The NJ Online Gaming Scoop: Cash Game And Tournament Traffic For The Week To January 15

Joss Wood January 19, 2018 2060 Reads
NJ Online Gaming Traffic

Online cash game traffic in New Jersey is notable for the volatility that results from a small geographically concentrated market.

Q4 and Q1 of every year is where poker operators make their money, so traffic is expected to do well in January. The first week of 2018 lived up to this expectation, but the second saw some retrenchment of the gains made at the beginning of the year.

The partypoker/Borgata network and PokerStars both had a dismal week for cash game traffic, whereas the WSOP/888 partnership managed to hold on to their numbers. Looking at the market share graph below, we can see that in terms of average peak cash game traffic, WSOP/888 actually managed to exceed traffic at PokerStars.

In revenue terms, this is not significant, since revenues come from average traffic over the full 24 hours in a day. However, the fact that there were a few days when WSOP/888 managed to attract more players to their cash game tables than market leader PokerStars will give the poker room a morale boost – and perhaps let PokerStars know that their market dominance is not unassailable.

One of the reasons for slower activity at the PokerStars cash tables was because towards the end of the week the poker room and many of its players were focused on the first proper tournament series of the year, the $325,000 guaranteed PokerStars Winter Series.

The Winter Series event displaced PokerStars’ usual $45,000 guaranteed Sunday Special, replacing it with a $55,000 guaranteed event at the same buy-in. PokerStars pitched the guarantee almost perfectly, comfortably exceeding its promise and delivering a final prize pool of just over $60,000.

Full year revenues for 2017 have now been published by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) and they confirm that PokerStars had a good year, keeping well ahead of its competitors.

Nevertheless, New Jersey cash game traffic was down 8.9 percent compared to 2016 (Source: PokerIndustryPro). The decline didn’t appear to have a deleterious effect on total revenues.

The DGE reported $245.6 million in gross gaming revenue for the year almost 25 percent up on 2016 ($196.7 million). Within that figure, online poker is a tiny proportion, accounting for $1.9 million in revenues for December 2017 while online casino games pulled in almost ten times as much with $18.8 million.

And so to US Poker’s detailed weekly look back at the cash game and tournament trends in the New Jersey online poker market.

New Jersey’s online poker operators

New Jersey has seven online poker sites operating on four separate networks.

During the week of January 9 – January 15, New Jersey online poker sites averaged 284 cash game players, a loss of 4.7 percent over the previous week.

Peak traffic numbers were around 697 players, exactly the same as last week.

Here’s how those players are distributed across the four online poker networks.

*Cash game traffic data provided by PokerScout.com. Collected on January 16, 2017.

Borgata/MGM/partypoker

Seven-day rolling cash game traffic data:

  • Seven-day rolling peak traffic average: 198 cash game players – down 0.7 percent compared to the previous seven days

WSOP-888

Seven-day rolling cash game traffic data:

  • Seven-day rolling peak traffic average: 244 cash game players – up 17.9 percent compared to the previous seven days

PokerStars NJ

Seven-day rolling cash game traffic data:

  • Seven-day rolling peak traffic average: 242 cash game players – down 12.9 percent compared to the previous seven days

Pala Poker

  • Platform provider: Pala
  • Sites in network: PalaPoker

Seven-day rolling cash game traffic data:

  • Seven-day rolling peak traffic average: 12.8 cash game players – up 6.7 percent compared to the previous seven days.

Evaluating cash game traffic trends

The standout performance of the week came from WSOP/888 which managed to average over 92 occupied seats at its cash game tables. As mentioned above, at peak times, the poker room even managed to beat PokerStars from January 12 to 15.

PokerStars itself found retaining traffic difficult against the attractions promoted for its Winter Series of tournaments, But the Winter Series didn’t get into its swing until January 14, so not all of the 13 percent decline in traffic can be laid at its door.

Partypoker/Borgata also felt the cold, with average occupied cash game table seats down around 12 percent on the week. Like WSOP/888, partypoker managed to maintain its peak time traffic numbers, but the average outside of those hours was disappointing.

PalaPoker consistently manages to fill a couple of tables during peak hours, but outside of these times, its cash game tables remain deserted. This has a brutal impact on its average traffic which remains only slightly above one occupied seat on a 24/7 basis.

Tournament Report: A look at the Sunday Majors

Three of the four online poker networks host a signature Sunday tournament:

  • The Borgata/partypoker/MGM online poker network offers a $40,000 guarantee tournament. The tournament has a $215 buy-in.
  • The WSOP.com and 888 network also host a $215 buy-in, $40,000 guaranteed tournament that it’s dubbed, “The Warrior.”
  • PokerStars NJ hosts the Sunday Special, a $200 buy-in with a guarantee of $45,000, which didn’t run this week in favor of a special tournament.

*Pala Poker doesn’t offer a signature Sunday tournament at this time.

Pala has introduced its largest guaranteed tournaments yet with a thrice weekly $2,000 Guaranteed Pala Mega. The buy-in is $30, and the events run on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday each week at 7.30 p.m.

Major tournament results for January 7, 2018

All the major sites managed to avoid overlays on their Sunday Majors.

WSOP/888 just managed to squeak past its $40,000 guarantee by a slim $600. Borgata/partypoker was much more comfortable with a prize pool of $42,400 for its $40k guaranteed event.

The big winner was PokerStars which managed to attract 323 runners for its Winter Series Sunday Special which offered a $55,000 guarantee, $10,000 above its standard Sunday $45,000 guaranteed event.

Exceeding $60,000 even if by only $68, made for a nice headline prize pool for PokerStars. It took the risk of holding the first New Jersey tournament series of 2018 early in the year, and it is now reaping the benefits.

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 events:

And here’s a look at the total prize-pool for each tournament:

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