PartyPoker Reinforces Transparency After DDoS Attack

PartyPoker Reinforces Transparency After DDoS Attack

There is a stark difference between online poker sites in today’s internet gambling environment.

Operators that are part of publicly-traded companies are accountable to their customers and investors, so transparency is not only appreciated but required. Whether issues arise pertaining to customer satisfaction or in the technology sphere, they must all be taken seriously, addressed, and resolved.

On the other hand, independent, private companies do not have those requirements. However, operators that want to survive and thrive in a competitive industry – and in which some of them function on the fringes of the law – should want to be transparent and prove their trustworthiness. They should aspire to ally themselves with their customers, striving for the highest levels of reliability, honor, and transparency. But some of them shirk those responsibilities to their players because they can.

Over the past week, two online poker sites were victims of DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks. Hackers of unknown origins attacked the baseline systems of PartyPoker and Americas Cardroom – in separate attacks, presumably – to disrupt their services. It put the sites and their customers in danger of the theft of private information, inconvenience, and financial losses of varying degrees.

The way the two sites handled the problems highlights the difference between the two primary types of poker operators in the business.

PartyPoker Uses Transparency

On a Thursday night, a couple thousand players are likely to be at the cash game and tournament tables of PartyPoker. The evening hours are the busiest; depending on what events and satellites are being offered, there could be anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500 players on the site at that time.

Last Thursday night, players were booted from PartyPoker without warning. Games stopped, players were unable to make any moves, including accessing their accounts.

Moments later, PartyPoker revealed via Twitter that it had been targeted by a DDoS attack, and the problem was being addressed.

The messages continued with regularity throughout the night, vowing a resolution by the following day. While players remained frustrated, it was clear that the operator was aware and capable of fixing the issues, as well as reimbursing all players.

Soon after, a note was posted prominently on the PartyPoker blog, complete with an explanation, a few words from Managing Director Tom Waters, and a link to the site’s disconnection and cancellation policy. They admitted that the initial DDoS attack from a third party was followed by subsequent attacks. There would also be an effort to mitigate future attacks.

The best news for players was that all refunds from tournaments that were affected would be completed within 24 hours. Players with concerns or questions were encouraged to contact the customer service department for more information.

As it happened, the problems continued into the weekend, and issues were still causing site problems into Saturday. Still, players were updated on a regular basis as the operator apologized and made customer reimbursements a priority.

While DDoS attacks can be troublesome and cause problems that are more extensive than they seem in the beginning, customers can adjust when they are kept informed and compensated. PartyPoker’s response to the days-long issue focused on transparency while remaining understanding of the frustration on the part of the players.

Americas Cardroom Struggles

As the largest skin of the Winning Poker Network and the most popular offshore internet poker site for Americans, Americas Cardroom provides regular tournament series that tend to draw solid crowds. That was expected for the latest iteration of the Mini Series of Online Poker (MOSS) scheduled to begin on Sunday, August 5.

By the mid-afternoon of that first day of the series, however, there were problems.

It didn’t take long to discover they were under a DDoS attack. Tournaments were paused, and players were kicked off the site in many cases, as well as denied the ability to access their accounts or withdraw funds. Meanwhile, more attacks ensued.

Without any assurances that the attacks were over, however, Americas Cardroom quickly announced that the MOSS tournaments would resume on Monday. Unsurprisingly, the same thing happened on Monday.

And Tuesday, it happened again.

By Wednesday, instead of issuing an apology or explanation as to the reasons for the multiple attacks or the status of the games and tournaments, Americas Cardroom posted an article about the DDoS attacks on PartyPoker. The writer even discussed previous attacks on other poker sites like PokerStars but didn’t mention its own DDoS attack until the very part of the last paragraph:

“It’s an unpleasant part of the internet, but companies, including ACR react well to protect the interests of their customers. No one lost any money and any funds that had been paid to participate in tournaments was refunded. Yes, it’s very inconvenient, but sometimes things happen that cause a business to temporarily stop operations – it has even happened to Disneyland and American Airlines.”

Not only did the operator refuse to accept responsibility for its susceptibility to the attacks, but it pointed to other companies, as if to say, “See?! It happened to them!”

The difference in ACR’s response to the same type of attacks and site disruptions versus that from PartyPoker is significant. Players in various parts of the world play on both sites for their own reasons, most of which are understandable. It is simply apparent in situations like the DDoS attacks on both sites that the disparity comes into very clear focus, as only one of them is obligated by regulations and laws to be completely transparent, putting the customers first in all efforts to identify, stop, and fix the attacks.

As of August 11, PartyPoker appears to have resolved all issues and handled all customer service-related inquiries, while Americas Cardroom hasn’t posted on Twitter for several days to update their players.

 

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has been followed the US market closely for the last 7 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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