Party Poker NJ's GSSS III Will Look A Bit Different This Year

Garden State Super Series III Preview: Party/Borgata Hopes That Less Is More

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Beginning October 11, PartyPoker NJ and network partner Borgata will host the third iteration of the Garden State Super Series in New Jersey.

Compared to previous events, the GSSS III will feature a condensed schedule and a smaller total guaranteed prize pool, yet a higher average buy-in and per tournament guarantee.

More details here.

Breaking down the Garden State Super Series III

Players who have engaged in GSSS events before will notice a number of resemblances to previous series, and even more dissimilarities.

Here’s what remained the same:

  • The GSSS III will span two full weeks (October 11-25), including three Sundays.
  • Although No Limit Hold’em events dominate the schedule, a variety of other games types, including PLO, PLO8, Fixed Limit Hold’em and 7-Stud are represented.
  • A multitude of game formats will also be on display, including Turbo, Slow Grind, Deepstack, 6-Max and Bounty events.
  • The Main Event is a $215 buy-in, $150,000 guaranteed NLHE event, to be held on October 25.
  • Players can satellite their way into GSSS events for a fraction of the direct buy-in cost.

As for the differences:

  • The three tiered grouping that designated tournaments into low, medium and high buy-in buckets has been done away with, in favor of a tournament independent model.
  • The number of events has been reduced dramatically, from 69 to 43.
  • GSSS III events will not coincide with a live Open series at the Borgata, although they will overlap with a $100k GTD Mini-Series and the popular Deep Stacks Challenge.
  • The Main Event will permit reentries.
  • The total tournament guarantee has been slashed from $1 million to $800,000. However, the average buy-in amount and guarantee is up over last time.

Also worth noting, this is the first time in GSSS history that Party’s representative on the network’s dedicated Two Plus Two forum did not ask players to chime in with their thoughts regarding the schedule.

Bigger is not always better

Although touted as “the biggest online poker series to date in New Jersey,” the GSSS III is anything but. Yet the decision to “go small” may result in big dividends for the operator.

For one, the sparser scheduling strengthens the odds of individual tournaments reaching their guarantees, an area in which both the GSSS II and the more recent NJCOP II struggled.

During the GSSS II, Party/Borgata averaged 4.6 events per day, resulting in an overlay prevalence of approximately 30 percent. This time around, no one day will feature more than five events, and on weekdays the cap has been set at just two.

Moving forward, prior editions of the GSSS were marred by technical gaffes, presumably due (at least in part) to the server’s inability to handle the inflated workload. By adopting a more conservative schedule, Party heightens its chances of running a smoother series.

A fluid roll-out will almost undoubtedly result in renewed player confidence. Given Party’s past failings, not to mention the recent announcement that its dot-com tournament extravaganza PokerFest will be delayed due to performance issues, any opportunity to regain player trust simply cannot be overlooked.

While I’d ultimately like to believe that the decision by Party/Borgata to abridge the GSSS is motivated by the aforementioned, it could simply be a sobering reflection of the shrinking New Jersey market.

According to Poker Industry Pro via, liquidity on the network is down 19 percent since the GSSS II.

I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, and call it a shrewd strategic move.

What about the little guy?

Somewhat lost in the shuffle is the microstakes player.

Buy-ins for GSSS I and II events ran the gamut from as little as $5 all the way up to $1,000. Since, Party/Borgata has changed gears, now exclusively targeting the mid-to-high stakes player.

Only 23 percent of GSSS III feature a direct price of entry below $55, and none below $20.

All of which wouldn’t be a problem if Party/Borgata regularly hosted a series designed with the budget-conscience player in mind, but as of right now, the only other regularly occurring series on the network (NJCOP) sports even higher average buy-ins.

That being said, recreational players can parlay their way into GSSS III events for as little as 10 player points (achieved by paying $5 in rake and tournament fees) or under $1.

- 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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