The Million Dollar Sunday tournaments on the Winning Poker Network (WPN) have never managed to reach that million dollar guarantee, which why they will no longer be Million Dollar Sundays. While there has been no official announcement on its website, WPN has decided to chop the million dollar guarantee in half to $500,000. At the same time, though, the promotion will be extended an extra two weeks, doubling the number of “Million Dollar” Sundays remaining so that the total guaranteed prize money will stay at $2 million.
It has been a struggle for the network, which includes such poker rooms as True Poker, Poker Host, and America’s Cardroom, ever since it made the bold move to become the first U.S.-facing poker network since Black Friday to offer a million dollar guaranteed tournament. Its first attempt was back in December, but the network was hit with a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack right when the event began. The DDoS attacks started a couple weeks beforehand, but stopped in the days leading up to the tournament, so network officials thought they were in the clear. They were very wrong. The attacks caused tables to freeze, players to be disconnected, and prevented players from registering. WPN staff paused the tournament several times to try to get things under control, but they couldn’t, so WPN CEO Phil Nagy made the executive decision to cancel the tournament after it was already running and refund all buy-ins and fees.
The tournament was rescheduled for February and was successful. Possibly because of that, the network decided to run more of these million dollar guarantees, so it scheduled five for the fall; one in September and then one each Sunday in October. When the September tournament started, the DDoS attacks came back, causing similar problems as before. Phil Nagy went on Twitch to keep players apprised of the situation and even revealed that he had received a ransom communication from the attacker, which Nagy didn’t even consider. Fortunately, the network weathered the storm and the tournament was able to finish.
Same story for the first Million Dollar Sunday in October, but there have not been any reports of any DDoS attacks from this past Sunday.
But even if the attacks have stopped, that doesn’t eliminate the fact that the network didn’t come remotely close to attracting enough players to the $540 buy-in ($500 + $40) tournament to cover the million dollar guarantee. WPN had to pay out $224,500 in overlay for the September tourney, $197,500 for the first October event, and almost $150,000 this past Sunday. Much of that could be attributed to the DDoS attacks, as they prevented players from registering and the most recent tournament saw its numbers improve without the attacks, but the WPN is likely just too small to host a million dollar guarantee.
As such, the guarantee for the remaining two events in the series has been cut to $500,000, but the network didn’t want to take away value from its players, so it added two more tournaments so that the total guarantee remains the same. The buy-in has also been cut to $270.