UltimateBeat Documentary Review

John Mehaffey October 19, 2013 1351 Reads

I was invited to a private screening of the upcoming film UltimateBeat – too much to lose on Friday.  The documentary tells the story of the UltimateBet cheating scandal where insiders used a tool that showed the hole cards of opponents during game play.  It is produced and directed by Scott Bell.  UltimateBeat is his first film.

UltimateBeat presents evidence that numerous people were involved in the scandal beyond the actual cheating at the poker tables.  This included the movement of money and the attempted cover up after the scandal was exposed by players.

UltimateBeat features interviews from many cheating victims, investigators and industry experts.   Those interviewed include Mike Fosco, Michael Josem, Mason Malmuth, Steven McLoughlin, Todd Witteles, Noah Stephens-Davidowitz, David Paredes, Brad Booth, Doug Mandeville and Nat Arem.

There were other recordings presented in the documentary that were not created by the UltimateBeat project.  The most prominent recordings used in the production were the tapes leaked by Travis Makar earlier this year.  These tapes, according to Makar and backed up by other sources, involved a discussion between Russ Hamilton, Greg Pierson, Sanford Millar and Daniel Friedberg.  Excerpts from this tape are used at many points in the documentary to help paint the full picture of how the fraud occurred and the subsequent cover up after it was exposed by players.

Interviews from radio shows were also included in UltimateBeat.  Annie Duke and Travis Makar were among those interviewed in these segments.

The film puts together the complicated UltimateBet company structure.  The UltimateBet connections with Iovation and Greg Pierson are noted many times.  The Absolute Poker cheating scandal was also mentioned.

My Thoughts on UltimateBeat

I was impressed with how UltimateBeat turned out.  The movie runs 100 minutes.  Some might think that it is too long, but in my opinion, there was very little that could be cut and still tell the whole story properly.   I was interested in each segment and it never lost my attention.

I feel that anyone that was a victim of the UltimateBet or Absolute Poker cheating scandals should watch UltimateBeat.  This includes players that lost money when Cereus failed after Black Friday.  Cereus was short an estimated $50 million when it ceased operations.  That number is an important one and the film explains why.

I also feel that this is a must-see for anyone involved in gaming regulation.  This film demonstrates why strict regulation is needed for the interactive gaming industry.  There are also a few names that may come up in the future in licensing applications that, in my opinion, are probably not deserving of a gaming license in any jurisdiction.

The one drawback of UltimateBeat is that it is unlikely to draw much mainstream attention.  Many of the details presented would be lost on viewers outside the industry.  For example, there are segments that discuss PokerTracker and datamining sites that might be difficult for a casual viewer to understand.  The story cannot be told without it though.

There were a few technical issues that needed to be worked out.  Bell told me that these are known issues and will be addressed before the film’s release.  I agreed with several suggestions made by the previous focus group.  I also had a couple of minor ones to add to the list.

The film is expected to be released on October 22nd at Doubleheadpictures.com.  It will be offered in a video on demand format.  The price has yet to be announced.

Nolan Dalla was at the screening on Thursday.  His thoughts about UltimateBeat may be found here.

The latest UltimateBeat update from Scott Bell:

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