However, the two-event schedule with $125,000 in guaranteed prize pools was marred by sparse attendance and more than $31,000 in overlays.
PokerStars Festival New Jersey
PokerStars Festival New Jersey, held in the Fall of 2016, marked PokerStars first live event in the United States in almost six years. However, most of the events on the schedule fell well short of attendance expectations and some were even canceled. At the time, PokerStars admitted its lack of market familiarity and limited marketing effort had an effect on attendance. The failure to feature any guaranteed prize pools was also a factor.
This was all supposed to change with the introduction of the Megastack series to New Jersey. In fact, marketing efforts and press for the series started back in June. The PokerStars NJ online poker site launched in New Jersey in May 2016. Additionally, the site ran a robust satellite program allowing players to qualify for the series’ $220 PokerStars Sunday Special Live event for as little as $0.50.
The PokerStars Megastack series
The PokerStars Megastack series format itself was expected to attract bigger numbers as well. It was designed to bring live poker to players’ doorsteps at a low buy-in level. It also aims to offer a platform for players to build their way towards competing in PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival events. In fact, PokerStars Megastack has proven successful elsewhere.
The series’ April 2017 debut at London, England’s Hippodrome Casino drew over 520 entries. Additionally, the PokerStars Megastack Namur event at the Casino de Namur in France drew a record 1,051 entries for its Main Event last week.
New Jersey overlays
In New Jersey, the series’ $220 Sunday Special Live event drew just 409 entries across four starting flights Oct. 6 and 7. In fact, the event fell short of meeting its $100,000 guarantee. As a result, PokerStars was forced to pay out an $18,200 overlay.
However, the event wrapped up Oct. 8 with 60-year-old Egg Harbor Township, NJ resident John Monahan outlasting the field to capture a $19,920 first-place prize.
The second and final tournament on the PokerStars Megastack schedule was its $120 Cheap and Deep event. The tournament drew 119 entries Oct. 8, falling short of the number needed to meet its $25,000 guarantee. In fact, PokerStars was forced to cover a $13,100 overlay in this event.
Chris Moneymaker wins
Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker won the event, taking home the $6,220 first-place prize.
Moneymaker is widely credited with helping kick off poker’s boom in the early 2000’s. The Tennessee accountant qualified for the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event through a PokerStars online satellite. In fact, he went on to capture the WSOP Main Event title as an unlikely amateur taking on the world’s best pros.
Fellow Team PokerStars Pro Jennifer Shahade also attended the PokerStars Megastack series in Atlantic City. Shahade is a two-time United States Women’s Champion and FIDE Woman Grandmaster in the game of Chess.