For the first time in just over a year, the New Jersey iGaming partnership of Party Poker and BorgataPoker.com managed to host a tournament super series that wasn’t hampered by widespread technical issues.
However, it appears as though New Jersey players were slow to reinvest their faith in the struggling network, as the vast majority of the series’ events failed to reach their guarantee, with some of the more high-profile events not even coming close.
Overlays the name of the game
Since emerging in the US regulated online poker scene two winters ago, PartyPoker NJ has organized four tournament series, three of which have boasted $1 million guarantees.
Based solely on the percentage of tournaments that did not meet their guarantee, each series performed less admirably than the last, the NJCOP II being the worst of the lot. See chart below.
We notice that the inaugural NJCOP, which boasted several similarities to this year’s iteration (held during the same time of year, similar buy-ins/guarantees), featured significantly fewer overlays.
The first Garden State Super Series also fared reasonably well, especially when one considers that the Main Event and its surrounding tournaments were cancelled due to a cataclysmic system failure, and that the series featured a whopping 69 events over just 15 days, not to mention the largest guaranteed prize pool in NJ to date.
Party / Borgata proved undeterred by the GSSS’s failings, launching the equally ambitious GSSS II in January. Despite the usual cross-promotional ties to an Open event at the Borgata and cash game liquidity approaching its seasonal peak, the GSSS II was outdone by its predecessor, posting overlays in approximately one-third of its events.
A lack of faith in Party’s software was the most likely culprit accounting for the series’ difficulties. This trepidation on the part of players proved to be justified, as once again, the Main Events were tainted by widespread connectivity problems.
This time around, an alarming 77% of the 35 tournaments on the schedule failed to meet their minimum benchmark, including the $150,000 GTD Main Event ($28,000 overlay).
More noteworthy still, the overlay amounts appeared to bigger. Take for instance, Event #8, which featured a $6,765 overlay (45.1%) and Event #17, a modestly priced $10,000 GTD that came up nearly $3,100 short.
Was the NJCOP II a failure?
Not wholly. The turnouts for the NJCOP II appear worse on paper than they are in reality, for the following reasons:
- Seasonal downtrend: April is historically a down month for online poker. It’s difficult to generate sustained interest in a tournament series when most people have turned their attention outdoors.
- Ambition: The NJCOP II was by far the most ambitious tournament series held in New Jersey. Buy-ins ranged from $45 to $1,000 and the average guarantee was over $28,500. The only other series that matched this level of ambition was the inaugural NJCOP, but remember that was only 15 events – this was 35.
- Lack of faith: If players were hesitant to play in the GSSS II, they must have been downright scared to participate in the NJCOP II, fearing a third consecutive technical failure. Give Party / Borgata credit for its apparent willingness to take a financial hit in order to help restore its credibility.
To sum up, if looked at as either a stepping stone towards regaining player trust, and/or a testament to the network’s generosity, then the NJCOP II was something of a success, its only failure being monetary.
Admittedly, that’s a bit of an overly optimistic spin, but if the next tournament series lives up to fiscal expectations, then we’ll remember the NJCOP II as the turning point.
NJCOP II may have impacted cash game liquidity
On another (slightly) bright note, during the NJCOP II 11-day run, 7-day cash game averages on Party / Borgata rose from 113 to 123, representing a nearly 9% increase, this according to data provided by PokerScout.com.
However, it’s unlikely that the NJCOP II was the only variable driving the surge, as both the increased frequency of poker players in New Jersey to play in the Open and Party / Borgata’s promotional ties to the event undoubtedly drove traffic.
During an equivalent time frame, average traffic on competitor WSOP / 888 continued to slump, falling 178 to 173 (-3%), reinforcing the notion that Party / Borgata’s efforts did have a beneficial impact, however temporary it may be.
We just don’t know how much of that impact is a direct result of the NJCOP II.