June 09, 2011

Some background information on UseMyWallet and Maryland ICE/HSI

I have some things I've learned about the different players in this drama recently but they were a bit too random to go into any of the other posts, so I thought I'd make a generic background info entry.

First, UseMyWallet.

Some of this info is a bit obvious when you think about it, but I figure it's worth spelling out because with all of the distractions, it's sometimes easy to miss things.

The whole idea behind UseMyWallet is one of abstraction.  This type of idea is very common in the software development world.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept, the idea of abstraction is basically that you can make generic frameworks that know how to communicate with each other through an interface, but they don't get bogged down in each other's nitty gritty details.

UseMyWallet is essentially the abstract idea of an e-wallet.  It's the interface by which a pokers site agrees to talk to the actual payment processor.  In this most recent case, the implementation I've been talking about is quicktender.com.  The purpose of setting the site up this way is to handle the situation that has occurred most recently - pressure/seizures by the U.S. Government.  Let me explain:

John Briggs is the owner of Chargestream LTD, QuickTender, UseMyWallet, Psi-Pay, EcoCard, and a number of other companies involved in payment processing.  He also used to work for Neteller.com.  This is not his first rodeo.  He knows this business inside and out.  His partner in Chargestream, and I'm assuming several other businesses, is Paul Templeman - former Neteller.com CEO.

With UseMyWallet, Briggs has designed his business so he inks a deal with the poker sites so that they support UseMyWallet.  The underlying implementation of that UseMyWallet interface is/was QuickTender.com.  When (not if) the U.S. Government comes at his implementation he can simply spin out another implementation using the same protocols (perhaps "fast-tender") and be back up and running without any heavy changes to the poker sites.  In other words, the poker sites know how to talk to this generic "UseMyWallet" interface which hides the layer underneath it, QuickTender.com (or "Fast-Tender"), so that when QuickTender is gone, he can just turn on another implementation and be back up and running.

Given the email I detailed in the last post, I believe this is what could be happening right now.  I suspect they are making slight implementation changes to handle Euros instead of USD, get different bank accounts set up, and be ready to spin out another payment processor that the poker sites can talk to via the UseMyWallet interface.

The whole reason things would be set up this way is because Briggs probably realizes that seizures are inevitable. I would assume he wants to be back up and running ASAP and doesn't want to be held hostage to delays by their own developers coming up with new protocols and new code as well as avoiding delays from the poker site developers learning a new API (Application Programming Interface).  The UseMyWallet is the generic API.

Now, I'd like to detail a bit more about what I've learned from the other side of the drama... The Maryland ICE/HSI.

The more people I talk to, the more it's becoming clear that the Maryland ICE/HSI has very little sympathy for the plight of the players.  The fact that we have millions of dollars either in limbo, in the government's pockets, or in the pockets disappearing payment processors is of little concern to them.  In fact, their viewpoint is that us playing poker is illegal and they are teaching us a lesson.  From reading various poker forums, people have taken their frustrations out by sending nasty emails to some of the government officials.   I begged and pleaded people on the 2+2 forums to be as nice and understanding as possible when dealing with any of these government figures.  Apparently, my pleas fell on deaf ears.  I am worried that if this continues, they may simply cut us all off completely.  Even if they have no sympathy for us, we still need their help.  Please keep a cool head with these people.  Even though we may disagree with them, they are doing their job and they think they are doing the right things.

Also, it is fairly common knowledge that the ACH transactions they seized with the 2 Linwood accounts were very small, under $2,000 USD per transaction.  The ACH transfers were capped at $2,000 as this was the standard with any gaming operator in the industry for ACH.  The real money was in those 2 Chargestream accounts in the Netherlands, as I had expected and those funds will be liquidated by Briggs and company well before the U.S. government gets there.  At this point, I'm glad that's the case and I hope Briggs gets the money.  If the government is trying to teach us a lesson then I don't have much hope for getting any money from them.  This has been somewhat confirmed by my conversation with Jim Eastman a few posts back, where it was his opinion that the money taken from the Secret Service and his speculation that any money seized by the Maryland HSI would not be returned to the players.

I only hope this is not the case for the DOJ in New York.

Posted By WiltOnTilt at 11:41 PM

1 Comments

June 09, 2011

QuickTender emails members

A really bizarre thing happened yesterday afternoon when I woke up (sick brag ldo).

By now it’s fairly old news, but I woke up to an email from QuickTender in my inbox.  Here’s the copy/paste:

Dear Aaron Wilt

We are writing to give you an update on the status of your QuickTender account balance.

Contrary to some speculation in the forums, certain funds of QuickTender have indeed been subject to a seizure order by the US authorities. We hope to advise those affected in the near future on the status of these funds. The funds were held with our processor, ChargeStream Ltdand the action is a matter that is in the public domain.

Whilst not all of our funds are affected, a significant amount has been. QuickTender is a reputable organisation, and we wish to ensure so far as we can that our account holders do not lose their funds in our care.

We are looking at how we can release funds to our account holders as soon as possible, however because of current restrictions we are unable to transmit any funds in USD.

