Measuring PokerStars' NJ SCOOP Against Party/Borgata's GSSS Series

How Does The PokerStars NJSCOOP Stack Up Against The Garden State Super Series?

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PokerStars is readying to host its first major tournament series in the United States since before Black Friday.

From May 15 to May 29, players stationed in New Jersey will compete in the NJSCOOP – a 54 event tournament extravaganza featuring the biggest series guarantee ($1.1 million) ever in the relatively short history of regulated online poker in the Garden State.

Online tournament series in New Jersey have been growing in popularity of late, with the recent Garden State Super Series (GSSS) IV all but obliterating its healthy $1 million guarantee for the partnership of Borgata and PartyPoker.

For the most part, the NJSCOOP adheres to the same winning formula implemented by Borgata/Party, with a few tweaks that should propel it to heights previously unseen in the New Jersey online poker market.

NJSCOOP borrows from, and builds upon, the GSSS IV

There are a number of striking similarities between the NJSCOOP and the GSSS IV.

  • Like the GSSS IV before, the NJSCOOP will span two full weeks, beginning and concluding on a Sunday.
  • Buy-ins will run the gamut from the very small ($10), to what’s considered a colossal buy-in in a capped liquidity market ($1,000). GSSS IV buy-ins ranged from $20 – $1,060.
  • In total there will be 54 events, close in number to the GSSS IV’s 62 events.
  • The overwhelming majority of NJSCOOP events allow for either rebuys or reentries. The GSSS IV also went this route, and it paid dividends.

There are also a few noteworthy differences:

  • Non-No Limit Hold’em events are slightly more prevalent, with PLO, 8-Game, Limit Hold’em, O8 and Stud tournaments comprising just over one-quarter of the schedule.
  • There is a wider diversity of formats, with just a handful of tournaments adhering to a traditional 9-max, standard speed format. Alternative formats include Zoom (fast-fold), Ultra KO, Shootout, 4-Max and 3-Stacks – just to name a few.
  • NJSCOOP events are divided into two buy-in tiers, high and low. The GSSS used to adhere to a three-tiered buy-in structure, but did away with it for the GSSS III.
  • The Main Event is priced at $470+30, will feature a $200,000 prize pool and is a 2-day event. By comparison, GSSS Main Events typically feature smaller $150,000 guaranteed prize pools, but much lower entry points ($200+15).

Full NJSCOOP schedule here.

Will the NJSCOOP find success?

The NJSCOOP is among the most aggressive series we’ve witnessed, featuring a total series guarantee of $1.1 million and an average guaranteed prize pool of $20,370 per tournament. By contrast, the average per tournament guarantee for the GSSS IV was just $16,100.

In severely capped liquidity markets, ambition is usually synonymous with disappointment. Yet, there’s good reason to believe the NJSCOOP will defy odds and become the most successful MTT series in New Jersey:

  • The NJSCOOP will be prefaced this Saturday by the Run It Up Resorts Rumble, a star-studded day long event that should heighten NJSCOOP awareness. PokerStars Team Pro Jason Somerville estimated on his Twitch stream event turnout in the 300 – 400 range.
  • Whereas the Borgata is a renowned local brand, PokerStars is known the world over. Just based on the strength of the PokerStars brand alone, out-of-state players may view the NJSCOOP as the first viable opportunity to participate in a prestigious U.S.-based MTT series since 2011.
  • The first two iterations of the GSSS were riddled with technical difficulties, severely damaging the Borgata/Party brand in New Jersey. Although the network has since stabilized its software, its hardly on par with PokerStars, whose platform is internationally celebrated.
  • On Sunday, PokerStars will host yet another $100,000 freeroll. It stands to reason that at least a portion of this free-flowing cash will be spent on NJSCOOP events.

Lastly, if players didn’t already have enough incentive to participate in NJSCOOP events, the top 15 players will receive tournament dollar rewards ranging from $250 to $2,000.

If that weren’t enough, first and second place will be gifted a spot on Team USA for the upcoming Americas Cup of Poker – to be held at Resorts AC from June 23 to June 27 – where they’ll compete for a $100,000 prize pool.

PokerStars regains cash game market share lead

After a brief stumble, PokerStars is back on top in New Jersey.

The latest figures reported by Poker Industry Pro via online poker trafficking site PokerScout show current 7-day traffic averages of 133 for PokerStars NJ and 123 for second place WSOP/888. Third place Party/Borgata is sitting tight with averages hovering in the low 80’s.

Last Sunday, WSOP/888 gained a slight edge on PokerStars, and managed to retain its lead until May 5.

Although some may view this as a shocking turn of events, it’s hardly an unexpected result. Since launching in mid-March, PokerStars has made its intent clear – to dominate on the tournament front.

This is evidenced by its strong promotional focus on Spin & Go’s, MTTs and more recently Sit & Go’s. Contrarily, WSOP NJ launched a new cash game promotion on May 1 that awards cash game players with increased loyalty points during select Happy Hours.

Reaching further, PokerStars’ cash games appear to be mostly dominated by regular and professional players – which makes sense considering that the players most inclined to call PokerStars their home are the ones who were familiar with it pre-Black Friday.

WSOP/888 on the other hand, seems to attract a mostly casual ilk, even more so now that WSOP awareness is on the rise (the live Series begins at the end of May).

In either case, cash game traffic is hardly synonymous with revenue, as despite higher liquidity, WSOP/888 consistently lags behind its competitors in gross monthly revenue.

Given the popularity of Spin & Go’s and the presence of the NJSCOOP, don’t expect that to change in May, as PokerStars should run away with the revenue share lead – regardless of whether or not it maintains its narrow lead on the cash game front.

- 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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