Brent Beckley: Absolute Poker’s Transaction Coding “Wasn’t About Being Shady”

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In an article that appeared late last month on MontanaKaimin.com, Absolute Poker co-founder Brent Beckley (pictured, image courtesy August Miller Photo) talked about the history of what was once one of the largest online poker rooms in the world. Then, Black Friday forced Absolute and its sister site, UB.com, out of the American market. Later, the rooms reportedly entered liquidation with no sign that players will ever receive any of their funds back.

That sounds like the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. Online poker?” That was the response of Pete Barovich when Scott Tom asked him to join his online poker team. Beckley, who was working an internship at the time in 2002, helped out the group after his job had finished for the day.

As the article explained, Beckley originally turned down a permanent job offer from Tom to work on Absolute Poker: “In May, 2003, Beckley graduated with a 2.80 GPA in business administration and finance. Tom called Beckley and asked him to join the business, which they had since moved to Costa Rica. ‘No, man. Now I’ve got a degree. I’m a college graduate. I’m going to get a real job,” Beckley said.” Beckley ultimate obliged and headed to Costa Rica after repeated phone calls from Tom.

The article noted that when the World Poker Tour began airing on TV, registrations for Absolute Poker shot up from 20 to 2,000 – per day. As Beckley told reporters, “It was so much fun. We would all work 16 to 18 hours a day. And every time we would go to lunch together or we’d go to dinner together or go out at night, we were talking about work. It was just like this incredible group think where that was what we did.”

With all of its success, the company set its sights on going public, following in the footsteps of Party Gaming, but needed one more year of audited financial statements in order to do so. Before the year was over, however, the world came tumbling down around them. At the time, the company was reportedly worth $100 million and revenues were sitting around $40 million annually.

According to the article, “Lawyers were unclear about the [2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act] and thought it wouldn’t last, Beckley said. The legislation required the US Treasury Department to define how banks were going to work within the new law, which wouldn’t happen for another three years, in 2009.” Beckley said, “It just didn’t seem right that the Government could pass this piece of vague legislation in the middle of the night and take it away from us.”

In order to continue processing transactions, “Beckley started working with companies that processed payments differently. Overseas banks would label poker transactions as sales for t-shirts, golf balls, or other items so the US banks would release the funds.” This alleged bank fraud would ultimately become the centerpiece of the US Government’s clampdown on Black Friday exactly three years ago.

Beckley, who was 31 at the time, faced charges including conspiracy to violate the UIGEA, violating the UIGEA, operating an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy. Beckley gave his take on the transaction coding to MontanaKaimin.com: “It wasn’t about being shady, it was about letting the customers do what they wanted to and about keeping our business running.”

Beckley and Tom (pictured) were among 11 people indicted on Black Friday and the former was ultimately sentenced to 14 months behind bars. As for Tom, “[He] was vacationing in Antigua with his girlfriend. He decided to stay where he was and remains there today, Beckley said. The Federal Government considers him ‘at large.'”

Barovich visited Beckley in prison, telling the site, “What we were doing, again, it’s not even for argument, what we were doing wasn’t wrong… Technically it’s what they call a victimless crime. That means no one person or no one company was damaged.” Beckley was reportedly released from jail four months early.

Read more by checking out the MontanaKaimin.com article.

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15 COMMENTS

    • So where is the players’ money?

      AbsolutePoker (AP) don’t have enough players’ money like FullTilt (FT)? Why did State not charge AP like FT? Even so, where is the rest players’ money? Did any money in the bank was still freezing by State? Did owner(s) take the money?

    • Don’t lie Brent , it was all about keeping charge of the big money!….You and your team including Annie duke pilfered funds ,stole monies off players and rigged tournaments up.Your software also had the internal use of a ddos program to give players false card data. I have many ip records that show port scanning abuse/network attacks from certain ip addresses that cannot be explained other than serial scam artists. One particular person has evaded so far but wont get away with it for long. I also believe for what its worth the software handed source code was in not just your hands but in the sole hands of the developers and its cohorts ,so many people got the source code. Your security was also null and void using both xor/non-ssl technology and you still failed up till black Friday to correct any issues with the security .Kwanake gaming commission staff lied frivolously about everything ,staff had online accounts including pandachapeno who under management at tokwiro we as players were told that under no circumstances were staff allowed to play on the site not even for play money ,yet another fed bunch of lies.

