PartyPoker NJ’s Garden State Super Series Schedule: Ambitious On One Hand, But Frustrating On Another

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Last Friday, PartyPoker NJ / Borgata released a slightly amended version of their Garden State Super Series schedule.

Emphasis on slightly.

Originally posted on Party’s dedicated Two Plus Two forum, the revised schedule was met with tepid to scornful reactions by some of the network’s more active players, many of whom were quick to point out that their suggestions fell on deaf ears.

Earlier this month, Party posted a draft schedule on the same thread, asking for player input. More on that here.

Since the latest version of the schedule was released, Party’s representative on Two Plus Two released the GSSS blind structures on both the company blog and on the Party / Borgata clients, once again requesting feedback.

Unfortunately, the window for player input was limited to two days.

Otherwise, it appears the schedule is set in stone.

The GSSS will feature $1 million in guaranteed prize money paid across 60 total tournament events and is slated to coincide with this September’s Borgata Poker Open and WPT Championship.

Just as significant, it sets the precedent by which players will measure New Jersey’s future online tournament series, including those hosted by PokerStars.

In other words, despite how well the original draft of the schedule was received, it wasn’t necessarily the best time to be mostly dismissive of player feedback.

GSSS Revisions: The positive

Not all player requests were ignored.

Most notably, both of the GSSS’s PLO events were changed from full ring to 6-max formats.

However, that was the only amendment that was universally praised by players.

Of the three other adjustments announced, one – that the winner of the $200,000 Main Event will receive $50,000 – felt more like an advertising plug than the result of any meaningful feedback. I say that because no one in the thread specifically requested that first place receive a guaranteed prize.

Another change, which saw slight alterations made to the structure of Event #18, was hardly noticed.

Finally, Party noted that the starting stacks for rebuy tournaments will be larger. After checking out the tournament lobby I saw that the GSSS rebuys feature 2,000 starting chips and a 5,000 add-on, which is exactly how most of its daily rebuys are structured. Hardly seems noteworthy.

And that’s it.

GSSS Revisions: The not-so-positive

Party / Borgata wasn’t necessarily condemned for the revisions that were made, but instead for those that were heavily requested and seemingly ignored.

No heads up event

Of the most highly desired alterations, the Party representative would only make reference to one:

“HU was considered but will not be included in the series.”

The inclusion of a heads-up tournament was requested by more than half-a-dozen unique posters – significant, considering that only about twice that amount would offer any sort of useful feedback.

Admittedly, when Party / Borgata did host a guaranteed HU tournament as part of its schedule, it frequently failed to meet its minimum benchmark.

But I hardly see that as a reason to not include one on a one-off basis.

Non-holdem scheduling

A second request that was seemingly ignored was to spread out non-hold’em events so that they wouldn’t fall on the same day.

Again, I agree. Ultimately what will happen now is that players unaccustomed to alternative poker variants will feel forced to choose between one of two non-hold’em events, whereas under different circumstances they may have bought into both.

Three tiers – the right approach?

Then there was the issue with the number of buy-in tiers.

Michael “Gags30” Gagliano was the first to point out that “3 buyin levels is too many,” and that Party was “going to wind up cannibalizing [its] own sites [sic] action because the buyin levels are so similar.”

Gagliano’s sentiments were echoed by several forum members, most of whom also felt that staggering nine daily GSSS events over a one-hour starting time window was pushing the envelope too far.

Granted, it was optimistic to assume that Party / Borgata would make such broad sweeping alterations to the schedule this late in the process. But at the very least, the buy-in amounts and guarantees could have been weighed more heavily towards what players wanted.

What about payout structures, leaderboards?

Last week, I commented that the payout structures for Party / Borgata’s daily tournaments were the single biggest issue hampering New Jersey’s online tournament scene.

So it comes as little surprise that multiple posters would inquire about how GSSS prize pools would be distributed. Would the usual 15 to 20 percent be paid, or would payouts fall more in line with those found on other sites?

Unfortunately, it was not addressed.

What’s baffling is that Party has failed, at least to my knowledge, to offer any insight regarding why it pays out upwards of 1/5th the field. My assumption is that more payouts allow losing and recreational players to remain liquid on the site for a bit longer.

But it also promotes registering late and attempting to nickel and dime one’s way into the money as a viable strategy.

Even if Party / Borgata implemented a compromise, say by paying out 12 to 15 percent of the field or leaving things the way they are with special exceptions for some tournaments, all would likely be forgiven. But to not even acknowledge what’s been a chronic complaint since day one is unacceptable.

Several players have also commented that they would like to see leaderboards implemented to celebrate the GSSS’s best performers.

No word yet, but I’m of the mind that Party is going to surprise us by rolling out some sort of GSSS-focused promo shortly before the series begins. Otherwise, the series will feel a bit empty.

The GSSS is still an impressive effort

For all of the moaning and groaning, including my own, the consensus is that the GSSS is still an ambitious, well-structured tournament series that is certainly worth marking your calendar for.

It just would be nice if its host would incorporate more of the community’s valuable feedback into the schedule, or at least acknowledge why it went against the wishes of the masses.

Otherwise, why even ask?

- 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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