In order for customers to have their balances refunded, at present they will need to have a currency account in Euros as we currently cannot make any payments into any USD denominated accounts. If you do not have an account in Euros we would urge you to obtain one in order to receive your funds.

At the end of this week QuickTender aims to advise further on enabling withdrawal of funds from your QuickTender Account.

Please bear with us in these difficult times as we endeavour to resolve the situation despite the severe limitations we face.

QuickTender Support TEam

Maybe I’m just being an ego maniac, but I’m pretty sure that my work investigating them was at least part of what spawned this email.  Look at this part:

“Contrary to some speculation in the forums, certain funds of QuickTender have indeed been subject to a seizure order by the US authorities.”

The language used in this quote is quite interesting and misleading.  I usually like to give people the benefit of doubt, but in times like these I have to be skeptical of everyone. It appears they may be trying to disprove or down play what I was the first to report, which was Maryland US Attorney Richard Kay telling me that the paperwork for the warrants has begun, but it would be 4-6 months before the US government actually seizes the 2 accounts in the Netherlands.  As a result of this delay, there would likely be no money left in the account by the time the US authorities got there which meant the scenario was likely that quicktender would withdraw all the money and fade away.

In reality, the money that was seized was done so by the U.S. Secret Service as I also reported from my conversation with Jim Eastman. The U.S. Secret Service intercepted money that was in transit to the players through the correspondent bank in NYC***.  It appears to me quicktender is trying to confuse you through their tricky language.  They try to say “yes, we did have money seized” (which is true, and I’ve reported as such) however I believe they are may be trying to use this to discredit what I’ve also previously reported and confirmed again today:The Maryland ICE/HSI does not currently have control over quicktender bank accounts in the Netherlands.  This mess is very confusing, so don’t be fooled.

***I believe, but I cannot confirm, their intermediary bank is a  Deutsche Bank in NYC ABA#021001033.  I believe it’s this bank as it’s listed as the sender DBTCO AMERICAS NYC on my bank wires received from quicktender.com

It’s not all bad news though.  In fact I think it’s a good sign we’ve heard anything from quicktender.  This part is especially hopeful:

We are looking at how we can release funds to our account holders as soon as possible, however because of current restrictions we are unable to transmit any funds in USD.

In order for customers to have their balances refunded, at present they will need to have a currency account in Euros as we currently cannot make any payments into any USD denominated accounts. If you do not have an account in Euros we would urge you to obtain one in order to receive your funds.

I think it makes perfect sense that they cannot send money in USD.  As I understand it, any foreign transfers in USD coming into the country must pass through the Federal Reserve bank, which would make it very easy to seize that money.  Sending the money in Euros might allow for an easier transfer.

At the end of this week QuickTender aims to advise further on enabling withdrawal of funds from your QuickTender Account.

Please bear with us in these difficult times as we endeavour to resolve the situation despite the severe limitations we face.

QuickTender Support TEam

I hope this is true, I will certainly be awaiting any news.  Maybe we will be pleasantly surprised.

Posted By WiltOnTilt at 11:10 PM

0 Comments

June 06, 2011

Secret Service and Maryland ICE/HSI dual online gambling investigations

Crazy times these are.  My main focus for the past couple weeks has been trying to get to the bottom of this mystery surrounding the "Blue Monday" seizures.  Unfortunately, it seems like every time I get on a roll there is a diaper to be changed, a doctor's appointment to go to, or my wife having surgery to repair her wrist.  If there's one thing I've learned in my 30 years on this earth is that nothing is ever easy or smooth.

The more I dig into this mess, the more ridiculous things get.

On Friday I called a myriad of people and left messages trying to get more information about what is going on with our UseMyWallet/QuickTender funds.  There have been so many different stories and rumors it's been hard to distinguish fact from fiction.  I think the picture is getting more clear.

One of the people I called and left a message with was Mr. Jim Eastman of the United States Secret Service out of the Fort Myers office.  Mr. Eastman was kind enough to return my call today and I had a conversation with him that greatly clarified some of the recent rumblings about the Secret Service involvement in this.  I appreciate Mr. Eastman's time and willingness to discuss these things with me.  For clarity I'm going to bullet point the primary topics we talked about:


  • The US Secret Service and Maryland ICE/HSI had 2 separate investigations going simultaneously.

  • The 2 different government agencies were not sharing information and were not aware of each other's investigation.***

  • Both investigations zeroed in on money controlled at one point by Chargestream LTD (the accounts in Holland/Netherlands)

  • The Secret Service only dealt with money as it was going through the correspondent bank in NYC.  Their investigation had nothing to do with seizing overseas bank accounts, only money that was in transit.

  • When asked if he had an opinion about whether or not we could get our money from a US Government seized bank account, Mr. Eastman's opinion was they will not give it back to the players.

  • Mr. Eastman said he is not a lawyer, but it is his understanding that their efforts are based on the 2006 UIGEA legislation.

  • It was Mr. Eastman's understanding that if we had money that was with Chargestream (UMW/QT) that was not in transit, then it was part of the Maryland ICE/HSI investigation and if they have seized those accounts, our money is likely there.

