Poker on Holland America -- is this a scam?

As you can see, I am new to this forum. I just want to know if others out there have come across this problem.

In August of this year, my wife and I went on an Alaskan cruise with Holland America on the ms Noordam. On the last night of the cruise, I went to the casino to play some poker. They had one of those electronic poker tables (Texas Hold'em/Poker Pro) and I sat down and transferred $100 from my onboard account to the poker table. As you probably know, the Poker Pro table is essentially a "virtual dealer." I only stayed for about 10 minutes, because there were only 3 other players, and none of us really wanted to play such a short-handed game. I still had $88 on the virtual table. I quit the session and assumed that the $88 would be transferred back to my onboard account, not realizing that I needed to also transfer the funds back using the Poker Pro interface. I didn't realize my mistake until the next morning, shortly before disembarking, when we got out final bill. It showed the $100 debit, but there was no $88 credit. I went to the front desk, and told them the problem. They called the Casino Manager (I believe his name was Carlos), and he told me that it was impossible to transfer the money at that time, since the casino was officially closed for that cruise. He assured me that anyone with a remaining poker balance will get a refund check in the mail, but he also said that it would take 2 or 3 months.

After 2 months went by without a check, I called Holland America and they said that the Texas Hold'em PokerPro machines are actually run by a third party. They told me I needed to submit an "Outstanding Balance" claim at (I find it very odd that Carlos never mentioned this at all!). So I submit my claim, and a few days later I receive an email from Brian Buritica of Global Casino Services (I guess that's the working name of the company at, and Mr. Buritica informs me that "We have reviewed the files for the Noordam 08/13/2017 and did not see a refund due in your name."

I have since called Costco Travel (with whom I had booked the trip) and after they investigated some, they basically told me I was out of luck.

I feel like this is a total scam. Maybe I'm crazy, but I would guess this happens at least a couple times each cruise. Multiply that by all of the cruises out there, and that is a lot of money. Some people will correctly say that it was my fault for not transferring the funds back, but it would have helped if there was some signage saying "hey, be sure to transfer all poker funds back to your shipboard account before the casino closes" or something to that effect. And the staff has been virtually no help at all. Has anyone else experienced this? Any suggestions (other than "don't do that again!")?

Thank you,


Tags: Holland America Line

5 Answers

Ouch !

Last time we were on HAL they were using real dealers. Personally, I hate those electronic dealers, and I find the machine confusing.

Sorry about the $88, but it could have been worse. I’m sure this happens to a lot of players, but it’s not a scam. It’s just a machine that does what it’s told by a programmer.

as of January, NCL still had live games with dealers who breathe.

‘I have found over the years that the games are less friendly. Everyone thinks they’re a pro. Too many going all in pre flop. A strategy that kills them as soon as someone else gets a playable hand.

Backgammon has a similar problem with the doubling cube. Some use it to intimidate instead of a strategy.

edit: I just remembered the first ( and only ) time I played on one of those tables. Well, I was slowing the game down, a bit, because I didn’t understand how the table worked. Three hands in, someone said something. Typical, dark glasses, the only one not talking at the table. I said listen Helmuth, I’m here to have some fun, not take home a bracelet. Two hands later I left, angry and frustrated. I have never played an electronic poker table since.

Thanks for replying. I don't know if scam is the right word, but where does all the unclaimed money go? It's funny, if you owe the cruiseline any money, you better believe it will be on your bill (and charged to your credit card) when you disembark. But if you leave money in your "player's bank" all's they can do is tell you "you'll get a check....someday" and yet 4 months later I have nothing, and I am quite sure that money is gone forever. I mean $88 is really nothing compared to the cost of the cruise, and airfare, excursions etc...but this really leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Speaking of unclaimed money, one lady was running around like a mad woman the day of debarkation. She had fallen asleep early the previous evening, and when she awoke that morning, she couldn’t cash in her winnings vouchers because the cage was closed. Last I heard they were trying to get the casino manager to help her. I heard the total for the vouchers was around $750.

We are trying to get a refund for the DVDs we purchased on board that don't work on our DVD player. This service is also run by a third party company. We were promised replacements that never arrived. One problem was that the ship went into dry dock. Finally we asked for a refund that we are waiting to get. I won't purchase any more DVDs on board any more, though. Everyone is being very nice about the request but it just hasn't been resolved yet. So, I feel your pain. I do know that the Casino closes down at a certain time and they make an announcement to settle out your dealings before then. I really don't think that anyone is trying to cheat you of your credit. It just is too hard to reconstruct because of the third party involved. Good luck, though in getting reimbursed.

Very surprising that you were never notified via letter to your stateroom that you had an 'outstanding' balance, or 'refund' due.

When I was on HAL Eurodam both in August and November, both times at the end of the week, we had a receipt requesting to settle any refunds and/or balances before disembarking.

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