If the past 12 days have been any indicator, the concluding events of the PartyPoker/Borgata-hosted Garden State Super Series IV should set a new bar for online poker tournament excellence in New Jersey.
Thus far, the aggressive series has defied expectations, outperforming the high standards set by the GSSS III in October, and effectively putting to rest the sour memory of the first two iterations of the series – both of which were hindered by crippling technical blunders.
GSSS IV highlights so far
Despite guaranteeing a higher total prize pool ($1 million vs. $750k) and boasting 19 more events, the GSSS IV is faring better than the GSSS III on an event-by-event basis.
- Of the 47 events that have reached their end thus far, only two have posted overlays. Both overlays were under $2,000.
- Eleven tournaments (23 percent) have exceeded their guarantees by 50 percent or more.
- The two biggest events on the schedule so far have made the grade, with the inaugural weekend’s $75,000 guarantee generating a $94,400 prize pool and last Sunday’s $100k drawing 533 entries and exceeding its minimum benchmark by $6,600.
- Non-NLHE formats have performed better than expected, with all PLO, PLO8, 7-Stud and Fixed Limit events exceeding their guarantees.
The right formula
In my estimation, the reasons behind the series’ success to date are hardly a mystery.
For one, the seamless running of the GSSS III has restored player confidence in the brand – confidence that was shaken badly when the Main Events of the past two series were hampered by server shutdowns and widespread disconnects.
Secondly, the network has (finally) gleaned a much stronger sense of what players want, evidenced by more event qualifiers, and improved tournament blind/payout structures. Many of these changes are the direct result of player feedback.
Continuing the trend set by the GSSS III, the GSSS IV does not overlap with a major live Open event at the Borgata. Although cross-promoting live and online events probably seemed like a good idea initially (if only because of the influx of out-of-state players), I’m guessing that players focused the overwhelming majority of their attention on the juicy live cash games and the Open itself – not the smallish online MTTs.
Separation of live and online has proven a more effective strategy.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the higher prevalence of reentry tournaments has enabled the network to be more aggressive with its guarantees. Exceedingly long reentry periods (we’re talking over two hours in some cases) certainly don’t hurt either, especially in markets constrained by population, like New Jersey.
What’s next for the GSSS IV?
This Sunday will feature some of the series’ biggest events to date.
First up is GSSS #58 – a $1,000+60 buy-in, $75,000 high roller reentry event. The only other event that featured a buy-in nearly this high (GSSS #12 – $500+30, $20,000 Gtd.) performed admirably, crushing its rather modest guarantee by 60 percent.
Then there’s the Main Event, which like last time around, is a $200+15, $150,000 guarantee. Generally speaking, players come out of the woodwork for NJ events this big, and I would expect the Main to come at least close to fulfilling its guarantee.
For players on a tighter budget, there are a variety of $50+5 events slated for Friday through Sunday (seven in total). Those who don’t want to spend even that much are encouraged to sign up for GSSS qualifiers, which start at as little as $2 or 20 loyalty points, and seemingly run throughout most daytime and evening hours.