Tag Archives: party poker

Report Card for My 7 ‘Can’t Miss’ iGaming Predictions

Steve updates his online poker predictions for NJ

As we enter the fourth quarter of 2014 I’ve decided to check in (for the second time) on my 7 “Can’t Miss” iGaming predictions for the U.S. market.

I made these predictions all the way back in January, so before you laugh at some of my prognostications, realize that the New Jersey online gambling industry was about six weeks old when I made them!

As I said, this is actually my second progress report (read the first one from March here) and if you’re unfamiliar with my original predictions you can read those here.

Here is a quick refresher on my predictions:

  1. Another state will pass an online gambling bill
  2. New Jersey will continue to be a three horse race
  3. More Nevada online poker rooms will launch and Ultimate Poker will falter
  4. Unlicensed online poker rooms will continue to fall into the abyss
  5. PokerStars will remain on the outside looking in
  6. Mobile will rise to prominence
  7. The US will move a step closer to online sportsbetting

Prediction #1: Another state will pass an online gambling bill

What a difference a few months makes eh? It seems I got a little too excited when my team jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, but now with two minutes to go we’re losing 45-21, and the fans of the other side are razzing me good.

Updated judgment: Throw the betting slips in the trash; we’ve been Mushed.

Prediction #2: New Jersey will continue to be a three horse race

To be entirely honest, I’m not really sure how to grade this one.

The PartyBorgata network and WSOP.com are competing for the top spot, but the All American Poker Network has certainly slipped, just not to the point where I’d say they’re not a factor in the market.

Of course, New Jersey is likely to see a huge shakeup if when PokerStars is licensed and launches in the Garden State.

Updated judgment: A three horse race still seems like a good classification for New Jersey, although the three horses may be changing in the near future.

Prediction #3: More Nevada online poker rooms will launch and Ultimate Poker will falter

I already hit on the first part of this prediction when Real Gaming launched back in February, but the Real Gaming product was so bad it has done little to affect the Nevada market.

Ultimate Poker continues to hang on with about a 1/3 market share in Nevada, but more competition (real competition) seems to be coming just around the corner as 888 has stated, they will be launching their 888-branded and TI (Treasure Island) poker rooms on the All American Poker Network, but more significantly, they will also be joining forces with WSOP.com, who will join the AAPN.

Updated judgment: Ultimate Poker still needs to upgrade their software, but the site seems to have a pretty loyal player base in Nevada, and they have by no means given up on online poker. Part 1 of my original prediction was a winner, but Part 2 looks like a lost cause. Bottom Line: It looks like we pushed on this one.

Prediction #4: Unlicensed online poker rooms will continue to fall into the abyss

When I issued my first progress report in March, the Merge Gaming Network had already withdrawn from New Jersey, and now they have been joined by virtually every other unlicensed online poker site/network.

Bovada has stopped accepting new players, and the Winning Poker Network and the Equity Poker Network have also left the market.

The takeaway here is, regulation works, and even in these smaller markets (where you would think global providers could thrive) unlicensed sites are finding themselves to be unwanted house guests.

Updated judgment: Expect this trend to continue.

Prediction #5: PokerStars will remain on the outside looking in

Sometimes circumstances are beyond your control and this is precisely what I learned with this prediction.

Prior to the sale of PokerStars to Amaya Gaming I would have doubled-down on this bet, but after the sale, chances are PokerStars will be up and running in New Jersey before the start of 2015.

Updated prediction: Course change alert! PokerStars will almost certainly have a U.S. license before 2015.

Prediction #6: Mobile will rise to prominence

I thought this was supposed to be the next big thing? Well, it is, but it just hasn’t come to fruition in the U.S. quite yet.

Updated prediction: In March I said, “I’m going to stick with my guns on this one,” but I know an underdog when I see one. Mobile will eventually rise to prominence, but it won’t be this year.

Prediction #7: The US will move a step closer to online sportsbetting

I was so close to hitting a 250-1 longshot in New Jersey, but my original prediction definitely has been realized: The U.S. is getting closer to legalized sports-betting.

Not only did New Jersey really push the envelope (they were a Governor’s signature away from having legal sports-betting) but Mississippi’s online gaming study (due at the end of the year) will also look into sports-betting.

Updated prediction: In March I moved this into the longshot category, so the fact that it has come to pass was a pleasant surprise.

Everything you Need to Know about partypoker NJ’s $1mm Online GSSS Series

Party NJ online poker tournament series

From September 7th through the 21st partypoker will be running the inaugural Garden State Super Series (GSSS) for online tournament players in New Jersey.

Online qualifiers for the GSSS begin today, August 18th.

About the GSSS

The GSSS will feature 20 separate events, with each event played at three distinct buy-in levels, for a total of 60 tournaments.

When all is said and done partypoker will have awarded at least $1,000,000 in prize-money over the course of the two-week-long tournament series which will run concurrently with the Borgata Poker Open at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. The Borgata Poker Open (Main Event from September 14th through the 19th), one of the most popular stops on the WPT.

Following the partnership between partypoker and the Borgata in New Jersey’s online gambling market the duo have arranged for several WPT tournaments to take place at the Borgata, including the WPT Championship.

This marks the second time partypoker has arranged an online tournament series to run alongside a World Poker Tour (WPT) event in New Jersey.

The first was this year’s season ending tournament that took place in April (the tournament also marked the first time was not held at the Bellagio in Las Vegas) and during the WPT Championship at the Borgata partypoker hosted the New Jersey Championships of Online Poker (NJCOP) tournament series, where $600,000 in guaranteed prize-money was up for grabs.

The Garden State Super Series is a fantastic complement to the WPT Borgata Open offering players the chance to win big at both the live and online felt while in New Jersey in September,” said Team partypoker captain Mike Sexton. “There are so many ways to qualify, plus a great variety of tournament formats at three buy-in levels which give anyone a chance to take home their share of $1 million. If you love no limit hold’em stud, Omaha or fixed limit tournaments make a date in your calendar to log on to partypoker! We would also like to thank the community for their feedback on the draft schedule and hope you like what we think will be New Jersey’s best and most exciting online poker series yet.

Why GSSS will do better

The NJCOP has been be viewed as a moderate success for partypoker (there was some controversy) as traffic was up and most of the guarantees were met.

However, I fully expect the GSSS to have a much better turnout.

The reason I believe this is the WPT Championship is a $15,000 buy-in tournament that attracts the best of the best in poker. Most of these players are not going to go through the trouble of registering a New Jersey account simply to sit down in an online $1/$2 NLHE game, or to play in what amounts to a standard nightly guarantee (based on entrants and prize-pool) in the global online tournament world.

On the flipside, the Borgata Poker Open is a $3,500 buy-in tournament that is one of the best attended events on the WPT year in and year out. So, what you have at the Borgata Poker Open are hundreds and hundreds of circuit grinders, all looking for +EV spots both live and online.

Because of this different dynamic between the two tournament series I expect far more players at the Borgata Poker Open to create accounts and participate in the GSSS.

GSSS key events

Here is a look at the key events of the series. For the full schedule you can visit the partypoker website.

Tournament Name Buy-in Guarantee Date Time ET
GSSS #1 High – $75,000 NLH 6Max $200 $75,000 9/7 5:00PM
GSSS #3 High – $20,000 PLO 6Max Rebuy $50 $20,000 9/8 8:00PM
GSSS #5 High – $20,000 NLH $100 $20,000 9/10 8:00PM
GSSS #6 High – $20,000 NLH Rebuy $50 $20,000 9/11 8:00PM
GSSS #9 High – $20,000 NLH 6Max $100 $20,000 9/12 8:00PM
GSSS #10 High – $20,000 NLH Rebuy $50 $20,000 9/13 8:00PM
GSSS #11 Low – $25,000 NLH Main Event – Low $50 $25,000 9/14 4:30PM
GSSS #11 Mid – $200,000 NLH Main Event – Mid $200 $200,000 9/14 5:00PM
GSSS #11 High – $50,000 NLH Main Event – High $1,000 $50,000 9/14 5:30PM
GSSS #12 Mid – $30,000 NLH $100 $30,000 9/14 6:30PM
GSSS #12 High – $50,000 NLH $500 $50,000 9/14 7:00PM
GSSS #14 High – $20,000 NLH 6Max Rebuy $50 $20,000 9/16 8:00PM
GSSS #15 High – $20,000 NLH $100 $20,000 9/17 8:00PM
GSSS #16 High – $20,000 NLH Rebuy $50 $20,000 9/18 8:00PM
GSSS #18 High – $20,000 NLH 1 x Rebuy + 1 x Big Add-on $50 $20,000 9/20 8:00PM
GSSS #19 Med – $20,000 NLH $100 $20,000 9/21 4:30PM

Fortune Cookie Says: Now Is the Perfect Time for PokerStars in New Jersey

Ideal Time for PokerStars to Join NJ iGaming Market

PokerStars was initially shut out of the New Jersey market, but thanks to their recent sale to Amaya Gaming, the world’s largest online poker room is about to get a crack at the legal U.S. online poker market.

