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Winning Poker Network Announces Five $1M Tourneys in September and October

winning-poker-network-logoThe Winning Poker Network (WPN) and its flagship site, America’s Cardroom (ACR), have confirmed rumors that the network’s million-dollar-guarantee Sunday tourneys will return this fall.  In a curious follow-up to forum posters that may or may not have been intentionally leaked beforehand by network execs, the WPN has acknowledged million-dollar tourneys running on Sunday, September 13th, as well as all four Sundays in October.

In addition to a press update, the curious details surrounding which will follow below, the ACR website now contains an official promo for the upcoming million-dollar events.  According to ACR:

Prepare yourself for an explosion in big prize pool poker tournament action with 5 individual Million Dollar Sunday tournaments on ACR this fall! We’re hosting the next $1,000,000 GTD tournament on:

  • September 13th at 3:00pm ET
  • October 4th at 3:00pm ET
  • October 11th at 3:00pm ET
  • October 18th at 3:00pm ET
  • October 25th at 3:00pm ET

The event’s nominal buy-in is $500+$40, in line with million-dollar events offered on other networks.  What’s unusual, of course, is that the WPN is a “gray market,” US-facing offering, currently running second overall among such networks behind Bovada, the US-facing arm of Bodog.

ACR and its parent network, WPN, have been among the most successful “offshore” offerings to continue providing online-poker services to American players.  Though the playing of online poker by US-based players has never been illegal (except in a small handful of states), the offering of such games by US-based businesses has long been against US state gaming laws.  Since 2011, three US states have legalized online poker — Nevada, Delaware and New jersey.  However, the fact that no other states have joined those three have allowed gray-market sites serving other US states to continue to flourish.

WPN and its flagship ACR room do not allow play by residents of Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, since sites serving those states must be specifically licensed by those states’ gaming regulators.  Other offshore sites serving other US states maintain similar blocks against the three official state-level US online-poker markets.

As mentioned, the offering of the million-dollar events by ACR included a possibly intentionally leaking of the news beforehand, followed by a maybe-intentional confirmation hours later that the million-events were for real.  John Mehaffey at 4Flush detailed today how the story may have been intentionally leaked by ACR insiders, who then followed up with a confirmation via a favored super-affiliate.  It’s a tried-and-true form of guerrilla marketing… though slow news days don’t hurt a story’s chances, either.

As for the possibly planned leak and subsequent confirmation, “We’re happy that online poker players are interested in our tournaments, but the recent chatter in the online poker forums is not official policy yet. It is interesting however, how difficult it is to keep this kind of big news under wraps,” said America’s Cardroom spokesman Michael Harris. “All that being said, the $5 Million GTD promo is something that we will announce later this weekend if our upcoming Million Dollar Sunday is a success.”

ACR did announce a handful of secondary details when it went “official” with the news, including:

  • $200k First Place Prize Money

  • Free Bank Wires for All Final Table Winners

  • Biggest Prize Pool Tourneys Offered by any of the US facing sites

  • Mega and Monster Satellites guaranteeing hundreds of seats for each event

  • ‘Million or Bust’ Jackpot Poker with $12 buy-ins to win your seat

One thing not mentioned in the promos, of course, are the troubles that WPN encountered the first time they tried to launch a million-dollar event.  WPN has since successfully run such tourneys, but the first-ever effort, ballyhooed last December, ended up having to be cancel after the site was targeted by DDOS blackmailers, who succeeded back then in disrupting the site and forcing the event’s cancellation.  Refunds were issued to affected players.

Last December’s DDOS attack against WPN and ACR was only one of several such attacks targeting US-facing sites, including officially-regulated New Jersey offerings.  Eastern European blackmailers are generally believed to be behind the various attacks; online-gambling sites in general have been sporadically attacked by such blackmailers in spurts over the past 15 years.

Such attacks appear to have tapered off over the course of recent months.  That the WPN and America’s Cardroom have relaunched a series of million-dollar tourneys may also be a tacit acknowledgment that various international probes into the DDOS blackmailers may have reduced the blackmailers’ potential threat to ongoing operations.  In any event, the WPN hopes to continue its US-facing expansion with these high-dollar tourneys, which for US-based players, have been scarcely available for the past several years.

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