Cliffs notes: Party Poker/Borgata software is so buggy that in approximately 10% of the hands played in New Jersey the outcome of the hand is affected, millions of dollars have been lost by players and the hand history records of those hands are incorrect and unavailable.
I have been a professional internet poker player for 12 years, playing mostly no limit hold’em cash games with buy-ins ranging from $200-$1000 and have been playing online in New Jersey since it was regulated in November 2013. Since Party Poker and Borgata Poker (henceforth referred to as Party Poker) began operating in New Jersey, their software has been plagued with crashes, disconnections and other bugs. Over the past 6 months of playing on Party Poker their software has crashed on my computer approximately 500 times and each time it crashes, the software folds my hand on each of the 10 tables I play simultaneously, often when I have already put a significant amount of money into the pot. As a result of the high volume I play and the frequency of the crashes, the amount of money I have put into pots and folded away as a result of their faulty software has been staggering. This is a problem not just for me, but for players all over New Jersey and all over the world that use Party Poker’s software. I, along with many others, have made Party Poker aware of the software problems for over 6 months by emailing support, tweeting, conversing with upper level management and advising their tech people. Their response has always been the same “there were no technical difficulties that arose from our end, check your computer” or “We are working on it and have escalated it to the appropriate department.” These are the same form responses that I, and many others, have received word for word for over 6 months without any resolution to the problems. Despite these responses, I have gone to great lengths to ensure that the problem is not on my end including purchasing a new computer and changing internet service providers.
When Party Poker software crashes and I am automatically folded, the hand history, the report that lists what happened in each hand in note form, is not written to my hard drive like it is when there is no crash. As a result of this, I only have a rough guesstimate of the amount of money I have lost due to the software crashes and I have no record of what took place in those hands. I have been asking Party Poker for a complete copy of my hand histories for nearly nearly 2 months so that I can do my 2014 taxes and so that I have accurate records. For a few weeks they were “working on it” “escalating it” and “forwarding it to the respective department,” until they started ignoring my emails. Only after contacting the Department of Gaming Enforcement in New Jersey, was I able to get approximately 160,000 of the 470,000 hands I have played on Party Poker in the past year and they have been unable to locate roughly the records of more than 310,000 hands.
I put the 160,000 hands I received into an empty Hold’em Manager database and approximately 14,000 of those hands had the action incorrect or wrong, including every single time the software crashed. The actions, as represented in the hand histories I was sent, were often impossible such as me betting and then calling my own bet or me betting and then folding to no further action. I repeat, there was not a single time where the software crashed that I received a correct hand history demonstrating that, and the only records of hands where the software crashed that exist are incorrect. There is therefore no way for me to account for the money the software crashing has cost me.
I believe that when the software crashes on my computer, the hand history is not correctly written to their servers. This is akin to Gmail not saving your conversation with a friend because the friend signed off in the middle of the conversation. Of the 14,000 hand histories that were incorrect, not all of them were incorrect because Party Poker crashed on my computer. Since the crashing on my computer caused the hand histories to be incorrectly recorded on their servers, when it crashed for others their hands must have been incorrectly recorded as well. Since approximately 10% of the hand histories I received were incorrect, I believe that in 10% of the hands I played in, myself or someone I was playing poker with was disconnected from their site due to a crash caused by the Party Poker software. Based on my own approximate losses, the prevalence of these bugs and the sheer number of players affected, the amount of amount of money lost due to this bug is in millions of dollars if not more.
Regulated internet poker was established to prevent disreputable sites that have little regard for their customers from participating and to protect the players. It is incredible to me that politics have prevented PokerStars, whose reputation and customer service is impeccable, from receiving a license in New Jersey thus far, but Party Poker, who has a history of operating in the manner I have described above have been allowed to operate.
I request that Party Poker finally and completely fix their software bugs and compensate people for the losses they have incurred as a result of their negligence.
I feel your frustration. As a trader, various technical difficulties have cost me tens of thousands of dollars as well. The amount of time you’re spending rectifying it is even more enraging than the money I imagine. What I would suggest for your taxes is simply making an estimate of your losses. Frankly, as you have seen, it’s basically impossible to get the correct records, thus the IRS could never dispute your claim. Good luck.
I imagine you have had similar problems along the way. The amount of time I have spent helping them, notifying them etc. only to be put off and have nothing done about it is maddening. It should be simple to solve and most companies would have done so by now out of concern for their reputation, the customers, or to get the customers to stop badgering them. But not Party Poker.