Whether you agree or disagree with PokerStars being excluded is a debate for a different day, as this column will focus exclusively on why right now is the perfect time for PokerStars to get involved in online poker in New Jersey.

The dichotomy that is PokerStars

Loved by players and feared by competitors, PokerStars is one of the very few entities who can answer “both” to the age old Machiavellian question, “Is it better to be loved or feared?”

It is the fear of PokerStars as a competitor that is keeping them out of Nevada, and this same fear could also determine their fate in future iGaming states such as California and Pennsylvania.

But this fear has had, and will have no impact on PokerStars in New Jersey, where no Bad Actor clause exists, and where regulators are expected to approve PokerStars’ license application sooner rather than later.

PokerStars should be up and running in New Jersey by the 4th Quarter of 2014 according to Jennifer Newell of NJPokerOnline.com.

While the company was previously shunned by New Jersey, (over some key individuals that were involved in the company) they now look poised to finally receive the go ahead.

This the perfect time for their arrival for the following reasons:

1. The impact of PokerStars on online poker in NJ

PokerStars will be coming into an already established, but stagnant New Jersey market, and should provide the shot in the arm the industry so desperately needs.

The addition of PokerStars is like adding a 30 Home Run / 120 RBI slugger at the trade deadline; even if you fail to make the playoffs, interest is renewed in your fan base.

Had PokerStars launched with all of the other sites, the overall New Jersey market would likely be right where it is now, and wouldn’t have that Red Bull waiting in the wings for a quick pick me up.

PokerStars should provide the antidote the market needs to counter the increasingly glum and cynical (and also erroneous)  headlines about failed expectations, and the failings of online gambling.

Don’t misunderstand me, PokerStars won’t be the silver bullet, but it will provide a much needed optimistic boost to the way the NJ online gambling market is covered.

Furthermore, it was beneficial for the other sites to not compete with PokerStars right out of the gate. Party / Borgata and Caesars / 888 have established themselves as the top dogs and the addition of PokerStars should cut the remainder of the flotsam and jetsam free.

Had the company launched along with all of the other sites back in November of 2013 it may have created a monopoly right from the start (which wouldn’t be PokerStars fault) as it’s doubtful Stars would have had the same software bugs and/or customer service issues that have hurt other sites.

If PokerStars launched in November we would have already settled into a similar rut, the only difference would have been who was sitting atop the iGaming heap.

Even showing up a year late to the party, I’m expecting PokerStars to quickly ascend to the #1 spot in New Jersey, but I still see at least one of, and perhaps both, WSOP.com / 888 and the combination of Party / Borgata being significant players in the market.

I also expect Caesars to combine all of their online poker rooms into one single network to combat PokerStars and maintain liquidity.

PokerStars will still be #1 in my mind, but the margin by which they hold the #1 spot over their competitors should be much smaller than if they all launched at the same time.

2. Can New Jersey support 3 poker rooms / networks?

No matter how the actual rankings shake out, what seems clear is that the New Jersey market cannot support three online poker rooms.

At its peak the industry boasted average cash-game traffic that sometimes hit 600 players according to PokerScout.com, and those players were divided mainly among three sites – Borgata / Party (roughly 260), WSOP.com (roughly 150), 888 (roughly 120).

While the numbers aren’t terrific, considering the market size they were working with, they were pretty good.

If PokerStars can bring traffic back up to this level and even beyond you would think three poker rooms wouldn’t be a problem (especially if WSOP.com and 888 merge player pools).

The problem with that thinking is that if PokerStars is the sole cause of a new traffic spike it will be the lone beneficiary.

So what you would have if the market surges back to average cash game traffic of 600 players is the current traffic numbers – Borgata / Party (140), WSOP.com + 888 (200) – with PokerStars filling in the remainder and almost certainly pulling at least 10% (a very conservative number) of the players from their competitors.

