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Forgetting for a second about geo-location errors, bug riddled software, and payment processing issues, the number one complaint I’ve heard among New Jersey-based tournament grinders is that the volume simply isn’t there.
For players used to anteing up $215 in the hopes of parlaying their small investment into a six-figure payday, New Jersey’s comparatively minuscule payouts have done little to either draw pros away from playing on unregulated sites or to persuade them to abandon their second homes in foreign countries.
Keep in mind that New Jersey’s success in the virtual poker department may ultimately act as a tipping point for states currently taking a cautious “wait and see” approach to regulated gambling.
It’s for this reason that New Jersey needs to make a concerted attempt to regularly draw New Yorkers, Philly residents and at least a smattering of big name pros to the Garden State for its online events.
But will the upcoming New Jersey Championship of Online Poker (NJCOP) accomplish that?
As it stands, maybe. If it were more ambitious, almost definitely.
A quick glance at the numbers reveals that without the presence of a big event, traffic tends to fall.
Cash game numbers as of March 16th are as follows (7-day averages):
Turnouts for this week’s Sunday Majors fared slightly better, but still exhibited an overall downward trend:
Two points worth noting. Ulitmate Poker’s tremendous drop-off can undoubtedly be attributed to the end of its NO-verlay promotion.
Secondly, last week Party /Borgata experienced technical difficulties, resulting in the forced stoppage of the $50k and players receiving an ICM chip-chop. Party’s server failure may have had a negative effect on this week’s turnout numbers.
To read more about last week’s software disaster, turn to this thread on the 2+2 forums.
Party Poker has this way of welcoming player feedback, only to incorporate small portions of their customers’ valuable advice. New Jersey’s market leader did it when the $50k guarantee was initially revamped and now Party Poker is doing it with the NJCOP.
Thankfully, Party made a further amendment to the $50k, this one based almost entirely on player feedback. Here’s hoping the NJCOP follows a similar path, because right now it’s lacking moxie.
Last week, Party posted a draft schedule of the upcoming NJCOP. Suffice to say, it was almost universally scorned by players.
Since, the schedule has been amended. Notable changes are as follows:
While the new NJCOP schedule is certainly better than the uninspired first draft, I’d argue that it still lacks the “WOW” factor necessary to sway poker players on the fence.
Here are a few issues I, and posters on 2+2, have with the current slate of tournaments:
Not to mention, the buy-in and guarantee for the main event could have easily been higher. Even a $300 entry fee would serve to differentiate it from its weekly Major.
As is, will most of the NJCOP events meet or exceed their guarantees? I’d say yes, but only because the benchmarks have been set so low.
Instead, I would have preferred if Party upped the ante even further by introducing larger guarantees, a few bigger buy-in events and a more varied schedule.
Granted, by doing so Party would run the risk of losing money. But that small negative would be more than offset by the NJCOP’s heightened potential to attract players from neighboring states, and more importantly, the attention of the nation at large.
Getting back to the question proposed in this week’s title, “Can the NJCOP reverse the NJ Market’s current downswing?”
Well, put it this way. In a world where cathartic events are few and far between, Party has the opportunity to do something that will shake up the regulated iGaming industry, potentially propelling it to new heights.
And they’re electing to play it safe, instead seemingly banking on the Borgata Spring Poker Open to increase volume.
Sorry for the criticism Party, but now more than ever, New Jersey needs you to go big.