Party Poker Offering NJ Players A Crack At The WPT500
Online Poker Report

PartyPoker NJ Hosting Qualifiers To WPT500 $2 Million GTD At Aria In Las Vegas

Aria NJ online poker satellites
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PartyPoker NJ is taking full advantage of its ties to the World Poker Tour this summer, by offering New Jersey online poker players multiple vehicles to satellite into the WPT500 at the Aria Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas.

Last year’s inaugural event was an immense success, drawing 3,599 entries across several starting flights and creating a prize pool of nearly $1.8 million.

Its triumph can be attributed to:

  • An affordable price of admission.
  • An aggressive guarantee of $1 million.
  • To the high prevalence of poker tourism in Las Vegas from late May to mid-July, largely thanks to the WSOP.

The particulars of the WPT500

The structure of the 2015 WPT500 is a clear testament to the popularity of last year’s event:

  • The WPT has doubled the guarantee to $2 million, yet retained the original price point of $500 + $65.
  • Aggressive is probably the best word to describe the tournament schedule. Not only are there 10 starting flights, but they’re spread out across three long weekends spanning from late May to early July.
  • Players are permitted one reentry per day, plus the chance to enter into as many starting flights as they desire. That’s a total of 20 chances to advance, for those who are counting.
  • The WPT predicts that all starting flights will end with players in the money.
  • Those who survive Day 1 will reconvene on Sunday July 5, when they will play down to the final table, slated to take place the following day.

When asked about the WPT500 starting flight schedule, bwin.party Group Director Jeffrey Haas stated:

We have scheduled Day1s to start on May 31 and run for the first few weekends in June – in order to give poker players in Las Vegas a more robust experience, and additional opportunities to make it to Day 2 (more than last year).

Also per Haas:

Last year some players had to wait before being seated at ARIA on the final Day 1s. This year they are taking away banks of nearby slot machines to accommodate 20 more tables.

How can NJ online poker players qualify?

There are no shortage of opportunities for players to satellite into the WPT500 via the NJ arm of PartyPoker’s online gaming operation.

WPT500 sit-n-go step satellites

As the name implies, players can ascend to the next “step” by placing first in a sit & go tournament.

WPT Step 0 events only cost 10 loyalty points to enter. Players accrue loyalty points by participating in cash game pots and paying tournament entry fees. Two points are rewarded per $1 contributed to the house.

Subsequent steps carry monetary buy-ins, ranging from $1 (Step 1) to $100 (Step 4). Players can buy into any level directly, including a choice of two fourth steps.

At Step 4 players will be playing for either a WPT500 seat ($565 value, 6-man SNG), or a WPT500 package ($1,600 value, 18-man SNG) which in addition to the seat awards $1,035 in cash for travel expenses and other expenditures.

Tournaments of these variety run around the clock, and are not subject to fixed starting times.

WPT500 scheduled step satellites

Multi-table tournament steps qualifiers are running on a daily basis.

WPT Step 1 tournaments guarantee at least one Step 3 tickets, whereas Step 2 and Step 3 MTTs guarantee two tickets to the next level.

From what I’ve witnessed so far, the best times to find a Step 1 tournament are between 12:00 PM and 6:45 PM (EST). Step 2 and 3 MTTs run a bit later (6: 15 PM – 9:45 PM), and Step 4 tournaments appear to only take place on Sundays at 6:45 PM, and guarantee one $1,600 prize package.

It’ll be pretty unlikely to find a tournament that features an overlay, as most WPT steps tournaments require no more than 23 players (and usually fewer) to fulfill their guarantees.

However, players will be able to start down the MTT steps path without dedicating their hard earned loyalty points or funds, as Party will be hosting daily Step 0 freerolls.

How will WPT500 qualifiers impact online poker liquidity?

My best guess is minimally. While providing players with another means of spending their loyalty points is certainly a plus, I can’t envision players flocking to the cash game and tournament tables just to accrue points.

However, the guarantees for WPT500 step satellites are so modest, that I can see them becoming a solid revenue generator for the site.

Should enough New Jersey players qualify for the WPT500 via PartyPoker NJ, it may actually have a negative impact on traffic during the dates when the event is running, as players will be in Las Vegas instead of grinding out their regular online games.

Unlike WSOP.com, PartyPoker NJ does not have a presence in Nevada.

That being said, there are a number of benefits to Party hosting qualifiers to an out-of-state event:

  • Creates synergy between Party’s online product and the WPT brand. As per Haas, “To date we have awarded 91 entries to RMG qualifiers around the world, and we expect that number to well exceed 200 by the time the event starts.”
  • Should an NJ-based qualifier win the event, it will generate positive press for regulated online poker. Everyone loves a “rags to riches” story.
  • Of the PartyPoker NJ network’s two skins, players tend to prefer BorgataPoker.com. Since the WPT500 promotion is exclusive to nj.partypoker.com, it may promote better balance.

Also worth noting is that while cross-promotional events have become something of a commonality since regulated online gambling went live in the Garden State some 18 months back, this only marks the second time that players on nj.partypoker.com will be able to parlay their way into a WPT event located beyond New Jersey’s borders.

Finally, the $500 price point and rip-roaring structure is tailored toward recreational players, and may have served as the influence for this year’s Colossus.

Image Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com

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Robert DellaFave
- 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.