On March 16, the PokerStars New Jersey online poker site will go live. Over the first five days, the site will be limited in its hours of operation and traffic as it goes through the “soft launch” phase.
Here’s what you need to know about the soft launch period and PokerStars’ return to New Jersey.
What is a soft launch?
The soft launch period is not unique to PokerStars. It’s a standard policy required by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement that every new site in the market must go through. During the soft launch phase, the DGE is looking to make sure the site’s software is functioning properly and the site is capable of meeting the rigorous regulatory demands imposed by the DGE.
During the soft launch, PokerStars traffic will be capped at 500 players, and hours of operation will be limited to:
- March 16 – 17: Games at PokerStars NJ will run from 4 pm – Midnight
- March 18: Games at PokerStars NJ will run from 8 am – Midnight
- March 19 – 20: Games at PokerStars NJ will be available 24 hours a day
If all goes well during the soft launch, PokerStars will officially launch on March 21.
What you need to know about PokerStars New Jersey
The player pool will be relatively small
The most notable difference former PokerStars players will experience is the simple fact that they will not be playing against thousands of players from around the globe at PokerStars NJ. Only players within New Jersey’s borders will be allowed to play at the site.
Because of the liquidity constraints, the Sunday Million will not be on the tournament schedule in New Jersey, but the site will have several major tournaments to choose from with more reasonable (based on the potential traffic) guaranteed prize pools.
Former PokerStars (and perhaps Full Tilt Poker) players can use a “Quick Account Creation” which allows them to migrate a lot of their former details to their new New Jersey account., as well as gain VIP benefits.
Quick Account Creation requires the player to do the following, but won’t be available until the site launches on March 16:
- Login using your existing account User ID and password
- Review the on-screen information before you choose to proceed
- Press ‘Create Account on PokerStars NJ’
- You will see confirmation that your account was successfully created
- If you logged in from PokerStars NJ software, you will be prompted to login to your new account, using the same User ID and password
- If you logged in from another PokerStars software version, you will be prompted to upgrade the software version to PokerStars NJ
- Upon login, you will be asked to acknowledge that you are at least 21 years of age and that you agree with the End User License Agreement
- In order to play for real money, you will be required to complete electronic account verification. For your convenience, your personal details from your old account will be pre-populated for quick registration.
Important caveat: Don’t migrate your account if you plan on playing outside of New Jersey!
If you do, your global account will be closed, and you’ll have to create a new global account. If you plan on playing both globally, and in New Jersey, it’s best to create a new account from scratch in the Garden State and leave your global account as is.
Finally, the Quick Account Creation option is only available until May 31.
VIP Program adjustments
As Robert DellaFave notes in his must-read comprehensive breakdown of the PokerStars VIP rewards program, in most cases players will receive slightly less rakeback than they would if they reached the corresponding VIP level at PokerStars’ global site, but, the requirements to reach each VIP level have been drastically reduced at the upper levels of the VIP ladder at PokerStars NJ, almost certainly because of the liquidity constraints the New Jersey market creates.
Here’s a comparison of the PokerStars New Jersey VIP Program and the Global VIP Program.
Furthermore, as I alluded to above, PokerStars will reward former players who use the Quick Account Creation feature with a VIP status based on your play history. “We will credit your new account with a VIP status, play money chips balance and StarsCoins (formerly FPPs) based on your historic play,” PokerStars has stated.