NJ Online Poker Festivals Result In Increased Tournament Entries

Once again, a review of the New Jersey online poker industry brings a mixed-bag of news.

Tournament entries were on the rise thanks to a plethora of festivals on the schedule. Cash games, on the other hand, can’t seem to gain any traction.

Right now, online poker is taking a back seat to its more popular cousin, legal sports betting. It is a scenario that is not likely to change anytime soon.

For now, though, here are the key stories from the U.S. regulated poker scene since our last report published on Oct. 9:

  • Tournament entries are showing a positive trend line for all three operators
  • Peak traffic numbers are once again showing a positive trend for WSOP.com
  • PokerStars NJ posted its highest number of tournament entries since May
  • partypoker NJ held its first $100,000 guaranteed tournament since the launch of shared liquidity

Now, let’s take a look back at the tournament and cash game trends for the two-week period ending Oct. 21, 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.

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Major online poker tournaments summary

It didn’t matter which site you fired up these past two weeks, you would have found yourself in the middle of a poker festival.

PokerStars NJ continued to host the ever-popular NJCOOP which came to a close with the Main Event on Oct. 14.

WSOP.com ran the Fall Poker Classic, hosting events from Oct. 14 – 21. And partypoker NJ brought back the Garden State Super Series, which also ran from Oct. 14 -21.

All that poker tournament activity resulted in positive trend lines emerging for all three operators. In fact, both PokerStars NJ and partypoker NJ posted more entries for their Sunday majors then they have seen since May.

Take out the WSOP.com Online Bracelet events and Online Circuit events and you can say the same for WSOP.com.

partypoker NJ hosted its first $100,000 guaranteed tournament since May. Players almost always turn out for tournaments with big guarantees.

Unfortunately, though, partypoker NJ still had to pull out the checkbook having missed the guarantee each week. PokerStars NJ also failed to register enough players for the NJCOOP Main Event with a $150,000 guarantee.

WSOP.com was the only operator to meet its posted guarantee both weeks. And while that is good news for the online poker site, let’s see what next week brings.

Remember, the online poker site failed to meet its regular Sunday guarantee just one week prior to the beginning of the Fall Poker Classic event.

The bump in tournament entries is certainly good news for NJ poker. However, the good news is likely to be short-lived. All three operators are scheduled to return to their regular Sunday schedules next week.

Sunday major online tournaments by the numbers

Information for the tournaments held on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018

Tournament Entries Guarantee Actual Prize Pool Difference
WSOP $320 Sunday Weekly NLH $100,000 Guaranteed 370 $100,000 $111,000 $11,000
PokerStarsNJ $500 NJCOOP-42 NLH $150,000 Guaranteed 305 $150,000 $143,350 -$6,650
partypokerNJ $215 GSSS #2 – NLH $60K Guaranteed 279 $60,000 $55,800 -$4,200

Information for the tournaments held on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018

Tournament Entries Guarantee Actual Prize Pool Difference
WSOP $320 Fall Poker Classic #8 NLH $125,000 Guaranteed 483 $125,000 $144,900 $19,900
PokerStarsNJ $200 Sunday Special $35,000 Guaranteed 210 $35,000 $39,060 $4,060
partypokerNJ $320 GSSS #22 – NLH $100,000 Guaranteed 274 $100,000 $82,200 -$17,800

Average cash game and peak traffic summary

While tournaments were seeing a spike in tournament entries, the traffic did not filter over to the cash game side of things.

While WSOP.com gained an average of 10 cash game players, both PokerStars NJ and partypoker NJ remained exactly the same. The problem is such small numbers aren’t that impactful to the bottom line.

To illustrate the point is WSOP.com’s declining cash game traffic trend. The drop off in cash game players since the end of the World Series of Poker is significant. Small increases to its cash game traffic numbers aren’t enough to reverse the trend.

The lackluster charts for PokerStars NJ and partypoker NJ also tells a story. Not a pretty story, but one nonetheless.

Partypoker NJ continues to sport a flat trend line when it comes to average cash game traffic. Last week, we pointed out the online poker room has been posting the most consistent numbers of the three major operators. That is still true and its the best of the bunch.

Peak traffic numbers continue to show a declining trend. Even though there are noticeable spikes on WSOP.com’s chart, the numbers weren’t enough to reverse it.

The spikes were on Oct. 9 (Tuesday) and Oct. 14 (Thursday). PokerStars NJ and partypoker NJ saw similar, if less pronounced, spikes on the same days. Tuesdays and Thursdays historically seem to be busier days for cash games.

Only partypoker NJ was able to stave off of the dreaded declining trend. Before you get too excited, it is not positive either. Honestly, a flat trend line in this environment is a good thing.

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

Ironically, Pennsylvania sports betting might impact NJ poker in the coming weeks. The first few sportsbooks are preparing to launch soon.

That means fewer sports bettors/poker players heading to the Garden State for some Sunday action. We’ll have to wait and see the impact it will have on NJ poker – and sports betting for that matter.

Currently, there are no tournament series on the schedule. Expect the declining tournament entries trend to return. Of course, it seems like a tournament series launches at the drop of the hat these days. So, all hope is not lost.

We will keep our eyes on the New Jersey poker scene, and the complete U.S. regulated online poker landscape and report back here on Nov. 4.