Party Poker and Borgata Poker have just finished their first big promotional series, the ‘New Jersey Championship of Online Poker‘ or the NJCOP.
Overall the series was a great success, with over 15 events and hundreds of thousands in prizes. The sites were able to sign up many new players and they filled up every event.
Hopefully this success will breed similar promotions and events throughout online poker within NJ and the US.
The series did not go over flawlessly however. There seems to be some controversy over their largest buy-in event, the $500 entry ‘High Roller’, and it has left many players with a sour taste in their mouths. What’s worse is it’s causing concern to other current and potential players who now worry about the integrity of these new poker sites.
Let’s dive a little deeper.
While promoting the NJCOP series, Party Poker and Borgata announced that they would be featuring their $500 ‘High Roller’ event, and that they would be guaranteeing $30,000 to the prize pool. Of this $30,000, 1st place would be guaranteed $20,000, and 2nd place would be guaranteed a $10,000 payday. Additional prize-pool money would be dispersed among the rest of the players that finished within the money. *Correction. This last sentence was reported to the players that inquired during the tournament by the site representatives. It was not promoted exactly how many players would pay out beforehand.
The tournament was a hit, crushing the prize pool of $30,000 and totaling just about $70,000 with over 150 entrants.
However when the tournament began, players realized that the tournament lobby showed that still only the first 2 spots payed, and were to be paid the entire prize pool; $46,000 first, and about $23,000 to 2nd.
Immediately the chatter at the tables started, and poker forums started lighting up with players questioning if this was a mistake, and calling for clarification.
Players began live chatting with site representatives, emailing them, and calling the sites on the phone. The response given to them was consistent: The tournament lobby was an error, and they were working diligently to fix it but had no further information at that time.
The players in the tournament were left unsure, uncomfortable, and angry over this error.
The reasons for the anger ranged from players being unsure of how many entrants would pay out in such a large buyin event, no clarification from the sites, and the tournament itself being misrepresented. Most of the players complained that they would not have joined such an expensive tournament had they known only the top 2 would pay, as it was never stated that the payout percentages would be different than their other tournaments.
The buyin amount is large, but cashing at a final table like this can be life changing for some people.
The primary point being made by players is that if the sites make a mistake at the players’ expense and refuse to rectify it, then the trust between the site and the player is broken.
When it comes down to players depositing money onto online poker sites, as well as online poker sites succeeding in the industry, the trust and integrity of the companies that hold the money is paramount. Although this concept is the same in any business, it is especially important in the online poker industry. This is mostly due to other poker sites in the recent past having shattered the players’ trust with scandals, cheating, and players’ money not being safe.
This was an error made by Party Poker and Borgata, and they rightfully have acknowledged it. They are now in a tough spot, and what they decide to do will tell their players a lot about how they will conduct business in the future. It actually puts them in a unique position to perhaps go above and beyond to satisfy their customers, and establish an even stronger trust among their players in what has become a very untrustworthy industry.
It will be interesting to see how this one pans out, and what resolution the sites ultimately come to. There are many current and potential U.S. online players watching to see how they deal with this. These players are very interested in which companies will take care of their players.
Errors happen every day in business, but in the words of O.A. Battista, “An error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.”
We’ll keep you updated on any news regarding this issue.
What do you think?