***I'm told by another confidential source the lack of information sharing is also true about the "Blue Monday" Maryland efforts vs. the "Black Friday" SDNY efforts.  Apparently "Blue Monday" was going to make a much bigger splash but the SDNY office beat them to the punch a bit and information throughout the investigations were not shared between agencies.

So here are a couple things you should take note of.  First, if you had money in transit to the United States from your quicktender.com account, there's a chance that the Secret Service has your money locked up.  Second, for those of us who have money just sitting in our accounts on quicktender.com (ie, NOT being wired to our personal bank accounts), the Secret Service has no access or control over that money.

After learning this, I felt more confident about what I had originally thought after reading the Linwood Affidavit I linked to several entries ago, which is that the Maryland Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has our money seized in these bank accounts in the Netherlands.  Unfortunately, as I would find out minutes later, it's not that simple.

I called up Maryland US Attorney Richard Kay.  I'm told from my sources that Richard Kay is an extremely intelligent guy who gets things done, and he is really behind "Blue Monday," despite Special Agent Lisa Ward's name on the Affidavit.  I had been calling Mr. Kay for about a week now, trying to reach him and I finally go through today.

I introduced myself to Mr. Kay and said I had recently talked to Mr. Jim Eastman of the US Secret Service about their investigation and I was trying to piece this puzzle together.  I explained that based on the investigation that I've done, I think that the Maryland ICE/HSI has control over some bank accounts with poker player funds in them, including my $26,000.  I explained that I have 2 bank wire receipts (one from April, one from May) showing withdraws from account 0243058780 in the Netherlands that the Linwood Affidavit says was seized.

At this point, US Attorney Kay corrected me and said these accounts have not yet been seized, only that the paperwork for seizure warrants have been submitted and they have no results yet on the status of that paperwork.  I was stunned.  I asked further questions and tried to take notes, but as best as I understand it (I might have some details slightly wrong here) this is how it works:

1. An investigation is conducted and evidence being gathered

2. Paperwork gets filed to the State Department to check and see what type of foreign treaties exist with the country in question

3. Assuming the proper treaties, the paperwork is then translated and filed with the foreign country (in this case, Netherlands) asking for a Netherlands court to honor those treaties

4. Assuming treaties are honored, a petition is filed and the courts seize the bank accounts.

Mr. Kay explained that this entire process takes 4-6 months to complete.  Until the process is complete, the accounts are not actually locked and seized, so Chargestream LTD has access to these accounts.  You can guess what happens next.  I was then told "the chance of any money being left in those accounts by the time we get to them is so close to zero I'd call it zero"

Mr. Kay also explained that he's gone through this process many times before and that's how it works out...but they still do it anyway.  My natural reaction was to want to ask why the heck they do this then, but I bit my tongue.

Mr. Kay mentioned that 1 week before their warrants were filed, the Secret Service snagged some of the money coming into the country via those banks in NYC.

Given that it was becoming more clear that his office doesn't have the money since the accounts aren't actually locked up yet, I explained to him that I had done some research on UMW/QT/Chargestream and I had found two primary shareholders: John Briggs and Paul Templeman.  Mr Kay was familiar with Briggs but didn't give any specific details on him.  I explained that we tracked down Templeman's house in the UK and I had Briggs email and skype addresses but I couldn't get a hold of either of them.  I asked if he or his office could or would help us in any way if we could track these guys down, and he said if we could find them then let him know and he would see what sort of extradition options were in place.

In general, Mr. Kay seemed plenty professional and reasonable, but not very compassionate.  He mentioned at least once about online gambling being illegal, but I had kept him so long already I didn't want to try to get into a legal debate with a US Attorney, especially given I'm just a layman myself, however as best as I understand the Safe Port Act of 2006 (and subsequently the UIGEA) this states:


‘‘§ 5363. Prohibition on acceptance of any financial
instrument for unlawful Internet gambling
‘‘No person engaged in the business of betting or wagering
may knowingly accept, in connection with the participation of
another person in unlawful Internet gambling—
‘‘(1) credit, or the proceeds of credit, extended to or on
behalf of such other person (including credit extended through
the use of a credit card);
‘‘(2) an electronic fund transfer, or funds transmitted by
or through a money transmitting business, or the proceeds
of an electronic fund transfer or money transmitting service,
from or on behalf of such other person;
‘‘(3) any check, draft, or similar instrument which is drawn
by or on behalf of such other person and is drawn on or
payable at or through any financial institution; or
‘‘(4) the proceeds of any other form of financial transaction,
as the Secretary and the Board of Governors of the Federal
Reserve System may jointly prescribe by regulation, which
involves a financial institution as a payor or financial intermediary on behalf of or for the benefit of such other person

which as I understand it, says that it's illegal for "person engaged in the business of betting or wagering" (ex. poker site) cannot accept deposits from players.  It does not prohibit people from getting their money from poker sites.

