PokerStars Arriving In New Jersey With A Strong VIP Scheme

PokerStars Reveals Details About New Jersey VIP Program – How Does It Stack Up?

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In a sponsored Two Plus Two thread started on Monday, a representative of PokerStars revealed key details regarding how the company’s VIP Club will function in New Jersey.

For the most part, players can expect a rewards program that closely resembles the newly-minted club found on PokerStars’ main site.

And of the few alterations that were made, at least one stands to work out greatly in favor of New Jersey players.

PokerStars NJ VIP Club based on global program

The PokerStars NJ VIP Club will borrow many of its core aspects from Stars’ recently revamped program, launched internationally on January 1, 2016.

  • Players that pay tournament entry fees or cash game rake will receive VIP Player Points (VPPs) at a rate of 5.5 VPPs per $1 collected by the house (microstakes cash game players may receive more).
  • Those that accumulate a specified number of VPPs will complete a VIP Step, at which time a number of the site’s virtual currency (StarsCoin) will be unlocked.
  • Each StarsCoin will have a value of $0.01, and can be used to purchase a variety of items, including cash bonuses, from the VIP Store.
  • After completing a predesignated number of VIP Steps, players will move up a loyalty tier, where they will receive a better rakeback rate.
  • The monthly loyalty tiers are entitled BronzeStar, ChromeStar, SilverStar, GoldStar and PlatinumStar. There is also an annual tier, SuperNova.

Slightly lower rakeback, no VIP Tournaments

There are a few trivial differences worth glossing over.

First off, rakeback rates at every loyalty tier sans BronzeStar and PlatinumStar will be ever so slightly lower in New Jersey:

  • BronzeStar: 8-9%
  • ChromeStar: 12-15% in NJ, 12-16% ROW
  • SilverStar: 15-18% in NJ, 15-20% ROW
  • GoldStar: 17-21% in NJ, 18-25% ROW
  • PlatinumStar: 22-25%
  • SuperNova: 27-30% in NJ, 28-30%

As per Two Plus Two rep PokerStars Dylan, “the range of rewards reflects fluctuation depending on your VIP Steps progress at the end of the month/year.”

To elaborate, players who complete one of the more lucrative VIP Steps just as the month/year ends will receive closer to the top end of their rakeback range, while players who come up just short of completing a Step are more likely to fall along the lower portion.

Moving forward, there are no planned VIP Tournaments scheduled at launch. This comes as something of a surprise, as runs VIP freerolls that award approximately $200,000 in cash prizes each month.

As a consolation prize, “value/seat added VIP Bash Satellites” to major PokerStars’ events will be making their way to New Jersey.

Tier requirements drastically reduced

The main upshot of the program for New Jersey online gambling players is that the VPP requirements to reach higher tiers have been lowered, significantly so at the top levels.

Listed below are the VPP requirements for each tier, and the amount of rake/fees players must pay to reach that tier – assuming 5.5 VPPs = $1 and a starting point of 0 VPPs.

  • BronzeStar: 0 VPPs
  • ChromeStar: 100 VPPs, $18.18 rake/fees paid
  • SilverStar: 500 VPPs, $90.91
  • GoldStar: 2,000 VPPs, $363.64
  • PlatinumStar: 4,000 VPPs, $727.27
  • SuperNova: 50,000 VPPs, $9,090.91

At the BronzeStar, ChromeStar and SilverStar levels, the VPPs requirements in NJ will be the same as they are abroad.

GoldStar has been reduced slightly, down from 2,500 on dot-com.

The big departures begin at the PlatinumStar level, where players will only have to accumulate 53 percent (4,000 vs. 7,500) of the VPPs as their global counterparts.

SuperNova requirements have been slashed by half.

According to PokerStars Dylan, the substantial reductions at the highest VIP statuses are a reflection of “NJ being a closed liquidity market.” Makes sense, considering games in New Jersey don’t even run around the clock, let alone across all stakes and formats, as they do on dot-com.

PokerStars NJ VIP Club beats out competition

The PokerStars NJ VIP Club stands up exceptionally well compared to those found on existing NJ sites WSOP, 888 Poker and Borgata, offering better reward ratios at both the lower and higher status levels.

Here’s a broad comparison at the entry, middle and top level statuses.

Entry level

Currently, the best entry level cashback rate offered to new online poker players in NJ is 5 percent (888 Poker).

Borgata does offer up to 6.7 percent, but that’s on tournament ticket exchanges only. The cashback rate is a paltry 1 percent.

WSOP doesn’t offer any cashback until players rake at least $100.

By comparison, brand new PokerStars NJ players will receive 8-9 percent rakeback, regardless of the exchange. After generating just under $20 in monthly rake and fees, that rate climbs to 12-15 percent.

Winner: PokerStars NJ, followed by 888.

Middle levels

At the middle status levels PokerStars simply blows the competition out of the water.

In order to reach approximately 20 percent rakeback (GoldStar) on PokerStars NJ, players only need to pay roughly $360 per month in rake/fees.

WSOP players must generate $400 in monthly rake to receive just 8 percent.

The situation is slightly better on 888, where it takes $100 in monthly rake to receive a 10 percent return on investment. Problem is, graduating to the next loyalty tier requires another $1,400 in monthly rake.

Borgata offers those who rake $325 per month between 3.2-12.6 percent rakeback, depending on the exchange type.

Winner: PokerStars NJ, no comparison.

Top levels

Both 888 and WSOP cap their rakeback at 35 percent, a good 5 percent more than the highest attainable rate on Stars NJ.

However, the requirements to reach these caps range from difficult to nearly mythical. 888 is the more “reasonable” of the two, requiring $10,000 in paid rake per month to receive a 35 percent return.

WSOP players will have to rake $200,000 annually for the same, which I’m not even sure is possible in the current NJ online poker climate.

It’s worth noting however, that WSOP runs a recurrent promotion that offers additional cashback to players who have earned Elite status, pushing those who rake more than $25k annually above 20 percent cashback.

As for Stars NJ, reaching SuperNova tasks players with raking a minimum average of $758 a month.

Winner: PokerStars NJ, WSOP a somewhat distant second.

NJ players to receive favorable FPP conversion rate

On Monday, it was also announced that players who opt to convert their existing dot-com account into a NJ one will receive the best possible conversion rate of 1.6 StarsCoin per FPP.

By contrast, dot-com players only received 1.2 StarsCoin per FPP.

PokerStars Dylan explains that the differential exists because:

“ROW players had 2 months notice to redeem their FPPs at the best possible rate via purchasing Tournament Tickets or playing FPP satellites, NJ players did not have that opportunity.”

Another interesting finding, players wielding their old account in NJ will be designated a VIP status which is the higher of their “current existing PokerStars VIP status or [their] VIP status in April, 2011.”

Soft launch period to begin March 16

On a final note, PokerStars NJ will be available for download from beginning on March 16 at approximately 4 pm ET.

Testing periods will run at the following times:

  • March 16-17: 4:00 pm – 12:00 am
  • March 18: 8:00 am – 12:00 am
  • March 19-20: 24 hours a day

During these times, the server cap will be set at 500 players.

If the testing period proves a success, PokerStars NJ will go live on March 21.

- 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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