Popularity: a blessing and a curse

It was certainly an exciting weekend at GGPoker, as the first World Series of Poker Online bracelet to be awarded outside of the United States was won by Shoma “pp_syon” Ishikawa of Japan, but connectivity issues marred what would otherwise have been a celebratory Sunday. Included in the problems was one of most dreaded events for an online poker room: a DDoS attack.

The first hiccups occurred between about 2:00pm and 5:00pm UTC, as larger than expected traffic – from both players and observers – caused significant slowdowns, registration problems, and loading delays across the entire GGPoker platform. The poker room put a bandage on the problem, but had to take the servers down for a while.

A short time later, GGPoker tried to make up for the downtime by extended late registration for the WSOP events, but that created something called a “server-client protocol mismatch,” torpedoing some players’ connections.

DDoS Attack

Then, later that night and bridging into Monday morning, GGPoker was hit was a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, causing players to not be able to login. Normally, GGPoker has protections in place to stave off DDoS attacks, but in making some server upgrades in the leadup to the World Series of Poker Online, some of those protections were unknowingly removed.

In a DDoS attack, the attacker (or attackers) flood the target’s servers with an overwhelming number of communications requests, bringing operations to a standstill. Imagine having a conversation with a friend. It’s one-on-one, everything is great. But then imagine all of a sudden, a million people start talking to you all at once – your ears and brain wouldn’t be able to process all of the voices. That’s a DDoS attack. And the “distributed” part means that the attack is coming from multiple sources, so it is more difficult to pinpoint and stop.

DDoS attacks are common in online poker, though most of the time, the poker rooms’ security systems prevent any issues.

GGPoker’s solution

To remedy the situation, GGPoker moved the two affected WSOP tournaments – #32 and #33 – to July 26, at which point they will resume with stack sizes at the time of disruption. As compensation, the poker room is giving each of the 3,684 remaining players in event #32 their $100 buy-in in tournament cash. As event #33 was for charity, GGPoker, is doubling the $177,378 that was collected.

GGPoker ambassador Daniel Negreanu took to Twitter to personally apologize to players who were affected. He empathized, saying he knows how “tilting” it is to experience software problems. He himself flew off the handle during the WSOP.com portion of the 2020 WSOP Online when his software disconnected mid-hand while he was live streaming. So he certainly knows the frustration.

The GGPoker leg of the WSOP Online continues through September 6. In all, 54 bracelets will be awarded on the site. While the WSOP.com portion of the Series is open to U.S. players in New Jersey and Nevada, Americans are not permitted on GGPoker.

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