Thursday, January 04, 2007 (Eventually) Makes Good in Holiday Tourney Fiasco

The heat finally got to the suits at, who in the last day or so have announced a reversal of their initial actions regarding a holiday tournament held back in mid-December, in a story we first mentioned here.

What happened in the tale? Well, after much hemming and hawing, decided to accept the responsibility for their own error and restored the announced and awarded winnings (some $19,000 worth) to the affected players' accounts. Of course, the public outcry by players made aware of the situation on major discussion forums and the beginnings of a mass exodus --- and withdrawals of cash --- by players just might have had something to do with it as well.

Way to go,, for making a mountain out of a molehill... that being a molehill that you created yourself.

An interesting followup confirmed that despite the correct gesture, executives just do not get it. As the reversal was put into effect, founder Oskar Hornell then showed up on a 2+2 forum devoted to the controversy, both to announce the reversal and the belated re-awarding of the winners, and then to re-avow that this really wasn't Pokerroom's problem, and they were just doing this to be nice. Hornell made many posts, admitting to the site's subpar customer service but still declining to accept the greater responsibilty.

I dislike having to come down hard on a poker site in this manner, but Hornell's extended and numerous replies show that he and the site are still, to this greater degree, full of shit.

The problem seems to have been identified as incorrect programming into this holiday tournament's set-up by one of the techies responsible for this part of the promotion, and it's here where the $19,000 guarantee was put into effect. Hornell correctly pointed out that a mass e-mail sent out to customers mentioned only the $2,000 HDTV given away as first prize in the promotion, and nowhere in the e-mail does any cash guarantee receive mention.

This is both correct and irrelevant.

The problem is that many poker players make their participatory decisions based upon the actual signup numbers an event shows in the hours and minutes before it begins. I'd venture a guess that most tourney sign-ups are made in this manner, because an overlay might exist, or the event might fit one's playing schedule or satisfy one's emit yen for action. And this tournament, on its main registration and prize-pool pages, carried that $19,000 guarantee.

According to Hornell, that really shouldn't matter. In his company's eyes, because the e-mail originally and orrectly showed no guarantee, and because the guarantee was placed onto the tournament by mistake, shouldn't have to pay for it. In other words, really shouldn't have to bear any responsible for all those players who signed up to participate based on the listed guarantee, despite the fact that this was's mistake.

Buying it? I didn't think so.

There is a concept in insurance circles called "Errors and Omissions," and in general terms, an E&O policy is designed to cover unexpected losses when something like this situation occurs. Of course, online sites don't carry E&O policies, to the best of my knowledge, but the fact that this type of policy might not be available to an online-poker business does not exclude the fact that errors can still occur. They can and do, as this tale surely shows.

The problem really boils down to this: tried to use its player base as its erstwhile E&O policy, shifting the cost of its own mistakes onto others' shoulders.

I hate businesses that do that, as do most right-minded folks. has learned a very expensive lesson from their folly, one that adds up to a whole lot more than the original $19,000. I'll try to leave the flaming torches at the side of the road and eschew the mob call for heads to roll, so I'll just put it this way: Someone at suffers from terminal stupidity. Maybe more than one someone.

Getting a situation such as this as completly wrong --- and for such an extended time, nearly three weeks elapsing before the about-face occurred --- suggests that just isn't a great option for players looking for reputable online sites. Yes, U.S. players can't play there right now, I know that, but they could once... and sometime down the road, might well be able to again. I'm pretty sure that I, for one, won't be returning to even if the opportunity reappears.

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