PokerStars NJ has just released the schedule for the upcoming NJSCOOP series. The event features a prizepool guarantee of just over $1 million, down from last year’s $1.3 million. So, why is the guarantee lower?
After all, the New Jersey Spring Championship of Online Poker, or NJSCOOP, is PokerStars NJ’s premier tournament series. The series, which launched in 2016, has never featured a prizepool guarantee below $1 million.
This year’s version will be no different. However, each successive year of the series has come with a $100,000 increase in the prizepool guarantee.
That’s no longer true. In fact, this year’s guarantee gives back the guarantees from the first three editions of the tournament.
This year’s NJSCOOP is certainly not a smaller series
To be fair, it would make sense for the guarantee to reduce if the 2018 series fell short of expectations.
Unfortunately, that simply didn’t happen. On the contrary, the 2018 NJSCOOP exceeded its guarantees handily, with more than $1.5 million in prizepools paid out.
Last year’s event also featured two fewer tournaments than this year’s edition. PokerStars actually brought the total to 82 events this year.
So, the reduction is not simply due to a smaller series. The guarantees are simply smaller on average.
The Main Event is major source of decline
One of the top sources of the reduction is the Main Event – High itself. Last year’s edition promised $200,000 for players to win; this year’s only carries a $130,000 guarantee.
Now, to be fair, this event actually did miss its guarantee last year. However, it only missed by roughly $4,000, not the $70,000 margin used for this year’s Main Event.
Occam’s Razor is in effect
While the first three months of 2019 have shown modest monthly climbs from the last months of 2018, online poker remains a wounded animal. According to the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement, New Jersey online poker sites have managed returns between $1.8 million and $1.9 million each month. Those numbers are roughly equivalent to the same months in 2018, but are a significant reduction from prior years.
So, it would make sense that less money means a lower guarantee. Maybe PokerStars reduced the guarantee because it fears fewer players will show up. Even if the overlays are small, PokerStars is not in the business of putting up its own cash on tournaments.
Poor revenue doesn’t necessarily mean poor turnout for NJSCOOP
Of course, last year, which was the worst year for New Jersey online poker ever, also featured the largest NJSCOOP ever to run. And, in that, there is hope.
Guarantees aside, it’s always the players who decide what kind of tournament series it is. Hopefully, this year’s reduced guarantee is simply an abundance of caution from the worldwide leader.