After taking millions of dollars promoting Ultimate Bet, Phil Hellmuth now claims he was fooled by upper management during the superuser cheating scandal. Tapes released last week reveal that UB founder Greg Pierson, Russ Hamilton, Daniel Friedberg and Sanford Miller not only participated in the cheating, but actively sought to minimize payments back to victims of the theft.
“I’ve made a living off of reading people at the poker table and in the business world, ” Hellmuth’s press release says. “Trusting my gut has allowed me to be at the top of my profession and develop a lifetime of friends and great experiences. Unfortunately, I made a horrible read regarding my relationship with the founders of the now defunct online poker site Ultimate Bet. I trusted their team and believed in their ability to run a first class website and business. Most importantly, I allowed them to convince me that they were honest and forthright. I’ve never been more wrong about anything in my life.”
Hellmuth claims to have stayed on with Ultimate Bet after the scandals so those who were cheated would be paid back.
“When I became aware of the cheating scandal, I immediately insisted that everyone be paid back and whoever was responsible be banished from the company. At the time, I was led to believe that if I left UB right away the business would be impacted and then less likely to pay it’s obligations to the victims. As such, I made the decision to believe the leaders of UB and stayed on in the hopes that they would make right to anyone cheated.”
The tone has certainly changed regarding Hellmuth’s close friends at Ultimate Bet. Five years ago, in a speech given after he entered the Poker Hall of Fame, Hellmuth had this to say:
“Then it was time to go into the Hall, and I was thrilled to have in attendance: my wife, my sister Molly, my dad (my mom had to leave), Iovation CEO Greg Pierson, UBT (Ultimate Blackjack Tour) CEO Russ Hamilton, Carl and Court Wescott, and my most trusted advisor Dan Friedberg (and his wife Reina). The above represent my best friends, and some of my family.”
Many questions remain about Hellmuth’s knowledge of the cheating scandal and his role in the aftermath. Sadly, presss releases such as this one just muddy the waters. If Hellmuth wants to retain any of his credibility as far as poker is concerned, he needs to quit hiding behind a lawyered-up public relations release and answer some questions.
Don’t bet on that happening. Claiming ignorance is easier to do when one keeps his mouth shut.