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Snapnames Editorial – Recalling the Absolute Poker Scandal of ’07

November 6, 2009

Having been a long time online poker player I can still recall news of the “Scandal That Rocked The Online Poker Industry” to steal the recent headline from this TechCrunch editorial concerning the Snapnames auction scandal we’ve all read so much about in the last two days.

In late 2007 word spread that there was a cheat at Absolute Poker, an online gaming site where I had early cut my teeth earning several 4-figure tournament cashes. Before long it was discovered that an employee of Absolute Poker with intimate technical knowledge of the software platform had manipulated the system in such a way so as to give him the ability to see opponent’s hole cards during play.

Acting in concert with another player named ‘Potripper’ they were making serious bank winning online tournaments till the scam was finally outed. For exact details on this incident and a timeline of how it all went down check out:

This brief recap of the story

A first hand account in this archived thread from the 2+2 forum

After first hearing of the Snapnames scandal involving Halvarez it became immediately apparent to me that there are several striking similarities between the two cases:

  • Both insiders were high-level executives with inside knowledge of, and ability to manipulate the technical underpinnings of their respective software.
  • Both industries are commonly regarded as a ‘wild west’, with little to no oversight from outside agencies
  • Both incidents were latched on to by major media outlets that tried to shovel dirt on the industry
  • Both companies offered to make redress by compensating those affected
  • In both instances the ‘moles’ were under heavy suspicion from the community of domainers/poker players prior to any ensuing internal company investigations
  • Talk was rampant that other sites could easily be under the same type of fraudulent activity (i.e. no poker site or auction house is safe)
  • Halvarez’ and ‘Potripper’, two names now immortalized to their respective communities both have that certain scandalous, infamous sort of ring to them

But I think the similarities will not end there. I also recall how quickly it was that the poker scandal seemed to blow over and Absolute regained its foothold.

Absolute has not gone out of business. To the contrary they have actually grown in the last two years. I wouldn’t expect Snapnames will be shutting their doors as a result of this controversy either, and in my opinion at this stage I’m fairly positive they will bounce back rather quickly as well.

Further, most online poker players did not withdraw their entire online bankrolls, despite many swearing to stick to playing only bricks & mortar casinos. Though revenues may have dipped (I’m not sure) in the month or months that followed I would doubt that the losses were that significant.

It is interesting to note the results of this recent online survey posted from Domain Name Wire.

snapnames-scandal-survey-re.jpg

I would be quite curious to compare this tally with similar surveys to be conducted three, six, and 12 months from now, to gauge how domainer’s perspectives may change as we move further away from ‘ground zero’.

Yes, for a short while this type of controversy can be quite damaging to the reputation of an industry, but in this day and age when we are blasted with terabytes of information daily streaming at us from all angles, what was the big news of the day is soon easily displaced by the next big scandal, and the next, etc.

The Snapnames scandal has only just broke, so it’s quite possible that other details may be forthcoming that could change the overall picture of this story. However, regardless I think we will see in relatively little time looking back that this incident does not have the kind of sustained negative impact that some in the tech blogosphere are perhaps making it out to seem..

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