Additionally, if you look at the American Bankers Association website it lists the UIGEA compliance regulations where it specifically states:

The final rule requires a strengthened screening process at the time of account opening to deny commercial entities that may be acting as Internet casinos access to the payments system. It also requires that policies and procedures be implemented to prevent all debit and credit card payments to Internet casinos. It does not require that checks, ACH payments, or wire transactions related to Internet gambling be monitored or blocked.

Additionally, the UIGEA does not define what illegal gambling is.  It relies on other legislation (such as state or other federal laws) to define illegal gambling.  Some states, such as Washington state, have done this.  There is no other federal law that I am aware of except the Wire Act, however the U.S. Fith Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Wire Act only applies to sports betting, however the Department of Justice apparently disagrees.

Yet still, Mr. Eastman directly and Mr. Kay indirectly referenced online poker being illegal (UIGEA) and at least the Secret Service thinks it's a good idea to snag bank wires going to players.

As for the next steps, I think it's time to find out where the hell Briggs and Templeman are and find out where our money is.

I'll be on the QuadJacks radio program tonight talking about this stuff as well.

Posted By WiltOnTilt at 09:04 PM

3 Comments

June 06, 2011

Maryland Police profits from fake payment processor

From June 2nd at http://www.PlusEVPoker.com

At first I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this article: http://odenton.patch.com/articles/county-police-net-470000-in-online-gambling-seizure#photo-6373325. It shows a picture of a "dope on the table" (<3 The Wire) style press conference with fancy police toys and an extra big check for 470k and even canned police quotes

“This type of activity exists in this county just like it does in other jurisdictions,” Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold said. “Wherever we find it, we’re going to root it out.”

I was pretty baffled how they are receiving this check so soon given the seizures just recently happened and there have been no lawsuits (to my current knowledge) filed to get these bank accounts unlocked. Also, as you guys know, I'm pretty convinced that at least SOME of the accounts have player funds in them. I decided to call the author, Tim Lemke at the Odenton Patch. Tim was very nice and helpful on the phone and clarified that it was his understanding that the money was not from the seized bank accounts, instead it was from profits from Linwood, the fake payment processor that the Feds set up to sting guys like UseMyWallet/quick tender. This makes sense as well because the date on the check is May 13th, which I also found interesting.

I explained to him a bit about my theories about why I think the Maryland HSI has mistakenly locked up player funds.

I'm still waiting to hear back from special agent Ward and I'm currently working on a solution to organize everyone's info about who has money locked up in each site so we can get a more united front.

I've also been approached by some sources who may be able to help me with this investigation so I'm pleased at the future prospects of this investigation.

UPDATE: 3:45 PM


New information has surfaced about this. See this

article from the Baltimore Sun

that says:


Asked about how the money was dispensed so quickly — the indictments were unsealed last week — Winter said, "The money that was shared back today is from seizures that happened more than a year ago."

I've come to understand that it is actually from the past 5 years. That means these funds are very likely to be player funds, just not necessarily funds that are locked away from players. It is definitely NOT profits from the Linwood payment processor as described to me above by the other article's author...and to be clear, it's also NOT money from this current round of bank account seizures. This solves the mystery about the date on the check as well... May 13th.

Posted By WiltOnTilt at 09:03 PM

0 Comments

May 30, 2011

Twitter conversation with Victory Poker CEO

Since Twitter is a real PITA to read a conversation, I thought I'd post about it here:

In chronological order:

WiltOnTilt
2 new blog posts tonight. First a recap with my UMW problems on Cake / Victory Poker http://plusevpoker.com/blog/?p=465 @DanFleyshman
26 May

DanFleyshman
There was no question posed, you said yourself that I would have no clue, networks never talk processing w/skins.
26 May

WiltOnTilt
With respect, there are several questions here as well as several calls to action: http://tinyurl.com/3f8qqnh @DanFleyshman @mitchpoker
26 May

WiltOnTilt
Hey @DanFleyshman have you thought any more about these questions? http://tinyurl.com/3f8qqnh thanks in advance
29 May

DanFleyshman
Victory blocked/transferred US players to Cake 5 weeks before QT/UMW shutdown. Seems QT is making excuse to steal, but not Cake.

WiltOnTilt
can u ask cake why UMW withdraws took 4-6 weeks until they day UMW announced problems then they dumped $ to a dying ewallet?ty

DanFleyshman
Don't want to get involved in conspiracy theories. Seems unlikely UMW said "Hey Cake pile all your liabilities onto our company"

WiltOnTilt
ty 4 responses I don't think UMW told cake that, I think cake realized the situation and took adv. plz fight for your players!

WiltOnTilt
its not far fetched given 2p2 thread where a ton of UMW accts dumped $ to cake on the news then cake has extra to process/dump

DanFleyshman
Can't defend it cuz it's not my arena but Cake has 100,000's of player accounts so it would be normal for 100's a day to process

WiltOnTilt
No one has a hope of finding truth w/o your help. I hope u try for us. The timing of how it went down is rly suspicous. TYVM

DanFleyshman
There's 60 other skins, I'm not the holy grail of finding out the truth cuz I sincerely have no access or interest in processing

WiltOnTilt
I play your skin not other 59. i read payment processing costs up to 30c per $1. No interest? Big effect on CEOs btm line, no?

------------------------------

He didn't "at" me with this last tweet, but it was 1 minute after my last. You can draw your own conclusions about what it might mean. Really, really disappointing IMO. I had high hopes and I really felt like I was being professional and not attacking him personally:

DanFleyshman
My brain puts up a barrier to protect itself like a turtle hiding in it's shell when people speak negatively around me.

Posted By WiltOnTilt at 12:08 AM

7 Comments

May 29, 2011

UseMyWallet/QuickTender discussion with Homeland Security Special Agent Ward

From Friday, May 27th on http://www.plusevpoker.com 

This morning, I talked to Lisa Ward, a special agent from the Baltimore Homeland Security Investigations unit who brought the recent indictments against TruePoker, DoylesRoom, and the other sites recently.  

As I've explained in the previous post, I believe UseMyWallet/Quicktender (the last major e-wallet handling US players) was caught in the crossfire (or purposely fired at) of this recent seizure.  As of the time of this writing, I believe my funds (as well as many other poker players) are now under the control of the government as a result of the seizure of bank account number  0243058780 in the name of Chargestream Ltd at ABN AMRO Bank NV located in the Netherlands.  Here's my experience as I posted on 2+2 today:

Special Agent Ward was very nice on the phone and seemed to sincerely want to figure out what the heck happened. She reiterated to me more than once that she feels that QT is using this as an excuse to steal everyone's money.

I explained to her the way I came to believe that QT had some money seized, namely, that I withdrew funds in early april from QT and on my bank wire receipt it showed CHARGESTREAM LTD with the same back account number from the netherlands that was seized. I explained I had 26k or so in that account and now QT has closed up shop.

She told me she has my name and will be able to go through to double check to see if their fake company (linwood) has processed any of my personal withdraws. She said that would give us a good idea about what is going on and she would get back to me when she hears from some of the technical guys on the other team. It sounds like a different department than hers was doing the actual Linwood website/frontend/payment processing. I thanked per profusely for her help.

She said she had a lot of voicemails to return, but she was reasonably confident that the government doesn't have our money. I'm still skeptical just given the fact that money literally came from the exact same company/bank account as was seized. She said it is a priority of theirs to get to the bottom of this to ensure they don't have our funds.

If she comes back and says their payment company did not process any of my personal withdraws and therefore doesn't think they have any of my money, then I will try to dig deeper into what funds they think are in that chargestream account and why I would have received money from it before if it was just operating funds (and not user funds).

I'll keep everyone updated as I hear back from her.

WoT

Here's a little background information on Special Agent Lisa Ward as found in the Linwood SSW Affidavit:


Your affiant, M. Lisa Ward, has been a Special Agent with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for twenty years. During that time, I have prepared and executed numerous state and federal search and seizure warrants, worked on Title III court-authorized intercepts, seized evidence of both state and federal violations, interviewed numerous suspects, witnesses, and informants, and evaluated evidence obtained during the course of these investigations.

Posted By WiltOnTilt at 11:16 PM

1 Comments

May 26, 2011

E-wallet Mess: QuickTender, Chargestream, and Maryland Indictments

I'm not much of an Internet sleuth but a new rage over the latest money being stolen from me (is this the 3rd or 4th instance, I've lost count...) has lit a little fire under my ass.  I wanted to do some digging and try to see what I can find.

As I detailed in my last posting, UseMyWallet/QuickTender was effected by the most recent Maryland Indictments.  It was a bit unclear as to how they were effected until I did some digging.  The reason it wasn't immediately clear is people behind UMW were not named and indicted, only one (or more) of their bank accounts got seized.

From reading the various 2+2 posts on the subject, I came across someone mentioning the company Chargestream LTD and they were somehow linked to UMW/QT.  As a result, I started to do some digging.

It took me a while to find the hard evidence that Chargestream LTD was actually linked (or is) UMW until I found this: Linkwood Affidavit

In this affidavit on page 2 you can see this:

I double checked a recent bank wire receipt form from my bank where I had received a bank wire in early April.  Sure enough, the account number in item 10 above was the exact same bank number from the Netherlands and under the originator was the name CHARGESTREAM LTD.

Now that we know for sure there is some link between Chargestream and UMW/QT, it was time to do some more digging.  I was looking for names to see if I could tie them to the indictments at all.

I found a website where I could buy these 2 documents:

Chargestream LTD Company Data

Chargesteam Annual Return 2010

In those 2 documents were the names Paul Templeman and John Briggs.  They are the 2 directors and shareholders of the company.  They are currently not named in the Maryland indictments but their company bank account is seized.

Of further interest, the first document shows that on May 23rd, 2011 they changed their name to Nationwide Payments LTD.  Perhaps related, their old website http://www.chargestream.com/ (at the time of this writing) shows an Apache HTTP server default page, indicating that they are potentially in the process of removing their site.  Many of the other pages still work though (accessed via google).

What does it all mean? I'm not sure, but hopefully putting this out there will inspire others to find some threads to yank on.

