WSOP Online Championship Events Reflect Attention On NV Market Online Championship Series Delivers Win For Nevada

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If the success of an online poker tournament series is measured by its ability to shatter guarantees, then the 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.

Mixed bag for New Jersey Online Championship

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, (rightfully) veers the majority of its focus to the normally smaller Nevada market. More on this later.

The good

  • 54% of NJOC tournaments beat their guarantees by at least 25%.
  • Of those, nearly half (24% total) boasted prize pools that were at least 50% greater than the tournament guarantee.
  • The series awarded $310,000 in prize money; 24% more than what was promised.

The bad

  • Thirteen events were cancelled due to low turnout figures.
  • Of the tournaments that ran, 14 featured overlays.
  • Four tournaments had an overlay of over 20%.

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 online bracelet event.

Notable NJOC events

  • Event #23 – a $25,000 GTD, $500 buy-in NLHE re-entry event, drew 47 players and generated a prize pool of $27,900 – the largest of the series.
  • In terms of prize pool to guarantee ratio, the most successful high buy-in event was Event #44. By the time late registration closed, the prize pool for this $10,000 GTD, $200 buy-in NLHE re-entry event swelled to $13,690.
  • The best performing tournament overall was Event #11, a $2,500 GTD R&A, which produced a $6,734 prize pool, crushing its guarantee by 169%. With that said, for a prime time tournament featuring a $100 price point and rebuys, set the bar exceedingly low.

NJOC results not an accurate depiction of market health

Whereas during last year’s live Series, 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:

  • Cross-promotional events are far more effective when the live component takes place in the same state as the online segment.
  • WSOP NJ would benefit tremendously from an interstate compact between Nevada/Delaware and New Jersey, but until then, it’s difficult to envision each respective market exhibiting anything more than incremental y/y growth.
- 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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