Mea Culpa, New Jersey: Party / Borgata Adds $50k Guaranteed Prize Money to GSSS

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As part of the resolution to last weekend’s technical malfunction which caused six Garden State Super Series events to be cancelled, the partnership of and are adding a total of $50,000 to Sunday’s events.

The announcement was made as part of a broader apology and explanation by Group Director of Poker Jeffrey Haas.

Overview and explanation of GSSS event changes

The added prize money will be distributed over six events as follows:

  • Event #19 Low, $50 buy-in NLHE Freezeout: The minimum prize pool for the evening’s first event will be increased $5,000 to $15,000.
  • Event #19 Mid, $100 buy-in NLHE Freezeout: $5,000 will be added  to the $20,000 guaranteed prize pool.
  • Event #19 High, $200 buy-in NLHE Freezeout: The biggest event of the day ($75,000 guarantee) receives the lion’s share of the added prize money, $20,000.
  • Event #20 Low, $50 buy-in NLHE 6-Max: The existing $10,000 guaranteed prize pool will receive a $5,000 boost.
  • Event #20 Mid, $100 buy-in NLHE 6-Max: Also receives an additional $5,000, bring the total minimum pool up to $25,000.
  • Event #20 High, $500 buy-in NLHE 6-Max: The day’s highest buy-in MTT will feature a $50,000 guarantee and $10,000 added.

As per Mr. Haas, the addition of $50,000 in prize money to this Sunday’s events is a gesture on behalf of the network to make up for last week’s calamity.

There’s been slight confusion on the Two Plus Two forums as to whether the additional prize money will be added regardless of the tournament guarantees being met. My understanding is that it will.

Generally speaking, added money functions like a guaranteed overlay.

To elaborate:

  • If an event does not meet its guarantee, the total prize pool for the event will be the guaranteed amount plus the added money.
  • If an event does meet its guarantee, the prize pool will be the summation of all buy-ins plus an additional sum of money.

Players react to GSSS fiasco and resolution

The majority of players I spoke to who were affected by the server meltdown were accepting of Party / Borgata’s handling of the situation.

There were however, multiple accounts of players who were clearly dissatisfied with the network’s efforts, with the most vehement outcries coming from those who satellited their way into one of two events that never began.

The source of their discontent arises from confusion regarding the way tournament ticket refunds will be handled.

According to one poster on PocketFives’ New Jersey Poker Community thread:

“Seems some players have had their tickets restored, others not and others told the tickets will be converted to T$ after the series is over.

Some tickets have completely disappeared and others are listed under the ‘Inactive’ tickets tab. IMO, if one player’s tickets are restored, every player’s tickets should be restored.”

To the latter point, I agree. A swift, flexible resolution is in order, ideally one in which players would receive T$ for potential use in one of Sunday’s high value GSSS events.

Restoring tickets or gifting T$ after the fact is not a viable solution.

Could Party / Borgata have done better?

Overall, I would rate Party / Borgata’s reaction as above average.

The fact that the network both honored a more than $65,000 overlay for Event #11 Mid – $200,000 Guarantee despite late registration still being open and opted to give away an additional $50,000 to those who participate in this Sunday’s tournaments is commendable.

An equally viable, if not better, alternative would have been to gift a $50,000 freeroll ticket to all players affected by the system meltdown. Better yet, just host a $50,000 freeroll and allow anyone to register.

A third option would have been to re-run last Sunday’s tournaments at sometime in the future. They did after all comprise $370,000 of the series’ $1,000,000 guaranteed prize pool.

But considering that the vast majority of out-of-state poker tourists stationed at the Borgata for the Open have already packed their bags, that just wasn’t going to happen.

Finally, instead of spending one lump sum on a few tournaments, why not put that money towards better advertising, marketing and most importantly, an improved player loyalty scheme?

Closing thoughts

To conclude, while Party / Borgata’s solution is certainly generous, it errs on the side of caution.

By either hosting a freeroll or a tournament “do-over,” the network stood to incur far greater losses than $50,000.

As it stands, due to the extra value to be had, Sunday’s events should garner a lot of attention, rendering the odds of them not meeting their guarantees minimal.

Call it a win-win.

- 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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