PokerStars Cancels $1m Tournament After Suffering ‘Technical Issues’

  • The 10th anniversary Sunday Storm tournament had 64,617 entrants before the software glitch
  • The event’s clock continued to run and blinds still rose, but no players received any cards
  • Customers claimed PokerStars canceled to avoid the overlay, but the operator eventually paid out
  • Players holding large stacks lost out, with the winner receiving $208.92 instead of $100,000
A tablet screen with playing cards
PokerStars has blamed technical problems for its abandonment of a tournament offering a prize pool of $1m. [Image:]

A disappointing Sunday Storm

PokerStars has had to leave customers disappointed by abandoning an online poker tournament offering total prize money of $1m ($730,000).

64,617 people had entered the tournament

The event, which took place at around 10pm BST on Sunday, was the 10th anniversary of PokerStars’ Sunday Storm tournament. Entrants had to pay $11 each to buy in and could re-enter up to six times. Before the abandonment, 64,617 people had entered the tournament, meaning the event needed a further 35,383 participants to reach the $1m guarantee.

Isle of Man-based operator PokerStars blamed “technical issues” when the game froze about three hours in. The firm took to Twitter at 10:45pm BST that night to announce that the issues would result in a cancellation:

At the time, the tournament’s clock kept running and the blinds continued to rise, but players did not receive any cards. In spite of the issues experienced, all of the operator’s other games seemed to avoid any technical problems.

Ultimately, PokerStars paid out the full $1m among the tournament’s entrants.

Customer concerns allayed

Of the entries made into PokerStars’ Sunday Storm tournament, 42,026 represented first entries and 22,591 were re-entries. Overall, the tournament’s prize money was missing $353,830 from its $1m guarantee, with only $646,170 collected from entries before the tournament kicked off. This meant PokerStars was responsible for a large overlay.

intentionally abandoned the tournament to avoid the cost

At the time of the technical difficulties, a large number of customers claimed that PokerStars had intentionally abandoned the tournament to avoid the cost. One customer, Doug Mair, took to Twitter to express his views:

Despite concerns raised by customers, PokerStars ultimately paid out the $1m prize pool in full. The company gave $19.26 each to 16,667 places, while all remaining players received 50% of the prize pool. The other half of the entrants got an amount corresponding to their chip count at the time of the crash.

Some left short-changed

Of course, PokerStars’ Roll Forward policy for prize distribution did not suit everybody. Those with large stacks of chips received only a minuscule portion of the funds they would have taken home had they finished in that position at the end of the tournament.

first place would have received $100,000

The chip leader at the time of the crash, harveyspector1 from Canada, received $208.92 from PokerStars. The prizes then gradually declined in value for the rest of the customers who had high chip counts. If the tournament had continued, first place would have received $100,000, while second place would take home $70,000, and third $50,000.

This isn’t the first time PokerStars has experienced tournament difficulties this year. In April, British high-stakes poker pro Patrick “Pads” Leonard noticed a mistake in the PokerStars SCOOP Player of the Series leaderboard. The player had received an extra 30 points by mistake. He lost the title after drawing attention to the issue, costing him a cool $25,000.

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