Straight Talk No. 2: What are we doing to fix the awful customer experience in poker?

Customer service in poker is broken, isn’t it?

It used to be the case that online poker sites were founded by, and run by, people who were passionate about the game. Who empathised with players because they WERE players.

If you had a problem back then, you knew it would be taken care of in the right way. If you had to contact  customer support, you knew that the person on the other end would understand what you were saying, and resolve the issue for you quickly and effectively.

Can you honestly say that’s the case today?

If anything - it is the opposite. We expect to wait three or four days for an answer to a simple question. God forbid you should be asked to prove your identity - you might be waiting a week or two for your account to be fully active after that. Interacting with support is an ordeal.

It is not just support. Whole aspects of the customer experience are broken. Lobbies that are so complex that you can’t find the game you want to play. Promotions with kafkaesque rules and qualifying requirements. 

We expect to be taken advantage of by the big sites. But not anymore. WPT Global is going to change that. Back in April 2022 when we launched WPT Global, I wrote a message to our team that has since been read by every single new employee. It says:

Doing Right by Players

Early in my career I worked in customer support for PokerStars, whose customer service was legendary at the time. On the first day, every new member of staff read about the service at Disney World. I’m paraphrasing here (it was a long time ago), but it went something like this:       

After travelling for hours to get there, finally I was in line to enter Disney World, Florida, with my wife and two kids. They were just the right age and, as you can imagine, they were very excited to be there. When I reached the front of the line - disaster! I realised I had not brought the tickets, or any way to prove that I had paid.

Distraught, I explained the situation to the member of staff at the ticket counter. I expected to be turned away, and have to make the journey home with some very sad children. But the staff member listened. They empathised. They believed me. And they cheerfully let us through without a moment’s hesitation.


Think about this from the perspective of the customer at Disney. What did they expect? Probably to be stood at the counter for 15-30 minutes, digging through emails or bank statements, to prove that they paid. Or perhaps the staff member spends ages on the phone, trying to find proof that they had paid, and eventually turns them away when proof cannot be found. Meanwhile, everybody else in the line is held up, and enjoys their day a little bit less.

But the member of staff took a different approach. They were empowered to help the customer - to go beyond that, to delight them. They listened. They trusted. And - by not fighting the customer - they saved everyone involved time and hassle. In the grand scheme of things, it cost almost nothing - and earned Disney far more good will in the process.

This type of service is what I expect from everybody at WPT Global. Listen. Empathise. Start from the assumption of honesty. Be thoughtful, and do what it takes to make the player happy. You are empowered to do this without seeking approval from your boss. Small gestures here and there can make all the difference. Some examples of how this might work, in practice:

  • If a player is disconnected and loses a pot because of it, especially if it’s the first time this has happened, compensate them for the loss, no questions asked.
  • If a player played a satellite to a big tournament, but can’t play in the main event because of family commitments, give them a ticket to a different event that they can play.
  • If a player is struggling to control their gambling, immediately stop them from playing and get them help. Cash out their account balance for them, and put them in touch with people who can give them the right support.
  • If a player has a great idea for a new software feature, thank them for sharing it with us, ask any questions you need to clarify how it might work, and then share the idea with the product team.
  • If a player is struggling to learn short deck Hold’em, send them links to strategy articles.
  • If a player complains about a bad beat - read their email and reply sympathetically.

There will always be people who take advantage of our generosity - but don’t worry about them. They are rare, and with practice you’ll learn to spot them. Always err on the side of making the player happy.       
When I worked in support all those years ago, making players happy became almost addictive. It made me happy. I hope it brings you happiness too. 

Part of the reason that I’m writing this blog is because I know that, now that this commitment is out there, you - the poker playing community - can help to keep me honest.

So if you ever encounter service from WPT Global that doesn’t meet these high standards, you can contact me and hold us accountable. The best way is via Twitter (X) at @alexscott72o. But you can also write to [email protected] and ask for the message to be passed on to me.

Keep an eye out for my next blog, where I’ll talk more about active ecology management on WPT Global, how we protect the ecosystem, and how we ensure our games are fair and beatable.