PKR Poker Shut Down for “Financial Difficulties”, Players’ Funds at Risk?

May 6th 2017 | Ivan Potocki

pkr shutdown

The PKR site shut down on May 3rd, quoting “financial difficulties”; Microgaming has confirmed yesterday (May 5) the company applied for an administration order, indicating insolvency.

Latest Update: Online poker giant PokerStars has agreed to bail out PKR and refund every dollar of player funds on its platform. Affected players should be hearing directly from PokerStars shortly if they haven’t already with instructions on reclaiming their funds.

Update: PKR has updated its barebones website with a jargon-filled update listing the Joint Administrators and Insolvency Practitioners.

There is also an email address (pkr.restructuring@rsmuk.com) listed for “creditors and those with player accounts” to contact. The lack of any sort of organized system or even a basic form for players to fill in is disheartening.

As I’m doing myself, I would urge any player or affiliate with outstanding funds to at least make an attempt to reclaim it by sending in an email. Provide as much information as possible (user name, address, last known balance, etc.) so they have as little excuse as possible to ignore, delay, or reject your claim.

A quick resolution doesn’t look promising, as responses “may be subject to some delay”, which is lawyer speak for, “You’ll probably see Halley’s Comet again before you hear back from us.” The status message says that more information will be posted “in due course”.

The latest update from the PKR shutdown is a status message giving a simple email address for players and creditors to submit their claims.

Original story: It’s been a while since we last had a major poker site shut down all of a sudden, leaving players to wonder what is going on behind the scenes. However, such times are still not behind us, as evident from the recent development of things at PKR.

The first 3D poker room that’s been around for years has been down for more than 48 hours now, and the only information players have been given is that the “site is experiencing financial difficulties.” These words probably came as a cold dagger in the backs of many players with outstanding balances at PKR Poker.

Cold shower for PKR players

It was on Wednesday, May 3rd, that the dreaded message first appeared on the PKR site. For a brief period, it stated the site was down due to regular maintenance, but it quickly changed to quote the earlier mentioned financial issues.

This created a certain degree of panic among players, as they weren’t just blocked from accessing games, but they were also unable to access their cashiers, meaning the funds were stuck, without an option to request a withdrawal. For some, this brought back the unpleasant memories of the events of Black Friday.

PKR shutdown confirmed

After a short period of uncertainty, where players were still having some hopes it was all just a big misunderstanding, Microgaming came out with the official statement, clarifying the situation. PKR has been a part of Microgaming for more than a year now, as they joined the network in March 2016.

pkr shutdown

Players fears officially confirmed. The question remains, what will happen with outstanding balances?

According to the statement that was posted yesterday (May 5), PKR has submitted an application with the UK court for an administration order. This is the process prescribed by the UK law for insolvent companies designed as a protection mechanism of sorts.

Are PKR players’ funds safe?

While we could spend more time exploring all the legal issues around the PKR shutdown, there is really just one thing that everybody’s concern about at the moment. What will happen with the players’ funds? Going by examples such as Full Tilt or Absolute Poker, it is only natural that players are scared the money they had at PKR could be stuck in a limbo.

The announcement by MPN isn’t too reassuring. They emphasize all the funds were held by the room, meaning the network has no responsibility whatsoever in this issue. Furthermore, although players’ money was kept segregated, this is no guarantee that the funds would be returned immediately or at all!

The future of PKR affiliates remains uncertain as well. At this point, the room has sent out emails, requesting all the affiliates to remove any and all reviews, banners, links, and other advertising materials relating to PKR Poker.

Another one hits the muck

The whole concept of online poker at PKR was something different and unique, providing players with a different experience that had almost a virtual reality feel to it. However, despite being virtually the only room in the market that offered this kind of experience, PKR seemed to struggle to attract players as of late.

This led to their decision to join MPN, looking to boost their player pool, while still maintaining some of their unique features, like their 3D client (with a regular client being available for download as well). Many players voiced their concerns at the time that joining MPN would defeat the whole purpose of PKR and would lead to its demise.

pkr shutdown

Many players believed that joining MPN was wrong move for PKR, as it defied everything the room once stood for

A couple of days ago, that demise has become a reality. The exact reasons for the PKR shutdown haven’t been disclosed at the moment, and we might never know the full truth. The best any of us can hope right now is that PKR will at least do the right thing and reimburse their players as soon as possible.


If you are one of the PKR players with outstanding concerns, you can reach their support at support@pkr.com. We can imagine they’re dealing with a great number of emails at this point, so you probably shouldn’t expect to receive an answer within a few hours, but there is no harm in reaching out if you believe they could provide you with more specific information about your particular case.

 

Ivan Potocki on EmailIvan Potocki on Twitter
Ivan Potocki
Ivan Potocki
Assistant Editor and Columnist at Beat The Fish
Ivan first started playing poker in 2006 and played professionally from 2010-2013. He holds a BA in English language and literature. Since joining the Beat The Fish team in 2016 Ivan has made an immediate impact, leading the news section and contributing numerous feature articles. You can reach Ivan directly at ivanpotocki@gmail.com

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15 Comments on "PKR Poker Shut Down for “Financial Difficulties”, Players’ Funds at Risk?"