The numbers would look like this under this scenario:

  • PokerStars: 300
  • WSOP.com / 888: 180
  • Borgata / Party: 125

It’s unlikely both WSOP.com / 888 and Borgata / Party would both survive under this scenario.

It would be possible for both sites to maintain average traffic of 150+ players alongside PokerStars, but it will be very difficult.

However, if PokerStars will increase the size of the market (say another 50-100 players) it gets even more dire for the “three poker room solution,” especially if PokerStars poaches 20% of their players:

  • PokerStars: around 400
  • WSOP.com / 888: 160
  • Borgata / Party: 110

Under this scenario PokerStars would surely lure away many more players from both competitors as  time goes on, due to their sizable liquidity advantage.

My assumption is that one competitor will become the clear #2 to PokerStars while the third slips down into the second tier or perhaps joins Ultimate Poker on the irrelevant scrap pile in New Jersey.

If PokerStars launched in conjunction with the other rooms in New Jersey, we would be faced with the same situation we have in the global online poker market, where you have PokerStars, and a handful of operators with 1/10th PokerStars traffic.

3. Land-Based implications

In addition to shaking up the online poker market, PokerStars could also provide an exciting boost to land-based poker in Atlantic City.

The city’s casino industry is currently undergoing severe, but much needed contraction, and you can be certain that PokerStars is going to pump money into Resorts land-based offerings, likely building a state of the art poker room for the property.

Furthermore, PokerStars branded poker tours will surely hit Atlantic City. Consider the turnout for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA)  and just imagine that type of influx of players into the New Jersey online and land-based market for two to three weeks.

Resorts Casino could suddenly become the home of high stakes poker action in New Jersey and play host to anything and everything including televised cash games and Super-High-Roller events.

New Jersey Traffic Report: Trends in NJ Mimic Global Market

NJ numbers steady this week for iGaming

Thus far in August, traffic patterns in New Jersey have been largely predictable, steadily rising at a pace that parallels the growth of the global market.

Outside of one high value flash-promo, there was very little going on online that would have resulted in an immediate liquidity swing one way or the other.

Instead, this week’s biggest headlines, namely PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker’s nearly guaranteed entry into NJ on October 1st and Paypal’s emergent interest in entering the regulated market, will likely have a profound effect on the market’s mid-term future.

Although it is conceivable that the hype surrounding Stars reemergence in the United States may propel New Jersey traffic upwards in the weeks to follow, for now, we’ll have to content ourselves with the fact that the market appears to be a relatively stable state.

Cash-Game Liquidity Boasts Incremental Gains

Since August 1st, 7-day average cash-game liquidity in NJ has grown by a relatively modest 4.3 %. This follows in a wake of a disastrous last week of July, which saw levels sputter off some 9.1 %.

Broken down by network, cash-game averages (as of August 11th) look like this:

  • PartyPoker NJ143 (up 4.4 % since August 1st, but trending downward)
  • WSOP.com131 (down 3 % and trending level)
  • AAPN (us.888poker.com): 74 (up 23.3 % and trending all over the place)

888 stands out as the only anomaly here, but its divergence from the pack is largely explainable. After its Double Points and Summer Slam! promos ended on July 31, liquidity on NJ’s perennial third-place network began spiraling downward at an alarming rate. Why in just four days, volume had dropped nearly 25 %.

The network had been down this road before, as back in early May, the conclusion of its 80% Rakeback promo caused nearly half its patrons to abandon the site. This, despite 888 rolling out its long awaited Player Loyalty Program.

Suffice to say, player retention has become a glaring issue on 888 – although, I’d argue that for the most part it’s a problem of their own making.

In order to stop the bleeding from its most recent panic, 888 launched a one day version of their 80% Rakeback promo, with the additional caveat that casino players who made a deposit using a special promotional code would receive 80 % cashback on their losses.  And look, they even got a cute girl to pose for the advert.

The promotion, which ran on 8/8 (I’m assuming this was on purpose) caused liquidity to shoot up past its July levels. Although in the absence of any other notable promos and big tournament events, I would suspect that these recent gains will be quickly offset.

The global market continued to trend upward, leading me to believe that the worst seasonal downtrend in recent history is finally coming to a close. Since August 1st, international volume is up another 2.5 %. Which means that overall, New Jersey’s iGaming industry outperformed the market, but only by a slight margin.

Thanks to PokerFuse Pro via PokerScout for the data.

