Russ Hamilton

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Russ Hamilton
Russ Hamilton.jpg
Hamilton playing at the 2007 UB Aruba Poker Classic
ResidenceLas Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Born1948/1949 (age 70–71)[1]
World Series of Poker
Money finish(es)8
Highest ITM
Main Event finish
Winner, 1994
World Poker Tour
Final table(s)None
Money finish(es)2
Information accurate as of July 24, 2009.

Russ Hamilton (born 1948 or 1949)[1] is an American poker player. He was the 1994 World Series of Poker main event champion, defeating Hugh Vincent in heads-up play to win $1 million in first-prize money, as well as his body weight in silver.[2] Following his World Series win, Hamilton served as a consultant for Ultimate Bet, an online poker server. In 2008, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission found Hamilton largely responsible for cheating players on Ultimate Bet out of $6.1 million through software that allowed access to opponents' hole cards.[3] In 2009, Kahnawake increased the $6.1 million estimate to $22,100,000.[4]

Hamilton initially attended college in Michigan and pursued a degree in electrical engineering, before a conversation with a professor led him to decide that playing poker for a living would be more profitable. After playing in underground games in Detroit, he moved to Las Vegas at the age of 36. He joined a tournament blackjack team and enjoyed a successful run but, when tournaments started barring blackjack pros, he turned back to poker. In 1994, he won the World Series of Poker main event bracelet.

He also invented Elimination Blackjack, a tournament Blackjack derivative that was used as the format for the televised Ultimate Blackjack Tour.[5]

Hamilton's last major cash came in the 2009 World Poker Tour PCA Main Event.

As of 2014, his total live tournament winnings exceed $1,525,000.[6] His eight cashes at the WSOP account for $1,261,940 of those winnings.[7]

UltimateBet fraud[edit]

Since winning his World Series bracelet, Hamilton has served as a gaming industry expert, including as a consultant for the online poker cardroom UltimateBet where he was involved in recruiting some prominent poker players, including Phil Hellmuth, to promote the site.[8] He has won World Championships in several types of casino games and founded the Ultimate Blackjack Tour in 2005.

On September 29, 2008, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission stated it had found clear and convincing evidence that, between the approximate dates of May 2004 and January 2008, Russ Hamilton was the main person responsible for, and benefiting from, multiple sophisticated cheating incidents at UltimateBet.[3][9] UltimateBet eventually refunded a total of $22,100,000 to the defrauded players.[4]

In October 2008, 60 Minutes aired a report profiling Hamilton and called the fraud the biggest scandal in the history of online gambling.[10] 60 Minutes partnered with the Washington Post in their investigation.[11][12]

In May 2013, recorded audio of discussions with UltimateBet management was released by Travis Makar where Hamilton and other management can be heard discussing the scandal and the plans to cover up known conspirators and participants as well as aiming to reduce the declared or refunded amount of the fraud. This recording included statements of admission from Hamilton such as "I did take this money and I'm not trying to make it right, so we've got to get that out of the way real quick."[13][14]

World Series of Poker Bracelets[edit]

Year Tournament Prize (US$)
1994 $10,000 No Limit Hold'em World Championship $1,000,000


  1. ^ a b Benston, Liz (March 25, 2005). "Las Vegas is big-time poker's tournament capital of the world". Las Vegas Sun. Las Vegan Russ Hamilton ... Hamilton, 56
  2. ^ "Sexton's Corner, Vol. 49: Russ Hamilton, Part 2 -- $1,000,000, a Bracelet and 43 Silver Bars". June 16, 2008.
  3. ^ a b "Kahnawake Gaming Commission: Kahnawake Gaming Commission Imposes Sanctions on Ultimate Bet with Regard to Cheating Incidents" (PDF). September 29, 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Kahnawake Gaming Commission report 2009" (PDF). September 11, 2009.
  5. ^ "ThePOGG Interviews - Anthony Curtis - Owner of the Las Vegas Advisor". April 5, 2014. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
  6. ^ "Hendon Mob tournament results". 2009.
  7. ^ "World Series of Poker Earnings". Archived from the original on June 13, 2009.
  8. ^ "MSNBC: Poker site cheating plot a high-stakes whodunit". September 18, 2008.
  9. ^ "Kahnawake Gaming Commission Announces Sanctions on UltimateBet: Russ Hamilton Named". September 29, 2008.
  10. ^ CBS Interactive staff (November 30, 2008). "'60 Minutes' report: How online gamblers unmasked cheaters".
  11. ^ "How Online Gamblers Unmasked Cheaters: 60 Minutes/Washington Post Joint Investigation Questions Honesty, Security Of Gambling Sites". 60 Minutes. November 25, 2008.
  12. ^ "Inside Bet: Cracking the two biggest cheating scandals in the history of online poker". Washington Post. November 30, 2008.
  13. ^ "Daily Rewind: Russ Hamilton admits cheating, EPT Grand Final & ISPT updates". May 22, 2013.
  14. ^ YouTube: UB Meeting (Full). May 10, 2013.