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John
Guest

PKR player funds to be fully honoured by Pokerstars, under a deal struck with the administrators, with no obligation to play there. Funds to be available for immediate withdrawal. Full information on their blog for anyone that hasn’t heard.

Pleasantly surprised by this, whatever their motivation is. They do, however, have no plans to purchase the software, which is slightly odd.

Faith in online poker slightly restored.

Josh H
Admin

Thanks for the heads-up, John. Really appreciate it. I get pretty busy and sometimes miss big happenings like this. This is close to as big as it gets.

Amazing news and incredible press for PokerStars. Here’s a link to the full blog post from them on it: PokerStars will credit all PKR players

NineTonBar
Guest

Having tried all the big poker sites and applications, PKR’s software was light years ahead of anything else out there in terms of user experience, UI and graphics (with the possible exception of Zinga Poker, but that’s play money only). Pokerstars (the biggest poker site on the planet by active player) app offering is dreadful by comparison – extremely poor graphics, awful sounds, and horribly confusing UI/UX.

It’s a real shame to see PKR fold, though not altogether surprising. For years they ignored what players were asking for (instead choosing to add Casino and Sports crap to their core product) and their marketing strategies failed in attracting new players across from other, poorer, vendors offerings. Really hope someone buys up the PKR software rights and rebrands/relaunches it.

Josh H
Admin

I certainly agree. In terms of someone acquiring them, I would love to see it happen, but it’s going to come down to what debt PKR has attached to it. How large are the player balances? I don’t think anyone know aside from people on the inside.

If it’s too significant, it would probably be cheaper for an interested competitor just to develop it themselves. It’s astounding to me that no one else has even tried anything similar in over a decade. I get frustrated at the lack of innovation in this industry at times.

The only two groups I could imagine having the money to buy up the corpse of PKR would be 888 or PokerStars (Amaya) and I’m not sure that either of them are too flush with cash at the moment. It would be great PR for them and they’d get access to the entire player base, but I’m just not sure it would be worth it to them to pay off all of those balances.

Jarrod
Guest

They shoulda spent more effort in adding the stud and draw game variants many of us were asking for over the last decade. If you’ve got the time and money to create and add more and more casino games, you could have focused on widening the player base instead.
I loved the software when they first came out (I was there from beta testing), but I play Stud for a living, so as much I enjoyed playing there, I was never able to make it my home. I used to see many others asking for more poker variants, too.

As for funds, you guys who still played on PKR should be fine. Unlike the scandals of the past, PKR are actually based/regulated in the UK, right? Lot of harder for them to stiff players as other outfits before them have.

Regardless, it’s sad for all of us any when any online poker room pulls down its shingle. RIP.

John
Guest

PKR has been terribly managed for 3/4 years now. While there has been challenging circumstances, player segregation, new Uk tax laws etc, the direction they took was baffling. Alienating high volume players and rinsing recreationals with their horrific casino/ virtual sports nonsense. The final straw being joining the terrible Microgaming network, which brought increased rake and an ever reliance on speed/turbo/rebuys.

The list of failings is endless, and its almost like they wanted to lose poker players and become a stand alone casino client, which as we all know is much more profitable for the site, but comes with much shorter player retention.

As for “what happens next”, I wouldn’t hold out much hope for anyones bankroll. While players monies may well have been segregated, the players are considered unsecured creditors, and as such, will be at the end of the queue behind HMRC, and secured creditors. PKR actually dropped the level of protection that players had, if I recall correctly, just before they joined Microgaming, The fate of bankrolls will now be in the hands of the administrator. Your bankroll will no longer be yours, but an asset of a insolvent company. The UK gambling commission is toothless in regards to players being paid what is rightfully theirs.

A final word about the role of the current CEO and the joining of the MPN network. The way PKR’s CEO, Chris Welch, and Alex Scott of microgaming encouraged people to stick with PKR and not withdraw their bankrolls was nauseating. PKR may well have been struggling before joining MPN, but it was without a doubt an unmitaged disaster. Terrible cash out times, random freezes, increased rake, and at times, dealt into hands without getting any cards. (often on your big blind when you have 5 bb’s left,).

Sympathy goes to the hard working staff that worked at pkr who were continually left exposed by upper managements bizzare decisions, but more sympathy goes for anyone that has a bankroll tied up in this farce.

Josh H
Admin

Appreciate the thoughts, John. I had been similarly baffled and agitated by the focus on the casino product and virtual sports (seriously?).

I remember thinking the only positive of the move to MPN was keeping their own software and the shot in the arm for player traffic, but it largely destroyed their sensibilities of catering to a friendly and community-oriented experience. Things seemed to go downhill from there, obviously.

I’m still a big fan of the ambition behind the software they developed, although I may be in the minority of the poker community in that I actually care more about the experience these days than simply whatever is grind-friendly.

There may not be much optimism in PKR themselves repaying creditors, but what about a bailout from someone like Amaya or 888 in order to gain the software assets? That could be interesting.

