From November 28 through December 28, players will enjoy a bounty of goodwill, namely in the form of daily, weekly and monthly promotional events.
Throughout the holiday-themed event, PokerStars will add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the pot, spread across thousands of individual prizes. That would prove a generous offer in any market, but really shines in one as niche as New Jersey.
Here’s a breakdown of the upcoming events.
All-In Shootout Freerolls
Each Sunday from now until Christmas Day, PokerStars will be hosting a $15,000 All-In Shootout Freeroll. For players unfamiliar with the format, it’s essentially a lottery disguised as an online poker tournament.
As the name suggests, players are all-in every hand until a winner is determined. Payouts follow a similar structure as a regular tournament, in that there are multiple prizes, with the top finishers receiving the lion’s share.
In order to qualify for a weekly shootout, players will have to first accumulate 10 VIP Player Points (VPPs).
VPPs are accumulated at a rate of approximately 5.5 VPPs per $1 paid in rake and tournament fees. Thus, earning a ticket will require a breezy rake commitment of about $1.81, which is the equivalent of playing three $10 Spin & Go’s or grinding a few orbits at the $0.25/$0.50 cash game tables.
Upon completing the challenge, PokerStars automatically registers players for the next shootout. What’s more, they won’t have to be present at the table or even online to participate.
Given the low entry threshold, and high potential upside (first place is $2,500), it would behoove the value seeking grinder to check this offer out.
Mega Cash Bonus
Mega Cash Bonus is a deposit bonus that bears little similarity to the match bonuses NJ online poker players have grown accustomed to.
Once weekly from November 28 – December 25, players that make a qualifying deposit of $30 or more using the bonus code CASHMEGA will receive, not a percentage match, but an all-cash reward, with prize amounts determined randomly.
Probability table is as follows:
- $10,000 cash reward: 0.04 percent
- $5,000: 0.06 percent
- $1,000: 0.12 percent
- $100: 0.5 percent
- $20: 2.5 percent
- $10: 26.78 percent
- $5: 70 percent
The average promotional value of the bonus comes in at $15.38, or 51.3 percent cashback on a $30 deposit. Granted, the prizes are heavily weighted toward $5 and $10, but there’s always that chance.
Again, players can receive this bonus on four different occasions, beginning this week. As per PokerStars, bonus rewards will hit player accounts within minutes.
Carnival of Tournaments
From December 5 – 18, tournament players will receive a slew of added incentives to grind out their favorite nightly MTTs:
- The Daily Bigs and The Hot Turbos will see their guarantees increased anywhere from 25 – 100 percent, depending on the day of the week (Sunday tournaments will see the biggest increases).
- “Carnival” variety tournaments will run once nightly at 8:00 p.m local time. PokerStars will spread these MTTs across a variety of game types, most of which aren’t on the nightly schedule.
- Nightly Stars players can win a share of $10,000 in randomly added tournament ticket prizes, just for participating.
- On December 18, PokerStars will sponsor the Carnival of Tournaments Main Event. This MTT bares similarities to the operator’s Sunday Special, in that the buy-in is set at $200 — main difference being that the guarantee has been doubled to $100,000.
PokerStars has also hinted at other special tournaments and surprises, including Heads-Up and High Roller tournaments, as well as Hybrid MTTs that award tickets.
Milestone Hands is arguably the most popular of all PokerStars’ promotions, possibly with the exception of Happy Hours. According to PokerScout data, it’s not uncommon for peak liquidity on dot-com to spike upwards of 65 percent on days when Milestone Hands is running.
And while we don’t necessarily expect the same kind of uptick in the NJ market, the promo will undoubtedly attract a healthy number of players to the ring and fast-fold tables.
From December 19 – 28, all players dealt into every 5,000th hand will receive $30 in cash. The monetary award of each milestone is much lower than on dot-com, but the length of the promotion is far longer.
PokerStars expects to deal at least 40 milestones per day, equating to $108,000 in total promotional value. Pretty generous for a market that struggles to gross $2 million per month.
Christmas Festival Big Monday
Big Monday is just as much a strategic move by PokerStars as it is a promotion. Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year, so PokerStars is (wisely) shifting all of its Sunday majors up a day.
To incentivize weekend grinders to log on, the guarantees for the site’s five biggest majors will be hoisted by 20 percent.
Impact on the market
After a mammoth October, which saw PokerStars ride its aggressive (and successful) NJCOOP series to a $1 million month, activity on the site has trailed off. Presently, cash game traffic on PokerStars lags slightly behind WSOP / 888 Poker (data provided by Poker Industry Pro via PokerScout).
Tournament traffic too, has been somewhat pedestrian, despite player-friendly gimmicks such as the Half Price specials that ran last week.
However, if dot-com trends are any indicator, PokerStars NJ is about to have its strongest month ever. In 2015, the December Festival on dot-com resulted in a liquidity spike of 24 percent.
Thus, we should expect Stars NJ to sail by the $1 million benchmark again for December. That being said, all the giveaways should make for some pretty low margins, if not negative net revenue for the operator.
It is presumed that PokerStars hopes December’s liquidity gains (both in terms of players and cash), will propel it to strong wins in January and February.
But that may just prove wishful thinking, as historically, NJ online poker revenues tend to sink following promotions, often below pre-promotional levels. But if there’s any event that could result in more sustained gains, it’s Christmas Festival.