Brent Beckley of UB and Absolute Poker Released from Jail
As many of you will remember, a series of head executives from major online poker rooms were indicted on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud back in 2011 amidst the Black Friday debacle that saw Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars officially shut down by the US Department of Justice. One such perpetrator – Brent Beckly Absolute Poker and the defunct UB.com – pled guilty and was sentenced to 14 months in jail, but was released after serving just 10 months of his sentence.
Much to the elation of Beckley’s family, the 32-year-old executive was released from the Federal Correctional Institute in Florence, Arizona into their waiting arms on Thursday, June 6. However, his family’s jubilation was not mirrored by the countless online poker players who were deceived by the cheating scandals that occurred at both of the online poker rooms he was associated with.
In 2003, Brent joined the team of Costa Rican-based Absolute Poker and worked his way up to Head of the Payment Processing Department and Risk Management, as well as earning an eventual executive role at UltimateBet (aka UB). Both sites were later involved in extreme cases of insider cheating.
Allegations of Absolute Poker’s devious behavior among top ranking officials began back in 2007 when poker players began speculating the presence of one or more “super-user accounts” lurking amidst the popular poker room’s substantial player base. Such an account would give the player the ability to see the hole cards of others at the table during a game, giving them omnipotent power over their competitors. The accusations spread so dramatically that one month later, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission started an investigation into the claims.
Initially, the heads of Absolute Poker denied all allegations of super-user account activity. On October 19, an AP official stated that someone had hacked the system in order to “prove a point”; presumably that system security was not adequate. Two days later, however, AP released a statement that accused a “high-ranking consultant” of manipulating internal systems to view hole cards of other players. AP said it would reimburse all affected players after an audit was completed. In November, that amount was determined to be $1.6 million, with the alleged culprit said to have taken advantage of the system for 40 days. The investigation was closed at that point.
Beckley was also a head executive at Ultimate Bet, later known as UB.com, which underwent a similar investigation that turned up a lot more evidence into cheating than the closure of the investigation at Absolute Poker. According to reports, a super-user cheating scheme had gone on at UB from 2005 to 2007. The KGC’s investigation revealed that Russ Hamilton, a consultant for UB, was the perpetrator who used a super-user account to swindle players out of more than $22 million. While Hamilton was identified as the main culprit, tapes from a UB directors meeting in 2008 were released last month that revealed a lot more people knew about the scandal than was originally thought.
Whether or not Beckley was involved in, or had knowledge of, either of the cheating scandals at AP or UB is not clear. But in the minds of the myriad online poker players who suffered related losses from these poker sites, Beckley’s release has been hard to swallow.
Brent Beckley was brought up on, and pled guilty to, charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud and to breach US laws in regards to illegal online gambling. Despite his surrender and cooperation in the case, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan said, “the sentence has to make clear that the government of the United States means business in these types of cases.” Beckley was condemned in Manhattan federal court to 14 months imprisonment, of which he served 10 months before his release last week.