Founder of Ultimet Bet (UB)
Ultimate Bet (UB.com), one of two sites that form part of the Cereus Poker Network along with Absolute Poker, has a long and complex history. The founders of Absolute Poker are not the same. The site was a privately owned venture until it was purchased by the Kahnawake based Tokwiro Enteprises, which later became embroiled in a bitter battle with the original owners over a cheating scandal that threatened the very existence of Ultimate Bet. Clever marketing and a focus on future operations has turned this site into one of the most advanced in the industry today. Even today it is undergoing rebranding to UB.com
Greg Pierson is the name behind the creation of Ultimate Bet online poker room. Born in 1967 in Portland, USA, Pierson has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and economics from Oregon State University.
In 1999, Pierson, a self confessed computer geek, became Chief Executive Officer of ieLogic, which provided a shared technical infrastructure to support Massively Multiplayer Online Gaming environments to the internet world.
Pierson’s ieLogic co-created Ultimate Bet with Jon Karl, as well as anonymous high stakes poker players (some believe that they include World Series of Poker Main event winners) and ieLogic became the first software provider for the fledgling poker room.
In October 2001, Pierson hired Jack Bates as Senior Software Engineer for Ultimate Bet, a job that called for “virtually all technical aspects of analysis, design, implementation and maintenance of performance sensitive servers responsible for providing and securing soft realtime multiplayer online games.”
Ultimate Bet (ieLogic) Goes Public
In 2004, Excapsa bought over ieLogic and went public on the London Stock Exchange in the same year. The original ieLogic was split into two. The first part of the company consisted of non poker clients, online fraud prediction technology and some 30 employees. The other part of ieLogic became Iovation Inc. and was headed by Greg Pierson.
Excapsa was incorporated under the laws of British Columbia in April, 2004 and was based in Toronto, Ontario.
In June of the same year, Pierson filed a patent for a network security and fraud detection system and method.
Phil Helmuth Comes In
In July 2004, poker professional and then-youngest ever World Series of Poker Main Event winner, Phil Hellmuth invested in Iovation, which included Ultimate Bet, and the name Greg Pierson was thrown into the spotlight with Hellmuth’s endorsement.
In an article at the time, Hellmuth said: “Greg Pierson is the man! No, you haven’t heard of him yet, but mark my words: GP’s new company, Iovation internet security company, will have a billion dollar evaluation by 2008. Considering how much respect I have for Greg, and considering the fact that I’m lucky enough to be an investor in Iovation, I vowed to Greg that he could get some private lessons from me anytime.”
Blast Off Ltd Buys UB
In 2006, Excapsa was sold to Blast Off Ltd, a privately held Malta based group, ahead of the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in the United States. A blog at the time read: “Excapsa Software Inc., the parent company of Excapsa Services, Game Theory Holding and the Ultimate Bet online poker brand, sold the Excapsa Services and Game Theory Holdings units essentially, the software and development networks behind the UltimateBet name to a privately held company, Malta based Blast Off Limited.”
Blast Off was a subsidiary of Tokwiro Enterprises, which soon took over the operation and marketing of the site.
When a massive cheating scandal broke in 2008, with Ultimate Bet accused of running accounts where the hole cards of players could be seen, Phil Hellmuth stuck by his friend, Greg Pierson, despite the fact that eyebrows were raised about Pierson’s involvement in the incident. Rumors also began to fly about high stake poker player, Russ Hamilton, who had been involved in Ultimate Bet from the start.
Inhouse Cheating – Russ Hamilton
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission finally found that Hamilton was the main person responsible for the cheating that took place at the site for a number of years.
“The Commission found clear and convincing evidence to support the conclusion that between the approximate dates of May 2004 to January 2008, Russell Hamilton, and individual associated with Ultimate Bet’s affiliate program, was the main person responsible for the multiple cheating incidents,” read the publicly released report.
One of the main questions asked at the time is why Iovation, the online security company headed by Pierson, and which supplied Ultimate Bet with its security technology, did not pick up on the fraud and cheating scandal.
Tokwiro Enterprises sued Excapsa for millions of dollars, and a settlement was eventually reached out in the Ontario Supreme Court to the tune of $15 million. Ultimate Bet, UB, continues to this day to be a thriving enterprise. New players know nothing of the cheating, but seasoned poker players continue to feel bitter towards Ultimate Bet.