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If the success of an online poker tournament series is measured by its ability to shatter guarantees, then the WSOP.com Online Championship in Nevada may have been the most prosperous event in US regulated history.
The same can’t be said about its New Jersey counterpart, which despite a less ambitious series guarantee, saw a fair portion of its individual events struggle to turn a profit for the operator.
The New Jersey Online Championship (NJOC), like its companion out west, spanned 90 events and ran from May 31 through June 29, neatly and purposely overlapping with the live World Series of Poker.
As far as differences, there was only one of note: The NJOC guaranteed $250,000, while the NVOC promised a minimum of $535,000 guaranteed in prize money.
Under normal circumstances one would expect these figures to be reversed, but during the live Series, WSOP.com (rightfully) veers the majority of its focus to the normally smaller Nevada market. More on this later.
By contrast, only five NVOC had overlays, none of which were over 8%. There were no cancellations, and at $855,199 the series exceeded its guarantee by a whopping 60%.
Although amazingly, that figure is still $4,000 less than the prize pool for the historic WSOP.com online bracelet event.
Whereas during last year’s live Series, WSOP.com devoted slightly more of its marketing and promotional muscle to the Nevada market, 2015 saw the operator turn its attention almost fully to the Silver State.
Not only did WSOP NV offer far more avenues of entry into live events, but it went so far as to coerce New Jersey players to temporarily abandon WSOP NJ in favor of its sister.
It is presumed that this was a deliberate decision, one meant to capitalize on the absolute success WSOP NV experienced last summer – when according to Poker Industry Pro via PokerScout, average cash game traffic rose 35% from the first day of the Series through the onset of the Main Event.
Given this temporary paradigm shift, the struggles of the NJOC are about as inaccurate a depiction of market health in New Jersey as the success of the NVOC is in Nevada.
But the tournament results do reinforce a few widely speculated notions: