The Borgata uses the same software as Party Poker and the two sites share a player pool – but offer some unique promotions and rewards for players.
Learn more at BorgataPoker.com.
Review updated July 9th, 2014.
As Party / Borgata share player liquidity and a software platform, they are graded identically on most points.
The one area where the rooms differ: Promotions. But even there, you’ll still find substantial overlap.
|Party / Borgata||B-||C / C+||C||D-||C+|
All NJ online poker sites have seen traffic drop over the last few months. But Borgata’s online poker room has been hit harder than some of the competition.
The market share for Borgata has dropped as well. The room once controlled some 50% of the market for online poker in New Jersey, and is now closer to 40% of the total play.
What can you expect with the current traffic levels at BorgataPoker online?
Grade (last review grade in parenthesis): B- (B)
Borgata Poker offers new players at the site a 100% match bonus of their first deposit, with a max bonus of $600. Details:
Borgata recently added Sit & Go Leaderboards. From now until August 10, SNG grinders on Borgata and Party will be playing for their share of an additional $2,000 in cash per week.
Other promotions of note include Borgata’s The Grind.
Borgata’s player loyalty program is severely lacking. The top reward for players who hit the highest tiers: 15 percent cashback bonus or a paltry 5.3 percent direct conversion.
Grade: Party B (C), Borgata B- (C+)
Since my last review, there have been some positives and negatives to report.
Positive: Players can now view individual tables on Borgata. And adding SNGs to the Android app for Borgata is a win.
Negative: Players are still waiting on simple upgrades such as wait lists. And client stability / functionality remains inconsistent on enough levels to frustrate players – even those now conditioned to accept some level of baked-in frustration when playing at regulated online poker sites in NJ.
Grade: C (C-)
CS at Party / Borgata has improved incrementally since my last review:
But major hurdles to effective customer service remain:
Grade: D- (F)
Borgata leads the New Jersey online poker market, but that lead is precarious. And it’s threatened by not only competition from WSOP.com and the impending entrance of PokerStars into NJ, but by self-inflicted wounds at Party / Borgata.
Without a substantial push to address some of these fundamental issues, it won’t be long before my review focuses on what Borgata can do to reclaim – as opposed to simply hold – their spot at the top of NJ’s online poker ladder.
Grade: C+ (C)
Cash-game traffic on Party Poker NJ is down nearly 30 percent over the past six weeks, with the average number of players online during peak hours down from approximately 1500 last month to 1100 – 1300 in April.
Players can expect to find anywhere from 80 – 90 cash game tables running on weeknights, most of the NLHE variety. Stakes range from $.01 / $.02 to $25 / $50 with the majority of active tables featuring blinds in the $.50 / $1 to $2 / $4 area.
As a mode of comparison, six weeks ago it wasn’t uncommon to find over 100 concurrent cash games running. But the last time I’ve seen Party NJ reached the century mark was minutes before it awarded the grand prize for its 30,000,000th hand promo.
Sit & Go volume is also down, with an average of 30 low-to-mid stakes 6-max games running at peak hours, as compared to over 50 two months prior.
For the most part, Party’s daily tournaments meet or exceed their guarantees, but overall, entry numbers into the network’s biggest weekly event – the $50k guarantee – is trending downward.
On two occasions, Party NJ replaced its $50k with a $100k. The site’s first venture into the land of six-figures was widely successful, drawing a record-breaking 768 runners. The second, not so much.
There are a multitude of speculative reasons as to why Party / Borgata stomached such significant traffic losses, but suffice to say, the network’s biggest issues can be at least partially attributed to laziness. More on this later.
Despite all this, Party / Borgata still boasts the highest traffic and market share of any NJ-based poker site, and that’s still worth something.
Grade (last review grade in parenthesis): B (A-)
In terms of final table payouts, Party / Borgata boasts the largest weekly prizes, with at least one player walking away with a $10,000 payday each week. That being said, their tournament payout structures are still flatter than what most regulars would like to see.
Party’s high player volume functions as a double-edged sword. The network rarely fails to meet the guarantees for its daily tournaments. That’s normally a good thing, but considering that almost every other NJ site is forced to lay money out of their own pockets, it lessens the overall value to be had by playing in a Party NJ tournament.
That wouldn’t be so bad if Party / Borgata did anything to differentiate itself from the pack in terms of player kickbacks. But for the most part, the network’s promotions are unimaginative in nature.
Borgata offers a $600 first-time deposit match bonus, which is leaps and bounds better than Party’s own paltry $100 new player bonus. Most of the network’s other promotions come off as contrived and underwhelming.
Both Party and Borgata should be recognized for their recent efforts to bridge the gap between themselves and the Borgata’s brick and mortar casino via cross-promotional tournaments. And the upcoming NJCOP should provide a much-needed boost to network traffic, if not the entire state’s iGaming market.
Yet, it’s difficult to look past the network’s high rake/entry fees, and low rakeback bonus structure (15 percent at highest tier on Borgata, 10 on Party), and assert with confidence that the network offers good player value. It doesn’t.
