WPN Cuts Million Dollar Sunday Guarantee in Half
Following a series of cyber attacks and disappointing turnout, the Winning Poker Network (WPN) has decided to alter the remaining schedule for its Million Dollar Sundays in order to avoid exposure to further losses.
From here on out, the final two million dollar guaranteed prize pool tournaments this month will not have million dollar guarantees. Instead, the guaranteed prize pools will be exactly half of what they were, $500,000. The buy-in will also be halved, going from $500 + $40 to $250 + $20. To make up for the reduced guarantee, the network is adding two more contests in November with the same half-million dollar guarantee. The rest of the “Million Dollar Sunday” schedule on the Winning Poker Network now looks like this:
- October 18th at 5:00pm ET
- October 25th at 5:00pm ET
- November 1st at 5:00pm ET
- November 8th at 5:00pm ET
Each tournament has a guaranteed $100,000 first prize.
WPN, which is composed of a dozen skins including Poker Host, True Poker, and America’s Cardroom, is one of the few online poker networks that is not licensed in the United States yet still accepts U.S. customers. In December, it attempted to host its first million dollar guaranteed tourney, the most lucrative for a U.S.-facing network or poker room in the post-Black Friday era. It all went horribly wrong, though, when the network got hit by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack right when the tournament started. The attack caused tables to freeze, players to get disconnected, and things to just generally slow way down. WPN’s technical staff scrambled to try to close the floodgates, but eventually WPN CEO Phil Nagy made the decision to shut down the tournament and refund everyone’s money. The event was re-run successfully in February.
Then, this fall, the network decided to give it another go, this time getting even more ambitious and scheduling five million dollar tournaments, one in September and then one on each Sunday in October. When the September one began, so did another DDoS attack. And this time, it was accompanied by a ransom demand from the culprit (one which Nagy refused to pay). Fortunately, the network was ready and though there were still disconnections, registration problems, and the like, the issues were handled much better than before. The tournament had to be paused a few times early on but did end up finishing.
The first Million Dollar Sunday in October was also attacked, but there have been no reports of problems with the second one.
Even if the attacks are over, they exacerbated one issue that it looks like the Winning Poker Network was going to have anyway: there just simply isn’t enough of a player base and/or interest to support such an event. With a $500 buy-in, 2,000 players are needed to hit the million dollar guarantee naturally (fewer if you discount it by the $40 entry fee), and the fields never even came close. For the last three Million Dollar Sundays (one in September, two in October), the network has had to cover almost $600,000 in overlay. Even without any significant problems this past weekend, the overlay was still nearly $150,000. And that just wasn’t going to work.
Thus, the guaranteed is now cut in half along with the buy-in. This does mean that the same number of players are needed to avoid overlay, but the hope is probably that the lower buy-in will draw more players and even if there is still overlay, it will not be as large as before.
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