NJ Online Poker Players Reward Party / Borgata For Changes to $50k, Field Size Skyrockets

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Way back in December, a rep from Party Poker NJ asked players on the Two Plus Two forums for feedback regarding the $50k Guarantee, the flagship tournament of the Party / Borgata network.

And while players didn’t exactly respond in droves, enough data was collected to conclude that an earlier start time and a slightly revamped structure was the most viable solution.

No surprises there, as the super-deep structure and late starting time often resulted in a winner not being determined until nearly daybreak.

Initial attempt at change produced slight stumble

Last Monday, Party/Borgata answered the call by announcing sweeping changes to the $50k, including:

  • A 5 pm starting time.
  • A guaranteed $10k first-place prize; and
  • An improved blind structure.

The problem was the “improved” structure transformed the $50k into a deep stacked semi-turbo of sorts.

Instead of fusing or eliminating the early levels when players are 500 big blinds deep, several critical mid-tournament blind levels were eradicated altogether.

Abiding by this structure, New Jersey’s biggest weekly tournament would more closely resemble a virtual shove fest than one in which skillful pre and post-flop play was rewarded.

Compounding matters, those who registered near the end of the extended three hour late registration period would sit with under 20 big blinds – far less than ideal, given the relatively high buy-in.

Almost immediately after the announcement was made, several of Two Plus Two’s more active members responded to the changes:

  • “isuxatpokerbad” stated that “taking out the 250/500 and 600/1200 etc is just a tragedy that shouldn’t ever happen. That makes these blind jumps way too big in a crucial stage of the tournament.”
  • “Gags30” mimicked the aforementioned sentiment, citing “i agree that the structure was simply too slow, and this could have been fixed in a number of ways…however, why on earth would you get rid of so many levels later in the tourney?”

Here’s where Party/Borgata impressed me

Four days before the newly implemented changes were set to roll-out, the Party rep announced a second change to the tournament’s structure.

The mid-blind levels were back, and several of the pre-ante blind levels were consolidated into one new 25/50 level.

Now, players would start with only 200 big blinds, but still have enough maneuverability to showcase their post-flop prowess. Suffice to say, the amendment was universally praised.

But how did the changes function in practice?

The New 50k Guaranteed hits the mark

The tournament lobby pretty much says it all:

Party / Borgata $50k Poker tournament

In total, 378 players showed up for the newly-restructured 50k Guaranteed.

  • That marks a 170 player increase over last week’s Super Bowl induced low point.
  • It also represents a 42% percent increase over its January 26th numbers, which given the circumstances are more indicative of the overhaul’s effect.

After an elongated struggle among its final three combatants, the $50k ended at exactly 3:04 am, over two hours earlier than the average pre-update completion time. Not bad, especially when you factor in the surplus of entries.

First-place paid out nearly $13,300, shattering the previous top prize record by a landslide. Even more impressive, second-place paid out more ($9,355.65) than first did the two weeks prior.

And while some players will argue that paying out approximately 19% of the field is still far too generous, overall Party/Borgata’s feedback-inspired upgrades proved widely successful.

That, and they didn’t have to give away a dime to make it happen. Unlike another site, which was willing to foot the entire bill of its Sunday Major.

- 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.
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