One of the worst things that can happen in the online poker world is when a poker site closes shop, leaving players looking for another room at which to play. Even worse is when the poker site goes under and takes its customers’ money with it. But that’s exactly what happened in early May when Microgaming Poker Network (MPN) skin PKR.com filed for administrative protection (basically the UK’s equivalent of bankruptcy) and subsequently disappeared.
While player funds were frozen at the time, it was believed initially that customers would receive their money. MPN’s Head of Product, Alex Scott, said in a blog post, “PKR has repeatedly assured us that player funds are held in a segregated client account, for the express purpose of storing such funds, in accordance with their licence obligations in the United Kingdom and Alderney. We believe this to be true.”
He added, though, that just because the funds were in a segregated bank account does not mean that the money would make its way into players’ pockets.
Scott was prophetic. PKR is gone and so is everyone’s money.
Enter PokerStars. The world’s largest online poker room announced last week that it has reached an agreement with PKR’s court-appointed administrator in which it will step in and make PKR players whole. All PKR players, regardless of whether or not they already have a PokerStars account, will get their PKR money back, straight from PokerStars’ coffers. There are no strings attached to the deal; PKR players can immediately cash out their funds from PokerStars if they so choose.
Players will (or already did) receive an e-mail from PokerStars detailing the steps required to claim their funds. For those who already have PokerStars accounts, “it should take just a few clicks.” Those who are not PokerStars customers will need to create a Stars account, but it should still otherwise be a fairly simple process and those people will not be required to play at all on PokerStars.
Some people may look at this and think PokerStars is doing it just to get in everyone’s good graces and that’s partially correct. PokerStars readily admits it but also says the important thing is to help poker players:
We expect that some players will choose to use that bankroll to play with us and we will gain some new customers, which is certainly a good business decision on our part. However, the motivation behind this move is simple: to do what’s right.
PokerStars concluded its blog post with the following:
We’re not doing this to improve our bottom line and we are not acquiring or planning to revive the PKR software platform. We’re doing this because we think it’s the right thing to do for the poker world and to encourage others to join us in putting you, the player, first by segregating and protecting player balances from operating funds. PokerStars is proud that we’re in a position where we’re able to step in and help these players and encourage all companies in the industry to put players first.