Interest In Tournament Poker On Remains High, Just Not Quite As High


Following on the footsteps of a historic early summer rush that saw enjoy the benefits of both crossover with the live World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and shared liquidity between 888-branded sites in the Nevada and New Jersey markets, the operator was at it again, this time with a nearly $1.1 million guaranteed MTT series, dubbed Coast 2 Coast Classic (C2CC) II.

The 36-event series, while not quite as successful as its predecessor, made the grade considering the circumstances, suggesting that won’t be backing off from its newfound penchant for seven-figure tournament series anytime soon.

A mild hangover

The C2CC II was facing a difficult challenge in drawing more interest than the first iteration of the series, as that one took place just as WSOP mania was ascending to a fever pitch. And admittedly, by nearly every metric the first Coast 2 Coast performed better. But for a week in early August, several weeks after the U.S. segment of the live Series shuttered its doors, the C2CC II defied its modest expectations.

Some comparison notes:

  • The series got off to a slow start, with Event #1 failing to meet its $30,000 guarantee. By comparison the kick-off event of the first C2CC generated a $42,644 prize pool and a five-figure first place prize.
  • The sole high roller on the schedule (Event #16 – $85k GTD 6-Max Re-entry) crushed, drawing 117 entries en route to a $111,735 prize pool. Perennial NJ online poker force Michael Gagliano took down the event, winning $32,403 for his efforts. The first C2CC featured a high roller with a marginally larger prize pool of nearly $120k.
  • Pot-Limit Omaha events were a decidedly mixed bag, with the first (Event #4) coming up well short of its modest $15,000 guarantee. The second (Event #32) fared somewhat better, drawing 76 players and beating out its $10k GTD by roughly $1,700.
  • upped its game for the Main Event, which boasted a $250,000 guaranteed prize pool, as opposed to a $200,001 GTD for the Main of the first C2CC. Unfortunately, despite the larger guarantee, turnout was disappointing, with only 314 players (445 total entries) ponying up the $500 buy-in. ate a $27.5k loss on the event: good news for players, bad news for the operator.

In total, 10 out of 36 events offered overlays, providing solid value for players looking for a bargain. The first C2CC series in May only offered one overlay, despite supporting larger guarantees, on average.

A minor quibble

It was somewhat disappointing to see only one event (the Main) feature a six-figure guaranteed prize pool. In fact, all but just a few C2CC II events guaranteed $25,000 or less. While this made for some opportunities for the site to support lower buy-ins in the $30 – $50 range, on most days of the series, it just felt like there wasn’t much to get excited about.

At least is working out some of its scheduling issues. Yes, weekday tournaments kicked off as late as 10 p.m. EST, but they generally featured fast formats, and ended within three to four hours. Even the Main Event, despite its slow structure, finished up at 3 a.m. — late for a Monday morning, but a small concession for final tablists playing for a $63,750 top prize.

Outlook is positive

Although the performance of the C2CC II was nothing to write home about, consider that before 2018, rarely ran a series for New Jersey players that eclipsed the half-a-million guaranteed mark, let alone a million. The fact that a $1 million+ series performed respectively for the operator in what is largely considered the worst month for online poker is quite the feat.

As the weather cools, will likely have even fewer reservations about hosting yet another seven-figure MTT extravaganza in 2018. Of course, for now, players can enjoy the site’s revamped regular Sunday MTT schedule, supporting over $90,000 in guarantees, as well as its revitalized cash game traffic, which according to PokerScout resides at a rolling seven-day average of 203.

Admittedly, that’s a far cry from the ring-game traffic recorded during the live Series, but still leaps and bounds over the paltry numbers PokerStars (seven-day average of 71), and PartyPoker NJ (seven-day average of just 43) are currently pulling in.

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Robert is a veteran writer and analyst for the gambling industry, with a particular focus on the emergent US online gambling market. An avid poker and gambling enthusiast, Robert offers unique perspectives from both the vantage point of the player and industry professional, and is fit to cover a broad spectrum of topics.

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