Oops! WSOP and PokerStars' Mistakes Give Online Poker Players Extra Value Oops! WSOP and PokerStars' Mistakes Give Online Poker Players Extra Value

In the span of a week, two separate incidents occurred in different markets, each providing unexpected extra value to players in the affected tournaments.

Last Sunday, a tournament hosted on WSOP’s shared liquidity network in the US encountered a configuration error that resulted in the removal of the late registration feature, leading to a big overlay.

Meanwhile, in the global dot-com market, just three days later, PokerStars faced repercussions when the tournament guarantee was mistakenly set at 11 times the usual prize pool. Remarkably, the tournament nearly reached this erroneously inflated guarantee.

Despite the costly errors, both operators honored the guarantee, providing players with added value and ensuring a positive outcome for all.

WSOP Late Registration Oversight

The WSOP mishap was due to a configuration error. This occurred in a $30,000 PLO High Roller tournament running as part of the recently concluded WSOP Online Championships Series. The tournament had an entry fee of $500 ($467+$33) — meaning it needed 65 entrants to avoid the overlay.

Typically, major tournaments on WSOP.com allow for 170 minutes of late registration. Most players indeed prefer to skip the first few blind levels and enter the later stage of the tournament. However, on that night, late registration was disabled and the field closed immediately when the tournament kicked off.

Once registration is closed, the WSOP software does not allow manual changes, leaving the room administration with no choice but to reluctantly accept the loss.

This glitch meant that only the 11 players who had registered prior to the start of the tournament were able to participate. With just 17% of the guaranteed prize pool covered, an approximate $25,000 overlay was created in the $30,000 guaranteed event.

In effect, each player who entered received an unexpected bonus over $2000 in expected value in the event. Furthermore, the payout structure had been configured for its usual field of 60-70 entrants, resulting in 9 out of 11 players being paid and the tournament operated hand-for-hand from the very first hand.

A Literal “Typo” by PokerStars

PokerStars encountered a glaring oversight in what many would label a literal typo. This incident occurred in the Hot $82 tournament, a Progressive Knockout (PKO) event held daily with a typical guarantee of $5000. However, on Tuesday, February 21, due to an error in the tournament setup, the guaranteed prize pool was mistakenly set at $56,000 instead of $5000.

PokerStars Hot $82 Guarantee Typo

Under normal circumstances, the tournament would require only 67 entrants to meet its $5000 guarantee. However, on that fateful night, it needed a staggering 747 entrants to avoid an overlay. Remarkably, it managed to close registration at 624 entries.

Players contributed a total of $46,800 to the prize pool, resulting in an overlay of $9200. However, the actual loss for the operator was relatively minor. With PokerStars charging $7 as a tournament fee, the tournament generated $51,168 in entry fees, resulting in a net loss of around $5000 — making it a relatively manageable outcome for the operator.

An 888poker stream team member Aaron Barone commented that the recent error on PokerStars drew parallels to the iconic line from 'Field of Dreams’: “If you build it, they will come.”

He pointed out the surprising outcome of the Hot $82 tournament, which, despite its usual quiet nature and no advertising, nearly met its accidental 11x guarantee. Barone suggested that operators should heed this incident and reconsider their perceptions of the market’s potential.

Although the tournament saw an unexpectedly high turnout due to the accidental guarantee, subsequent editions have reverted to the original $5000 guarantee. Indeed, many players echo the sentiment expressed by the 888 Twitch streamer, advocating for operators to be more ambitious in setting tournament guarantees.

Previous Technical Errors

It is certainly not the first time that online poker rooms have misconfigured the tournaments or faced technical issues. Given the manual configuration process and the multitude of variables at play, poker room analysts must ensure precision across various parameters. While errors usually lead to cancellations, occasional fortunate outcomes, like the ones discussed, benefit players.

For example, back in April 2014, a technical glitch led to a $260k shortfall in PokerStars’ Sunday Warm Up tournament. Due to a misconfiguration, late registration was disabled, leaving only 1204 players in a tournament that needed 2500 runners to meet its $500,000 guarantee.

In July 2021, a technical error cost PokerStars over $366k overlay in the $11 Sunday Storm Anniversary edition. This special event, with a boosted $1 million guarantee, attracted considerable attention, but just 20 minutes before the scheduled end of late registration, the tournament was abruptly canceled. With 64,617 players already registered, the event fell short of its $1 million target by $366k.

Despite the cancellation and the shortfall in player participation, PokerStars upheld their commitment to the $1 million guarantee and the players were paid out as per their roll-forward policy.