PokerStars NJCOOP 2018 A Modest Triumph; Awards Three $30k Platinum Passes

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PokerStars New Jersey has wrapped up its third annual NJCOOP tournament series to amazing success. There were more than 7,500 entries to the 47 events, not counting numerous satellites and qualifying freerolls. At least ten players took home prizes in excess of $10,000, and three people won Platinum Pass packages to the PokerStars Players NL Hold’em Championship in the Bahamas (estimated value $30,000).

Big winners

The biggest prize went to Ryan ‘ISlowRollYou’ Hohner, who finished in first place in the two-day $150k GTD Main Event on October 14 and 15, good for $28,219 . Hohner is reportedly having a really good year, so we can expect to see more of him in the future.

Anthony ‘FlawlessBINK’ Maio came in first in the highly anticipated Event #6 (Moneymaker Tour Online), beating out hundreds of other players to earn the series’ first Platinum Pass prize, valued at $30k. On October 16 two additional passes were awarded to the winners of all-in shootouts arranged for series participants. Those packages went to Mc_Lovin1632 and Stickyicky28, two usernames that remind us the online poker community loves pop culture and other related hobbies.

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Poker legend Chris Moneymaker can also once again count himself a winner. While he was in New Jersey as part of his Moneymaker PSPC Tour, which the aforementioned Event #6 was a part of, he took the time to participate in the series himself and took the top spots in Events #14 and #16, netting over $10k combined.

Series success

The NJCOOP performed remarkably at driving attendance, with player turnout resulting in total prize pools that exceed the original event guarantee of $1 million by 21%.

Moneymaker’s Event #6 was by far the most successful event, drawing over 400 entries (second only to Event #43, a Main Event Structure tie-in with a reduced entry point of $50). Event #11 was also notable, a No-Limit Hold’em Super Tuesday SE that paid out more than $50,000, a full two-thirds more than its original $30,000 guarantee.

Overall the total event prize pools added up to just over $1.2 million, somewhat less than last year’s $1.45 million but in no way a disappointment. Much like the 2017 NJCOOP as well as this spring’s NJSCOOP, the series was carefully adjusted based on past performance to ensure minimal problems and avoid mismanaged expectations.

This time around only two events in the whole series failed to hit the targeted number of players. Sadly one of these was the Main Event, which isn’t great optics for Stars (this is the third year of the series and the third year that the Main Event came up slightly short), but good news for players. Still, the deficit managed to only partially cut into the site fees, avoiding any actual loss.

Event #20, a 3-max Hyper Turbo tournament fared worse and required a small true overlay, as the only 3-max event in the series it seems this format was a slightly weaker draw than expected. However both it and the Main came up less than ten players short of the target they needed to make their guarantees.

New Jersey poker continues to gravitate to big series

Overall, PokerStars enjoyed a series that was very strong compared to previous years. The total number of overlays continues to decrease, and though the number of events with huge excesses is also down this too can be see as a sign that PokerStars continues to get better and better at properly anticipating attendance.

This slow-and-steady approach is wise, but it makes for a stark contrast with competitor WSOP.com.

WSOP was neck-and-neck in the New Jersey market with PokerStars prior to interstate liquidity propelling the former ahead (PokerStars is still banned from having a presence in Nevada, giving WSOP a huge advantage until poker rooms launch in Pennsylvania). Now the strong market leader in the state, WSOP also saw incredible performance in its own fall tournament series, the WSOP Online Circuit.

It helps that this was the first online series to allow players a chance to win WSOP’s Circuit Rings, but there is also the fact that the nearly $700,000 in guarantees was split over only 13 events, meaning a much higher portion of prizes per tournament. The series went on to crush those guarantees and pay out more than $1.6 million, an excess of 138%. WSOP is currently running a mini-series, branded Fall Poker Festival, that like the Online Circuit guarantees a relatively unimpressive amount (over $300,000) but over just a smattering of events (eight). So far, the series is performing well, with the first three events sailing by their overlays.

Notably Fall Poker Festival #3 — $85,000 GTD NLHE High-Roller ($1,000 buy-in), drew 71 players and 111 entries in creating a $106,005 prize pool. The Main Event is slated for this Sunday at 6 p.m. EST and will feature a $125k GTD, which given the site’s recent performance, should fall pretty easily.

It would be possible to see this enormous success as demoralizing to PokerStars, but the more modest performance of the NJCOOP is still a testament to excellent planning. The success of both events is a continued sign that New Jersey sites can be expected to rely more and more on large series to drive online poker for seasons to come.

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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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