Pala Poker Continues To Offer Best Value To NJ Online Poker Players
Online Poker Report

Pala Poker Is Light On Technical Issues, But Also On Traffic In New Jersey

Pala Poker NJ traffic
Pala Poker is making the grade, if server stability is the metric by which a newly minted NJ online poker site is judged.

The site’s first two weeks in live beta concluded without a game-breaking technical issue. That is quite the brag for an operator new to the online poker landscape.

However, the software has yet to be fully put to the test, as liquidity on the site is more than zero, but not by much.

All systems are go for Pala

From a technical standpoint, the launch of New Jersey’s sixth online poker site was an unequivocal success. Our experience revealed little in the way of server disconnects, lag or other maladies.

Game flow was fluid — not to the level of PokerStars, but on par with 888 Poker. And while the interface and lobby leave a lot of aesthetic appeal and functionality to be desired, they scrape by.

Pala is relying heavily on player feedback during this early phase, both to recognize bugs and identify the most sought-after features.

For now, improving the product seems to be the operator’s primary objective, which given the difficulty other NJ online poker operators had at launch, seems like a wise direction.

Pala Interactive Chief Marketing Officer Jeremy Clemons had this to say regarding the launch:

“The primary objective with our beta launch was to get our new poker platform/software in the New Jersey market without any major technical issues. While we have received a great deal of constructive input on features and functions from players including some minor bugs, we are pleased that we haven’t had any show-stopping issues and we are excited about that result.”

It is likely that a host of improvements will go live before the software officially moves out of beta.

But where’s the traffic?

Pala Poker has failed to gain any significant market share since launching. Recent PokerScout counts have the site averaging about two ring game players, with daily peaks around 6-8 players.

This stands in stark contrast to other latecomer PokerStars, which immediately took over the industry’s No. 1 spot upon launching in March 2016.

However, given the following dynamics, Pala arguably has reason to celebrate any liquidity whatsoever:

  • The New Jersey market is struggling through one of its most difficult periods since launch. According to Poker Industry Pro via PokerScout, cash game liquidity is near its historic low point.
  • Pala Interactive is effectively a startup, having launched its first online casino (also in New Jersey) in 2014, and now its first online poker site.
  • The Pala brand doesn’t immediately resonate with New Jersey players, as Pala does not operate a land-based casino in Atlantic City, or anywhere on the eastern seaboard for that matter. Its sole land-based casino is in Northern San Diego County.
  • Put simply, New Jersey is a saturated market, with little appetite for new online poker operators.

So why launch an online poker site in NJ at all?

According to Clemons, Pala has its eye on the future of the industry:

“We have spent the last three years building a new poker platform in preparation for state based online gaming regulation in the U.S. In addition to the current regulated market in New Jersey, we believe that other states may regulate online gaming and specifically online poker in the foreseeable future.

We wanted to get the product out of the lab and into the market with the view of tuning the platform and improving the feature set with the objective of providing online operators with another poker supply option.”

Based on this, it appears Pala isn’t as concerned about taking over the New Jersey market as it is in positioning itself for a run in any other market in which online poker goes live.

Then again, back in 2014 it was believed that New Jersey was merely a fertile testing ground for Pala’s online casino. Since, it’s grown to encompass a roughly 20 percent share of Borgata online casino revenue.

Value abounds at Pala Poker

Pala Poker may not be generating much traffic now. But if word gets out about how much added value the site is offering, that could soon change.

  • The site is currently offering the best no-deposit bonus in New Jersey. Players receive a $15 poker bonus, $20 casino bonus, and $15 in bingo bucks.
  • First-time depositors will receive a 100 percent match up to $500, released in $5 increments. The bonus clears at a 20 percent rakeback rate.
  • Despite its meager liquidity, Pala has taken an aggressive stance with regard to tournament guarantees. Although guarantees cap out at around $500, very few tournaments reach their minimum benchmark — which means plenty of overlay value for players.

Regarding value, Clemons had this to say:

“With the addition of poker, Pala now offers the largest Welcome Bonus of any New Jersey online casino. We provide any new registered player with $50 in Bonuses with no deposit required.  We believe that is at least $20 more than any other operator.”

And the guarantees should be attractive, as well.

“We have a terrific opportunity for poker tournament players right now,” Clemons said. “We have a daily guaranteed poker tournament schedule which have regularly provided over $1,000 in overlays.”

It’s unlikely that this level of value will last too long, so players should get in now. And while there, be sure to offer Pala management opinions on how to improve the site.

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Robert DellaFave
- 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.