After all the attention this summer on the rise of online sports betting and the successful launch of new online casinos, it’s helpful to have a reminder that New Jersey still boasts a strong online poker culture.
Thankfully, autumn coming also means the next round of major online poker tournaments. These big tournament series have become the heart of NJ poker, so it’s particularly helpful that two networks will be offering significant options for nearly a month.
NJCOOP returns proudly (and cautiously)
PokerStars NJ may have fallen consistently behind the WSOP/888 Poker network as market leader since WSOP began sharing liquidity with Nevada (at least until Pennsylvania enters the fray) but the industry giant continues to offer a good poker experience. The end of September means the return of its flagship New Jersey Championship of Online Poker (NJCOOP) series.
Overall the guarantees have been scaled back this year from $1.2 million to $1 million, with a slight increase in the number of events (from 46 to 47). GTDs for major events have been hit particularly hard, with the guarantee for the Main Event dropping from $200,000 to $150,000. The High Roller tournaments have shrunk from $80,000 to $50,000 for No-Limit Hold’em and from $30,000 to $15,000 for Pot-Limit Omaha.
This adjustment should not be a significant cause for concern, as the events still offer reasonable value. It does however, reinforce the notion that traffic on PokerStars NJ has suffered since May, when the shared liquidity pact linking 888-powered sites in three states, went live. According to the latest figures that pact hasn’t grown the NJ online poker market, with revenue only redistributed away from PokerStars and the Borgata network, and toward WSOP/888.
NJCOOP events are available at a wide range of buy-ins (from $25 to $1,000) and there are several Turbo and Hyper speed tournaments peppered throughout the schedule. The series runs from September 29th to October 15th.
Perhaps the most significant deviation from previous iterations of the series is the reward of three Platinum Passes available from specific events.
The first of these is Event #6, an online $86 Moneymaker Tour No-Limit Hold’em tournament on September 30th. There will also be two All-in Shootouts, one for NJCOOP Main Event participants specifically, and one for all NJCOOP participants, on October 16th, each yielding an additional Platinum Pass.
Interestingly, this year’s NJCOOP offers a number of differing formats aside from the standard Hold’em and Omaha MTTs:
- Event #16 is an 8-game mix, with a $300 buy-in and a guaranteed pool of at least $12,000 on October 4th.
- Event #19 is Triple Stud, buy-in is $200 and guarantee is $7,000, October 5th.
- Event #23 will be a mix of No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha, with a buy-in of only $100 and a guaranteed pool of $10,000 on October 7th.
The two-day Main Event (#42) will run on October 14th and 15th, and the $1,000 High Roller NL Hold’em Event #31 will be on October 9th. A low end Main Event (#43) will also run on the 14th with a buy-in of $50 and a guarantee of $25,000.
Numerous qualifier events (a Promo freeroll and several Spin & Go options) are running for Main Event seats, and Second-Chance freerolls will be offered to all NJCOOP participants who are eliminated without prizes.
WSOP adds Online Circuit Rings
Not to be left behind, WSOP is experimenting with a new option for a fall series. For years WSOP has offered tournament circuits at various casino locations as a lead-up to its annual World Series. For the first time one of these series will be available for the online players, an Online Circuit.
This represents an expansion of WSOP’s overtures to the online community. While online bracelet events have run for several years, 2018 saw the very first Online Circuit Ring event run on WSOP Nevada during the February circuit. Now thanks to interstate liquidity players in New Jersey and Nevada can compete together in an entire series of ring events.
The Online Circuit will be composed of 13 events in 13 days, with 13 rings available to the winners. The rings of course are not the only perk, the series also offers a combined $700,000 in guaranteed prize pools.
High turnout for the circuit can very likely result in this series becoming a regular occurrence.
The Online Circuit will feature one event every evening from September 18th to September 30th, with MTTs beginning at 7 p.m EST every day but Sunday, when they begin at 5 p.m. With two exceptions (the High Roller event and the Main Event) all tournaments have a buy-in range of $200 to $320, targeting this series to a particular demographic of player: mid-stakes with a desire for rings.
- Event #6, a No-Limit Hold’em Monster Stack with a $320 buy-in and a guarantee of $100,000 on September 23rd.
- Event #8 is the No Limit Hold’em High Roller 6-max tournament, with a $1,000 buy-in and a pool of $75,000 on September 25th.
- The Main Event (#13) will have a buy-in of $525 and a guarantee of $200,000 on September 30th.
Players that make a deposit of at least $10 on September 7th through 13th with promo code CIRCUITRING can receive entry to a drawing or qualifying event for a Main Event seat.
Overall, it should be fairly likely that both series will be successful, with the likelihood of success stronger on WSOP.com.
While cash liquidity for online poker has declined for years, the New Jersey market has come to rely on these big tournament series to drive activity and interest. They have overall been extremely successful in this regard, and usually are now executed with few overlays and significant surpluses.
It is true that PokerStars has in some ways scaled back from previous years, and this is clearly a reflection of market dynamics. That said, the NJCOOP offers a diversity of event structures, and a good variety of formats and buy-ins that should appeal to a wide range of players.
Meanwhile, the WSOP series – though smaller – will be offering a much higher average guarantee per event of $53,000 (2.5 times that of PokerStars’ series) for those willing to brave the hefty buy-ins. WSOP is clearly also betting on its recently boosted liquidity and the draw of the rings to carry the number of entries, and the limited number of events should have helped the site to plan accurately.
Also, thankfully, there will be no real competition between the two series as there is little overlap, the final tournaments for WSOP only sharing dates with the warm-ups for PokerStars. Barring a disaster, these events should inspire many more to follow.