The partypoker GSSS, aka the Garden State Super Series, was a chance for partypoker and the Borgata to show off their online poker room to the New Jersey market. With large guaranteed prize pools, it promised to be the most ambitious online tournament schedule yet in a regulated USA market, and one that could cement the site’s place as the largest virtual poker room in the state.
But things didn’t go exactly as planned. The partypoker GSSS faced a major disruption on Sunday evening, when several tournaments were cancelled, including the GSSS Main Events that were in progress at the time. While tournament players received refunds and apologies came quickly from bwin.party, the technical problems could still be damaging to the poker room at a critical time in the New Jersey online poker market.
The problems began shortly after the three GSSS No Limit Hold’em Main Events began late on Sunday afternoon. The low stakes tournament, which had a $25,000 guarantee, started as scheduled at 4:30 pm local time. That was followed at 5:00 pm by the mid-stakes event, which had a massive $200,000 guarantee, and then at 5:30 pm by the high-stakes Main Event, which carried a $1,000 buy-in and a $50,000 guarantee. The low-stakes version of Event #12 also went off without any problems at 6:00 pm.
But soon thereafter, the site began to experience serious issues. At 6:30 pm, the mid-stakes version of Event #12 was scheduled to begin, but while players were seated, no cards were ever dealt. The high-stakes version of that tournament should have begun at 7:00 pm, but never fired off either.
Just a few minutes later, all of the ongoing GSSS tournaments were paused. Soon thereafter, players received a pop-up message that included an apology for the interruption in play, explaining that there were technical difficulties that the site was attempting to fix.
But by 8 pm, all of the tournaments had been cancelled, leaving players confused and worried about how the site would compensate them. Players who were in tournaments that had started but were then cancelled did receive refunds based on their chip counts and the guaranteed prize pools, though this did not apply for players who had been eliminated before the tournaments were paused.
On Monday, officials were quick to apologize for what they referred to as “an unmitigated disaster.”
“We experienced a major system failure last night between 6:50 pm and 7:40 pm EST on nj.partypoker.com and BorgataPoker.com that affected all running tournaments,” wrote bwin.party Group Poker Director Jeffrey Haas. “The technical team did all they could to resume play from the paused state, but unfortunately, due to the nature of this specific bug, there was no way to resume the tournaments.”
Haas repeatedly apologized for the incident, and said that company was adding $50,000 in guarantees to tournaments being held next Sunday as a gesture to players. He also said that a patch had been made to their software to fix the problem that caused the issues.
“We have been humbled by this experience and appreciate the inconvenience and lack of confidence experienced by our players, and are so sorry,” wrote Haas.
Currently, the party/Borgata site ranks first in average cash game traffic in New Jersey, according to PokerScout.com. The site averages about 150 real money players at any given time, compared to 110 for the New Jersey version of WSOP.com.