Tournament Volume Sways Slightly Downward

In my last traffic report, I reasoned that major tournament volume in New Jersey should continue to trend upwards as the summer wears on. Well, apparently the state’s market hasn’t fully hit its stride just yet, as MTTs exhibited minor losses compared to weeks prior.

My theory is that many of the state’s grinders were at Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania for this weekend’s Big Stax 500 event.  This at least was the general consensus among poker players I’ve talked to from the area.

Below is a listing of major tournament activity in New Jersey for the weekend ending Sunday, August 10:

  • Party / Borgata $50k guaranteed: 254 runners, $3,010 overlay – up one runner over August 3, but down 37 from July 27
  • Party / Borgata $10k guaranteed (8/9): 80 runners, $2,720 overlay – down from 103 runners the prior Saturday
  • WSOP.com $25k guaranteed: 114 runners, $2,200 overlay – last’s week version only featured a $400 overlay
  • WSOP.com $10k guaranteed (8/9): 126 entries, 149 re-buys and 87 add-ons created a $950 overlay – the August 2nd iteration performed slightly better.
  • 888 $10k guaranteed: 60 runners, creating a prize pool of $11,100 – up six entrants over last week but down three from July 27

Future Outlooks

Expect volume to continue trickling upwards over the next several weeks.

Once September hits, things should start becoming more interesting. The Borgata Poker Open kicks off on September 2 and its complimentary online series – the Garden State Super Series – on September 7.

Depending on how well the partnership of Party Poker and the Borgata cross-promotes these events, we could see both cash-game and tournament volume on the network rise more than 50 %.

Even if they don’t utter a peep, there will be enough out-of-state in what remains of Atlantic City this September to justify a substantial online liquidity boost.

Shortly after the Open concludes, expect a very short calm followed by the full on hurricane that will be PokerStars entry into the market. I know there are some that say PokerStars will take some time to adjust to the regulated market, and that traffic will only receive a minor boost.

However, based on talks I’ve had with members of the community, the general consensus is as long as Stars offers a similar level of excellence in New Jersey that it does abroad, that they’ll be spending significantly more time playing online.

The real wildcard here is whether PokerStars will have enough traction to attract players from neighboring states to spend more of their time grinding on NJ’s online poker sites. Given the strength of their marketing campaigns out in Europe, I have to believe they will – but it may take a little time for them to get going.

Guess we’ll find out soon enough.

New Jersey Traffic Report: Volatility Runs High but Outlook Remains Hopeful

Even with PartyPoker's slow decline, the industry has reason to remain hopeful.

For all their volatility, cash-game traffic levels in New Jersey ended the week exactly where they started. Given the negative fluctuations of the global market that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

It does make one wonder however, if the market’s nearly two month long upswing has finally come to an end.

Well, judging by recent tournament trends and the upward movement of two out of three NJ networks, I’d guess that the answer to that question is “no”, but it’s certainly not a “no” of the resounding variety.

More apparent, is that the partnership of PartyPoker and Borgata, collectively known as PartyPoker NJ, has lost its stranglehold on the now eight month old market. This could prove huge should two scenarios play out.

Those scenarios and more will be discussed in this iteration of New Jersey Traffic Report.

Cash-game volume jumps to 10-week high, then meets resistance

On Wednesday, it looked like it was going to be another victory for NJ’s online poker scene. I say “another” because week-over-week liquidity had been up five out of the six weeks prior.

But a rather steep weekend falloff effectively negated any early-week gains.

7-day averages, according to PokerFuse Pro via PokerScout as follows (last week’s numbers in parenthesis):

As clearly illustrated, PartyPoker’s losses were completely offset by the gains of WSOP and 888. This marks the second time in a month that Party, which saw its market share lead over WSOP shrink from 10.7 percent to 2.8, is vulnerable to falling out of NJ’s top spot –  a position it’s held since regulated online poker first went live in the Garden State back in late-November.

WSOP’s latest challenge to Party’s reign is more threatening than its first. Back then WSOP was still riding high on the benefits of its marketing blitz out in Vegas.

888 also exhibited modest gains, although I would suspect that traffic levels will begin to taper off after August 1st, when the network’s exemplary Summer Slam and Double Points Summer promos come to an end.

That is unless the network immediately rolls out another cashback promotion. Historically, this has not been the case.

