September 2009
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Hit me with your BST shot

The Grand Series of Poker III is two weeks of online tournaments hosted by Gala Poker.

With relatively affordable buy-ins compared to other online series ($50 to $200 per event) and added value for a leaderboard of top finishers across the series, I’d decided I would take a punt at this.

I’d even accepted that if things were going well, I’d have to play the 6-handed Omaha tournament.  That would be seriously -EV, but it’s +Eleaderboardpoints, so what can you do?

According to Gala’s web site, things were due to kick off tonight at either 8pm or 9pm UK time.

I’m vague about the start time because it’s not exactly clear.  The site says: "All GSOP events start at 21:00 CET (20:00 GMT)"

This is confusing, because right now, with daylight savings time in effect, GMT is two hours behind CET, not one.

Given that the clock at the top of Gala’s own web site shows the time incorrectly – for example it says "19:30 GMT" when it’s actually 19:30 BST – my best guess was that it would start at 8pm UK time (20:00 on Gala’s not-GMT clock) but I figured there was a chance it would actually be 9pm (20:00 actual GMT, so 21:00 BST).

So, when I thought I was turning up in plenty of time to play it, logging on at just before 7pm to load my account and pre-register, you can imagine my surprise when I saw the event start right in front of my eyes almost exactly at the moment I went to buy in.

I guess that’ll teach me to check the times in the lobby when I want to play a poker tournament on an unfamiliar site.

Not that it would have done me much good, because for this tournament the lobby showed a start time of 19:00 CET.

So that would be 17:00 GMT or 18:00 BST, right?  (Trust me, it’s right).

And yet there it was, starting at 7pm – and with no option of late registration.  I just don’t know how I could have seen that coming.

I thought I’d call Gala to see if anyone knew what time it was.

"Hi, your poker series event tonight, what time was it meant to start?"

I’d naively assumed that just because they’d answered the phone with "Gala Poker, can I help you" that I’d be speaking to someone who actually worked for Gala and would therefore be aware of this multi-million dollar poker event.  I should know better by now.

So I gave him the full title of the tournament and waited patiently on hold for an answer.

"Sir, I just checked and on the web site it says 20:00 GMT, but as we’re in the summer right now, it’s actually an hour behind and it started a few minutes ago".

"But that would make it 9pm, wouldn’t it?" 

"I’m sorry, I mean it’s an hour ahead"

"OK, whatever.  But it’s only 18:00 GMT right now". 

He put me on hold to go and check, and came back a couple of minutes later to tell me that he’d looked at a world clock and it said the current time was just after 20:00 GMT.

The world clock web site I found told a different story (this screenshot taken after the call, but compare GMT to the times in Dublin and Frankfurt).

After holding once more, I came to the conclusion that nobody in the call centre knew what time the tournament was meant to start, what time it actually did start or even what time it was in the part of the world they were meant to be talking to.

At least he gave an honest explanation: "I’m from India and I’m struggling myself to see what’s going on with all the different timezones involved here".  He took my details and said he would ask a real person at actual Gala to send me an accurate schedule.  Whether they’ll have any more of a clue remains to be seen.

To be fair, this was one of the most helpful Indian call centre dudes I’ve dealt with in a long time.  Very polite, and he seemed keen to help me out with something that nobody could actually do anything about.

Really, it was just me having a whinge and being a bit awkward.

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