Winning Poker Network $1M Guaranteed Tournament Cancelled After Apparent DDoS Attack

December 15th, 2014 by Ed Scimia
WPN $1 Million tournament cancelled

A Winning Poker Network DDoS attack caused the cancellation of an ambitious $1 million tournament on the Internet site . (Image: WPN)

The Winning Poker Network (WPN) was forced to cancel its $1 million guaranteed prize pool tournament on Sunday, after an apparent distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack caused disruptions and connectivity issues for players participating in the event.

While the tournament had been running for several hours, late registration was still open, so all players were refunded their buy-ins and entry fees in accordance with network policy.

The tournament was an ambitious effort by WPN, a network that includes America’s Cardroom, to bring a major online poker tournament to US players. It was billed as the first $1 million event in American online poker in nearly four years, as the events of Black Friday had more or less put an end to such prize pools in the country.

Cancelled Despite Strong Turnout

With a $500 + $40 buy-in and entry fee, the tournament needed 2,000 players to meet the prize guarantee (without dipping into the entry fees), and it appeared likely to do so. When the tournament was finally cancelled, 1,937 players had registered, and there were still about 45 minutes left in the late registration period.

According to reports, the event was cancelled after less than five hours of play, though some players have said closer to 5.5 hours had elapsed by the time it was officially cancelled. Given how long the tournament had been running, a substantial number of players had already been eliminated; on the forums, some players said they had hoped for some sort of chip split or ICM chop among the remaining players, given the large stacks they had accumulated in the first few hours of play.

CEO Addresses Issues, Defends Decisions

After the tournament, WPN CEO Phil Payton streamed a broadcast live on to address the cancellation.

“Call it a conspiracy, call it what you want, a lot of online poker sites have had Internet connectivity issues,” a clearly disappointed and frustrated Payton said. Payton referenced the fact that tournament issues were caused by DDoS attacks last weekend, but had seemed to clear up in the days before the big event. Whoever was causing the Internet disconnections was waiting for the million,” Payton said. “The second that it started, it started.”

According to Payton, he and his staff initially tried to fight through it, but eventually came to the conclusion that it simply wasn’t fair to players who might be disconnected during key hands.

“There’s a lot of sites that [would say] let them push through it, and we make $80,000, and gg,” Payton said. “Well, you know what, I’ve got to sleep with myself at night, and I’m not going to do that.

“If it happened again tomorrow, I’d do the same thing,” he added.

As Payton referenced, there have been an increasing number of DDoS attacks across online poker and the Internet at large. Just days earlier, players were suspicious about the possibility of DDoS attacks being used to disconnect opponents for the benefit of a specific player. Swedish operator Svenska Spel also had to cancel some poker tournaments last month following similar attacks and a massive Internet collapse in Sweden just last week is also blamed on DDoS hackers.

In the end, given that the issues gave some players an advantage, Payton said that he was happy to stand by his decision, even if it was unpopular.

“It doesn’t matter if you like it or not,” Payton said in response to questions about the decision at the end of his broadcast on Twitch. “It was fair.”

6 Responses to “Winning Poker Network $1M Guaranteed Tournament Cancelled After Apparent DDoS Attack”

  1. TempoShaman says:

    soooooo sketchy.

  2. SuperDaveUp1 says:

    In my opinion i think the man in this position had a great responsibility in wich i’m glad that it wasnt me!! But overall his decision to end the tourney with a responsibility and out of respect for [ every ] Player was the right one far as being fair to each and everyone . That way there wasnt any outside influence to add or decrease someones stack of chips A+ decision in my book!!! Phil Payton

  3. counts24 says:

    Shocked to hear they were only 31k short of a million with 45 minutes left in late registration… All I have to say is they planned it weeks ago and they didn’t have the ability to stop it and the attacks in Sweded that happened Conveniently made it look like it was not just them.. They paid to have a bunch of peopld taken out to cover up the target and they lost bad… Eighty thousand in Fees and another chunk of change advertising.. They are on the way to the scrap heap. I am not a conspiracy nut but it does make you think. Fargo part two…lol…

    3 mins · Like

  4. pcgnome says:

    When the table freezes up on me I leave the room and come back in through the lobby. Sometimes I have to completely log out and log in again.
    What really annoys me is when there are 4 people left in a 6 player DoN with one person disconnected, and people are still laying out bets when everybody should be folding every hand until the guy that’s not playing runs out of chips.

  5. ScooperNova says:

    Good info. I didn’t play in the tourney, but I could understand people’s frustrations over what happened. I think the CEO of WPN was truthful when he accepted the blame and said he just made a bad decision. I wasn’t playing in the hours leading up to the big event, but I assume things were running well then since the CEO decided to give it a try. I know in the days leading up to the Million GTD, there were widespread problems with multiple networks. I know acr was glitching pretty bad. If the network was running great in the hours leading up to the main event, it seems like someone tried to trick them by allowing smooth play until the million dollar tournament. The CEO did say it started the minute the Million $ GTD started. Ah well, they’re gonna try again in February. If they get their stuff right, I bet that one has 50% more entrants anyway. I feel like most people will give them another chance at running a smooth, high paying tournament. Good luck!

  6. SuperDaveUp1 says:

    Well i know when playing tourneys im not going to check my hands that i want to play or need to play just to knock out fools that are either disconnecte or just playing possum in wich many do! So more or lees if everyone done that just to satisfy other players you or they would never win LOL. And the game that takes 3 hours would turn into 8 hours and you probably would blind out with the increase. If your to scared to bet gambling on Texas holdem is not the game for anyone cant just float constantly. Just doesnt work that way!!!

Leave a Comment