Granted the market is in a different place than when Stars picked up the pieces from Full Tilt, but if that mess could be salvaged, why not another brand with that sort of software asset and player base? They could earn good will, acquire a decade-long player base, and gain a big selling point for recs.

John
Guest

I did wonder what will become of the software, as it must be worth something to someone. Would be a shame to see it vanish from cyber space. Whether a deal can be done that includes peoples bankroll is another matter. That would be the best case scenario for the players, and probably the company.

The administrator has been appointed by the high court today, and a notice posted on the PKR website, complete with contact details for players/creditors. Wouldnt fancy being the guy that has to deal with the deluge of angry e-mails.

Looking forward to getting 10% of my bankroll in 2/3 years time.

Phillwood
Guest

Really hope players get refunded. Been a long standing customer of pkr and like a lot of people started out on it due to the more friendly unique experience given. Stupidly left quite a bit on the site roll wise so for myself bit of a game changer if don’t receive funds. Fingers crossed for once the right thing is done.

Josh H
Admin

Thanks for the comment, Phil, and I hope you get what’s yours.

If there’s any hope I can give, it would be in where PKR regulated and the compliance that was enforced on them for many years.

I can’t imagine the U.K. court system allowing PKR to vanish without repaying player funds that were supposed to be segregated the entire time.

Unfortunately, if they have player funds segregated, it begs the question of why they had to shut off the servers and panic players instead of simply informing them they intended to close, freeze the games, and allow everyone to withdraw every last penny.

I really hope the court throws the book at them. I’m still waiting for any news to emerge as this is the week PKR’s cryptic and inadequate post pointed to as having a schedule court appearance.

Why would they choose this path, money or not? It’s mind-boggling.

Usually, this sort of thing is the realm of newer and struggling US-facing poker sites. It’s disturbing to see it happening at a regulated site no one really worried about.

Brian
Guest

PKR must go out with some honour and refund all player funds as promised in their T&C’s on PKR and MPN. Player funds are supposed to be protected from insolvency or situations like this.

Josh H
Admin

Hi Brian,

Absolutely, I totally agree. I was completely shocked when the email from the affiliate program hit my Inbox on Friday.

Just for a bit of background of my time with PKR, I actually go back all the way to 2006 when I was invited to review their Beta pre-release for BTF. I instantly loved the software and really thought they were onto something big. I was honestly surprised they never succeeded more. I kept waiting for them to take off, figuring that other players would love it if they only took the time to try it.

PKR felt like something that needed to be experienced to be appreciated, sort of like VR is these days.

I never would have believed that, 11 years later, PKR would be the only ones who have really released a real-money poker client with that level of immersion. Grinders might hate it, but it just always felt fun to me to play in those environments. Sort of the closest thing you can get to actually playing live.

I didn’t have any issues doing business with PKR up until about 6 months ago, although I do remember a strange case maybe 6-8 years ago when my contact there left and was brought up on some sort of fraud charge.

Affiliate payments, which had dependably been paid monthly for a decade, stopped coming in late last year. They dodged emails about it and never made another payment.

In hindsight, that should have been an dead giveaway that they were on the verge, but, honestly, late payments and lack of contact is nothing new in this business, unfortunately. I figured that I would be paid eventually – as I always have been – and that things would return to normal.

I sent another email to my contact at PKR’s affiliate software provider, who had been just as frustrated with their lack of payments for months now, and he informed me that they had finally dumped official support for the PKR affiliate program. He gave me the contact information for the head of their services.

I promptly sent her a firm message demanding they pay what they were delinquent on and immediately received an “Out of office” canned autoresponse.

About an hour later I received a faceless inadequate email stating the same thing that Ivan’s screenshot shows there.

What a bizarre turn of events and, most of all, my thoughts are with players that have significant or life-altering balances there. Godspeed to you all.

They don’t owe me a massive amount, but it’s still enough for me to be willing to fight for, if only out of principle. Let’s hope some good news comes out of their cowardly court appearance. I honestly can’t envision a jurisdiction as big as the U.K. letting them off without refunding players, but I’m basing that strictly off of gut feelings.

I really was always comforted by the fact that they were licensed by one of the biggest gambling licensing bodies in the world. I mean, who really worries about a site that has to comply with the strict British gambling regulations? Combined with how long they were in the industry – I’m just stunned by this.

I would imagine that PKR would have had to be segregating player funds in order to operate under their license, so repaying players shouldn’t theoretically be a hassle. Right? Right?!

Just once, I would like to see an online poker site not choose the absolute worst way to bow out.

Tidy endings in the world of online poker? Just doesn’t seem possible.

Brian
Guest

The player funds should be ring fenced for sure by UK Gambling Commission laws, but doesn’t sound good by what you say. Can only hope they do the right thing by players no matter what happens.

Josh H
Admin

Agreed. I’m eager to hear what comes out of this alleged court meeting this week.

Rainer
Guest

Ok, what has happened in these last two months? As a foreigner I won’t hold my breath…

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