      If I paid my staff $30,000 a month and all they did was let their husbands win by super-using the software to gain unfair advantages then as a company I would feel legal action coming on ,You should have realised certain people took advantages. You should also note that your company was on the slide ever since russ and others took it upon themselves to feed off the highstakes players and combine the power to superuse and spread the money around to others who have yet to be named ,I bet he wasnt just to blame being a company employee but was also accountable ,the fact the company was using “iesnare” to capture players screens via remote technology is the real thing , Greg pierson I believe has stolen everyones money to the full extent that there was ,his company now along with many others have been funded through players funds from absolute poker and ultimate bet.This is where the money or the majority of the money has gone to. Another concept is to looking at Joe nortons logistics companys for security in as far as the ddos protection programme and his other companys,preety ironic this being tied in with the security used by absolute poker.

      I leave it to the players to judge what when on , since we don’t get any answers off the tokwiro enterprise or kwanake gaming board or other firms like cerues. About time the doj/fbi came clean about what these companies really were upto.

    • and for the record the statement made above recommending the legislation on the :
      Lawyers were unclear about the [2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act] and thought it wouldn’t last

      Didn’t mean absolutely anything because If you had processed as normal bank transactions you wouldn’t be in the mess its in today , recording everything like fulltilt poker did as golf or sports/t-shirts or other transactions. You should have ignored the legislation rules as the “poker company” would simply have had to answer to one bodiment and that being congress/dept of treasury etc.

      By falsifying everything that is where they made the mistakes, by allowing the false company to float by using false banking methods and other unique services they were only a making it much worse .

      It pays to run a company legally ,regardless of how people think .A lot of energy went into helping the company be saved and yet the government wanted it all shut down because they felt it all needed to be regulated so perhaps they made their bit on the side regarding legal taxation issues etc.

      I know what the companies did was wrong to earmark the payment processors like this but ultimately what choice did they have ? well the problem should have been to go to congress or get the legislation reviewed so that the companys could have acted legally in the first place, after all this was a public online service given to players/people. Otherwise the government could have shut them down from the internet ,as it was they didn’t so partly also the government was to blame for not ensuring the company was being run correctly in the first place.!!

      hope that floats the boat.

    • Brent may be genuinely innocent ,but when you run the company with other personel you have got to know about every single detail . forget the payment processing companies for a minute and think about the cheaters that they had , how did they code into the software illegal code such as pikelakefish? how was this code implemented with the authourity not being passed down from senior management ? who authourised this and other software changes? How did the software developers manage to let loose the source code in various different destinations?

      Theres a lot of missing links I am not seeing Brent ,sorry you have a family and seem like a really nice person and everything but seriously If you were knowingly letting certain companys take advantage of your good nature then of course the business is going to slide, I personally don’t think you are that stupid given the fact you just got a law degree or whatever it was , you obviously know and scott tom know about running buisnesses, therefore everything should have been in place to secure the company from this happening , what about liability insurance? was there any insurances made at all?

      I have to say that it looked like all you were trying to do here Brent is mask yourself away and the company away from offshore bad-scammers ,theres a lot of false scam websites in 3rd world countries still not yet shut down by government , and for this I applaud you but seriously you had to know what was going down and where all the money was being filtered in and out from. A company doesn’t just destroy account records or legal documents or financials for without good reason.

      I do hope perhaps AP /UB will return one day , but run better and with more help than what you had , I don’t see how all the banking issues and corrupt side of the governments made it any worse for you , you made workarounds players ended up getting their money on the site , at the end of the day , it was a business ,You should have made it run like one instead of thinking that it was a great way to make money. Fulltilt was just the same look at how much the owners of that site had in their bank accounts hmmm what was it now 400 million? So there you are Brent ,at least you can say well we screwed up but you know what at least now the government can control it all…..