Additionally, according to Linkwood Affidavit the Maryland DOJ set up a fake payment processing company called "Linkwood" aka http://paymentprocessingsolutions.com/ where the Maryland DOJ went undercover to process gambling transactions in order to learn how the industry works and then subsequently bust the people using their service.  This is how Chargestream LTD got nailed and as a result our UMW/QT money got seized.  See here on page: 13  from the Affidavit:

it mentions Nemesis Group giving the direction to use the Chargestream accounts.  Back in that first Company Data PDF, you might notice that Paul Templeman has ties to a NEMESIS SYSTEMS LTD as a director appointed in 2007.  It's unclear to me if this is the same as Nemesis Group but it doesn't seem like a huge mental leap to assume so.

More digging needs to be done on this front and others...hopefully others will start doing some digging as well and maybe we piece some more stuff together.

Posted By WiltOnTilt at 04:59 AM

4 Comments

May 26, 2011

Victory Poker and the Scumbags of Cake network

When it comes to internet poker these days, there aren't many options.  The reality is though, I tend to play on all of the sites available to me because getting good action these days is harder and harder.  As a result, I needed a cake network skin.  I chose Victory Poker because I've talked online with some of the people involved in the site and I actually had some affiliate links on my blog at one point.  They have been gone for a while.

The Victory Poker CEO @DanFleyshman seemed like a nice enough guy on 2+2 and twitter.  It seemed like he wanted to give some transparency to the industry and his  (despite never responding to me on both twitter and 2+2).  After reading his recent interview on SubjectPoker.com: http://www.subjectpoker.com/2011/05/interview-with-dan-fleyshman-part-ii/ I found it very promising that he was so in favor of  the blunt truth in this quote:

"I just like the blunt truth, and that’s how I’ve always acted in this industry–Just really be blunt about things, and you don’t have to remember what you said."

Let me back up a bit and explain what has recently happened with Cake and UseMyWallet.  As I detailed on twitter May 18th:


@WiltOnTilt :

UMW, cake, victory http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/showpost.php?p=26659566&postcount=458


I found out that despite previous withdraws to UseMyWallet/QuickTender taking 4-6 weeks (45 days for my last 13k withdraw), my newest 18k withdraw took only 11 days.  Why so quickly? I wondered the same, until I went to request a withdraw from UMW/QT to my bank where I received a message that withdraws were disabled.  I did more searching on 2+2 and found out that one of their bank accounts was seized by the US Government.

Once the news broke, many people dumped their UMW/QT money to Cake.  As a result, Cake had extra money in their UMW account that they also will not be able to touch, so guess what they do? They proceed to process many of the withdraws that were pending to UseMyWallet to attempt to clear their own UMW money.  That's right, they toss our funds into the sinking UMW/QT ship so they aren't responsible for that money in our player accounts, despite knowing that UMW was going down.

Today I wake up and check the internet and find that UMW/QT has now vanished:

@WiltOnTilt :

UMW dead, cake (victory poker skin) dumps player funds there in an incredible display of shadiness and scumminess http://tinyurl.com/3peqom4


Where going to quicktender.com now results in this:

Please, Mr. Fleyshman, tell us the blunt truth about what has recently transpired with your site's network and processing payments to a dead e-wallet?  If you do not know, please find out.

Is Victory Poker going to step up and cover the cost of the funds that were thrown into this black hole?

Can you tell me in good faith, or the blunt truth, that the Cake Network didn't maliciously process these payments to save their own money and throw the players under the bus? I'm sure the natural response is that Cake Network handles the withdraws, not Victory.   I'm sure Victory has some plausible deniability about the whole situation. I can understand that, but I think it ultimately falls on the skin to make things right for the players when the network screws up, or AT MINIMUM publicly repudiate the actions of that network and look for a new home.

Posted By WiltOnTilt at 04:58 AM

0 Comments

April 20, 2011

PokerSense: Zombie Edition

I want to make it clear from the start of this blog entry that it's a conversation I'm having with myself as much as it's a call to action for the readers. There's no high horse here.

Braaaaaaainnssss... BBBBRRRrraaaaaiiiinnsssss


Many of us are poker zombies these days. We want brains to feed ourselves some inside scoop as to what the hell has happened to the game we love (or love to hate) that puts food on our table or beer in our mug or hell, just gives us something to do when there's nothing else going on.

Everyone is so hungry for information that it's easy to fall victim to the latest gossip and turn our brains off to objectivity and rationality. I've been contacted by many either by AIM/Skype/DC forums/PM, you name it, and most (like me) just want something. The latest gossip, news, assurance, hope, misery (loves company!), you name it. I've tried to be there for everyone and for myself. I want answers. No one seems to have them.

Naturally, we turn to those who have some sort of standing in the poker world. Maybe they are your favorite nosebleed tweet-er, maybe they own a training site, maybe they just make baller ass videos (hey ohh!), or maybe they just always seem to have their nose in the latest scandal. Regardless, we look to these people because we respect their opinions on other things, so they probably know something we don't about this latest fiasco.

