DDoS Attacks Bring Down PokerStars and Cause Chaos on WCOOP Sunday

DDoS Attacks Bring Down PokerStars and Cause Chaos on WCOOP Sunday
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PokerStars players were left out in the cold on Sunday after unexpected issues caused dozens of MTTs to be canceled, including six World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) events. 

Problems began to surface on Sunday afternoon. Glitches and timeouts were causing issues for players trying to grind tournaments and cash games on PokerStars' poker app. The security team soon took charge of the situation and paused all MTTs while the problem was being investigated.

Delays on any day of the week are far from ideal, but Sundays are by far the busiest in online poker. That meant the complaints from players on Twitter were mounting up fast. To make matters worse, Sept. 25 was the day PokerStars was set to run six of its most important WCOOP tournaments, including the $10,300 main event. 

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Technical Glitches Causes Widespread Problems

WCCOP's main event is one of online poker’s biggest tournaments and everyone who is anyone had anted up. Even those who usually don’t have access to PokerStars’ international network, such as American pro, Adam Levy, had traveled to a country where they could play. 

 

The pressure was on the tech team to resolve the issue but, despite their best efforts, the engineers couldn’t fix the problem. With time ticking and contingency plans to make, PokerStars’ executives pulled the plug after two hours of disruptions. An announcement was made via the app and reposted on social media. 

As per the announcement, all active tournaments were canceled and prizes were “awarded in accordance with (PokerStars’) tournament cancellation policy.” This is a standard response to a situation that, unfortunately, isn’t uncommon in online poker. However, given the timing of the cancellation, more than a few poker players were unhappy.

In addition to missing out on WCOOP main event gold, players trying to complete promotional challenges were questioning what happens next via social media. Addressing the fallout took 24 hours, but PokerStars eventually cleared up the mess on Monday. 

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PokerStars Resolves Issue in the Best Way Possible

The first thing we learned from the Sept. 26 announcement was that DDoS attacks caused the problems. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks basically flood a server with requests. This rush of traffic leads to a website/app becoming overloaded to the point it stops functioning properly. 

That problem has now been solved. As such, PokerStars’ international servers were up and running again on Sept. 26. Cash games and on-demand tournaments were first to return. Scheduled MTTs, including WCOOP event #96, got underway at 18:30 CET. 

With the technical issues resolved, PokerStars’ announcement confirmed that the DDoS attacks didn’t compromise customer accounts. Finally, with regards to the inconvenience caused, the announcement stated that those who missed out on the WCOOP finale and any promotions will be compensated.

For those trying to complete promotional challenges, PokerStars will be offering financial compensation. For those registered in WCOOP events, the action will restart on the first weekend of November. The penultimate MTTs will take place on Nov. 5 before the $10,300 main event plays out on Nov. 6. 

That resolution will come as little consolation to players like Levy who made special trips so they could play in the WCOOP main event. However, with little that can be done to prevent DDoS attacks, clearing the mess up is the best anyone can do. Therefore, even if things don’t play out as planned, a WCOOP champion will be crowned in 2022.

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