Previewing The GSSS V: Party/Borgata's Most Ambitious MTT Series In NJ To Date

Party/Borgata Dials Up Aggression (Again) For Garden State Super Series V In New Jersey

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From October 9 – October 23, the NJ online poker partnership of Party Poker NJ and the Borgata will host the fifth running of the Garden State Super Series (GSSS V).

The GSSS prize pools have followed an upward trajectory, with the GSSS III guaranteeing $800,000 and March’s GSSS IV $1 million. Both series were major successes for the brand.

That trend will continue, as the GSSS V will feature a more than $1.1 million prize pool spread across 75 events, rendering it the biggest MTT series in market history.

Considering the network’s decline in the post PokerStars era, the record-breaking prize pool comes off as something of a surprise. Whether it will result in revitalized interest, or see the network scrambling to fend off overlays, is a question soon to be answered.

Full GSSS V schedule here.

GSSS V: Familiar structure, just bigger

In terms of timeframe, buy-in levels and game variation, the GSSS V isn’t all that unlike the GSSS IV:

  • The series will span two full weeks, including three Sundays, just like the GSSS IV.
  • Buy-ins will run the gamut from the budget conscious ($20) to those designed with the high roller in mind ($535 – $1,060). The majority will fall in the $55 – $215 range.
  • A wide range of formats will be on display, including 6-Max, Heads-Up, Bounties, and Slow Grind.
  • No Limit Hold’em tournaments dominate the schedule, accounting for roughly 80 percent of events. PLO, PLO8, 7-Stud, and Fixed Limit Hold’em are also represented, but the biggest guarantee for a non-NLHE tournament is just $7,500.
  • The GSSS hasn’t coincided with a land-based event at the Borgata in some time, and the GSSS V will not break that pattern.

The series has also undergone a litany of tweaks, most of which pertain to its sheer size:

  • The number of events was increased by 13, from 62 to 75.
  • Along the same lines, the series guarantee has swelled from $1 million to approximately $1.16 million. However, the average individual tournament guarantee is down, from $16,100 to roughly $15,500.
  • The Main Event is now a $320 buy-in, $175,000 guarantee, as opposed to a $215 buy-in, $150,000 guarantee last time around. Back in March, the Main Event was one of just a few GSSS IV events to narrowly miss its tournament guarantee.
  • Rebuys and re-entry events are now the norm, with 60 of the 75 events allowing players to buy-in more than once.

Online poker sites, both in New Jersey and internationally, have been relying more and more on the reentry format. The format has allowed operators to maintain their high tournament guarantees despite the industry’s half-decade long decline.

[geoip2 region=NJarea][i15-table tableid=29874][/geoip2]

Did Party/Borgata take its aggressiveness too far?

There’s plenty of reason to suspect that the GSSS V will outperform its immediate predecessors.

  • The technical nightmares that plagued the first two GSSS’s appear to be a distant memory
  • Both Party Poker NJ and the Borgata are hosting a generous number of qualifiers into GSSS V events. Coupled with the high prevalence of re-entry tournaments, the satellites should alleviate the strain of the massive series guarantee.
  • October generally marks the beginning of the annual seasonal uptick.
  • Tournaments haven’t suffered the same level of decline as the network’s cash games, evidenced by the network’s ability to remain competitive in the market despite accounting for just 22 percent of its cash game players — as per the latest PokerScout traffic figures.

Still, this is not the same network that hosted the GSSS IV in March. Back then, the Party/Borgata partnership was regularly generating more than $1 million in online poker revenue per month. Since the launch of PokerStars, that number has sunk to roughly $600,000.

And although we pointed out that MTTs haven’t declined at the rate of ring games, that isn’t exactly saying much, considering that cash game liquidity has been effectively halved in the past six months.

In order to make the grade Party/Borgata will rely on its regulars to mass multi-table upwards of eight GSSS V tournaments per day, all while capturing enough recreational players to fill in the gaps.

That could prove a tall order.

PokerStars up next

Regardless of the final turnout figures, Party/Borgata deserves a measure of credit for nudging the industry into new ground — even if the “over $1,100,000” guarantee the network settled upon was little more than a friendly jab at PokerStars.

Stars’ NJSCOOP, which ran last spring, featured a series guarantee of $1.1 million flat.

Speaking of PokerStars, the operator will get a chance to retaliate when it reveals the schedule for its fast approaching NJCOOP (October 16 -30). It’s plausible that Stars purposely held off on the details until the GSSS V series guarantee was announced.

If PokerStars does opt to one-up Party/Borgata — which we suspect it will — then the NJ online poker market will be tasked with covering at least $2.3 million in guarantees, in addition to its regularly scheduled tournaments.

In that scenario, overlays may rule the day.

- 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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