There's some logic to that. Many of these people are well connected...but PLEASE be careful. Now more than ever it's important to try to distance yourself a little and think about what is going on and the effect it has on your life and situation. There is a lot of hidden risk here. There is risk in taking action, but there is also risk with inaction. Think about that. There was a bit of a time window where as the news broke, you might have been able to transfer your money out or sneak that last withdraw submission in and more. Was your first instinct to think about what the highest EV move was or were you too caught up thinking "OMG who is on my aim list I can contact to ask wtf I should do". I was in the second group. My goal moving forward is to try to foresee and recognize these critical time sensitive moments and seize them in the best way possible (even if it means, deciding to sit on my hands and do nothing).

Conflicting Information:



There is so much conflicting info out there right now, it's hard to know who to trust. In cases like this, IMHO, the best person to trust is yourself.

Here are some examples:

"Online poker legalization 'Inevitable'": http://www.mediaite.com/tv/dan-abrams-predicts-legalization-of-online-gambling-inevitable-on-gma/

"GOP stands firm on web gambling ban" and "Frank's bill to legalize gambling a dead letter": http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/156851-gop-standing-firm-on-internet-gambling-ban

Or how about the sponsored pro that suggests that your money on a certain website (that he is sponsored on) is worth some 93c on the dollar? How does he know this, does he have inside info? Why is he the only one making these predictions and not those at the top of his company?  Why aren't other sponsored pros from other companies saying similar things? For those of you pokersense followers, surely you might recognize some biases going on (even if he is right)

Compare that to this guy who says "there's no way they (the players) are getting their money back" at 2m 30s
http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/4650384/online-gaming-may-be-legalized-again

There's also some conflict with some big names saying certain sites that have dirt on them are by far the riskiest to have your account balance on. Maybe they are right, but again, based on what? The logic follows that these websites with a bad rap have that bad rap for a reason. They've been involved in some shady bullshit therefore they are more inclined to be shady now. Ok, I can buy it, but there's also the other side of that coin where they are professional liars and cheats and crooks. How can we be so sure that THIS is the time they will get nailed. They've gotten away with it this long, no ? I'm not defending anyone, I'm just trying to get you guys to see there is always another angle.

Speculation:



Here are some of my favorites I've heard. I'm sure some of the more subtly ridiculous stuff has already escaped my brain:

-There has also been some interesting/wild speculation that Harrahs is actually behind all of this. The thing to remember about this type of speculation is that most inside info won't come with a source, so how much can you really trust it?

-Harrahs will have a poker site up in 3 months!

-The government is just trying to pay down the $14 trillion with $3 billion in fines (lol)

-It's best to just sit and wait! No it's best to try to get your $ out!

-Well known 2+2'er thinks there will NEVER be US based online poker

-The websites have plenty of money to pay off the $3billion in fines!

-The websites can't possibly sustain that kind of hit to their bottom line, they will surely fold

...and so many more... almost certainly baseless claims or at best some hearsay from someone else making mostly baseless claims.

Blame Game:

Then you have guys randomly placing blame and arguing about who is the biggest asshole in this whole mess. Republicans? Democrats? The PPA ? The players? The sites? I dunno IMO they are all pretty smelly body parts in one way or another. At least the PPA warned us about the lack of the status quo for years, and generally speaking not enough of the players listened. Everyone else on the list is definitely an asshole in one way or another so let's just skip the blame game. What's even worse than the blame game? The guy who does the blaming with inaccurate information. Please don't be that guy.

Opportunities:

Some of the quick thinkers thought of buying up some party poker stock when this news broke. It went up 30% on monday. I wish I would have had that sort of forethought. That is the exact type of logical forward thinking that was totally clouded by my OMGWTF human instinct. Congrats if you were one of the guys that got in on that. Try to be on the look out for the next opportunity instead of wallowing in misfortune.

Defend Yourself:



The best defense against all of this is just to try to stay as objective as possible as to what is the best move for you. We surround ourselves with a game of mitigating risks and now we're right in the thick of it. Please realize that in a situation where we are all mostly in the dark. In cases like this, just because I know how to anticipate a river checkraise bluff doesn't make me more equipped to know whether or not the Department of Injustice is going to take your bankroll and spend it on all-you-can-eat Dunkin Donuts. Same goes for others with more poker e-cred than I have.

There are other sites which take US players now. It's a risk to play and it's a risk not to play. What should you do? It depends on your situation and how much the other money that is locked up means to you, and what losing more would mean. There are some serious bankroll and life EV calculations you need to work out in your head to make the best decision for you.

Many have asked for what my take is or what my plan is. My plan is to basically be proactive where it makes sense to be and be reactive where it makes sense to me. Sorry for the lack of spoon feeding but if you've seen my videos, you know that's how I roll.

Posted By WiltOnTilt at 05:26 AM

7 Comments

April 16, 2011

Another defining moment in online poker history

If you've been one of the guys like me who has been glued to the various forums hitting refresh between DC, 2+2, and twitter to read more opinions by randoms who have no idea what's going on, then I want to let you know right away that I'm just another random that has no idea what's going to happen.

