Tournament had a gigantic overlay
PokerStars ran into what it called “technical issues” Sunday night, forcing it to cancel a big guaranteed tournament. The event was the special Sunday Storm 10th Anniversary tournament, featuring a massive $1 million guaranteed prize pool for just an $11 ($9.80 + $1.20) buy-in.
The tournament began at 2:00pm and allowed for up to six re-entries per player during the late registration period. About three hours in, the tables froze, but blinds kept going up. All the while, the cards were not dealt. So players were just sitting there, watching the tournament clock tick, the blinds increase, and…nothing.
At 5:45pm ET, PokerStars informed players that it was canceling the tournament:
At the time of cancellation, the tournament was nowhere close to meeting its guarantee. There were 42,026 unique entries and 22,591 re-entries. With $9.80 from each entry put into the prize pool, that means that said prize pool had only built to $633,246.60.
PokerStars paid out entire guarantee
As disappointed as players were, fortunately PokerStars decided to “roll forward” the tournament. In this case, the remaining players all received their tournament fee back (the $1.20 that would have gone to the house), then 50% of the prize pool was divvied up equally among the remaining players, while the other 50% was distributed in proportion to chip counts.
Naturally, this helps the short stacks more than it does the big stacks. Obviously, things can change quickly in a tourney and this one was only three hours into a two-day event, but the biggest stack only ended up getting $208.92, while the regular first prize would have been $100,000.
Someone wants to talk to a manager
Some people on social media and on internet poker forums cried foul, claiming that the technical problem was a strange “coincidence” when the tournament was $300,000+ in overlay. These players claimed that PokerStars was faking it so it wouldn’t have to cover the deficit.
The big flaw in that argument is that PokerStars paid the entire $1 million guaranteed prize pool, it just did so to many more players than it normally would have, thus spreading it out. If it wanted to avoid paying the overlay, it would have rolled the tournament back, resetting everybody’s bankrolls as if the tournament didn’t exist.
Technical problems happen in online poker. It is the nature of the beast. Sometimes the issue is on the poker room’s end. Sometimes it has something to do with an internet provider along the way. Sometimes a player’s internet goes down, or sometimes the player’s power goes out. Shit happens. I certainly wouldn’t have been happy playing for three hours only to come out with a few bucks if I thought I had a chance at a lot more, but at least I would have gotten something.
Now, if this is a recurring problem, then that’s something to start barking about. That’s the point where the poker room is simply not offering a reliable product. But in this case, it’s a rare hiccup and that’s that.