    • So the real question and probably the only one most people care about – when are we going to get our money? Probably never, but one can hope.

    • I’m not sure how there could ever be an interview, book, or movie about any of the former UB/AP owners that doesn’t address this question: Where the #@$% are the player funds? $54million we are owed…..

      Guy admits to running a company that defrauded its customers out of $54million, goes to jail, and now runs a consulting business specializing in fraud management. You can’t make this shit up.

    • so this is def the big flippn question,where did the money go.Did the DOJ freeze bank accts. or what????????

    • Greg pierson might be able to answer those questions given the fact he had complete control of funds.Not only this but look at his business now, he has used all AP/Ub money to fund his OWN company , You know the thing that really does bug me right is this . If absolute poker and ultimate bet had any security concerns in the first place ,and they hired greg piersons team ,why then did they have Jor nortons companys and also 3rd party DDos protection programmed already in place behind all of the systems? Because from a logistics point of view ,They had to have the brand monitoring protection and domain name protection policys set in place before they even got the get go to publish an internet gaming service on the internet .

      That about sums up the inadequate nature of Greg piersons involvement ,ie he and his company did not need to be there period!!

    • I had 50,000 status points stolen from my account by management unfairly and another point I made was to call out Annie duke in the middle of UBOC 1 main event for being a cheater /superuser as she had control over some rather important data that none other player was entiltled to have or use at their disposal. clear and concise explanation of the cheating practices should get Phil helmuth to come clean eventually on what exactly happened. In all fairness I think These lowball pros tied in with these companys all tried to do the right thing with exception of Annie, however hard it was ,but by then they knew they had money tied up and invested so they tried to backpeddle and fix all the issues .That was never going to happen with overseeing 3rd party involvement.
      Sponsered pros even didn’t last long after they worked out they were getting stifled by a company rampant on making bad decisions and misdirected work ethics.
      Not even my Bank manager who has years and years of experience and the absolute trust of the industry earns $30,000 per month . So in all honesty we all got stiffed by super-pro players thinking its easy living . They suddenly woke up after they realised they couldn’t fake the facts any longer.

      So many people involved and so many companys appalled by a whole lot of mess its almost unbelievable what lengths people will go to .

      I am only glad I met a few nice people on the site ,albeit they lost countless thousands of dollars in ,and Mark seif who is actually a really nice guy who helped with my poker game…

    • so this is def the big flippn question,where did the money go.Did the DOJ freeze bank accts. or what????????

      No in essence what Brent Is saying is that these payment processors acted in the same fashion as fulltiltpoker , however There seems to be no money on hand to fund players ,either the dept of justice has our money and seized assets of both ub/ap companys or the man management team has organised what looks like a possible theft /slide of 50+million

      I would hazard a stretch to say Greg piersons Team took most of that money to fund their own company . unless the government gives a statement offering the contrary what else are we supposed to think has happened to that money? I certainly don’t think Russ or Travis esquire and co are living it up with $$$ banged to their nostrils right this minute do you? They were the scapegoats remember that

    • And the so called Kwanake GAMING board have absolutely been tarnished as any responsible /methodical /respectful and clean operations team , its these people who also need investigating by the federal government !!! ohh wait you cannot investigate these people because “we are the moghidoshi tribal leaders” what a load of whitewash” bs ……That’s Canada for you”!!

    • I think the problem these on line operators ran into was being in way over their heads and not wanting to admit it…. In the cases of Full Tilt and UB they knew that leaving the US market was the responsible thing to do but couldn’t refund US players their balances, so they had to commit fraud to stick around and keep the lie going until the Feds came down on them or the laws changed…. Stars stayed out of straight greed and because they didn’t want to give up the #1 slot to Tilt …

    • i will comment on this again at some stage ,some very important information yet to come on this site and everyone involved . I need to set out some straight up facts about how this and many more companys were being run .