Lift the guarantees and they will come
For the event, PokerStars NJ increased the guarantees of four of its Sunday Majors by 25 percent. The guarantee for the site’s biggest weekly multi-table tournament, the Sunday Special, received a 100 percent boost to $100,000.
The aggressive move paid dividends. Not only did each tournament surpass its guarantee, but they did so by healthy margins.
Of note, the Sunday Storm, SuperSonic and Warm-Up all beat out their minimum benchmarks by at least 30 percent.
The $500 buy-in Sunday High Roller (6-max) fared even better, generating a $33,370 prize pool and nearly doubling its elevated $18,750 guarantee. Admittedly, the tournament was helped along by the presence of reentries, which accounted for 33 of the total 71 entries.
Then there was the Sunday Special, which saw 615 entrants create a $114,390 prize pool. The Special outperformed last weekend’s GSSS Spring ’17 Championship Event on Party/Borgata, which also guaranteed $100,000, but featured a higher price of entry ($320 vs. $200). That tournament paid out $108,900.
The Big Sunday was the latest in a string of tournament series highlights for PokerStars NJ, dating back to last October’s NJCOOP, which awarded over $1.4 million in prize money.
Last weekend’s smaller City Series also made the grade, with eight of its ten events beating out their guarantees, including the $50,000 guaranteed Main Event.
Cash game liquidity tells different tale
Despite hosting a number of non-tournament focused promotions in March, PokerStars NJ did little to move the needle when it came to its cash-game liquidity.
According to Poker Industry Pro via PokerScout, from the time the festivities began on March 6 through March 13, 7-day average cash game traffic climbed a mere 5 percent. And these gains were short lived. Over the next two weeks, traffic fell 14 percent to an average of just 130 concurrent players.
The end of the promotion brought further drops, as traffic is down another 12 percent over the past week. Meanwhile, rival network WSOP / 888 has overtaken PokerStars NJ on the cash-game front, with liquidity rising 10 percent to an average of 130 players over the past seven days.
WSOP/888 has been helped along by a series of new cash-game promotions, including Blind APP Dash, which awards players that accumulate the most loyalty points with cash payouts up to $350 per week.
That being said, PokerStars continues to generate far more gross gaming revenue than its competitor.
In February, PokerStars NJ took in $889,103 versus $666,223 for WSOP/888. Given the number of high-profile tournaments ran on PokerStars NJ in March, last month’s revenue reports will likely show an even greater divide.
What’s next for PokerStars NJ?
PokerStars NJ kicked off April with yet another promotion that encourages players to grind out Spin & Go’s. This time around, the site is awarding players that accumulate 100 daily points at the Spin & Go tables with randomized payouts, up to $5,000.
To accrue points for the Spin & Go 2x Challenge, players can do the following:
- Play in an eligible Spin & Go tournament: 20 points
- Place first in a Spin & Go with a 2x multiplier: 30 points
- Place second in a Spin & Go with a 2x multiplier: 15 points
- Play a Spin & Go with a 10x or above multiplier: Instant win
Players will actually lose five points if they finish third in a Spin & Go with the 2x multiplier. This presents an interesting dynamic, where players may put more weight into outlasting their opponents as opposed to strictly going for the win.
In either case, the promotion is a serviceable means of creating excitement when the Spin & Go slot machine “spins” its lowest multiplier, which happens with a near 72-percent frequency.
It’s just too bad that the payouts are so heavily weighted toward the low end. Given the alarming frequency of $0.50 and $1 payouts, the promo comes off as more a gimmick than a true value play.
Spin & Go 2x Challenge runs from April 3 through April 30.