I've had a crazy series of emails with Stars support over the last few days. I'm not sure how much of it is look the other way or just plain ignorance to the situation I encountered.
Here's what happened to me:
I was playing in a TURBO 18 man SNG. 5 minute levels. We get down to the final 6 players and I have a shorter stack (currently 4th in standings). Player in 2nd place disconnects. Over the course of thew next 15-20 hands, the disconnect receives 60-120 seconds to reconnect each hand dealt. He maxes out his time and folds.
1st development: This disconnecting player should not have been given this much time according to Stars rules. (IMO, he must have been connecting and disconnecting intentionally.) Now the tournament clock stops during disconnect extra time, but this is not the point of the story. By disconnecting intentionally, he is "sitting out "without the sitting out penalty of folding immediately or folding to any flop seen. Also he is "sitting out" without the penalty of facing quickly increasing blinds, due to tournament clock stoppage.
2nd development: The player acting just after the disconnect (and just before me) had a tremendous advantage over the other players, as he never had to worry about the disconnect re-entering the game when his turn to act arrived. Therefore, he raised aggressively. This aggressive player won the tourney with his positional advantage and the disconnect finished 2nd.
I must admit I played this situation like I thought the disconnect would be sat out after a few hands. I was surprised he was given 60 and 120 seconds over and over again. I did cash in the tournament, but was incensed that the disconnect was so protected and the positional player got such an advantage.
This also made me realize that two players at a final table can abuse this rule to force the smaller stacks to play each other.
So I wrote Stars support and here is my first (canned) response:
Thank you for writing regarding this feature of our software, known as "Disconnect Extra Time". This feature is described in detail on our web site at:
This page is referenced in our tournament rules, rule # 8:
To explain, when a tournament is down to where the larger money prizes are on the line, it is important for the awards to be based upon poker play rather than on Internet connectivity. A player whose ISP goes on the blink in the end game of a tournament deserves every chance to return to the game and play for the prize rather than being blinded off.
While sometimes this extra time may delay an event a little longer than necessary (for example, when a player keeps disconnecting and reconnecting), the feature has been very positively received.
We ask your patience when you find yourself in such circumstances, as next time it might be your stack that Disconnect Extra Time is protecting. The slightly longer wait time to wind up the occasional tournament is well worth the protection this affords to all our players, yourself included. Good luck in your future tournaments, and thank you for choosing PokerStars.
PokerStars Support Team
Next: I wrote back and received another (lame) reply.