I feel a little obligated to make a blog post about all of this because it's 3:30am, the pizza is gone, my ice cream is gone, and my weight loss prop bet is also gone.  The 3rd actually evaporated prior to the first two, if you're curious.  My crawfish competitor and I agreed that the current situation is far too stressful to not indulge in our vice of choice.  For him it was alcohol.  For me it was food.

I also feel obligated to warn you that this blog entry, whenever it ends up getting started, will basically be one large whine post, so if you're not into that thing then feel free to move along.

I've been sitting around all day, convincing myself to get off the computer and stop reading all the mess that has gone on today so naturally I head downstairs for dinner and pull out the ipad to stay connected to the stream of speculation.  It hasn't helped the stress level.

For those of you who have been reading the DC thread, you know that I've got a heavy chunk of my bankroll tied up in Stars/FTP/UB.  I'm not as convinced as others that we will get our money.  This is not my first rodeo in having big chunks of my bankroll stolen.  It happened first by Eurolinx when it went down, I had around 250k stolen from me.  I had never in my life (and still never since) ran as hot as I did on that site, only to have it stolen when the site went under. As far as I know nothing yet has happened to that POS who was running the operation.  The next time I got screwed (to be fair, I don't have 100% proof) is in the X*B*L*I*N*K situation where he somehow god modes $11 into over a million on UB.  Although I cannot prove it, I have been trying to go through multiple channels to either do an investigation myself or get an investigation done by a 3rd party.  Despite multiple "ins" I thought I had to get this done (can't get into specifics), it has ended up fruitless.  The guy is literally a massive cheater or runs so situationally hot that he's on the far end of the bell curve and literally the black swan of online poker.  Either way I lost "low" 6 figures in that nosebleed stakes adventure.

Since then, I've had some other 6 figure loss stretches at 50/100nl, but no other situations where I felt cheated or stolen from... until today.

I've got several hundred thousand now stuck in the 3 main sites.  Given my track record on this stuff, I'm not very optimistic about seeing this money.  If I don't get this money back, I'll have well over half million dollars stolen from me from online poker sites.  The thought of that is just daunting.  I've made a lot of money from poker but not the kind of money where the thought of losing this kind of money doesn't just make me sick to my stomach.

Last year was a tough year for me mentally.  A lot of life changes happened and add that to running pretty fucking bad it was extremely stressful.  I was really looking forward to 2011 for a fresh start and a real effort to actually get good at PLO.  After the first quarter of 2011, I was feeling pretty decent about my results for the first part of the year and looking to really dedicate myself to learning PLO.  I pulled out Tom Chambers' PLO book I bought a while ago and really was going to study it hard.  Now this rug has been pulled out from under my feet and I'm just not sure anymore.

Jk3a and I were making a real effort to get a bunch of these inexpensive group coaching lessons going for micro, small, and mid stakes players.  We had this amazing vision of offering high quality coaching for ridiculously cheap prices.  Now that we are about 3/4th the way through the development of that project, spent a lot of time and money, and now we have to take a step back and figure out if this is something we can still justify doing because of the cost to us and now the huge contingent of online poker players that can no longer play (and therefore probably don't want poker coaching).  So what now?

It seems like the hits just keep coming.  Every year it's a new drama bomb that puts a huge boulder in the poker road ahead of me.  I suppose the "half full" view is that despite these boulders, I've still been a successful high stakes poker player and produced content on DC that many people like.  The "half empty" view is much easier to see now though.. and that's clearly the realization/question about how can I possibly achieve my goals to play big poker games, be a sponsored pro, play the nosebleeds, play poker on tv, and most importantly provide a high quality of life for my family when these massive bombs keep exploding in front of me?

As I type all that out, I'm reminded of the quote that my dad said in PokerSense Episode 7 "Tough times never last, but tough people do."

Also, as I type all this out, I also realize that I am FAR away from having the "worst of it" when it comes to the recent blow up.  Sure I probably stand to lose more money than the vast majority of players out there, but I'm certain there are some small stakes grinders who probably didn't make great choices before going pro and therefore don't have much of a safety net under them.  If you are in that circumstance, I feel bad for complaining about my situation to you.  My family isn't going to go hungry and I'm not going to have to go work at McDonalds yet.  Or if you have to explain to your wife why you just lost a few paychecks into the FTP abyss, I'm sorry to complain to you.  We all have various levels of pain from this mess, and none of us deserve any of this pain...we can only do what we can do to help each other get through it.

I rocked by boy to sleep tonight even though he doesn't really need rocking anymore.  He's nearly 13 months old now and is a beast :)

I wondered how on earth I would explain to him this situation.   I wonder what he would think (or maybe what he will think some day down the road if he finds this blog post)?  Will he have any idea how much time and effort I've put into this stupid game in order to try to give him the best opportunities I can?  At least I'll have a few bullets ready in case he says to me some day "Daddy, I want to play poker for a living!" and I can explain to him what it was like in the Internet Wild West where you weren't only battling the rake and the other pros, you are battling the thievery of shady poker site owners, cheaters, and the Department of Injustice.

Posted By WiltOnTilt at 09:29 AM

12 Comments


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