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The network’s strategic decision to reduce the number of tournaments and guaranteed cash for the GSSS III proved to be a sagacious one, resulting in more events meeting, and in some cases shattering, their minimum benchmarks.
Yet, to some extent, the Series also exposed some of the vulnerabilities of the NJ online poker landscape.
Considering the downtrodden state of the NJ online poker market, turnouts for most GSSS III events exceeded expectations. Yet, the Series’ narrow scope, and relative inability to fill seats for alternative format events, speaks volumes as to how niche the market has become.
Now that the GSSS has abandoned its three-tiered buy-in system, budget players no longer have a Party/Borgata-hosted tournament series to look forward to, as the network’s only other major MTT event (the NJCOP) caters primarily to mid-to-high stakes players.
On some level, the network’s decision to all but ostracize low-stakes MTT players makes sense. Average player value on Party/Borgata is exceedingly higher than on rival WSOP/888, suggesting that Party/Borgata players preference higher stakes cash games and bigger buy-in MTT events.
So why not roll out the red carpet for them?
Simply stated, catering exclusively to high stakes/volume players will eventually spell the ruination of the network’s already fragile online poker ecology.
The pro-friendly structure of the GSSS III is also seemingly at odds with other changes PartyPoker is toying with; namely, the recent retooling of its loyalty program in favor of casual players, and the imminent software overhaul that will render HUDs redundant.
Interestingly, the latest iteration of the Garden State Super Series was the first to not overlap with a major Open event at the Borgata.
To my understanding, the logic behind cross-promoting live and online tournament series is that the higher prevalence of out-of-state players, and overall heightened interest in poker, will result in increased turnouts for online events.
Turns out the opposite may be true. Both the GSSS I and II featured a rather high frequency of overlays. The GSSS III did not.
Granted, part of this discrepancy is accounted for by the reduction in the number of events, but it also may be that players situated at the Borgata may be too taken with live events and casino nightlife to be bothered to sit in their rooms and grind out online tournaments with less than stellar guarantees.
By contrast, both in and out-of-state players may feel more compelled to participate in GSSS events when it’s the best available option.
One facet all three Series have in common is their relative inability to drive cash game traffic upward.
That’s just 2 percent better than the growth WSOP/888 experienced over an equivalent time frame.