“It’s not me; it’s you.” That’s what online casino gaming is saying to poker in New Jersey these days. While casino gaming continues to hit record numbers, poker is moving in the opposite the direction.
Cash games took another hit with 14 percent fewer players on average hitting the felt on the major operators over the past week. Tournaments, on the other hand, saw a 15 percent increase in entries into the Sunday Majors.
The increase in tournament traffic is a result of the opening day of the Garden State Super Series Spring ’18 events. And even though Event #2 fell short of its guarantee, it did account for a 45% increase in entries compared to last week for partypoker.
While partypoker was the tournament traffic winner, it was also the big loser on the cash game side of things, dropping 8 percent in average traffic for the week. PokerStars and WSOP/888 also had losing weeks.
What should have been a tournament highlight for the weekend ended up being just another tournament. The Online Circuit Ring Event on WSOP.com took place on Sunday. While it was exciting to see some WSOP hardware make its way to New Jersey’s online players, the excitement didn’t translate into huge numbers. New Jersey’s first Online Ring Event had 181 entries and a prize pool of $59,368.
Looking forward, here are the events that may impact traffic for the coming week:
- GSSS Spring ’18 continues on Borgata.com through Sunday, March 25. Look for Event #15, a $320 buy-in, $100,000 guaranteed tournament will surely attract a solid field.
- Satellites to partypokerLIVE MILLIONS North America at Playground Casino in Montreal are running through April 21.
- WSOP is running satellites for seats and packages to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Nevada. While currently scheduled through March, you can expect the satellites to keep running and become more enticing as we get closer to the event.
Last week, there was a problem in collecting traffic data for WSOP/888. The data going forward is correct, but it still reflects incorrect numbers for five days last week and the first two days of this week. For the purpose of the report, we replaced the corrupt data points with an average.
With that said, let’s take a detailed look back at the cash game and tournament trends in the New Jersey online poker market for the week ending March 18, 2018.
New Jersey’s online poker operators
New Jersey has seven online poker sites operating on four separate networks.
During the week of March 12 – March 18, New Jersey online poker sites averaged 222 cash game players, a decrease of 13.7 percent from the previous week’s number of 258.
Peak traffic numbers came in at 650 players, a decrease of 4.5 percent from the previous week’s figure of 680. The busiest night of the week was on a Tuesday for the second week in a row, with 691 players hitting the tables. It’s worth noting that the number was a significantly lower than last week’s peak of 752.
Here’s how those players are distributed across the four online poker networks.
- Platform provider: partypoker
- Sites in the network: BorgataPoker.com – NJ.PartyPoker.com – Poker.NJ.PlayMGM.com
The seven-day rolling peak traffic average for partypoker was 169 cash game players. Compared to last week’s traffic average of 185, partypoker ended the week with 8.5 percent decrease.
The seven-day rolling peak traffic average for WSOP/888 was 212 cash game players. Compared to last week’s adjusted number of 223, WSOP/888 posted a 4.7 percent decrease in traffic.
As mentioned, two days of corrupted data from this week and five days from last week were replaced with the traffic average for the site from the remaining days.
The seven-day rolling peak traffic average for PokerStars was 254 cash game players. Compared to the 260 players that the site averaged last week, PokerStars saw a small decrease of 2.3 percent in traffic.
- Platform provider: Pala
- Sites in the network: PalaPoker.com
The seven-day rolling peak traffic average for Pala Poker was 14 cash game players. This accounts for a 10 percent increase compared to last week’s traffic number of 12 players.
*Cash game traffic data provided by PokerScout.com. Collected March 19, 2018.
Evaluating cash game traffic trends
Cash game traffic took a back seat to tournament traffic last week, and there isn’t much of a bright side to the cash game side of things.
This past week online poker saw 222 cash game players on average. Compared to last week’s average of 258, traffic suffered a 14 percent decline.
As a late entry into the market, Pala Poker has remained at the back of the pack – by a lot.
This week is the second week in a row that Pala Poker’s traffic grew while the rest of the operators didn’t. While the growth has little impact on the overall landscape due to the small numbers, growth is growth, and it must start somewhere.
All three remaining operators found themselves in negative territory this week.
partypoker took the biggest hit with an average of 169 players compared to last week’s average of 185 which equates to a decrease of 8 percent.
WSOP/888 and PokerStars also saw a decrease in traffic by five percent and two percent respectively.
It is becoming increasingly clear that it’s an uphill battle to get both cash game and tournament traffic into positive territory during the same week. It’s also worth noting that it seems players showing up for big tournaments are not necessarily playing cash games.
The cash game struggle is real, and it’s going to take some creative thinking and stellar promotions to reverse the trend.
Tournament Report: A look at the Sunday Majors
Each week, the four online poker networks host a signature Sunday tournament. This week, partypoker hosted the Garden State Super Series Spring ’18 and replaced its regular Sunday tournament with Event #2 of the series.
The major tournaments this week were:
- The Borgata/partypoker/MGM online poker network hosted the $60,000 guaranteed GSSS Spring ’18 Event #2 with a $215 buy-in.
- The WSOP.com/888 network hosted the $215 Ultimate Warrior $40,000 guaranteed tournament, also with a $215 buy-in.
- PokerStars NJ hosted the Sunday Special, a $200 buy-in with a guaranteed prize pool of $45,000.
- Pala Poker usually hosts the $1,000 Guaranteed Pala Mega Rebuy with a buy-in of $30. The data for this tournament wasn’t available at the time the information for tournament play was collected.
Major tournament results for March 18, 2018
Total registrations for the Sunday Majors was 747 players. Compared to last week’s number of 650, tournament registrations saw a nearly 15 percent increase.
After a month of overlays, PokerStars finally exceeded its guarantee. Granted it was only by $198, but a win is a win. And in the world of poker, every operator is happy with a win regardless of how small.
We predicted the Garden State Super Series would help increase tournament registrations this week and next. The prediction came true, but even so, partypoker failed to meet its $60,000 guarantee. The 297 tournament entries were good for a 45 percent increase of the 205 players that registered for last week’s Sunday major on the network.
The regular Sunday major on WSOP/888, the Ultimate Warrior, garnered the exact number of registrations they did last week at 207. The number was good for a $1,400 overlay.
And with that, here’s a look at the total number of entries for the largest tournament held on each of the three main online poker networks in New Jersey: