A hugely positive note for online poker in New Jersey this weekend, as a special edition of the Sunday major at Party Poker / Borgata attracted a record-setting 786 players, easily surpassing the $100k guaranteed prize pool.
The general attitude toward the $100k guaranteed – a one-off event that boosted the standard Party / Borgata Sunday major from its standard $50k guarantee – was that the site would struggle to attract the minimum field size necessary to hit the guaranteed prize pool.
As the chart below shows, there was plenty of evidence in terms of historical field sizes for the tournament to support that attitude:
As the chart also shows, Party / Borgata didn’t simply hit the minimum needed or show a slight increase over past performance. Instead, the site obliterated the previous turnout record for the tournament – 378 players on February 9th – by more than double.
Another bit of good news for Party / Borgata stemming from the success of the $100k Guaranteed: the influx of traffic generated by the tournament appeared to translate into increased cash game traffic for the network.
The Party / Borgata network also saw a noticeable uptick over the course of the weekend while its competitors either saw declines or flat performance as the weekend progressed, further supporting the case that interest in the $100k helped drive action at Party / Borgata’s cash game tables.
For now, the plan appears to be to return the Sunday major at Party / Borgata to the original guarantee. Next week’s tournament is currently live in the lobby and is described as a $50k guaranteed tournament.
The success of the $100k experiment puts Party / Borgata in an interesting position.
They can stick with the relatively modest $50k – which is already the largest Sunday major among New Jersey’s online poker sites – and sprinkle in larger guarantees as a way of generating additional interest.
Alternatively, they could choose to be more aggressive and raise the baseline guarantee to $75k or even $100k in an attempt to further establish their position as the premier destination for online poker tournament play in New Jersey.
Much as PokerStars built a mammoth tournament schedule – and a dominant market position – around their flagship Sunday Million tournament, Party / Borgata has an opportunity to leverage their Sunday flagship to put some space between their room and competing rooms in New Jersey.