Over the past seven days, New Jersey poker sites knowingly gave away more free cash and prizes than in the prior nine weeks combined.
I say “knowingly” because several big money promotions, including the culmination of Borgata / Party Poker’s New Jersey’s Next Poker Millionaire, were slated for last week.
That, and I have to believe most poker operators were prepared to cover some pretty hefty overlays, given the presence of football’s own Sunday Major – the Super Bowl.
Overall, cash-game and tournament turnouts were down across the board, leading me to wonder just how long NJ’s iGaming market can sustain its philanthropic ways before the well begins to run dry.
In terms of monetary rewards, the two biggest stories of the week were WSOP’s $250k Player’s Freeroll and New Jersey’s Next Poker Millionaire.
As the name implies, the former granted anyone who participated in a WSOP Online Championship event an entry into an exclusive freeroll event.
The ultimate winner, a player who goes by the handle “T1mB3y_B33F” received $51,250 for besting the 814 player field, merely $12,500 less than the first prize payout of the $530 NLH $250k Guarantee Main Event. The top six runners would all receive five-figure paydays.
But that was small potatoes compared to the $1 million prize won by Myroslaw Woroch (“onetime99”) of Cedar Knolls.
Woroch’s journey began some six weeks ago when he won entry to one of eight Next Poker Millionaire semi-finals via a 1 point tournament qualifier. Then, he bested a field of nearly 2,200 runners to reach the live finale, held at Borgata‘s brick and mortar casino on Saturday.
Woroch would compete against the seven other finalists in a single table SNG. Featuring 30-minute levels and 100 starting blinds the tournament structure resembled that of the $70 Midnight Madness at the Taj more than one carrying a $1 million top prize.
But I digress.
In what amounted to the biggest pay bubble in poker history (at least to my knowledge) Woroch would best second-place finisher Steven Edwards, bestowing him with $1 million in cash and prestigious tournament entries as well as the title of New Jersey’s Next Poker Millionaire.
Edwards would receive a comparatively paltry $25k for his commendable runner-up finish.
Full details of the tournament, including hand highlights and payouts can be found here.
As expected, the first Garden State-hosted Super Bowl caused a dramatic decrease in Sunday Major entries.
After last week’s noticeable increase, Borgata / PartyPoker’s 50k Guarantee drew a near record low 205 runners, resulting in an $8,400 overlay.
WSOP’s $25k Weekly Sunday Guarantee wouldn’t fare much better, missing the mark by $5,600.
888‘s Sunday “Minor” would fall only $1,860 short of its $10k guarantee, largely due to the site’s diminished turnout expectations.
And Ultimate Poker‘s $20,000 Sundays once again failed to cover half of its guarantee, giving away nearly $12,500 in added cash. All this despite a vigorous email marketing campaign that all but spelled out just how much added value can be had by playing in its Major.
Given its relatively small stature, at least compared to New Jersey’s iGaming giants, one has to wonder just how long Ultimate Poker will hold out before dropping its guarantee to $15,000, or even $10,000.
Add in the $50,000 888poker is giving away each week, and last week New Jersey’s poker sites gave away well over $1.3 million to its faithful patrons.
An admirable figure by any account, but will the giveaways and widespread promotional vehicles eventually draw more players to NJ’s poker sites?
As of now, it’s too early to tell, but there are some early indicators working for and against the future viability of NJ’s iGaming market.
First, the positive:
Now, the negative:
Overall, cash-game volume was down this week, although part of the drop-off could easily be attributed to the Super Bowl.
What will be interesting to see is how it fares next week, in the absence of any major sporting event.
According to PokerScout:
Do note that 24-hour peaks on Party and WSOP are up over last week; early indicators that the market is bouncing back from its low point.