NJ Online Poker Has A Lot of Work To Do To Make 2019 A Success

There was hope after some good news in our last report that New Jersey online poker would enter 2019 in positive territory – or at the very least with some positive momentum. The hope was fleeting, however, with the data showing declining trends across the board.

The initial assumption might be that the holidays are the cause of the online poker traffic declines. On the contrary, that is just not the case when looking back on the history of US regulated poker.

The holiday period, if anything, provided some small increases in traffic in the past. We will go into the specifics later in this report.

For now, though, let’s take a closer look at the key stories from the US regulated poker scene for the past two weeks:

  • WSOP.com is the only operator that showed declining trends in the three major areas: seven-day rolling cash game average traffic, peak traffic, and tournament entries
  • PokerStars NJ posted the largest number of tournament entries in its Half-Priced Sunday Special
  • partypoker NJ is the only major operator to show a positive trend line for peak traffic numbers

Now, let’s take a look back at the tournament and cash game trends for the two weeks ending Dec. 30, 2018.

U.S. Regulated Online Poker Operators

The major U.S. poker operators are:

Operator Network Provider Other Sites in the Network
WSOP.com 888 888poker
PokerStarsNJ PokerStars None
partypokerNJ partypoker Borgata Poker and PlayMGM-NJ

Pala Poker also operates in New Jersey on its own network. We do not include Pala Poker in this report because the traffic volume is low and doesn’t affect the latest US online poker trends.

Major online poker tournaments summary

PokerStars NJ held the largest Sunday major tournament of the group with 421 entries. To get that number, though, the online poker site had to cut the buy-in in half.

For the second time in just over a month, PokerStars NJ ran its Half-Priced Sunday Special, and it seems as if it has found a winning equation.

Both tournaments met its guarantee, which has been a struggle for the brand of late. Even the Christmas-themed festival, the Carnival of Tournaments held on Dec. 23, couldn’t gather enough entrants to meet its guarantee.

With the help of its latest tournament, PokerStars NJ is now showing a solid positive trend line for tournament entries over the past few months.

Meanwhile, both WSOP.com and partypoker NJ are sporting declining trends. WSOP.com did make its guarantees for both tournaments, while partypoker NJ missed both of its.

Overall, the tournament scene continues to post some weekly wins, but the overall picture since the launch of shared liquidity remains relatively bleak.

Information for the tournaments held on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018:

Tournament Entries Guarantee Actual Prize Pool Difference
WSOP $320 Sunday Weekly NLH $100,000 Guaranteed 382 $100,000 $114,600 $14,600
PokerStarsNJ $200 Carnival of Tournaments Main Event $50,000 Guaranteed 262 $50,000 $48,732 -$1,268
partypokerNJ $215 Sunday NLH $35,000 Guaranteed 151 $35,000 $30,200 -$4,800

Information for the tournaments held on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018:

Tournament Entries Guarantee Actual Prize Pool Difference
WSOP $320 Sunday Weekly NLH $100,000 Guaranteed 350 $100,000 $105,000 $5,000
PokerStarsNJ $100 Half-Priced Sunday Special $30,000 Guaranteed 421 $30,000 $38,647.80 $8,647.80
partypokerNJ $215 Sunday NLH $35,000 Guaranteed 159 $35,000 $31,800 -$3,200

Average cash game and peak traffic summary

When looking back at the 7-day rolling cash game averages since the beginning of shared liquidity, only one operator is showing a positive trend. Interestingly enough, it is not WSOP.com – it’s PokerStars NJ.

That says a lot considering WSOP.com gets the benefit of a combined player pool with Nevada and Delaware and PokerStars NJ doesn’t.

The market as a whole is showing a sharply declining trend. Fewer cash game players at the end of November and beginning of December undoubtedly played a role in that result.

In the last two weeks, the market as a whole lost on average 30 cash game players. Only partypoker NJ kept their players on the felt. In fact, it added a few more posting fan increase of five players on average.

Peak traffic numbers continue to decline, overall. partypoker NJ is the only operator with a positive trend line. Even though Poker Stars NJ ended the year on a high note, it was not quite enough to reverse the downward spiral it has found itself in.

It is disappointing and honestly, quite surprising, that WSOP.com hasn’t been able to generate some consistent trends in cash game or peak traffic numbers. As the only operator benefitting from a combined pool of poker players, one would think players would flock to the site.

Sure their numbers are higher than those of PokerStars NJ and partypoker NJ but are well below what the individual markets produced before shared liquidity.

Factors impacting U.S. regulated online poker in the coming weeks

It would not be surprising for the WSOP.com to start holding Online Bracelet Event qualifiers earlier rather than later.

Sure, the World Series of Poker won’t officially get underway until May. Even so, WSOP.com will most likely look for ways to capitalize on the popularity of the online events as quickly as possible.

PokerStars NJ will likely continue to mix up its Sunday major tournament offering. Poker players seem to respond well to shiny new objects.

One thing is for sure; all three major online poker rooms will continue to throw things at the virtual wall hoping something will stick.