Inside Borgata / Party Poker’s New Jersey Championship of Online Poker (NJCOP)

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The tournament championship series has become a staple of online poker, and it’s quickly becoming a mainstay of regulated US online poker as well.

The latest iteration on the format is the New Jersey Championship of Online Poker (NJCOP) hosted by the Party Poker / Borgata network.

I turned to four online poker players in New JerseyRobert Lynch, Michael “Gags30” Gagliano, Tragedy83 and OPR’s Robert DellaFave – for a player’s perspective on NJCOP.

Read on for what they think Party / Borgata got right, what opportunities were missed, whether the Main Event will overlay and other insights into the first edition of the New Jersey Championship of Online Poker.

Overview of the NJCOP

Before we jump into the analysis, here’s a snapshot of the NJCOP schedule:

  • The NJCOP runs from April 19th through the 27th.
  • There are 15 total events ($2,000 in total buy-ins).
  • The smallest buy-in is $50 (Events #4 and #7). The largest is $500 (Event #14).
  • The Main Event is a $200k guarantee with a $185+15 buy-in.
  • All but one of the events is NLHE. There is a Player’s Choice event (#9) that has yet to be assigned.
  • The series opens with a $50k freeroll that is limited to 5,000 participants. Registration opens April 1st and is first-come, first-serve. Everyone who makes the final table of the freeroll wins free entry into all NJCOP events.

View the full schedule below.

Is the NJCOP schedule ambitious enough?

Player reaction was mixed on this point.

On one side of the spectrum were Lynch and Tragedy83. Lynch called the NJCOP “ambitious enough” and Tragedy83 graded Party / Borgata favorably, saying he thinks “they did well for the first one” and that the freeroll was a “very cool twist.”

But DellaFave had some criticism for Party / Borgata, saying that the schedule was “not even close” to ambitious enough.

“It’s better than the initial draft schedule, but there’s no reason why the two Sunday events – the 100k and the 200k – can’t run alongside the regular 50k,” DellaFave said. “Players will travel for big events, that’s been proven. Why not make the most out of its schedule and run at least two events every day? The only day they got it right is on the 27th – four events, four different buy-ins.”

Gagliano made a similar point: “For something that is called the “Championship of Online Poker” I would expect there to be a more complete schedule with different games, formats, etc.”

“I think only one event per day during the week is rather weak,” Gagliano added, “especially given the fact that this one event is going to replace their one big nightly tournament, so as a player who plays every day I’m basically just playing the exact same schedule I always do, I’m just playing for a slightly larger prizepool. It just doesn’t feel as “special” as a championship series should.”

Impact of the overlap with the BSO / WPT Championship

The Borgata Spring Open kicks off April 8th and culminates with the final table of the WPT Championship on April 26th. Meanwhile, the NJCOP starts on April 21st and wraps up on the 27th.

So will this overlap help or hinder turnout?

There’s actually not a lot of clash between the two schedules:

  • The NJCOP schedule is evening-focused while the BSO features mostly AM start times.
  • Of the 15 NJCOP events, 6 take place on Sundays. Of the $2000 in total NJCOP buy-ins, $1150 is concentrated in those two Sundays.
  • On the first Sunday – April 20th – there’s only one tournament at the Borgata, a $260+$40 Deeper Stack NLH that starts at 11 AM.
  • On the second Sunday – the 27th – the BSO will have already concluded. It’s the second Sunday where the bulk of the NJCOP prize pools resides. The Main Event, a High Roller and an additional $20k Guaranteed all run on the 27th.

The general consensus among the players I talked to was that the scheduling choice would be a win for Party / Borgata.

Gagliano expects that field sizes for the NJCOP will benefit from the overlap: “If you came into NJ to play a big live poker tournament you’re probably a tournament player and when deciding what sites to play on you’re clearly going to pick the site running a big tournament series with huge guarantees.”

“They will lose a few players that are still deep in live tournaments,” Gagliano continued, “but I think the amount they gain from people coming into town will definitely outweigh those that can’t play because of their live play.”

Will the Main Event have an overlay?

The NJCOP’s crowning event is the $200 buy-in $200k Guarantee. That’s double the size of Party’s largest guarantee to to date and will require over 1000 players (1082, to be exact) in order to hit the guaranteed prize pool.

So will Party / Borgata be able to generate that level of turnout? Or will the room be forced to make up the difference between the prize pool and the guarantee?

Generally speaking, players are unwilling to bet against the room’s ability to make the guarantee.

“Every time I say one of these things is going to have overlay,” noted Tragedy83, “it smashes the guarantee…. So I’m going to say no overlay for the Main Event.”

Lynch echoed that sentiment: “I would bet it would be close, maybe slight overlay.That being said, this company always surprises me a little when they blow their numbers away like they seem to always do.”

Gagliano was more definitive when asked if there would be an overlay: “Absolutely not,” he said, noting that “a few weeks ago when Party NJ ran the $200 $100k guarantee everyone thought there was going to be an overlay and they had almost a $150,000 prize pool! So a main event with a large guarantee and weeks of satellites running I think will very easily crush the guarantee.”

Party / Borgata will help their cause by boosting the field size through various promotions, giveaways and aggressive satellite schedules. There will almost certainly be some amount of players at the BSO who would not normally play online but will extend their stays through Sunday to do so.

But even taking that all into account, breaking the 1000 player mark would be a massive win for both the network and for the NJ online poker market as a whole.

What would you add to the NJCOP?

Players generally requested more variety in buy-in levels and formats:

  • Tragedy83 said he’d add “a super slow structured, super stack, 2 day 6max event” with a buy-in in the $200 to $500 range.
  • DellaFave suggested changing the Main Event to a $300 + $20 buy-in affair with a $250,000 guarantee.
  • Lynch saw room for more Omaha events, noting that the NLHE-heavy nature of the schedule made him “recoil.”
  • Gagliano called for more PLO, a HORSE event and a heads-up NLHE event.

Players on TwoPlusTwo offered similar feedback.

Complete schedule for NJCOP

PartyPoker NJCOP Tournament Schedule

Full details for NJCOP are available at PartyPoker.

- Chris is the publisher of Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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