Weekly Poker Roundup: September 18, 2015
There are two themes this week: payment processing and computer problems. Enjoy!
Another Tourney, Another DDoS Attack on WPN
If Burger King is the “Home of the Whopper,” the Winning Poker Network is “Home of the DDoS Attack.” On Sunday, WPN was victimized yet again during another one of its million dollar guaranteed tournaments, an incident that was partially responsible for a gigantic overlay.
The event was the first of five scheduled Million Dollar Sunday tournaments on the network; the rest will be held on each Sunday in October. When the tournament started, the network was flooded with communications requests from the attacker, slowing down the action, causing tables to freeze up, and causing some players to be disconnected. Fortunately, WPN technicians were able to mitigate the problems, though they needed to pause the tournament for several minutes on a few occasions.
WPN CEO Phil Nagy went on Twitch to explain what was happening and urged players to log back in if they were disconnected. He said that the attacker was demanding a ransom, but that wasn’t going to happen. “What I really want to say is eff these guys SO much and there’s no possible way that I’m paying you or I’m giving in,” Nagy said.
Partially because of the problems, partially because it is not the most highly trafficked site, and possibly because it was the first Sunday of the NFL season (WPN is open to Americans), the million dollar guaranteed tournament had a huge overlay of $224,500. Nagy said the overlay was going to hurt, but he never once considered not paying it.
Merge Gaming Network Removes Skrill as Withdrawal Option
Players on the Merge Gaming Network, which includes such online poker rooms as Carbon Poker and BetUSA, were informed recently that they are no longer able to use the popular e-wallet Skrill as a cashout option. The network instead suggested bank wires as an alternate form of withdrawal.
Many players who were blindsided by the removal of Skrill had been waiting on Skrill cashouts for a long time already. The Merge Gaming Network is currently one of the worst in the industry, especially for American customers, in terms of cashout speed. According to a thread on Two Plus Two, Skrill withdrawals were already taking about three months on average to complete. Bank wires were taking close to a month and a half, while paper checks were averaging over 80 days.
As frustrating as it is for players to lose a good cashout option (especially for those who already had a withdrawal in progress), it is even worse for some who can’t use the bank wire option. Some players chiming in on Two Plus Two have said that Merge would not wire funds to their bank because the bank uses an intermediary for transactions. As a result, some players are stuck with no ability to cashout at all.
PayPal Launches Online Gambling Test Run
Online payment processing giant PayPal has quietly partnered with four online gambling sites, including WSOP.com, as an approved funding option. PayPal used to be one of the biggest online gambling e-wallets in the world, but when it was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002, it halted that service. The two companies recently split apart, so PayPal is now back in the gambling business.
As mentioned the launch has been quiet – PayPal has not made any grand announcements or engaged in a marketing campaign. This is likely because it is just a test run, rather than for some nefarious reason. A spokesperson told CNBC:
PayPal is launching a pilot program to support four leading real money gaming (RMG) operators to offer PayPal as a way for gamers to fund their online accounts with these merchants. We are launching this pilot now that we are able to fully comply with the evolving laws surrounding RMG in the United States as well as the requirements of our payment partners. As a global payments provider, PayPal’s goal is to give people safe and simple ways to pay for the things they want, so long as we can comply with applicable laws.
PayPal has already been a payment option for just about every daily fantasy sports site. FanDuel, one the DFS industry’s two leading operators, told CNBC that PayPal handles half of its player transactions.
PokerStars and Full Tilt Players Targeted by Malware
Internet security firm ESET has discovered a piece of malware that seeks to bleed money from players on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. Once on a target’s computer, the trojan, called Odlanor, takes a screenshot of the player’s poker client and sends it to the attacker. The attacker, who now knows the player’s hole cards and screen name, seeks out that player to try to sit at their table. Needless to say, if the attack is able to play against on Odlanor victim, he will have a serious advantage.
There should not be much cause for alarm for people who practice safe web surfing and downloading practices. The trojan hides in software installation packages, particularly in poker-related third-party software. The danger here is for people who choose to acquire software by torrenting or from sketchy websites of dubious legitimacy. Those who get their software from the developer or from an authorized retailer should be fine.
In a statement, a representative of PokerStars and Full Tilt said that the poker rooms have conducted an initial review of accounts of people thought to be affected by the malware and to this point, it does not appear that they have lost money because of cheating.
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