On Sunday afternoon, PokerStars encountered a severe server outage that lasted nearly a day, leading to the cancelation of all the ongoing tournaments, including some high-profile events.
The outages affected PokerStars' global networks, including its US-facing network in New Jersey.
The operator has acknowledged that the downtime was because of the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks hampering its operations for nearly 24 hours.
“Over the past 24 hours, we have experienced technical issues caused by Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that have resulted in temporary site outages,” the operator issued a statement late Monday night.
The site assured players that all players’ accounts and their privacy were safe and that there was no data breach.
However, the damage was done. The attacks occurred when the operator was hosting big tournaments in nearly all of its markets. The operator had been running the New Jersey Championship of Online Poker (NJCOOP) in New Jersey. It was the most important Sunday in three weeks of the state’s most prestigious tournament series.
Five events were lined up on September 25, three of which were the Main Events with guarantees of $100,000, $40,000, and $20,000, respectively. Unfortunately, all five were affected and had to be canceled.
Fears that the site may have suffered from a DDoS attack were immediately expressed on social media, and indeed the site was crippled by these cyber attacks.
“Our apologies to players who were impacted during NJCOOP’s Sunday Main Event tournament,” the operator stated on its PokerStars NJ client. “This was the result of a DDoS attack, and we are working to remedy the situation and will have more updates to come.”
It is also possible that the operator could reschedule the canceled Main Events for later dates. It has already done so in the dot-com market, rescheduling the WCOOP Main Events in the dot-com market for the first weekend of November.
In the segregated European market, the operator will not be running the Galactic Series Main Events that had been canceled. Instead, it will host a Sunday Million for them on November 6.
No such announcement has been made for the canceled NJCOOP Main Events in the Garden State. It is quite possible that the operator could gear up to merge its New Jersey player pool with Michigan in the coming weeks. If that happens, NJCOOP Main Events could become moot as the player pool will be open to both New Jersey and Michigan players.
Only time will tell how the operator plans to rectify the issue that NJ players faced.
Notably, the outage was seen across PokerStars’ global markets, including in the ring-fenced Indian and Ontarian markets. However, no such issues were encountered with PokerStars MI and PokerStars PA clients, and their Championship events ran without a hitch.
Refunds for the canceled NJCOOP events were carried out per the room’s standard cancelation policy. The events scheduled on Monday went on and wrapped on a high note.
But it is not the first time that the PokerStars US network has been marred with server issues. In fact, in the past year, counting Sunday’s outage — there have been three times that US players had to face downtime.
In August 2021, all three PokerStars US sites had technical issues that spanned two days. Then six months later, operations were affected again, but this time the outage was even longer, stretching the entire weekend. The downtime even resulted in reporting lower revenue for February.
On both occasions, tournaments were canceled, and cash games were stopped, but the cause of the outage was unspecified.
This time, the operator openly admitted that it was the victim of a cyber attack. In the past, many sites have fallen victim to these malicious attacks and have become a significant threat to the online poker industry.