Two operator errors result in tourney overlays for online players

Online tournament playing on PokerStars
Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: February 22, 2024 23:48 PST

Presumed operator data-entry errors over the past several days have resulted in extra money being paid to online tournament players on two separate sites, WSOP.com's Nevada/New Jersey platform and on PokerStars.com's global site.

The first of the two instances where extra money went into players' pockets was on Sunday night on the US's WSOP.com NV/NJ site, where a setting allowing late registration in a $500 PLO 6-Max high-roller tournament was set incorrectly, meaning that no late registration or re-entry was allowed. The tournament was a special edition, being Event #46 in WSOP.com's ongoing Winter Online Championships.

Jacob "tibbz33" Thibodeau was among an unknown number of players who planned on late-regging the tourney, only to discover he'd been accidentally shut out. Thibodeau grabbed a screen shot of the tourney's lobby, showing that only 11 players had pre-entered the tourney, which still met the minimum needed for play to begin, and nine of the 11 were then scheduled to cash and share the tourney's $30,000 in guaranteed prize money.

As one might expect, the tournament ran to completion quickly, ending in just three hours and 42 minutes. The $30,000 was credited to the nine players who made the money, led by Las Vegas's Richard "labelfree" West. West earned a $9,000 payday that was itself more than the entire $5,500 in entry fees paid by the 11 participants.

Well-known pro Ryan "Protential" Laplante was among those who finished in the money. His eighth-place finish was worth $1,530, a little over three times his entry fee, not bad for being the fourth player to hit the virtual rail. When contacted, Laplante, perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek, admitted he had "no clue" exactly how the accidental overlay occurred. "Was a nice overlay, though," he added.

Lightning strikes twice with apparent typo in PokerStars event

Hitting two adjecent keys at once on a computer keyboard often results in both keystrikes being registered, and that's what appears to have happened in an event on PokerStars just two nights later.

In Stars' weekly scheduled "Hot $82" progressive knockout (PKO) tourney, what previous editions had offered as a $5,000 guarantee suddenly appeared on Tuesday with a $56,000 guarantee instead. As on WSOP NV/NJ, the likely data-entry error went uncaught, and the Hot 82 event also ran to completion.

In PokerStars' instance, however, the late-registation option was enabled. That allowed Stars to dodge the roughly 80% overlay that WSOP.com had incurred two nights earlier. Hundreds of players noticed the looming overlay in the lobby as the tourney continued to tick through late registration. Ultimately, the event drew 624 total entries, perhaps nine times what the normal $5,000 version would have drawn it.

Those 624 entries were still not enough to cover the tourney's unintended $56,000 guarantee, but the rush of players identifying the extra value meant that by the time registration closed, PokerStars was on the hook for only a little over $9,000 in overlay. Stars staffers likely briefed at least a small sigh of relief, noting that, well, it could have been worse.

Neither accidental overlay comes anywhere near the largest in online or live poker history. However, both episodes illustrate that even among the most experienced operators, mistakes can and do occur. One similar occurrence in 2020 resulted in about $47,000 extra being paid out in a PartyPoker US event.

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