Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Leinhos Dumped from Vegas Poker-Room Gig after UltimateBet Links Exposed

Interesting stories concerning people connected in some form with Russ Hamilton and the old UltimateBet (UB) cheating scandal continue to make waves in the poker world, with the latest related tidbit being the hiring and rapid firing of Bonnie Leinhos as the manager of the newly opened "Poker Pit," the poker room at the Las Vegas Hilton's Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, toward the north end of the Vegas Strip.

For the record, I had nothing to do with this one, though I think reporting on whatever has happened there is now certainly fair in a news sense.  Leinhos, whose maiden name was Damiano (and for a while she was known as Bonnie Damiano-Leinhos), is a Wisconsin-born veteran of the poker world and a decades-long friend of Russ Hamilton.

Leinhos's name was among the 29 or so names leaked out by Absolute Poker CEO Paul Leggett via Joe Sebok as being complicit in some unspecified form with the cheating led by Hamilton.  The official KGC report named only Hamilton, but cited 31 co-conspirators without naming them.

Leinhos was the Director of Tour Operations and Affiliates for the Ultimate BlackJack Tour (UBT), which was Russ Hamilton's business dream and was funded in large part with a lot of the stolen UB money.  There's no indication that she was involved in the actual cheating at the online tables, but there are records of sizeable transfers to and from the known cheating accounts going to other UB accounts controlled by Leinhos and her husband, Christian.

The first publicized linking of Leinhos to Hamilton and the UB cheating scandal came in the second half of Wicked Chops' two-part look back in 2010, detailing Leinhos's UBT past.  Here's some other information.  Again, for the record, both of those posts have some errors of fact within them, but neither one has those errors surrounding Leinhos-related stuff, to the best of my knowledge.  She was among the "unnamed" (and later leaked) KGC 31 because one or more of her accounts received suspicious transfers from Hamilton's cheating accounts, and that's the end of it.

Like most people connected in some form with the scandal, they've found its tendrils to be a problem as they've looked for future work.  Threads such as this one at 2+2 and this one at PokerFraudAlert popped up in the days after Leinhos's hiring at the LVH.

It seems as though the LVH either didn't do a deep background check, or did but underestimated the fact that people would complain.  Some poster from the 2+2 thread sent the LVH a summary of related Leinhos links, and Druff or someone else in one of the PFA podcasts did a semi-serious "Chico Loco" prank call, where they contacted LVH management and demanded to know how Leinhos could be hired.

At the same time, a few pieces appeared elsewhere about the Leinhos hiring, including this one at USPoker.com by "PokerAddict" John Mehaffey, who's generally regarded among the better writers of poker-investigative pieces.  I guess this piece now joins that list.

Cutting to the chase: Leinhos's stint as LVH poker-room manager lasted about a week, with management dumping her in the face of all the industry blowback.  Their room remains shuttered while they search for a new manager.

Leinhos subsequently wrote this on her Facebook account:

Just to let everyone know I am no longer at the LVH and I am pretty sure it is because of the negative article on the internet with regards to Ultimate Bet. I am devastated and I was loving working at the LVH the people were very nice and I had a game everyday and knew I could grow the business. It is a shame that association with someone can ruin ones life. My performance at LVH was above and beyond. Why John Mehaffey had to write that article I do not know and it is full of lies. He writes about things he knows nothing about.

I am very depressed and do not know what I will do now.

Leinhos blaming her termination on the Mehaffey piece is silly, because as he himself noted in a post in that 2+2 thread, all he did was a re-reporting of facts and allegations published elsewhere in other outlets.  (It's actually been a really rough week for PokerAddict, as we'll get to in a subsequent piece.)

It's understandable that Leinhos would be pissed and would blame others for what happened, but it's also a textbook example of how ripples from the Russ Hamilton stink-pool keep washing up throughout the poker world. 


Anonymous said...

Christian is Bonnie's husband, not her cousin.

Haley said...

Fixed. Weird brain cramp, apparently. Of course Christian is Bonnie's husband; no idea where that came from.