I do hope that everyone understands me, then, when I here proclaim the following:
That once proud giant of the online poker industry, Party Poker, is unmistakably full of applesauce.
Got an email from Party this morning. I know some of you have received something like this already. If you are an American player and tried to cash out back in early October, you’ll probably get a similar message here in the next few days. Here’s the email:
I did indeed cash out from Party on October 2, 2006 -- exactly 180 days before this message was sent. At the time, I tried to cash out my entire roll, but for some reason the software would not allow me to take the final $0.46 from my account. (I talked about this a bit a couple of months ago in a post titled “What Is Your Online Poker Cash Worth?”) Thought little of it at the time. In fact, having the 46 cents on the site seemed to signify -- in a purely irrational, hopeful way -- that one day I might be allowed to return to the fish-filled tables over on Party.
My first reaction to this morning’s message was an apathetic shrug of the shoulders. Then I thought about it. I recalled that in fact I have logged into my Party Poker account on several occasions over the last six months. I haven’t played any real money games, of course, but I had logged in. And this here email is saying I hadn’t. I logged on and saw that, indeed, my account was empty. I like how they say I “may wish to remove [my] balance.” Wishing is all I can do, of course, since Party has already taken my pennies away.
I decided to call support, using the number listed at the bottom of the email. When I dialed the number, this is what I heard:
“Thank you for calling PartyGaming. Players with a registered U.S. real money account may contact us via email at email@example.com for account-related inquiries. Players with a registered U.S. play money account may visit our FAQ section for answers to frequently asked questions. Please note that we do not provide phone support to players with a U.S. registered account. Thank you.” (Click here to listen.)
There’s some applesauce for you. I’ve written my message to the email address, explaining that I have, in fact, logged into my account and thus expect to be refunded my 46 cents immediately. One of two things will happen, the first being much more likely: (1) I will receive no response whatsoever, much as I have never received any response from any email I have ever sent to Party Poker; (2) I will receive a response that will clarify the earlier message to state that not only did I need to log into my account, but I also needed to “place a cash wager, enter a tournament with a cash entry fee, or play a raked hand.” This latter statement is indeed part of the Terms & Conditions of the site -- they just failed to quote that part of the explanation of the “Inactive Account Fees and Abandonment of Accounts” to me in their message. (You can read it on their site -- I ain’t linking to it, though.)
That would be another helping of applesauce, of course. As an American, I cannot place a cash wager or enter any cash tourneys on Party Poker.
But Shamus, you say, why are you so concerned about your 46 cents? Are you really that short-stacked?
Let me explain why I think all of this is worth some attention. I’ve seen several estimates suggesting that somewhere in the neighborhood of 60% of the revenue generated by PartyGaming prior to October 13, 2006 came from the United States. I have no idea how many total accounts exist over at Party Poker. The most frequent number one sees in affiliates’ ad copy around the web is 17 million players. For argument’s sake, let’s just say that number represented the total number of poker accounts on Party back in October, and that 60% of those were U.S.-based. That’s just over 10 million accounts. Now let’s say Party is ultimately able successfully to plunder each of those 10 million customers 46 cents apiece -- just as they have me. What does that mean?
That means over $4.5 million. That’s one sweet, unexpected rake.
Does $4.5 million matter to a company like PartyGaming? You bet it does. PartyGaming reported an overall profit of $126 million for 2006, so $4.5 million would represent a nice, not-insignificant boost to the company’s overall earnings.
If someone -- anyone -- can explain to me how Party Poker is not somehow fleecing us Americans here, please do. I’d especially like to hear some kind of explanation from Party Poker that makes sense, but I ain’t holding my breath. (If I ever do hear back from Party, I’ll let you know in an addendum to this post.)
Meanwhile, if you are an American player who (almost) cashed out in early October like I did, expect to hear from online poker’s largest applesauce-peddler shortly.
Labels: *the rumble