The Borgata GSSS Fall ’17 Edition Neither Roars Nor Whimpers

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Borgata‘s first major tournament series since playMGM joined its NJ online poker network was neither a hit nor a flop.

On one hand, the GSSS Fall ’17 faded any major technical gaffes, which is more than can be said about last fall’s disastrous GSSS V. Also on the plus side, the two biggest events on the slate met their guarantees.

On the other hand, there were a fair number of overlays, and turnouts were down slightly compared to the spring iteration of the series. Of the tournaments that did meet their guarantees, few blew them away.

Sum it all up and we get a series that can best be summed up as mostly forgettable.

GSSS Fall ’17 recap

At just 14 events with a series guarantee of $375,000, the scope of the GSSS Fall ’17 paled in comparison to the recently concluded PokerStars NJCOOP. Given the success of the latter, it was assumed that Borgata wouldn’t have too much trouble filling seats for its more modest series.

At first, that assumption held up. But as early as the second event, it began to crumble:

  • Event #1 performed admirably, sailing by its $60,000 guarantee to create a $72,400 prize pool. Not bad for an MTT that replaced the network’s biggest weekly major, and added 50% to the guarantee.
  • Event #2 – $50,000 GTD NLHE High Roller missed the mark, drawing just 47 entrants and producing a modest overlay. Last spring’s high roller also came up short, but by a slightly smaller margin.
  • The middle events were a series of hits and misses. Highlights included Events #4 and #11 which crushed their guarantees by 50% or more. However, Events #3, #9, and #10 could not beat their minimum benchmarks, despite offering either reentries or rebuys and addons.
  • The sole Pot Limit Omaha tournament (Event #8) did OK, drawing 104 entries and sneaking by its modest $5,000 guarantee by $200. This marked a significant improvement over the GSSS Spring ’17 PLO event, which posted a more than 20% overlay.

On Sunday, Borgata hosted two top-flight tournaments. The first was a $50,000 guarantee designed to celebrate MGM’s entry into the Borgata/Party network. Apparently, players weren’t in the mood to party, as the event posted a modest overlay, drawing just 234 entrants at a $215 price point.

The Main Event fared better, attracting 344 players, resulting in a $103,200 prize pool. That’s all well and good, but turnout was still down compared to the last time the network hosted a $100,000 guarantee. Back in late March the Main Event of the GSSS Spring ’17 produced a $108,900 pot.

The future looks murky

There’s reason to believe that for all its success hosting land-based MTT events, Borgata will become something of a lost soul when it comes to online poker tournament series.

  • The GSSS Fall ’17 was hardly successful enough to justify either a longer series or a more aggressive guarantee.
  • Based on recent revenue trends and comparisons of the GSSS Spring and Fall editions, it’s pretty clear that the launch of playMGM only modestly helped to grow the Borgata online poker network.
  • When the WSOP NJ/888 network starts pooling with players in Nevada and Delaware, it will become even more difficult for Borgata to remain relevant — sans software provider GVC‘s own entry into the Nevada market. Borgata nor MGM have a presence in Pennsylvania, posing more difficulties should that state legalize online poker.

Still, in the absence of an unmitigated disaster, it’s likely that the Garden State Super Series will trudge on, offering players a decent — but hardly spectacular — biannual tournament series to sink their teeth into. And that’s worth something.

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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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