Tuesday, 9 December 2008


By Mick McCloskey

I think I have been.
I recently won a package online for the Paddy Power Irish Winter Festival in Dublin. The package, valued at $4,500, was played on the iPoker network through Green Joker Poker, whose banking and customer services are provided by Bluesqpoker.com. I have won a number of tournament packages on this site before, mostly for entries to GUKPT events, and have never had a problem with these. The GUKPT packages were normally valued at $2,500 and covered the tournament entry and the balance was credited to my account to cover expenses. The tournament entry was paid using the exchange rate on the day of the online satellite, which I believe is standard practice at Bluesq for GUKPT events.

On the other hand, the IWF package included four nights’ hotel accommodation as well as expenses. As I had made my own hotel arrangements, I informed the poker site of this fact. Subsequently my account was credited with the sum of $1,050 for expenses and $620 for the hotel. At the same time as this was going on, Paddy Power were running satellites on their own poker site for a seat only for the IWF. This seat was valued at $2,222. If you add up the seat, 2,222 + expenses 1,050 + hotel 620 the total comes to $3,892, some $608 short of the $4,500 advertised value of the package. I emailed my sums to Bluesq and awaited their explanation. I was told that the iPoker network had purchased the seats in advance at a different exchange rate, costing them $2,600. I was also told by Bluesq that, “due to a human error in the communication between us and iPoker” my hotel refund should have been $725 rather than the £620 they had given me. They also informed me that they had deducted $100 from my winnings for a qualifiers welcome party, which they had failed to invite me too. Having refunded the hotel shortfall and the welcome party fee, this still left a $25 difference. I was informed that this related to “a deduction as a network “ buffer” for European packages currency rate variance at the point of transaction.” whatever that means. Considering that I am the one who feel he has suffered due to the “currency rate variance” they have a hell of a cheek in deducting $25 from my package to cover themselves!

At the end of the day, this is not even their own money that they are dealing with. It is all players’ money. The site/network provided a platform for the players on the night of the satellite, for which they charge a fee to each player. Never mind the numbers, the whole thing was handled in a totally sloppy manner, leaving a bad taste in the mouth. This is not just a personal matter as there were quite a number of online qualifiers for this event on various sites across the network. I would advise all of them to check how much they actually got for their so called $4,500 package.

For my own information and on behalf of any readers who may also be affected or concerned with this matter, I posed a number of questions to the site/network. The questions and any answers I got were as follows:-

1) How many other players were affected by this issue? – No reply.
2) If the exchange rate had gone the other way and the network had bought seats in advance for, say, $2,200, would the network pass the savings onto the satellite winners?
3) If not, who benefits from any exchange rate surplus?
4) How does the network work out how many seats/hotel rooms to purchase in advance?
5) If they purchase too many seats, do they get a refund on the surplus? If not, why purchase them in advance anyway?
6)If they purchase too few, do they buy any additional seats at a new exchange rate or the original rate?
7) Do they actually pay for hotel rooms in advance or do they merely book the same number of rooms as the number of seats they purchase?

As regards the purchase of seats, they gave no details of the mechanics save to say that “iPoker pay the rate on the day of purchase.” As regards the hotel rooms they said “iPoker do not disclose their dealings with hotels.” I would doubt very much that they would pay for hotel rooms in advance and would probably have benefited from the rise in the value of the dollar against the Euro from the time the hotel rate was agreed to the time of the event itself.

They did say that “in both instances iPoker do not make a profit or loss as they pay the correct rate on the day of purchase – there is no currency surplus as you suggest. In fact, they would be exposed to currency fluctuations and potentially suffer losses if they bought packages at the end of the promotion – if the value of the $USD went down against the event currency.”
They continued “The only apparent way to resolve the situation you faced would be to reconcile the packages on a weekly basis; however iPoker are currently unable to do this as there is excessive administration and paperwork involved in transferring such amounts of money to external providers.” Not sure if this a valid excuse as there are only a handful of qualifiers each Sunday night and it should be no big deal, in the age of instant communications and cash transfers, to deal with the admin. weekly.

They concluded by telling me “they will consider splitting the reconciliation twice during a single promotion.” They are also “currently developing “multi currency” functionality for 2009 which means players will actually play in the currency of different events – resolving this issue.” Well thank goodness for that and the fact that they do admit that there is an issue.

While they are developing their new system, I think I will play for tournament seats directly on the sponsors own sites rather than through a third party who can blind me with currency fluctuation excuses.

I would advise anyone who wins tournament packages online to check the figures carefully to make sure they are getting what they are supposed to.

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