WSOP/888 NJ Takes To The Offensive, With Second Top Flight MTT Series In Three Months

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Following up (quickly) on the success of last November’s New Jersey Poker Classic, WSOP NJ / 888 Poker NJ have organized an even larger series for this month.

The New Jersey Poker Classic II has expanded by 50% to 57 events, with a 60% larger $800,000 prize pool.

Highlights of the NJPC II

The 57 tournaments in the series cover a range of options, but most of the prize pools are $10,000 or less, with the majority of buy-ins ranging from $20 to $100. All but two events are No-Limit Hold’em, and most allow re-entries. A handful of these events stick out as particularly interesting:

  • Event #7: The Sunday Biggy on February 11th is the first tournament of the series with a particularly large guarantee, $60,000. Buy-in is $320, event allows re-entry but no add-ons.
  • Event #33: The Omaha 100 is scheduled for February 18th. It’s one of only two Pot-Limit Omaha MTTs on the slate. Buy-in is $100, and the minimum prize pool is $6,000. Re-entry, 8 Max.
  • Event #39: High Roller tournament on February 20th. As the name suggests, this is the biggest buy-in of the series; players will be entering for $1,000 to claim part of a $50,000 guaranteed pool. Re-entry, 6 Max.
  • The Main Event (Event #53) will take place on Sunday, February 25th. It carries a $100,000 guarantee for a $500 buy-in (re-entry allowed.) The tournament promises to be a big draw, six-figure pools are not common on New Jersey networks and the Main Event during the last NJ Poker Classic exceeded its guarantee by 23%. Top spot also wins a Champion’s Ring.
  • Event #54: The Sunday One Day, will be coinciding with the Main. Designed for lower-stakes players, this tournament has the smallest buy-in of the series, only $11. Winners will share a prize pool of at least $11,111. This event allows re-buys and add-ons.

All players that cash in a NJPC II tournament will receive augmented Player of the Year points, ranging from 5x for less prestigious tournaments, all the way up to 35x for the High Roller, and 50x for the Main.

Suffice it to say, the winner of the Main will have a leg up in the POY race, which awards a $10,000 cash prize, an exclusive WSOP.com POY ring, and VIP seating for two at the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas.

Accompanying promotions

888

Until February 20th 888 Poker NJ is running a series of promotional freeroll tournaments concurrently with the NJPC II. All players on 888 automatically receive two invitations, one to a $500 NJPC 2018 Daily Freeroll and the other to a $1,000 NJPC 2018 Weekly Freeroll.

Players can earn additional freeroll tickets by completing challenges. Each day another Daily $500 Freeroll invitation is available by either

  • Buying into multi-table tournaments, regular S&Gs, or BLAST S&Gs. Total buy-in must be $5 or more.
  • Winning 10 cash game hands ($0.02/$0.05 or higher stakes)
  • Betting $5 or more on casino games.

Daily freerolls are held each day at 8:00 PM.

Completing challenges on three different days in a week will also yield an additional ticket, this one to a $1,000 Weekly Freeroll to be held every Sunday at 7:30 PM.

VIP players have an opportunity to earn a spot for a single $2,500 NJPC VIP Freeroll to be held on February 24th at 7:30 PM.

WSOP

While no free daily events are being offered over on WSOP NJ, the site is taking pity on players in the series that experience bad luck. Those who play in any tournaments in the first three days of the NJPC II (February 9th-11th) and that fail to place in the money at all will receive an invitation to a single Second Chance Freeroll to be held on Saturday, February 17 at 6pm.

The top two players in this Freeroll tournament will win invitations to the Main Event a week later.

Expanding series

Traditionally the WSOP/888 network has not pursued significant tournament series like this, allowing such events to be the purview of the Party/Borgata network and latecomer PokerStars NJ. The main exception was the annual Online Championships, but these were once a year and typically only carried total guarantees of only about $250,000. This was dwarfed by Party/Borgata’s Garden State Super Series, which until last year had pools over $1M.

But following technical problems and overlays Party/Borgata has begun to scale back their series, especially after PokerStars NJ arrived and proved extremely adept at running its various Championships of Online Poker. For WSOP the pulling back by Party/Borgata is an opportunity. The running of this current series so soon after the first Poker Classic, coupled with the increase in its scope, exemplifies WSOP’s new commitment to pursuing larger and more ambitious tournaments series.

In our estimation, the reasons for this push are really two-fold. Firstly, it is a current trend in the state, where tightly organized tournament series are proving to be a driver of traffic and reliable source of increased revenues well beyond that of normal cash game traffic for all three major networks. The operators are focusing on medium-sized manageable series, that they can gradually grow as they prove capable of commanding a large enough portion of player participation. This strategy has largely worked, as tournament series on WSOP/888 and PokerStars NJ have trended bigger and more successful, despite drops in cash game liquidity.

Beyond this, WSOP is also motivated to run more impressive series in preparation for changes that will be coming from New Jersey’s entering into an interstate compact with Nevada and Delaware. Currently WSOP is the only poker operator already up-and-running in these states, so it will benefit from a major head-start over its competitors. Having these increased tournament series running smoothly will only compound their advantage from the added liquidity from other states.

Of course, the network’s aggressiveness could just be a device to regain some of the liquidity it lost last Spring, when technical gaffes caused widespread connectivity issues. Those issues have since been resolved but the network has yet to fully recover from the mass exodus of players.

Currently WSOP has a very small lead in traffic in the NJ market, though it has traded this position with PokerStars NJ several times. PokerStars has still not been able to return to the Nevada market following its punishment as a Bad Actor for pre-Black Friday activities. Also, at this point it remains unclear which network will establish itself as dominant in the Pennsylvania market when that opens, or how quickly Pennsylvania will also be able to arrange for its own liquidity compact. These reasons are more than enough for WSOP to wish to strike fast and leverage its better position as quickly as possible.

Ryan is a seasoned writer with several years of expertise in poker and online gaming. He is also an aficionado of advantage gambling and a general lover of statistics with a keen interest in strategic probability.

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