Party NJ / Borgata Online Poker Tournament Schedule Changes

PartyPoker NJ Rolls Out Sweeping Changes to Tournament Schedule … Again

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The Party / Borgata online poker network in New Jersey has instituted a host of amendments to its existing tournament schedule, including the addition of three new nightly guarantees, heads-up satellites, and a new points qualifier system for its flagship Sunday Major.

This marks the second time in three months that the network has altered the face of its tournament lobby.

As was the case with December’s update, the new schedule is, at least in part, the product of player feedback.

Key points of Party / Borgata MTT schedule update

The updated schedule, which was fully implemented on March 9, adds diversity to what was already a fairly robust tournament scheme, and addresses the needs of both casual and regular grinders alike.

1) New tournament guarantees

Perhaps the most notable change to the tournament schedule are three new direct buy-in events:

  • The $3,000 GTD Rebuy is a $35 buy-in event slated for Thursday through Sunday at 2:30 pm.
  • PLO aficionados will be pleased to note that the network has also added a $2,000 PLO Rebuy ($25 buy-in) to its existing schedule. The tournament will run Friday – Sunday at 4:30 pm.
  • A new $2,000 GTD 6-Max, featuring a $75 buy-in will run on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:30 pm.
  • The GTD of the nightly $200 buy-in freezeout (9:30 pm) has been upped from $3,000 to $4,000.

Until now, the Party / Borgata tournament lobby has been nearly devoid of meaningful, midday guaranteed tournaments. The $3,000 GTD Rebuy partially addresses that issue, while also adding a much needed mid-level buy-in tournament to the itinerary.

The $2,000 PLO Rebuy is a somewhat ambitious addition that may struggle at times to meet its guarantee, particularly on Friday afternoon, when network traffic tends toward the low side.

Less ambitious is the $2,000 GTD 6-Max, which will only require approximately 30 players to fulfill its guarantee. Considering that both the nightly $5,000 and $10,000 guarantees regularly draw 100+ runners and rarely offer overlays, anything less than a $4,000 GTD for a prime time, $75 buy-in Major comes off as decidedly conservative.

2) Heads-up satellites

Although Party claims to be the “home for Heads Up Poker in New Jersey,” that’s more a circumstance of it being the only NJ network willing to consistently offer heads-up MTTs than its proven success in the format.

If anything, its $100 buy-in, $3,000 GTD Heads-Up tournament regularly fails to hit its guarantee. As such, encouraging grinders to satellite their way in for $20 appears to be more of a desperation tactic on the part of the network; one that admittedly, will probably work.

Satellites to both the aforementioned $3,000 GTD (Sundays at 7:30 pm) and the $50 buy-in, $1,000 GTD (Wednesday at 7:30 pm) will run ten times weekly, are capped at eight players and will award one ticket to the winner, with the remaining prize pool issued as cash to the second place finisher.

3) Points qualifiers into weekly $50,000 GTD

From here on out players will be able to parlay their way into the market’s biggest weekly guarantee for as little as 10 rewards points:

  • Sunday $50k 10 point qualifiers will award 15 tickets to the Sunday Qualifier Final. Satellites are held at 12:30 pm, 4:45 pm and 9:50 pm daily.
  • 20 point qualifiers will run daily at 3:15 pm, 6:50 pm and 7:50 pm and also award 15 tickets to the Sunday Final.
  • As for the Sunday Qualifier Final, it will be held each Sunday at 2:25 pm and award two tickets to the $50,000 GTD.

Earning 20 loyalty points is a relatively simple task that only requires players to pay either $10 in rake or entry fees. Loyalty points can also be earned by wagering real-money on casino games.

Given the low entry threshold and allure of a $10,000+ first place prize, points qualifiers should draw their fair share of entries. Then again, the prospect of placing high in three consecutive tournaments may dissuade players.

Unlike the heads-up satellites, the point qualifiers do not appear to be a last-ditch effort by the network to save a struggling tournament, but more a device to encourage increased liquidity.

However, as the snow melts and seasonal players retire their laptops, the network will inevitably find itself looking for ways to supplement its falling tournament turnouts, which may result in an increased number of points qualifiers.

Expired freeroll ticket holders voice finally heard

Decisive changes to Party / Borgata’s tournament schedule weren’t the only matter on the agenda last week, as each branch of the network offered a proposed solution to a long-standing player complaint.

A little backstory:

  • As part of its initial welcome package, Party / Borgata gifted players who completed select Missions with tickets into freeroll events.
  • Around March 2014, the network unexpectedly cut its $2,500 and $5,000 freerolls, prompting outrage from players who felt slighted.
  • A resolution was announced in May, when the network announced that players had until June 27 to redeem their tickets via eight scheduled freerolls.
  • While this solution satiated some players, those who had an excess of entries demanded further recourse.
  • Fast-forward to December, and new Two Plus Two Party representative Colette announced that the “relevant teams are working on a complete resolution suitable for all,” and that she expects a plan of action to be in place by no later than late-January.
  • That resolution came a month late, when each arm of the Party / Borgata network announced a separate proposal to the then nine-month old complaint.

As for the resolutions themselves, Borgata offered a personalized opt-in bonus, valid until March 31 and which unlocked at a 20% cashback rate.

The general consensus of the community, and to which I agree, was that the bonus was not so much a resolution but a vehicle designed to coerce players into spending more money on the site.

Thankfully, Party’s plan was more in line with what players desired, and generally well received:

  • On Sunday, March 14 the network will run four freeroll tournaments, with prize pools ranging from $1,500 to $10,000.
  • Eligibility is determined by the number of expired freeroll tickets in a player’s account.
  • Players may only participate in one freeroll, and the payouts will be in tournament dollars (T$)

March outlook looks hopeful

After spending the greater part of the fall and winter months focusing the majority of its efforts on its casino patrons, PartyPoker and the Borgata have, to varying degrees, begun to do its poker customers justice.

Unlike previous scheduling changes and conflict resolutions, the latest amendments are almost wholly positive.

Yes, the new tournament guarantees could stand to be more aggressive, and Borgata’s solution to the expired freeroll ticket problem was confounding, but overall, the network has exhibited a renewed dedication to its player base.

Combined with last week’s launch of Borgata’s tournament leader boards, and Party’s lucrative March Marathon promotion, the new tournament schedule is already contributing to increased liquidity on the network, and may help to offset the imminent seasonal downtrend that comes with spring.

Image credit: Ekaterina_Minaeva /

- 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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