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4 Changes PokerStars Will Bring to New Jersey Online Poker (I Hope)

Keeping fingers crossed
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As someone who plays on New Jersey online poker sites frequently, I seem to keep getting asked the same question a lot lately:

“What’s going to happen when Pokerstars launches in New Jersey?”

I, just like every other person at this time, don’t know exactly what PokerStars will bring and what changes their presence will have in the NJ market.

But what I do know is that there are several things I would (realistically) like to see when Stars enters the market that will not only benefit myself, as a consumer, but New Jersey online gaming as a whole:

1. Better online poker software

Every single online poker room currently available in NJ is plagued by either missing features or numerous bugs and glitches that make the playing experience, at times, extremely unpleasant.

Bringing in software that is quite near flawless will not only be great to play on, but will provide some healthy competition that will hopefully force existing poker rooms to get their act together and improve their own software or be left behind.

Likelihood of happening: High

Assuming Stars uses either Pokerstars 6 or Pokerstars 7 software, then NJ will have, in my opinion, the best software online poker has to offer (one caveat: It’s unclear if Stars will have to strip down their software to facilitate regulatory approvals).

Only time will tell if the other rooms will attempt to try to catch up.

2. Better promotions

There have been a number of promotions that have on the surface seemed impressive (888’s 80% rakeback, and Ultimate’s “No-overlay” both come to mind) but in the end I don’t even think you can call a lot of these promotions successful.

As a player, I want to see poker grow. I want more people playing poker.

Many promotions so far have been aimed at people who already play online. As a result, they tend to play out something like this:

  • The site running the promotion receives a boost in traffic for that day/week/month of the promotion.
  • When the promotion ends, traffic falls back to normal levels.

This is far from a success in my eyes.

I hope to see PokerStars do what they have done so well in the various markets throughout the world: bring new players to the game. Whether it be through promotions or marketing (which has also been lackluster in NJ), I hope to see the ultimate goal to be to grow poker, not just temporarily steal players from a competitor’s site.

Likelihood of happening: Unclear

PokerStars has done a lot to grow poker globally with various live tours and advertising campaigns, but it is unknown exactly what their approach will be in NJ.

3. Better customer service

Customer service varies greatly in NJ. Some sites make it very easy to talk to customer service reps who answer questions instantly, while other sites take days to weeks to respond to emails.

Similar to their software, I hope to see the best-in-class customer service offered globally by PokerStars brought to NJ.

Likelihood of happening: High

PokerStars has built their global brand on the back of good customer service. They continue this level of support in the global market where they have a majority share, so I would assume we will see the same when they enter the highly competitive NJ market.

Again, the question of whether competitors will match PokerStars on this front remains an open one.

4. Better rewards program/tie ins with casino rewards.

Rewards programs exist in NJ, some of them better than others, but there is still not a program that really gives me an incentive to devote all my play to that site.

Also, I’d like to see rooms to a better job getting people into their casinos. Give some free rooms for final tabling a tournament, or for playing X amount of hands, or reaching certain VIP levels, or literally any random reason you choose.

Getting players into casinos will not only boost revenue of the ever-struggling AC casinos, but will also give people more of a reason to play online. Despite if a new player won or lost while playing the actual games online, they certainly would come back for more if they got a free room out of the experience.

To my knowledge no current site does anything like this, and I hope Stars can bring a good rewards program to encourage play from both regulars and recreational players.

Likelihood of happening: Unclear

PokerStars has easily the best rewards programs offered online. However, it’s unknown what they will bring to NJ or if it will be tied to any casino programs in a meaningful way.

…..

If PokerStars can bring improvements in these areas I think the NJ online poker market will see more competition between sites, leading to a better product being offered to consumers, and growth to the overall market.

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Michael Gagliano
- A long time New Jersey resident, Michael Gagliano has played poker professionally since 2009 and has collected more than $3 million in cashes both live and online. He is a leading instructor and co-founder of PremierPokerCoaching.com.