PokerStars Cancels $1M Tournament with Massive Overlay

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PokerStars on Sunday canceled one of its biggest events of the year, citing ‘technical issues’ amid claims by customers it was an intentional move by the company. The tournament offered total prize money of $1 million.

The Starts Group-owned online poker cardroom on Monday tweeted the news, citing a technical error that led the company to cancel the Sunday Storm Anniversary while in the overlay.

The event was called off about 20 minutes before late registration so the customers had not made the money yet while thousands of players were still in the hunt.

PokerStars tweeted:

What Happened on Sunday?

The $11 Sunday Storm, which took place at 10 pm BST on Sunday, was the 10th anniversary of the PokerStars’ celebrated event. Entrants were to pay $11 each to participate and could re-enter up to six times.

As many as 65,617 had already entered just before PokerStars announced the cancelation of the event, meaning there was an overlay of $366,753 after the collected rake. The online poker operator cited “technical issues” when the mega event froze nearly three hours in.

PokerStars took to Twitter at 10:45 pm BST to announce the issue and the eventual cancelation of the event.

However, the tournament’s clock kept running and the blinds continued to increase. But participants did not get any cards. Meanwhile, PokerStars’ other games did not appear to show any technical problems.

Players Were Paid $1M

Overall, the tournament’s prize money was missing $353,830 from its $1 million guarantee, with merely $646,170 raised from entries before the event started. It meant the company was responsible for a huge overlay.

The players were paid out the full $1 million eventually as per their roll forward policy. As the event was called off before the money, meaning half the prize pool was distributed to each player and the other half given based on the percentage of chips each participant had at the time.

The surviving poker players got a prize ranging between $26.8 and $209.

It was not an ideal scenario for the chip leaders who would have been looking to grab bigger payouts.

In 2018, PokerStars had paid a bigger overlay of $1.2 million when the Sunday Million Anniversary event missed its $10 million guarantee.

The instances of large events seeing cancelation due to technical issues have become more common as online MTTs grow bigger.

Did PokerStars Cancel the Tournament Intentionally?

As the company announced cancelation over technical issues, many customers claimed that it was an intentional move by PokerStars to abandon the tournament midway to avoid the cost. But the company eventually paid out the $1 million prize pool in full, giving $19.26 each to 16,667 places. All the remaining entrants got 50% of the prize pool.

The other half of the entrants received an amount in relation to their chip count at the time of the glitch.

Obviously, the company’s Roll Forward policy for prize distribution was not loved by everybody. Players with large stacks of chips got only a tiny portion of the funds they would have taken home had they finished in that position at the conclusion of the tournament.

For instance, the chip leader – harveyspector1 from Canada – got only $208.92 at the time of the crash. The prizes then gradually declined for all the rest of the players with high chip counts.

If the tournament had continued till the end, first place would have earned $100,000, while the runner-up would take home $70,000, and third $50,000.

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