Zoom Poker finds its footing on PokerStars NJ
Online Poker Report

PokerStars Launches Zoom Poker In New Jersey, But Can It Thrive In A Limited Market?

PokerStars Zoom Poker NJ
After some early reluctance, PokerStars has rolled-out Zoom Poker in the New Jersey online poker market. The fast-fold format went live across a swatch of No-Limit Hold’em stakes earlier this month.

Fast-fold formats have had trouble finding their footing in New Jersey, due primarily to challenges posed by the market’s hard population cap.

Whether or not PokerStars NJ can buck the trend remains to be seen, but there appears to be reason for cautious optimism.

Zoom off to a mixed start

Initially restricted to $0.05/$0.10, Zoom was quickly expanded to include the $0.01/$0.02, $0.25/$0.50 and $1/$2 stakes. All games are six-handed affairs and the rake schedules are the same as they are for traditional games. A snapshot of current activity reveals some interesting, albeit early, trends:

  • So far, the only stake that is getting off with some regularity is $0.05/$0.10, with a player pool that hovers between 30 and 40 players during the afternoon hours, and shoots up past 60 at prime time. $0.01/$0.02 also sees some action, although not nearly as much.
  • The $0.25/$0.50 stake has struggled to gain traction, which comes as something of a surprise, considering traditional 50nl games are arguably the most popular on the site.
  • Less surprising, is that the $1/$2 Zoom tables resemble a ghost town. From what it seems, there are simply not enough active mid-stakes grinders on the site to support a stake-format combination that depends largely on an initial burst of liquidity.

Prior attempt at fast-fold in NJ falls flat

Despite the rather tepid reception, fast-fold is faring significantly better on PokerStars NJ than on Party/Borgata – the only other NJ operator to offer the format.

In the two-and-a-half years that Party/Borgata has supported fast-fold, I can recall just one brief period when the format generated any sort of interest at all – and that was during a fast-fold promotion held in 2014.

Since, the lobby has been a barren wasteland of inactivity.

Given this, and the fact that only a select few similarly sized international sites have had luck with the format, any fast-fold activity should be viewed as a win for PokerStars NJ.

Of course, the format is still a novelty in New Jersey, and it remains to be seen whether or not it has the pull to become a mainstay.

But smart money says it’ll stick around, for a couple of reasons:

  • The format is already surviving the worst of the seasonal downtrend.
  • Zoom Poker has proven its viability in other markets where PokerStars has a foothold, including the regional markets of Italy, France and Spain.

PokerStars NJ traffic climbs

The combination of the fast-fold launch and the onset of the site’s popular CardHunt promotion sent liquidity on PokerStars NJ soaring earlier this month.

According to Poker Industry Pro via PokerScout, 7-day average traffic ballooned 18 percent from May 31 to June 6. Liquidity has since faltered somewhat, but appears to now be stabilizing at just over 130 cash game players.

PokerStars NJ Graphic

These figures suggest that the recent changes at PokerStars are proving effective at driving players to the site.

What’s more, is that should the fast-fold format take hold, then the average player on the site will be seeing more hands, resulting in higher player value, and by extension, greater revenue for the operator.

The hope is that at least a portion of this windfall will go toward more recreational-player friendly promotions, like the aforementioned CardHunt.

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Robert DellaFave
- Robert DellaFave is a game designer and avid poker player. He writes for several online poker publications and dreams of one day programming a poker simulation clever enough to beat the pros. Read more by following @DivergentGames on Twitter.