PokerStars NJCOOP Pays Out Over $1.4 Million

The PokerStars NJCOOP Turns Out To Be Everything The GSSS V Was Not, And That’s A Good Thing

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The New Jersey online poker industry has a new tournament king.

Just one week after Borgata/Party‘s struggling GSSS V met a disastrous end, PokerStars capped off the small market’s most successful tournament series to date.

The inaugural NJ Championship of Online Poker (NJCOOP) defied expectations, cruising by its ambitious $1.2 million guarantee by more than $200,000, and running without so much as a technical hiccup.

Highlights of the NJCOOP

PokerStars “think big” strategy paid off, as nearly all of the NJCOOP’s 43 events either met their guarantee, or came within hair’s breadth of doing of:

  • Only a handful of events produced overlays, and not a single event fell short of its guarantee by more than 5 percent.
  • All but one mixed game event met its minimum benchmark. NJCOOP-14 ($500 buy-in, $20k GTD 8-Game) came up one buy-in short.
  • The first two events to guarantee $100,000 both made the grade. NJCOOP-04 (Sunday Special SE) attracted 449 runners in creating a $104,617 prize pool, and NJCOOP-28 (High-Roller) generated $109,250 worth of buy-ins.
  • The $200,000 guaranteed Main Event fell short of its guarantee by a single buy-in. Despite the overlay, it was arguably the most successful main in NJ online poker tournament history.

According to a PokerStars press release emailed Wednesday morning, the series attracted “1,273 unique players,” and paid out “a record breaking $1,405,276.” In addition to prize money won, the top 15 NJCOOP players divvied up $10,000 in tournament dollars.

If there was one negative, it’s that very few events crushed their guarantees. Just nine events exceeded the baseline by more than 50 percent, with only one (NJCOOP-26 PLO8) coming close to doubling the allocated prize pool.

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A tale of two networks

Last week, widespread disconnects resulted in the cancellation of the Garden State Super Series V Main Event, along with several other top-shelf events on the schedule. Party/Borgata cited a “failure on [its] internal geolocation service which impacted all active players on the network” as the culprit behind the disconnects.

However, it is believed that GeoComply USA — the geolocation provider for all NJ online poker sites — communicated to its customers that the issues were not in fact related to a geolocation failure. Sure enough, neither PokerStars nor WSOP/888 experienced geolocation troubles on October 23.

It’s therefore conceivable that there was a hardware failure on Borgata/Party’s side — it wouldn’t be the first time — related to higher than normal volume.

Compounding matters, the network’s resolution left an abundance of players feeling shortchanged. Payouts were distributed based on chip counts at the time the tournament was paused — some 30 minutes after the majority of players were first disconnected.

For these players, who had their blinds and antes stolen for several orbits, the chip chop amount was markedly lower than it should have been. Since, it appears the network has made good with some players, but numerous cases remain unresolved to satisfaction.

Prior to the Main Event disaster, the GSSS V wasn’t exactly breaking new ground. Of the more than 60 events that did reach a conclusion, roughly two-thirds of them produced an overlay. In some cases, the overlays were big enough to result in negative revenue for the operator.

PokerStars, on the other hand, ran a technically flawless series that drew myriad out-of-state players, including a number of PokerStars Team Pros. The series also had an impact on the site’s other formats. According to Poker Industry Pro via PokerScout, cash game liquidity catapulted 24 percent during the series’ first week, reaching its highest point since early June.

For players who had their trust shaken by Party/Borgata and are now looking for a new home, PokerStars just made a strong case for their consideration.

Will PokerStars continue to push the envelope in NJ?

It wouldn’t surprise. While the $1.2 million guarantee affixed to the NJCOOP turned out to be just about right, the inevitable migration of tournament players off of Party/Borgata opens up some doors.

That, combined with increased PokerStars awareness (thanks to live events at Resorts like the PokerStars Festival), and WSOP/888 being seemingly content with its small ball MTT strategy, sets the stage for PokerStars to host MTT series’ in NJ that boast guarantees approaching $1.5 million, maybe more.

Just don’t expect another network to go head-to-head with PokerStars anytime soon.

- 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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