PokerStars Latest Site to Suffer Series of DDoS Attacks

PokerStars Latest Site to Suffer Series of DDoS Attacks

Last week, PartyPoker and Americas Cardroom both had to deal with orchestrated Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that disrupted their tournaments and left their players highly frustrated. Just as the attack waves against them started to subside, however, on Sunday, August 12th PokerStars became the latest victim of recurring and intermittent “technical issues”. Just like its competitors, many PokerStars players subsequently experienced forced disconnections from the site, in the process throwing the site’s usually busy tournament schedule into disarray.

Not a Typical Sunday

Sunday is the busiest day of the poker week, and especially for PokerStars which commands a massive share of the world’s online poker market. Nevertheless, this past Sunday, just after its players had settled down to compete at its flagship PokerStars Sunday Million tournament, as well as other games, things soon started to head south.

Apparently, the site’s servers began experiencing issues, leading to players being disconnected mid-tournament, including the Sunday Million, and unable to log back in while their chip stacks continued to be blinded down. Adding to their frustration was the fact PokerStars failed to notice any problems until after an hour or so had passed, at which point it decided to halt all of the affected games, and post a tweet stating:

“Please accept our apologies as we are currently experiencing technical issues. We are currently working on it and our services should be restored as soon as possible.”

Soon after, PokerStars paused all of the tournaments it had been running as it attempted to pinpoint and repair the problem. All the while, the operator’s customer service department was working overtime as it handled a surge in support requests from its players.

Inequitable Refund Policy

During the hour that it took PokerStars to pause its tournaments, however, players from a number of countries remained connected and able to continue playing. This led to a situation in which Belgium, Bulgarian, Czech Republic and Romanian players were able to chip up by stealing the blinds of disconnected players. Adding further to its customers’ dismay, PokerStars subsequently decided to cancel all of its tournaments, and the following day tweeted that it would refund players according to its company cancellation policy based upon chip counts and the stage of the tournament reached. As the tweet stated:

“Apologies to all our players for the recent issues on PokerStars. The players affected by this morning’s issues have already been credited & we aim to refund players affected by yesterday’s problems, with their equity at the time of disconnection, within 72 hours.”

Needless to say, this just added more fuel to the frustration of their customers, many of whom had been blinded out of tournaments. In addition to customer service complaints, social media and poker forums were also awash with the views of disgruntled players.

Issues Continue into Monday

On Monday, while PokerStars continued to work through its player refund issues, the site was subsequently hit by a fresh wave of disconnections, once more compelling the site to pause its tournaments. As a follow-up tweet then read:

“We are currently experiencing a large volume of disconnections. All tournaments have been paused and will be cancelled or rolled forwards according to the formulas listed here: . We apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

Despite experiencing another wave of attack a few hours later, though, PokerStars was able to deal with the problem and eventually released a tweet saying that the site was “back up and running”. According to the latest tweet update posted 11 hours ago, normal service has now been restored, with the site also expressing its sincerest apologies for the disruption.

Spate of DDoS Attacks

As mentioned, the DDoS attack on PokerStars follows similar incidents that affected Americas Cardroom and then PartyPoker a few days later. Such attacks are carried out by cybercriminals looking to disrupt the operations of online sites by overwhelming their servers with malicious traffic. Its perpetrators carry out such attacks for a number of different reasons, including revenge or politically motivated activism, but in the case of online poker usually involves the criminals demanding a ransom in order to resolve the problem.

Nevertheless, the motives for such attacks are rarely reported as online poker sites, such as PokerStars, rarely divulge such information, or whether they have been contacted by criminal enterprises looking for payouts.