And the introduction of new features that only affect hardcore players, such as Party’s Paladium Lounge, does little to rectify the underlying issue.
Grade: Party C (B-), Borgata: C+ (B)
The worthiness of a gaming site should be determined by its ability to provide a exemplary playing experience, not its looks.
There’s no denying that Party Poker NJ and its sister site are both modernistic and sexy, but beneath the surface lies the ugly truth – Party’s software is a riddle of bugs and non-optimized code.
It’s utterly confounding how, despite markedly lower traffic, the software continues to suffer from a variety of crippling issues. Just to name a few:
Oh and lest I forget, Party’s mobile application is a bare-bones hack job, hardly worthy of serious consideration.
Like most, I initially marveled at Party’s redesign. But now that its underlying ugliness has been unveiled, I marvel no more.
Grade: C- (B-)
If I were to apply the age old adage “if you don’t have something good to say, don’t say anything at all” to Party NJ’s customer service team, this section would be devoid of words.
Slow, uninformed, and curt, the team’s most glaring flaw is its lack of empathy. Player concerns are often brushed aside, even those worthy of being addressed.
For instance, several individuals in my inner poker circle called in to inquire as to why their match bonuses expired. After waiting an exorbitant amount of time to be connected to an operator, they were abruptly informed that the bonus expires after a mere two weeks.
Generally speaking, I’m a staunch advocate of reading the fine print, especially when it comes to poker promotions. But Party’s reps should at least have the common courtesy not to direct blame toward its customers, which is exactly what happened. “You should have known better” is not an appropriate response.
Even worse, the network’s representatives possess little knowledge of poker. One would think that a working knowledge of the game would be a prerequisite for serving as an agent for an online poker site.
Factor in the hour-long wait times and frequent issue escalations, and it becomes clear that Party’s customer service is hardly worthy of a passing grade.
Grade: F (D-)
There’s a reason why Party Poker was once the number one poker network in the United States, and it had little to do with its special events. Should the network continue to ignore the underlying issues with its software, tournament schedule and customer service team, I would expect traffic numbers to fall off into the abyss.
As the most recognizable poker brand and brick and mortar casino in NJ, the Borgata, in accordance with its online poker partner bwin.party, needs to set the standard to which all other poker sites aspire, and fast.
Grade: C (B-)
Promotions vary between the two partners, but not so much that the sites would benefit from being viewed as two separate entities.
Fans of PokerStars will be disappointed to know that tournament and cash game turnouts on PartyPoker pale in comparison to their pre-Black Friday counterparts. Given New Jersey’s relatively small population compared with the majority of the free world, that’s to be expected.
That being said, Party still brings in a decent number of poker enthusiasts, and regularly fulfills its relatively lofty guarantees.
Cash games run 24/7, which can’t be said about most other NJ-based sites, and Sit and Go’s fill up on a somewhat reliable basis.
Here’s how the numbers break down during peak weekday hours:
Sunday’s turnouts tend to be somewhat better. On its busiest day, I’ve seen nearly 7,000 players online, but those days have seemingly passed.
And thanks to recent changes to its Sunday 50k Guarantee, expect the week’s largest tournament prize pool to regularly eclipse $60,000.
One point of contention is that Party’s nightly tournament schedule is largely uneven. Most tournaments feature $1-$10 buy-ins, occasionally $20. The next jump up is to $100. What about the mid-stakes players?
At least the issue is being partially rectified, evident by Party’s Daily Majors page.
Players can expect nearly all of PartyPoker’s guarantees to be met, including those for its higher buy-in tournaments. Overlays are nearly nowhere to be found, SNG fees are on the high side and cash game rakes are not quite offensive.
What that ultimately suggests is that Party boasts bigger prize pools than its competitors, but less value.
In keeping with its casual friendly motif, Party pays out an astounding 20%, or more, of its tournament fields. That’s good news for players satisfied with a min-cash, but terrible for players who rely on their big scores to be, well, big.
That being said, the bar for quality has been set fairly low, especially at the smaller stakes. Players who limp every hand, 10x raises pre-flop – that sort of thing is more common than what I would normally expect.
Then again, some of the same guys that play in my weekly home game did mention that they recently created an online poker account. Names will be held in private.
Party’s promotions are rather lackluster. New depositors are entitled to a measly $100 match bonus, and the newly launched Dream Seat Series is a mere novelty promo.
Perhaps the best thing going for Party right now is its clever Remission Bonus promo, which grants special bonuses to those finally receiving remittance from FTP. Think of it as Party’s way of saying “Regulated poker is good.”
Promos are where Borgata Poker truly differentiates itself from its big brother. Forays like Mega Missions and a first-time deposit match up to $600 are two firm examples of how Borgata does a little bit more to attract players looking for a greater return on their investment.
