An unplanned period of downtime for the largest Bitcoin-only online poker site, SealsWithClubs, stretched into its sixth day this morning as users continued to wonder when the site would return to active-play status.
Users first reported the site was down for active play on February 11th, though site officials promise that the site will soon return, though no exact timetable has been posted. In the meantime, SWC’s operators have quickly provided a withdrawal protocol on the site’s Internet home page — sealswithclubs.eu — so that players’ Bitcoins remain fully accessible.
SWC Chairman Bryan Micon has acknowledged the site’s unfortunate downtime, without specifiying the exact cause, leaving the topic wide open to increasingly wild conjecture. However, given that withdrawals from the site continue to be rapidly processed, there seems little cause for player alarm. One of the purposes of having a site denominated and allowing for the active use of Bitcons is precisely that — to allow players to deposit and withdraw at will, without the lead to maintain a large on-site balance.
Micon also posted a brief message on the Bitcoin-centric Bitcointalk.org discussion forums. His bullet-point briefing was part confirmation, part infomercial, yet with no root cause listed or a definitive date announced foe when SWC would return to live-action play. Wrote Micon:
1) really sorry for no comms last few days, I understand the frustration. Sometimes life happens at the worst times and you come back to a ****storm.
2) ST6 [“Seal Team 6,” meaning SWC’s technical staff] is primarily focused on getting SwC back
3) balances are available for withdraw. big ups to hdev for handling them.
4) bitcoins are safe, and I reiterate that they are available for withdraw if you’d like them. Big ups to all of ST6 for this, with the MVP going to hdev
5) No clue how long we will be down, it’s in ST6’s hands and it looks like it may be a bit. I’m not going to say anything further until I spend a bunch of hours understanding the exact nature of the issue.
6) tyvm for playing SwC, and I understand how frustrating it must be not to have it right now. As many of the beta testers can verify (please, speak up now, I understand I swore you all to secrecy but it’s totally cool now) we are very close to dropping absolutely super-nasty bitcoin poker 2.0 software. We have been playing live games for small stakes for a few weeks now, and I can promise the bitcoin poker world we are going to drop this all over your faces very soon. During this unplanned, extended downtime please thing about our history, and how we have consistently delivered since 2011.
Bear with us, I wanna dealer’s choice too
Micon also communicated the following directly to FlushDraw regarding the outage. “We are experiencing extended unscheduled downtime,” wrote Micon. “All bitcoins are safe and are available for withdraw while we are down. We will be back up.”
Bitcoin’s relative newness and slow mainstream attendance can be seen in the traffic numbers put up by SWC and other Bitcoin-based sites. SWC is the largest BTC-only online poker site at the present time, though extended downtime will likely erode player numbers, and persistent rumors suggest that more and more mainstream sites and networks using dollars or euros as core currencies are also considering a Bitcoin-deposit option. Some sites on the US-facing Winning Poker Network, for instance, began offering BTC deposits last month.
In the meantime, SWC has made the temporary withdrawals as easy as possible. The current sealswithclub.eu landing page included an auto-form template which can be quickly filled in and submitted to SWC staff, allowing for a full withdrawal at the present time of all funds. FlushDraw will be monitoring the SWC situation to see if or when the BTC site returns to full live play.