NJ Online Poker Treads Water Heading Into Two Big Tournament Series

There is a lot of excitement in New Jersey these days. Unfortunately, it isn’t around online poker. Instead, all eyes are on legalized sports betting as the first big week of betting on football concludes.

A weekend full of games and mobile sports betting did nothing to help bolster the fledgling online poker market. The good news is it didn’t really hurt it either.

Consequently, the bottom line is online poker in New Jersey is just treading water.

Here are the key stories from the U.S. regulated poker scene since our last report published on Aug. 28 are:

  • The three major online poker networks are showing declining trends across the board
  • WSOP.com continues to show the sharpest declining trends post World Series of Poker
  • PokerStars NJ gave a few cash game players back to WSOP.com
  • partypoker NJ is holding steady and remains relatively flat across the three major metrics

Now, let’s take a look back at the cash game and tournament trends for the two-week period ending Sept. 9, 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

The poker tournament schedule was void of any major tournament series over the past two weeks, and it shows. Not even Sunday football was successful in attracting players to the virtual felt.

With the launch of New Jersey mobile sports betting, there was hope that players would fire up their poker client while rooting on their favorite team. The hope was short-lived.

Each online poker site held their regular scheduled Sunday Major tournaments, with one exception. WSOP.com lowered its Sunday $100,000 guarantee to $75,000 over the Labor Day holiday.

It was surprising to see WSOP.com lower its guarantee. It has, after all, handily met its guarantee all but once since the launch of shared liquidity.

WSOP.com, thanks to the lower guarantee, generated prize pools well north of the posted guarantee. PokerStars NJ and partypoker NJ, however, posted overlays for each of their major Sunday tournaments.

The tournament scene is likely to get a boost with two upcoming tournament series on the docket.

From Sept. 18 through Sept. 30, WSOP.com will offer the first WSOP.com Online Circuit event. The series boasts over $700,000 in guarantees and will award 13 rings over the 13 days of play.

WSOP.com combines the player pools between Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. This Online Circuit series stands to impact New Jersey online poker more than most.

Right on the heels of the WSOP.com Online Circuit event, PokerStars NJ is bringing NJCOOP back to the Garden State. The popular tournament series will run from Sept. 29 through Oct. 15 and guarantee over $1 million in prizes. The 47-event series will also be giving away three Platinum Passes.

There is a lot of excitement around the inaugural online circuit event and the return of NJCOOP to New Jersey’s online poker rooms. Let’s hope that enthusiasm translates to some large prize pools.

Sunday major online tournaments by the numbers

Information for the tournaments held on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018

Tournament Entries Guarantee Prize Pool Difference
WSOP $320 Sunday Weekly $175,000 NLH 213 $75,000 $92,100 $17,100
PokerStarsNJ $200 Sunday Special, $35,000 Guaranteed 146 $35,000 $27,156 -$7,844
partypokerNJ $215 Sunday $35,000 Guaranteed NLH 150 $35,000 $30,000 -$5,000

Information for the tournaments held on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018

Tournament Entries Guarantee Prize Pool Difference
WSOP $320 Sunday Weekly $100,000 NLH 247 $100,000 $113,100 $13,100
PokerStarsNJ $200 Sunday Special, $35,000 Guaranteed 181 $35,000 $33,666 -$1,334
partypokerNJ $215 Sunday $35,000 Guaranteed NLH 168 $35,000 $33,600 -$1,400

Average cash game and peak traffic summary

Much like the tournament report, the cash game numbers are relatively unexciting. That is actually not entirely bad news.

For the past month, we’ve seen an exodus of poker players in the online poker market. For the past few weeks at least, all three operators are holding relatively steady.

WSOP.com gained some cash game players while PokerStars NJ lost a few, but overall there were not any big shifts like we saw a month ago. The loss of players post WSOP is still affecting WSOP.com’s sharply declining trend line. Expect that to begin to flatten out over the coming weeks.

Peak traffic numbers, with the exception of some good days, seem to be on a constant decline. When you think about it, it’s a pretty interesting number to track.

If a more significant number of players on a site at one time has the power to attract more players, then this number tells a pretty grim story. Most poker players prefer to play when the most games were running. Knowing that, the peak traffic number should continue to climb, or at the very least hold steady. Instead, it continues to decline.

It will be interesting to see how a month of big tournaments will impact the cash game and peak traffic numbers.

Factors that will impact U.S. regulated online poker in the coming weeks

Obviously, the most significant factor to impact New Jersey online poker is the two upcoming New Jersey online poker tournaments. Both series are sweetening the pot enough to entice serious poker players in the region to set up shop in the Garden State for a while.

The excitement around sports betting is another area that may impact poker. New Jersey is now home to seven sportsbooks. Avid sports bettors (which describes many poker players) may choose to spend their evenings and weekends at their favorite sportsbook. Of course, that may result in taking players away from the virtual felt.

Pennsylvania, which many hope will launch online gaming soon is taking its sweet time in doing so. While we continue to keep an eye on the state’s progress, don’t expect any movement in the near future.

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 Sept. 25.