Winning Poker Network Issues Bring Wave of Player Attacks
Multiple issues at the grey-market Winning Poker Network have it and its flagship site, America’s Cardroom, under attack from many of it player in recent weeks. The attacks fall into several group, each a concern in it own right. Two of them, as noted by Mo Nuwarrah over at PN, are a seeming proliferation of bot accounts and an underpayment and delay of rakeback payments due to a healthy percentage of the site’s player. A third issue, perhaps not as widely publicized, has been a marked uptick in system crashes, most involving the freezing of users’ computer but also sometimes system-wide and causing running tourneys to be canceled.
All told, thing are messy right now at WPN. Let’s dive in to the various issues the network is encountering of late:
Bot Proliferation — This is a topic of special interest for multiple reasons. It was just six months ago that WPN announced it had cracked down on a Latvia-based bot ring, refunding about $175,000 to about 4,000 affected players. At the time, WPN also announced that it would be stepping up its policing efforts against the illicit bot runners, promising to refund as much as $25,000 from each seized botting account. (Exactly why WPN wouldn’t refund all of the monies seized from a bot account if those funds were more than $25,000 wasn’t addressed.)
However, a wave of refunds due to captured bot accounts and a generally cleaning up of the WPN tables hasn’t been evident, leading many to wonder if the Latvian bot-ring thing was more of an attempt to garner inexpensive publicity while not actually dedicating the resources needed to truly battle the problem. (WPN would be far from the first enterprise to offer nice-sounding lip service in such a situation.) Instead, the situation seems to have gone the other way. As Mo’s PN piece noted, players report that virtually every cash-game table at low- and mid-stakes, especially PLO, seem to have at least one obvious bot seated. Other player reports indicate that as many as four likely bot players have been sighted on occasion at single tables.
That’s… problem. If you don’t understand why, then you haven’t been paying attention. But rather than argue the economic and PR of the situation, we’ll instead look here at something perhaps missed elsewhere: If WPN is indeed just paying lip service to the bot problem, then the botters themselves will figure that out and arrive on the network in increasing numbers.
What happens, if bot-catching effort are having real effect elsewhere, as has happened at partypoker, MPN, and (more quietly) a few other places, the botters themselves will look for greener pastures. These cheaters aren’t just going to stop botting, having already invested considerable resources into the illicit activity. Instead, they’ll gravitate toward sites and networks that appear less willing or able to stop the activity.
Whether that describes WPN is for the reader of these words to determine. However, there’s another element at well. WPN is euphemistically described as “lightly regulated”, but that lack of strict regulation cuts both ways. WPN also has almost no legal recourse against the botters themselves except to seize what ever bankroll scraps might remain, leaving said botters a window to try and try again. Somehow, one gets the sense that this wasn’t part of the original business plan when some of these entities chose the grey-market route. Onward.
Rakeback — An increasing concern for many player are delayed or short-changed rakeback payments from WPN sites, an ongoing situation that dates back several months. One or the other can happen due to problems associated with system maintenance, though one cynically notes that historically, few sites in the history of online poker have ever chronically overpaid rakeback.
In checking up on player comments associated with the rakeback issue, it appears that some WPN sites are making good on this, albeit it slowly and on an individual basis. There are also a few reports indicating that some of the issues trace back to a mis-programmed date flag that caused large numbers of rake-generating play events to be missed. Still, the network model only works if the network itself provides the framework so that rakeback can be calculated and awarded properly.
System and user crashes — These have been on the upswing for month. Such crashes are headaches for any network or site, since refund have to be calculated and credited back to each affected player’s account. A lot of crashes can overwhelm customer-service and tech-support staff, and there’s some indication this has been happening at WPN.
All told, it adds up to a mess, one likely involving aging infrastructure and under-resourced initiatives. Such problems occur anywhere in any business, but in online poker they make themselves evident sooner rather than later. Without regard to WPN’s grey-market positioning, it’s clear the network has a lot of work to do in a short time if it’s restore some of the goodwill it has with its customers.
(The opinions offered here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the owners and publishers of Flushdraw.)