The PokerStars NJSCOOP Meets The Guarantee For 12 Of Its First 14 Events
Online Poker Report

It’s Been (Mostly) Smooth Sailing For The PokerStars NJSCOOP, But Big Tests Await

Sailing into storm
Given just how hostile the current online poker climate is in New Jersey, the NJSCOOP is going about as well as PokerStars NJ could hope.

NJSCOOP navigates rough waters

Right from the get, there were several variables working against the NJSCOOP:

  • The greater online poker industry is mired in an expected seasonal downtrend. Global liquidity has dipped over 11 percent in the past two months, with further declines expected. (Data provided by Poker Industry Pro via PokerScout).
  • PokerStars NJ is going head-to-head with the international SCOOP, which draws a notable number of US-based online poker players away from their home base.
  • Locally, PokerStars NJ is facing stiff competition from rival network WSOP/888, which has ramped up its promotional spend in the leadup to the live World Series of Poker, and has introduced a new lottery sit & go format, BLAST.

Yet, through 14 of the tournament series’ 70 events, the NJSCOOP has shown little sign of cracking under the pressure.

The $1.2 million guaranteed series, which kicked off on May 6 and runs through May 22, is currently on tap to award more prize money than any tournament extravaganza in regulated NJ online poker history.

Breaking down the NJSCOOP so far

Thus far, the NJSCOOP is defying expectations, but it’s not been completely smooth sailing.

The good

  • Twelve of the first 14 events have fended off overlays.
  • The biggest event on the schedule so far, NJSCOOP 03-H $85,000 Gtd., sailed by its minimum benchmark, attracting 332 players in creating a $92.6k prize pool.
  • The prize pools for six events have exceeded their guarantees by 20 percent or more.
  • Two events, both of them featuring budget-friendly price points, coasted by their guarantees by over 75 percent.

Also worth noting, is that cash game liquidity on PokerStars is on the rise, although this appears to be more a byproduct of the site’s cleverly timed 100 percent up to $500 reload bonus, than the onset of NJSCOOP.

PokerStars NJ Cash Game Traffic

Although not as lucrative as the site’s first-time deposit match, the reload offer does offer players an additional 27 percent rakeback — which is well above par for industry standards.

The not-so-good

  • A number of NJSCOOP events just barely met their guarantees, exceeding the minimum prize pool by 10 percent or less.
  • Two events, one a Pot Limit Omaha tournament, failed to meet their guarantees — although they only fell short by small margins.
  • As solid as cash game traffic has been, it’s still down 8.4 percent year-on-year.

PokerStars now holds a minimal lead over WSOP/888 on the cash game front. The duo have swapped leads a nearly innumerable amount of times since PokerStars launched its NJ operation in March 2016.

True tests yet to come

The NJSCOOP is currently in the midst of what I would characterize as the conservative part of the series’ schedule. This tendency toward caution on the part of PokerStars will continue throughout the next week, as there isn’t a single event through May 15 that guarantees more than $65,000.

It’s at that juncture that the big hitters roll out:

  • May 16 will feature a high roller event (NJSCOOP 24-H) that will feature a $1,000 buy-in and $85,000 guarantee. This event may struggle due to the high price point, although previous high rollers have coasted by their guarantees.
  • On May 21, PokerStars NJ will host the NJSCOOP Main Event: a two-day tournament featuring a $200,000 guarantee and a $500 price point.

The last time PokerStars hosted an event on scale with the Main was during October’s NJCOOP. That event fell just one buy-in short of meeting its guarantee, although the state’s online poker playing climate was more hospitable compared to now.

Also worth keeping track of are the performance of alternative format events. Typically, these are far more prone to overlays.

Should PokerStars NJ prove able to cover the guarantees for mixed game and other alt events, many of which take place in the next week, it’ll go a long way toward defining the second annual NJSCOOP as a success.

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Robert DellaFave
- Robert DellaFave is a game designer and avid poker player. He writes for several online poker publications and dreams of one day programming a poker simulation clever enough to beat the pros. Read more by following @RobertDellaFave on Twitter.