honestly impressed with their improvements. We also have some creative ideas for strengthening security across all of online poker and we’ll be sure to let you know when those are ready to roll as well. I intend to be involved in as many facets of the company as the team over at UB will allow me to. Anyone that has worked with me in the past knows that it is very hard for me not to get deeply involved in anything I do and my role at UB will follow suit,” he said.
Although Sebok is now part of the UB family, he is adamant that things won't change on his baby PokerRoad. "UB and I have sealed a sponsorship for me and I will be representing them. This doesn’t mean that they will be taking over PokerRoad.com, so fans should rest easy there. It’s not about to become UltimateBetRoad or anything like that. PokerRoad will be bringing the same content, from the same spectrum of pros as we always have and there won’t be some massive tilt towards UB, or any other site for that matter, on PokerRoad.com."
If there were any doubters about Sebok's commitment to helping run a tight ship at UB, consider that PokerRoad Radio and other Sebok projects will be used to help monitor the site while providing the audience with a sounding board. "I hope that fans and players rest easier knowing that I am a UB pro now. I will absolutely be keeping both eyes open and will be the first to call out any wrongdoing if any were to happen there. Anyone that knows me knows beyond a doubt that I would never be involved in a company that I believed to be dishonest and that still holds true. I have no fear of this happening, having met and worked with the UB management now, but rest assured that I will be vigilant and vocal in my roles at UB," he said.
As if he wasn't busy enough, Sebok and his new deal will be hitting the tournament circuit within days. "The poker world’s vacation is over, as you know, and I personally will be heading to London for the WSOP Europe and then immediately off to Aruba for UB’s event there, before coming back to Las Vegas and hitting the Bellagio event in late October. No rest for the wicked, and that includes all of us as poker players. PokerRoad Radio will also be hitting those stops with me, so the long wait is over, fans!"
We at PokerNews would like to congratulate Joe and wish him well in his new endeavour.
Online poker players at UltimateBet can employ the online poker site’s free UltimateBuddy feature to discover where Joe Sebok is playing under the name joesebok. Don't have a UB account? Sign up now!