On Sunday 26th September, excited poker players woke up to the news that they would not be participating in half a dozen PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker main events as planned.

PokerStars had been forced to postpone all the tournaments scheduled to take place that day and it has now emerged that the company’s servers were the target for a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

A DDoS attack is a common way malicious individuals or groups use “zombie” computers to cripple a server and/or website.

This is usually achieved by using bots, often installed unwittingly onto people’s computers via malware, to flood the target website with traffic and requests in an attempt to overload the server and push out those legitimate users trying to access the site.

When successful, the site will crash and users will not be able to access the site.

The only positive aspect of such attack is that it is not a hack and that means that PokerStars could confirm a short time later that all their users account security had not been compromised and that their personal information was secure.

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Are DDoS Attacks Common?

How a DDoS Attack Works

DDoS attacks against servers, websites or even specific individuals are one of the most common ways individuals and organised criminal gangs will attack many different websites, not just poker sites.

While their aims differ, some DDoS attacks are simply done to prevent a site from operating and its users accessing it, others are for more nefarious purposes.

This is usually an attempt to extort money from the site owner by calling off the DDoS attack, rather than them risk losing more money trying to resolve it, which can take a lengthy amount of time.

In truth, poker sites such as PokerStars are targeted no more or no less than other similar sites online and DDoS attacks are an unfortunate by-product of the current digital age.

Investment In Security

In a statement issued shortly after Sunday’s attack, PokerStars revealed that they have invested a large amount of money in their security systems in an attempt to increase the “layers of protection we have in place to successfully repel them.”

Additionally, PokerStars also confirmed that often customers do not notice that the site has been the subject of, or is currently under attack from a DDoS attack, due to the fact that the aforementioned security systems are working well.

However, it is almost impossible for all sites to keep one step ahead of those individuals or groups intent on launching DDoS attacks.

That’s because while site security is improving, hackers and malware experts can exploit other flaws in the software to launch attacks, which then require an update for the site to resolve, and so the process goes.

The one positive is that as security systems become more advanced, it will be tougher for future DDoS attacks to work, which will then reduce the number of times that sites like PokerStars are affected by just such attacks.

Reschedule And Compensation

In their statement after the attack, PokerStars revealed what their plans were regarding the postponed events on September 26th.

“We know how frustrating it can be to experience this kind of disruption, especially during our WCOOP and Galactic series. We’d like to apologise to everyone affected and thank them for their patience.”

“We are not going to leg these actions prevent us from crowning [the] 2022 WCOOP Main Event Champions and are now planning to run the Main Events on the weekend of November 5. There WILL be champions in 2022!”

However, there was slightly more disappointing news for PokerStars players in southern Europe taking part in the Galactic Series Main Event as the company has no plans to re-run the Main Event and instead a Sunday Million tournament will be available for them to participate in on Sunday November 6th.

Additionally, PokerStars have confirmed that the attack impacted some of their customers participation in Monthly Poker Challenges and that the company will “compensate players who were unable to complete their Challenge due to the impact of the technical issues.”

  • Schedule For Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 November

PokerStars have announced their rescheduled WCOOP Championship Weekend will now take place across the 5th and 6th November.

All the WCOOP events that were cancelled due to the attack will be re-run

  • 3 No Limit Hold’em Main Events ($109, $1,050, $10,300)
  • The 3 Pot Limit Omaha Main Events ($109, $1,050, $10,300)
  • The 3 Women’s Events ($5.50, $22, $109)

All the tournaments will run for the original amount of days stated, which means the Main Events will run from Sunday 6th to Wednesday 9th November, while the PLO Main Events will run from the same Sunday through to Tuesday 8th November.

In addition, PokerStars has announced that all the NLHE Main Events will include bigger guarantees, which will mean they offer even better value than the original tournaments.

Each tournament will now see its guaranteed prize money increased by at least $1,000,000.

And the company will also be running a wide selection of satellites and freeroll tournaments in the weeks leading up to the rescheduled WCOOP Championship Weekend to allow more of their customers the chance to participate in these events for free, or a greatly reduced entry price.

Alongside these tournaments there will also be the replacement Sunday Millions event for players from Southern Europe that were competing in the Galactic tournament at the time of the attack.

The PokerStars WCOOP has proven very popular with its Low, Medium and High Stakes options for tournaments and hundreds of players have won tournaments over the lengthy series of tournaments.

Indeed the recent WSOP Online Main Event winner Simon “C. Darwin2” Mattsson won two of the events at the WCOOP too, winning the WCOOP 07 High Stakes  $530 NLHE Sunday Cooldown for $52,820 and then he followed that up with another win in the WCOOP 47 High Stakes $530 NLHE 6-Max for an additional $32,783.

Remember to tune in from November 5th for the culmination of what has been an exciting and unexpectedly lengthy tournament.