The most important part of running an online poker room is to make sure you are offering a fair game. The next most important thing is to ensure that those games can always be accessed. It was in the latter regard that New Jersey’s Party/Borgata Network utterly failed last Sunday at the conclusion of the Garden State Super Series V (GSSS V).
The GSSS is the network’s signature tournament series; this fall, it consisted of 75 events and $1.1 million in guarantees. It was a very ambitious offering and with many tournaments not meeting their guarantees, it was clearly too ambitious. But Sunday was the final day of the GSSS and hey, if you never reach for the stars, you’ll never get to them, right?
At about 8:00pmSunday night, players started getting kicked off of the tables because PartyPoker’s geolocation services were not working properly. These services are important because in order to play on Party or any of the other online gambling sites in New Jersey, players must be located within state borders. Geolocation determines where each player is, generally with a high degree of accuracy. But for some reason, three hours into the GSSS Main Event – and while other GSSS tournaments were going on – geolocation was failing and players were being forced to sit out while the few that did remain at the tables started stealing blinds.
At about 8:30pm, the GSSS tournaments were paused to allow the network’s tech team to try to sort things out. They were unable to get the problem under control and ended up cancelling the tournaments at about 10:00pm.
The Borgata issued a statement on Twitter the next day at 4:00pm:
We experienced a failure on our geolocation service which impacted all active players on our network, the failure resulted in the player locations not being verified. As a regulated provider in NJ, we had to adhere to the regulations and not permit wagering while a player’s location could not be verified. The technical support team worked tirelessly to identify the root cause. The issue was finally resolved late in the evening.
Of course, that was too late, since the tournaments had already been halted. On Two Plus Two and PocketFives, a PartyPoker rep explained how the prize pool would be distributed:
At this time we will be settling the affected tournaments per our cancellation policy. This will award the full guaranteed prize money to the remaining players in the events. Players still in the tournament will be refunded the amount that would have been awarded to the next player to be eliminated from the tournament. 50% of the remaining prize pool will be distributed equally between the remaining players, and 50% will be distributed on a percentage basis according to each player’s chip count. The remaining players will also be refunded their entry fee.
That resolution has been met with resistance, not because the policy is a problem, but because Party made its calculations using chips stacks as of the time the tournaments were paused. In the half hour between then and when the geolocation problems began, many players lost chips to those who remained in the tournament. Thus, many players feel they are being shorted their payouts.
The PartyPoker rep said that players could contact customer service if they disputed their payouts.
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