Shared liquidity entered the New Jersey online poker market on May 1. WSOP.com and 888poker in New Jersey combined with four WSOP.com and 888poker sites in Nevada and Delaware to form one player pool.
The three-state, six-site online poker network is the first of its kind since Black Friday. For online poker players, it is the first hopeful sign of legalized online poker returning to the whole United States.
While it is too early to provide a thorough analysis of the impact of shared liquidity, the first week’s data from the combined player network is positive.
Average cash game and peak traffic
On Sunday, the combined network saw a seven-day rolling average of 200 cash game players. Pre-launch the numbers from Nevada and New Jersey combined into a seven-day rolling average of 200-210 players.
The current rolling average includes one day of data pre-launch which slightly lowers the average. That’s excellent news as the number of average cash game players will most likely continue to grow.
As with any launch, there were technical glitches, and Nevada and Delaware players were required to create and validate new accounts. Those issues most certainly affected the numbers at the beginning of the week.
Peak cash game traffic is showing a similar story. The first day after the launch of the combined network, peak cash game traffic was about 100 players fewer than the combined number for the same period the week prior.
The numbers continued stayed relatively flat until the weekend. The weekend tells a different story.
Saturday had a peak of 572 players and Sunday had 552. Compare that to the week prior where New Jersey posted peak numbers in the low 200’s, and it is fair to say peak traffic is benefitting from the new interstate network.
PokerStars and partypoker posted cash game traffic and peak traffic numbers in line with their previous week’s figures.
For now, it seems as if it is business as usual. Except that New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware players make for one bigger pool of players instead of two smaller ones.
Numbers from the Sunday main tournaments
Before the combined player pool, WSOP/888 in New Jersey offered a weekly guarantee of $40,000, and Nevada hosted a $20,000 guarantee.
In anticipation of a substantial turnout thanks to the combined player pool, WSOP/888 increased its weekly tournament guarantee above the combined guarantee of the two sites. The $100,000 guaranteed Sunday tournament is now the gold standard and will likely continue to grow.
The huge guarantee was not just wishful thinking. History shows players love to show up to play big tournaments with big guarantees. And show up they did. At the close of registration, the tournament counted 522 entries for a prize pool of $156,600.
It doesn’t appear that the combined player pool or huge guarantee negatively impacted the entries to PokerStars and partypoker Sunday majors.
Both sites met their guarantees which they have not done consistently over the past few months. PokerStars saw 251 entries and partypoker had 223 entries, which are in line with their regular weekly entry numbers.
What can online poker players expect going forward
It is reasonable to expect a continued positive trend in cash game traffic and tournament entries for WSOP/888. It’s an exciting time for legalized poker, and that excitement will attract more players. And more players means more excitement. And so on.
How the interstate player network will impact the other New Jersey online poker sites remains to be seen. The week one data is certainly showing positive signs, though.
That must be a big relief for PokerStars and partypoker and gives both sites more reason to look ahead to Pennsylvania joining the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association late this year or early next. Eric Hollreiser, Vice President, Corporate Communications for The Stars Group said as much in a statement to PokerScout.
“Shared liquidity in online poker has proven to be the most successful way to ensure player protections in a licensed market, promote competition and innovation among operators and creates a stronger economic market. We welcome the movement toward shared liquidity in the U.S just as we welcome the similar movement in Southern Europe. We expect to compete in the Pennsylvania online gaming market and believe that market would likewise benefit from the greater player pools when poker players are shared.”
Even with the technical hiccups and other challenges, week one of the new interstate online poker network was a success. Legalized online poker throughout the U.S. moved one step closer to becoming a reality.
The bottom line is the week one numbers are good – in fact, they are better than good. Even if they weren’t though, the importance of interstate play and larger player pools is really the story here. And it is a story worth celebrating.