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Full Tilt Poker PR Rep Won’t Deny Russ Hamilton Overtures

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jun/05/2009
Russ Hamilton

Though it's probably safe to assume Full Tilt Poker will think twice about hiring alleged online poker cheat, Russ Hamilton, following a story that appeared on the Pokerati website this week, a spokesperson for Full Tilt refused to deny whether Hamilton was being considered as a Team Full Tilt player.

"Who said Pokerati is a reputable source?" asked spokesperson Michele Clayborne.  "There are inaccuracies in that article".

The University of Southern California graduate would not clarify the precise inaccuracies when asked repeatedly to do so.  She was repeatedly asked to explain where Pokerati was getting its information, to which Ms. Clayborne reiterated they do not consider Pokerati a reputable source.

"We will not be talking to Gambilng911.com ever again!" she snarled in yet another phone call made by Gambling911.com Senior International Correspondent, Jenny Woo.  "Why don't you take that article down off the site?"  

Clayborne represents Full Tilt Poker and its team of pros through EMC-PR, where she holds the title of  International Public Relations Consultant (IPRC).  Apparently one of her job requirements is to piss off the press.

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Even Gambling911.com questioned the Pokerati story (a la the question mark in the headline).  However, we suspect after speaking with Clayborne, who supposedly was a Creative Writing major, she wouldn't know a question mark from a period (that's not to say this woman doesn't know what a period is since she appeared to be having hers when we spoke to her Thursday).   We even started our coverage of the story by asking:  "Could this be some type of joke?"  Following our brief conversation with the abrupt woman, we were left cringing at the notion that it might not be.   Perhaps a "real" Full Tilt spokesperson can clarify for us.?.?.?

Clayborne and Full Tilt Poker's lack of disclosure related to this story has had the entire online poker community riled up in recent days.

Addressing the online poker community concern over news that Hamilton might be hired, Full Tilt Poker issued a statement:

"We are aware of the situation regarding Absolute Poker and UltimateBet as it has impacted the entire poker industry. We certainly understand and share your concerns.

We can confirm that we are regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, however we cannot comment on our hiring policies/practices. Rest assured though that all necessary precautions are taken with every new potential employee.

Full Tilt Poker is endorsed and trusted by some of the best poker players in the world, and we work hard around the clock to ensure the highest integrity and security of our games.

We also cannot make any comment regarding the hiring practices of other companies within the industry nor can we comment on what communication we have with one another"

"Needless to say, Full Tilt Poker's response was met by an overwhelming amount of negativity," our friends at AintLuck.com pointed out on Thursday.  "In a world in which the online poker world is fighting to be accepted by the United States, one would hypothesize that being more open when dealing with players' concerns would rank high on their list of priorities."

AintLuck.com noted that Full Tilt Poker rival - and twice its size - PokerStars.com - was more clear in assuring they would not hire the likes of Russ Hamilton.

A PokerStars spokesperson stated:  "PokerStars has an extensive and stringent employee recruitment process. Relevant staff members face extensive background checks to ensure that they are suitable for the roles which they are hired. If PokerStars is given information about anyone involved in this scam, then we will ban them from playing on Stars."

"In this scenario, it seems that the players responding in the forum are reinforced in their belief that Poker Stars is more inclined to ease the concerns of their customer base,"  AintLuck.com suggests.  "By failing to take the needed time to address the players' query regarding such a serious matter, they are unwittingly creating more doubt in the minds of prospective customers who just want to be confident that they are being treated fairly.  It would seem that Full Tilt's relationship with the aforementioned Kahnawake Gaming Commission is the root of the cryptic nature of their response.  Until they can provide some solid proof of their hiring practices, in the backs of the minds of many players, there will be some doubt."

Ms. Woo, who had arranged to interview poker pro Jennifer Harman in an effort to promote awareness of Ms. Harman's charitable work with Creating Organ Donation Awareness (CODA), has now been denied access to the Team Full Tilt player by Clayborne.  Woo herself is an organ donor.  She has also been especially active in promoting the charitable efforts of fellow poker player Annie Duke, most recently Refugees International.

"You will NOT be talking to MY poker players!" Clayborne exclaimed as if she owned the company.   

Woo, a Mathematics major, was left scratching her head. 

"Isn't Michele's (Clayborne) job to get these people and Full Tilt Poker positive press?" Woo asked.   "I seriously cannot believe how unprofessional and disrespectful this woman was.  We made it clear Full Tilt Poker was given every possible opportunity to say three simple words:  ‘Russ Is Not Joining Our Team'."

We reiterate, Full Tilt Poker is more than welcome to clarify the Pokerati story and dispel any rumors related to alleged affiliations with Russ Hamilton.

Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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