On a side, both PartyPoker and Borgata Poker are making a concerted effort to promote their fast forward variant. Problem is, fast forward poker relies heavily on traffic – a 7-day average of ~200 cash game players just isn’t going to cut it.
PartyPoker’s sleek, newly redesigned interface looks significantly better than it functions. Latency issues plague the client, graphics sometimes fail to populate correctly and icons often need to be clicked multiple times before a page loads properly.
As far as disconnects due to geolocation issues, they’re noticeably down. Certain players still experience problems, but they’re far less prevalent then they were just a couple of months back.
Unfortunately, the same praise cannot be granted to Party’s customer service department, which is abysmal. It’s bad enough that it takes upwards of an hour to reach someone, but when you finally do, the representative will often tell you how you’re the one causing the issue.
After my first phone session with Party’s representatives I was nearly convinced that someone was playing a cruel joke on me. After my second, I promptly called the state’s DMV and Unemployment offices, thanking them for the “short” wait times.
Live chat isn’t much better, nor are the answers to common questions offered by Party’s representative on its Two Plus Two forum.
But at least when I requested a cash-out by check, it arrived in a very timely fashion. I would have requested an instant e-check, but apparently that’s not allowed unless you already made a deposit via the same method.
Party / Borgata are still the go-to sites for players seeking bigger paydays. They’re also far more aesthetically pleasing than any other NJ-based poker site. And SNGs, MTT and cash games can be found with relative ease. Yet its laggy software, poor customer service and pedestrian promotions could be contributing to its steadily declining numbers.
Borgata uses the same software platform as PartyPoker NJ. Players can access the Borgata’s online poker room in the following ways:
The Borgata shares its player pool with PartyPoker NJ. That means players at one site see the same games and opponents as someone at the other – only the branding, promotions and a handful of tournaments offered to players differ.
Currently PartyPoker NJ offers cash games, sngs and multi-table tournament play. You can choose from NLHE, Limit Hold’em, 7 Card Stud and PLO at Borgata online.
Plat at BorgataPoker.com.
What you get
With a ceiling of $600, BorgataPoker.com’s opening bonus ranks right around average relative to other opening bonuses in New Jersey. However, the quick clear rate of 50% ranks near the top.
Another nice aspect of the Borgata’s opening bonus is that it clears in increments based on the amount deposited (in 10% chunks), making it the most individualized bonus in New Jersey. This is virtually offset by the most negative aspect of the welcome bonus, which is the brief 45 day expiration period.
To clear the full $600 from Borgata Poker in New Jersey you’ll need to accrue 2,400 iRP’s, a number that amounts to contributing $1,200 in rake at the site in a month and a half. Most casual players will likely find that number unattainable, but any low-to-mid stakes grinder should have little trouble clearing the full bonus before it expires.
What you get
Borgata’s online VIP scheme is called iRewards, and is a tiered VIP scheme where the more you play the higher your rewards level. To increase your rank in the program you will have to reach monthly thresholds (or a quarterly threshold for Black Label Plus).
Here is a look at the five different levels of the iRewards Program and what it will take to achieve each rank:
You will earn 2 iRP’s from BorgataPoker.com for every $1 you contribute to the rake.
Unlike some programs, each level in the iRewards scheme seems fairly attainable. Consider that it only takes $1,250 in contributed rake to maintain Black Label status; a number that equates to roughly 1,000 to 5,000 hands per month depending on the stakes and formats you play.
Of all the VIP programs out there, iRewards has the largest selection of redemption options, letting players convert their points into tournament entries, prize-packages, or merchandise in the iRewards online store. In addition to turning their iRP’s into tournament tickets, buying packages at the Borgata or purchasing merchandise, Borgata offers three ways for players to turn their comp points into cash:
Here is a look at the cashback conversion rates for those three option at each level in the iRewards program:
Red Label Plus
Convert to Cash = 4% cashback
Black Label Elite (Quarterly Tier):
*Keep in mind you will need to clear the bonus so this return is not absolute
For complete details on the VIP program and current promotions, visit BorgataPoker.com.
It is weren’t for PartyPoker NJ allowing Skrill deposits and withdrawals, Borgata’s cashier would easily reside as the head of NJ’s pack. As it stands, it’s still top class, just not quite valedictorian.
Instant e-checks are still one of the fastest and most efficient ways of transferring funds onto your Borgata online account.
But if you don’t have a checking account then one of Borgata’s second-tier deposit methods - namely Neteller or the pre-paid option – are probably your best bets.
Visa and MasterCard transactions are also an option, although attempts to load via credit and debit cards are often met with rejection. This has more to do with the issuing bank’s antiquated gaming policies than it does with Borgata.
Of course if you live near the casino, there’s no faster way to get your funds online than to load them directly at the cage.
Borgata’s withdrawal times are by no means the fastest, but what they lack in speediness they make up for in consistency. You can also add “convenience” to that list, as unlike WSOP.com and 888, you won’t need to upload copies of your personal documents before making a withdrawal from Borgata’s online poker room.