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As a travelling reporter, your contributor has always had to stay at hotels that offer little in the way of decent Internet. The struggle with accessing the latest missives has been real, cold-sweat-inducing and ultimately bite-one-nails maddening. And even then, the horror of not having Internet while researching cannot quite live up to the gut-wrenching feeling of the whole PokerStars network going down.

A Great Start and a Bumpy Ride

It all seemed to be going well. The PokerStars’ Sunday Million tournament was most exciting, drawing players from around the globe who were ready to get into the thick of the poker action. And then – pouf! PokerStars’ servers began acting up. And while organizers were blissfully unawares of the problems, complaints started trickling in.

PokerStars then took notice and quickly swept in, stopping all games, apologising for the discomfort and starting their own meticulous investigation into the matters. The ghost of America Cardroom’s recent DDOS attack was still hanging over the poker community’s head. Even though PokerStars didn’t confirm that it was indeed an attack on their servers, the suspicion remained lurking, festering.

Gambling websites have been coming under a lot of heavy fire from hackers. The need for security has been re-iterated by multiple parties, as the websites hold the personal information of hundreds of thousands of individuals. Naturally, they are somewhat of a magnet for hackers.

What made an impression though was that players from Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Romania seemed not to experience the issues. No participating player form the said country had reported an issue. And whilst that in itself isn’t a problem, the fact that PokerStars had allowed players to get disconnected while their virtual avatars continued to stake money for a full hour after that wasn’t okay in anyone’s book.

A Full Refund or Naught!

PokerStars of course have their reputation to uphold. Despite the disgruntled complaints, which were quite deserved, in fact, the website issued an apology and said that it would seek to refund all players who had lost during the outage.

A Romanian player meanwhile kept playing in the Sunday tournament, outpacing the virtual bots and managing to amass a total payout greater than the announced prize making the whole affair even more perplexing. Meanwhile, PokerStars took to Twitter to announce the “ongoing technical issues […] and (the website) was working to ensure that players are refunded as appropriate.”.

And yet, the best way to handle a situation like this is to start from scratch. Yes, I would recommend refunding the players’ in full and re-starting again. Trying to track down money and solve individual cases will only add to the ills players are already experience, not to mention that the website’s support will lose hundreds of hours trying to resolve the case.

As it is, the problem is not simply the lost connection to the server. It’s the totally subverted outcome of the competition, which makes the issue rather graver than a simple outage problem. PokerStars usually know better.