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During the early levels of the Garden State Super Series‘ three main events, a pop-up flashed indicating that the tournaments were currently on pause. Within 30 minutes of the announcement, they were cancelled.
Thus brought an abrupt end to the most high profile day on the GSSS schedule, with Party / Borgata issuing refunds and all but writing an engraved invitation to PokerStars to take over the nascent market’s number one spot.
Below is a chronological recounting of Sunday night’s debacle. Some times are approximate.
As per Mr. Hass:
“We experienced a major system failure last night between 6:50pm to 7:40pm EST on nj,partypoker.com and BorgataPoker.com that affected all running tournaments. This resulted in all running tournaments firstly pausing, but then, eventually leading to them all being cancelled.
The technical team did all they could to resume play from the paused state, but unfortunately, due to the nature of this specific bug, there was no way to resume the tournaments.”
Haas went on to elaborate that the technical failure was tournament specific, which is why cash-games, SNGs and casino games proceeded without interruption.
A patch designed to resolve the issue has since been deployed.
In my estimation, Party / Borgata deserves a fair amount of credit for addressing the catastrophic technical failure in a swift and satisfactory fashion.
Although no thorough explanation was offered until 24 hours after the fact, refunds were granted before player uproar reached a fever pitch.
Players still alive in the cancelled GSSS tournaments received an equal portion of 50% of the prize pool, with the remaining 50% “distributed on a percentage basis according to each player’s chip count,” otherwise known as a chip chop.
Their entry fee (VIG) was also reimbursed.
As example to illustrate:
Notice that in the aforementioned example, Johnny’s payout was based on the total guaranteed prize pool, and not the amount of player buy-ins. This dispels the imaginative conspiracy theory that Party cancelled its own tournaments to avoid paying a substantial overlay.
More on Party / Borgata’s cancellation policy here.
While mostly fair, Party’s solution to the GSSS debacle is not without its flaws.
The latter point was partially resolved by Haas’ surprise announcement that next Sunday’s GSSS events would feature an added $50,000 in prize money. Although, according to some player accounts, its unknown if they’ll be even able to use their refunded ticket in another GSSS event.
Sadly, last Sunday’s tournaments will not be re-run. My guess is that this decision was made due to the Borgata Poker Open coming to a close this Friday.
The GSSS was supposed to set the precedent for which all other tournament series, including those run by PokerStars NJ, would be judged. In lieu of Sunday’s technical failing, that bar has been set exceedingly low.
Granted, Party / Borgata has experienced its fair share of technical difficulties in the past, but until Sunday, none have been so prominent.
The duo’s technical shortcomings raise serious questions regarding their future in the US’s regulated iPoker market.
Namely: if the software has difficulty handling a 4,000 player server load, how could it ever be trusted to handle 40,000 or more?
Already players have sworn off Party / Borgata, and even if their threats to never play on the network again are idle, the discontent of the online poker community is very real, and bodes poorly for the PartyPoker brand.
And with PokerStars poised to enter the market shortly, and WSOP and 888 on the precipice of expanding their grasp over the regulated marketplace, the timing of Party / Borgata’s technical malady couldn’t have been worse.
Despite a slightly delayed response period, Party / Borgata must be recognized for providing players with a serviceable, if not above average, resolution.
I’m willing to give credit where credit is due, but after ten months in the market, a technical failing of this magnitude should have never have happened.