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NJ iGaming Weekly: Enticing Promotions, January Chill Drive Players to NJ Online Poker Sites

New Jersey Online Poker Report
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New Jersey kicked off its first calendar year in the iGaming biz in grand fashion, largely due to the roll-out of several attractive promotions.

It could have also had something to do with the 6+ inches of snow that fell over the latter part of last week.

Whatever the reason, New Jersey’s faithful created more than 22,000 new iGaming accounts last week, marking a notable spike over the prior week’s comparatively modest gain of 16, 285.

It was the first time since December 1 that the market exhibited a week-over-week gain.

In total, approximately 150,000 NJ Internet gambling accounts have been created since online providers first opened their virtual doors, resulting in record breaking tournament turnouts.

Promotions: WSOP.com nails it on the head

As implied by their chosen profession, serious poker players thrive on competition. And in turn, they are attracted to sites that reward top performing players.

Yet until now, leaderboards have been noticeably absent from NJ poker sites.

WSOP.com changed that on January 5 by rolling out three new leaderboard promotions .

Catering to cash-game, MTT and SNG grinders alike, WSOP’s January’s leaderboard series will award $22,500 in weekly prize money to the site’s top performers.

Cash-game grinders will receive the lion’s share of the prize pool ($15,000), while MTT specialists will compete for $5,000.

SNG players drew the shortest straw and will only play for a total of $2,500 weekly, divided among three buy-in tiers. I’m assuming this is because Sit N Gos on WSOP rarely get off.

Upping the ante even further, anyone who either signed up for WSOP.com between November 21 and December 9, or who makes a deposit before January 16 will receive a ticket to January 19th’s $250,000 Invitational Freeroll.

The freeroll is the inaugural event of this year’s WSOP.com Online Championships.

Furthermore, those who play in any Championship event will be invited to play in a second $250k freeroll (February 2), marking the largest cash giveaway of online poker’s brief history in New Jersey.

Will WSOP eclipse NJ.PartyPoker.com?

WSOP’s stellar promotional offerings should entice enough players away from NJ.PartyPoker.com to at least close the gap.

But I’ll take a gamble and say that Party will reign supreme until WSOP patches its geo-targeting software and revisits its much-maligned disconnection policy.

WSOP’s policy of folding a disconnected player’s hand mid-hand wouldn’t be such a big deal if its software didn’t wrongfully boot players offline.

But as it stands, players who use WSOP have to be wary of losing their connection, and subsequently their money, every time they’re involved in a big hand. Aren’t bad beats enough?

If WSOP, and NJ as a whole, doesn’t get its act together regarding geo-location soon, it’s very well possible that the state will lose revenue to unregulated US-facing sites like Bovada.

I speak at great length about WSOP’s issues in my NJ poker site review piece.

Other notable January promotions

The only other sites offering new promotions worth mentioning are Party and Borgata.

BorgataPoker.com

Mega Missions II is essentially a tiered rakeback rewards system tailored towards high-volume players.

Those who pay more than $15,000 in rake and tournament fees during the month of January will receive about 10 percent additional rakeback. Casual players will be lucky to get 2 percent.

The promotion looks a whole lot better on paper than it is in practice.

NJ.PartyPoker.com

Party’s New Year’s Resolution promo tasks players with a series of objectives – some based around volume, others around winning with certain starting hands.

Players who complete the mission will be entered into a freeroll featuring a WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open package as its top prize.

I commend the New Year’s Resolution mission for its novelty and tie-in to a live tournament event. But most players will probably be indifferent to a promo that only really rewards one player.

Traffic: Upward movement across the board

According to PokerScout, all but one of New Jersey’s listed poker sites featured notable gains in  cash-game volume.

24-hour peak volume and 7-day averages listed below:

  • Party Borgata (NJ): 626 (280 average) – Average volume is up over 16 percent from last week.
  • WSOP.com: 392 (170 average) – An increase of over 13 percent.
  • All American (888poker): 216 (110 average) – An impressive 37.5 percent increase. This follows a 28 percent increase from the week prior.
  • Ultimate Poker: 42 (20 average) – No real change to speak of.

888poker‘s extraordinary gains are likely due to its Winter Sale event.

But now that the event has ended, did 888 gather enough momentum to hold on to their new cash-game participants, or will its plethora of server issues and lack of a VIP schema cause it to flounder?

I, for one, expect to see a drop-off next week.

Other quips

  • In an interview for CNBC‘s “Squawk Box,” Borgata COO Tom Ballance noted that the “majority of players who are playing online have not been to Borgata in well over a year.” He also points out that over 20,000 accounts have been created for Borgata operated gaming sites since November’s iGaming launch. Interview excerpt here.
  • Tournament grinder Jake Perry (JakeP474 on both WSOP and Party) of Boonton, New Jersey nearly captured back-to-back majors, finishing 1st in last week’s WSOP $25,000 Weekly Sunday Guarantee and sixth in this Sunday’s 50k Guarantee on Party Borgata. Run better Jake!

2014 has started off with a bang, but how will players respond to WSOP and Borgata’s new promos? And what about 888poker’s lack thereof?

With nearly a dozen states closely watching the progress of New Jersey’s iGaming market, New Jersey’s successes and missteps may pave the way for how other states conduct their own operations in the future.

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Robert DellaFave
- Robert DellaFave is a game designer and avid poker player. He writes for several publications centered on legal US online poker and the regulated online gambling industries in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.