cake poker ships pot to the loser
There was a lot of hand wringing at Cake Poker Network headquarters last week as one of an online poker room's worst nightmares came true: a pot was shipped to the wrong player. Fortunately, thanks to the professionalism of Cake's Card Room Manager, Lee Jones, and the programming staff, the issue was resolved in just over a day.
The hand that sent poker message boards into a frenzy was played at 2:30pm ET on February 3rd at "Rome 15025", a six-handed $0.02/$0.04 No-Limit Hold'em table. Two players, 'dimondidenko' and 'd0nkeyk0ng9' ended up all-in pre-flop, the former with Kd Kh, the latter with Ah Qh. After the river card was dealt, there were four hearts on the board, giving d0nkeyk0ng9 the best hand with an Ace-high flush versus his opponent's King-high flush. To everyone’s shock, however, this suckout did not result in d0nkeyk0ng9 winning the hand. Instead, dimondidenko was shipped the $5.36 pot.
Within fifteen minutes, one of the other players in the hand posted both a screenshot of the Cake Poker hand history and the end result from his Hold'em Manager replayer on the Two Plus Two Poker forum
. The majority of reactions were very negative, with many players vowing to withdraw their funds from Cake Poker or other sites on the network. There were some voices of reason who urged patience, but, as is common on the internet, overreactions abounded.
Within a couple hours, Lee Jones confirmed that the error did happen and that an investigation as to what occurred was the software team's number one priority. That night, Cake paused its servers to install some additional logging code in an effort to catch any possible reoccurrences of the problem. The following afternoon, he also promised that Cake would pay anyone $500 if they had evidence that they were not awarded a pot that they should have been in the past.
Just a few hours after that promise, and only about 26 hours after the hand in question, Jones announced that the software team had figured out what happened. Rather than trying to explain it ourselves, we will let him do the talking:
"During the hand in question, there was a player who had missed the blinds and been asked to post a dead blind in the cutoff. He didn't, but somehow there was a perfectly timed lag between the client and the server that caused him to have a "Fold" button presented (though he may or may not have seen it). Probably unknowingly, he clicked a non-existent "Fold" button, which went through to the server. The server has code built in to protect it from extraneous messages such as this (including malicious intent from hacked clients). But it turned out that it didn't have that protection from a dead blind-posting player if the message was something that shouldn't have been coming in anyway (e.g. a "Fold" from somebody who shouldn't be allowed to fold in the first place)."
"The result of all this was for the system to believe that it had a side-pot between the sitting-out player and the small blind (the guy with the kings). It evaluated that pot, awarded that pot to the small blind, and then had no more pots to award, so it ended the hand."
Put simply, a one-in-a-billion (or more) glitch occurred that made the poker system think that dimondidenko was going up against the sitting-out player, which resulted in dimondidenko winning with what was actually the second best hand.
Lee Jones assured everyone that the code had been fixed and was being tested and that they did not expect anything like that to happen again, nor do they think that anything like that had ever happened before. In addition to the earlier $500 offer, Jones said that Cake Poker will be giving d0nkeyk0ng9 $500, the player who reported the error $250, and the rest of the players at the table an equal share of $250.
Interestingly, while extremely rare, an incorrectly awarded pot is not unprecedented in online poker. In December 2008, Phil Hellmuth, of all people, was shipped a $5,599 pot on UltimateBet.com (now UB.com), when he only had a pair of 2's versus his opponent's trip kings. This created even more of an uproar, considering the size of the pot and the fact that Hellmuth, along with Annie Duke, is the primary spokesperson for UB. That error was determined to have been caused by Hellmuth's opponent momentarily disconnecting at the exact point when the pot was being awarded, combined with "the 'player's state' data being cleared from memory cache." Unfortunately, as a result of fixing the error, UB caused another error which caused 36 more pots to be shipped to the wrong player. That problem was fixed quickly and there have been no known similar problems since.