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Joe Sebok Talks UB.com After Parting Ways With Online Poker Room

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
May/09/2011
Joe Sebok

I apologize to those of you who have reached out to me recently regarding UB post Black Friday as I have been unable to comment on things.  Myriad legal reasons precluded me from doing so, as well as I really haven't had any answers for anyone, and I didn't want to contribute to the panic going through the community with my own speculation or possible misinformation.  I just thought that would be incredibly irresponsible.  Some within the playing community wanted promises and assurances and I wouldn't have been able to make or give them.  It wasn't a situation of running or hiding; I just simply couldn't contribute anything of any value and didn't want to add more noise.  Additionally, I didn't want to do anything whatsoever that could possibly endanger American players getting their money back, despite not knowing what those things might be.

I'm not sure where to start with all of this.  I am deeply sorry and heartbroken about player's situations on UB/AP where their money is currently frozen right now.  I understand how many of you depend on this money to live and have been put in dire straits by all of this.  If there was anything I could do to get your money to you, I would do it.  None of us could have foretold "Black Friday" and just how black it ended up being.

When I signed with UB, I really thought I could change the world.  I worked harder than any of you will ever know to try to do just that.  In the end though, it seems that I was more naïve than I thought I was.  I thought that I would be able to will change to happen, as I had always been able to in past positions, but I simply didn't have that power at UB.  I would make suggestions and hope that they were enacted, but that wasn't always the case, as at the end of the day I was a consultant for the company and not actually calling the shots.  I don't want to give the wrong impression here though.  There are some really great people at the company who work hard and try to do the right things, but there were just some obstacles I couldn't get past and realize now I probably never would.

I was never privy to the deep inner workings of the business.  How money was moved around, whether it was held in segregated accounts, etc, was nothing I ever worked on, and to be honest with you, ever thought about before April 15th.  I really put a lot of faith in the people I worked with, and the company itself.  I really believed that management thought the past was the past and that they wanted to have things be different in the present and the future.  I wanted to believe that with all of my heart, and in fact I completely staked my reputation on it.

I apologize to all of you for not being able to accomplish all that I wanted to.  I never had any mal-intent and I certainly never knew of anything that I would have considered to be morally questionable.  The involvement of Scott Tom, etc, if it was there, was certainly something that was always shielded from me, despite my constant questioning and bringing it up.  I had many very personal conversations where things were continually refuted and my fears were assuaged in very personal ways.  "Seebs, I wouldn't do that to you.  You've been here through so much of this shit and I would never put you in that situation.  No way.", were things that were told to me.  At some point you make a decision to trust people or you just don't.  I made a decision to trust.  I think when all the dust settles from the current situation, we will have a better idea of how naïve I really was.  I also traveled to Costa Rica several times to view operations, and never saw anything that seemed out of the ordinary whatsoever.  I inquired with staff along different levels and divisions continually to make sure stories were checking out and culture had changed for the better, and it always had. 

Regarding the current state of AP/UB, I haven't given up hope that all of you will get your money back.  I believe that UB is making many, many efforts to get you that money.  You may say, "Well, if there were lies before..." and that's totally fair, but their is absolutely a segment of that company trying to do the right thing.  I dearly hope that they are successful.   I have been told by upper management that ongoing discussions have been happening between the DOJ and UB with that being the focus.  There is a lot of misinformation being thrown around and it really saddens me that so many have fanned the flames of panic when, in truth, they simply do not know what is going to happen, just like me.  UB and their legal team is trying to work creatively to get that money back to players, I have been told.  I haven't been promised that that can happen, but I have been informed that is the goal.  This was never going to be a short process though, which leaves so much room for speculation.  I am trying to not engage in that, hope, and be patient.  It's not easy. 

I wish I had more information, as I know that's what all of you want, but I am sitting on the sidelines through all of this as well.  I have no say in how things are developing.  I believe there is a lot of information, as well as misinformation, coming out and I don't think any of us know what it all means quite yet.  I am holding out hope that just because UB may or may not be shutting down, they will still be able to take care of all the players.  I believe they want to.  I know that is the goal.

I hope we will all know how this is going to shake out within a week or two.  That's not a guarantee, as I don't have the ability to set a timetable, but from what I can piece together it seems like it may be a semi-reasonable one. 

In closing, I want to apologize to the poker community for where I may have failed you all.  I worked hard to try and accomplish a bunch of goals, more than perhaps I ever had any chance of doing.  Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew, and I may have done exactly that in this situation.  I'm not sorry for trying though.  I honestly don't regret it.  I just regret not being able to do more.

Best,
J

PS- This statement was written without regard to today's UB-sponsored pro player layoffs.  I have been communicating with upper management at UB regarding the current issues.  The pro's monies are still tied up on the site as well, so on that level we are all in the same situation as the general poker public.

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