Despite breaking even, New Jersey fared well compared to the global market, which exhibited a 1.2 percent loss, leaving it just a smidgen ahead of its yearly low point.

Is the Party over?

After scouring the network’s dedicated Two Plus Two forum for clues as to why PartyPoker NJ  has failed to exhibit the same level of growth as its rivals, little stood out.

One thread’s author directs blame at Party for not properly handling a recent server crash, which caused him to miss out on potentially winning the network’s biggest weekly guarantee. Yet, the crash appeared to be  caused by a widespread ISP outage, not Party’s software.

(As an Optimum subscriber, I can confirm that the ISP was experiencing outages around that time.)

Other recent threads were less popular and even more mild in nature, leading me to believe that no one major catastrophe precipitated Party’s recent struggles.

That’s bad news for Party and Borgata, as it indicates a more organic shift away from the network and towards WSOP and 888.

Party had better reevaluate its strategy quickly, as it could easily find itself in a distant third place should the following two scenarios come to pass:

  • PokerStars enters NJ’s market. This seems to be an inevitability, with the only remaining question not being if, but when.
  • 888 and WSOP.com forge an agreement to share liquidity. Given recent happenings in Nevada and the looming threat of a PokerStars monopoly, this certainly seems like a distinct possibility.

Tournament turnouts remain strong

Whereas the continued growth of ring game volume fell into question last week, those sentiments were not echoed on the tournament front, where turnouts continued to increase.

Here’s a quick peek at turnout figures for some of the state’s biggest weekly tournaments (two week prior turnouts in parenthesis):

  • Party $50k Guarantee: 291 runners (271), $53,835 prize pool
  • Party $10k Daily (Sunday): 152 runners (144), $13,832 prize pool
  • WSOP $25k Guarantee: 116 runners (113), $1,800 overlay
  • WSOP $10k Guarantee (Sunday): 142 runners (111), $14,200 prize pool
  • 888 $10k Guarantee: 63 runners (53), $11,655 prize pool

Traffic for nearly all tournaments boasting a $5k guarantee or higher were up. Of particular note is the increased turnouts for 888′s Sunday Major, which had languished at around 45 -50 runners for months before gaining momentum in the past several weeks.

Perhaps its new promotional listing dictating the many ways players can parlay their way into the tournament, has something to do with it.

In any case, tournament traffic in New Jersey is as healthy as its been in months – a trend that should continue as the fall, and the seasonal uptick that comes with it, approaches.

Along the same line, I would expect cash game traffic to either hold pay or trend upward throughout August, before rising dramatically in September and October.

PartyPoker NJ Latest DSS Promo to Award FIBA Basketball World Cup Prize Package

Promotion free trip to Spain from party poker nj

After a short hiatus, PartyPoker NJ’s Dream Seat Series is back and bigger than ever.

Since launching last winter, DSS has awarded dozens of  lucky winners with everything from New Jersey Devils hockey tickets, to paid entry into concert events at the Prudential Center and even an International Champions Cup prize package.

This time around New Jersey’s perennial iGaming market share leader will be sending one grinder and a guest to the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.

There, they’ll enjoy:

  • Paid six night hotel stay
  • VIP entry into four games
  • Free transfer
  • $2,000 in spending money
  • Personal look at today’s hottest basketball stars

In order to win your seat to the invite only Grand Finale on August 17th, you’ll first need to qualify. Luckily, Party is offering players a multitude of opportunities to check, call and raise their way in – many of them not requiring you to spend a solitary dime.

How to win a seat to the 8/17 Grand Finale

The FIBA World Cup package qualifying route is broken down into three tiers, with each bringing players one step closer to the winner-take-all finale.

The first is easy. If you’re a new player to the site, you will automatically receive two Spain 2014 DSS Qualifier tickets when you make your first deposit.

Existing players can win their way into the qualifier by finishing in the top 20 of a Spain 2014 DSS Freeroll tournament. Considering that the freerolls run at the off-peak hours of 6 am and 11:30 am EST, that shouldn’t prove too difficult.

Like I said, easy.

The DSS Qualifiers are held twice daily at 6:15 pm and 9:15 pm EST, with each event awarding ten tickets to the weekly final. Or for all you instant gratification tpes, you could simply bypass the first two steps altogether by making a minimum $25 deposit onto PartyPoker NJ and punching in the bonus code SPAIN. Doing so will award you one ticket to a weekly final of your choosing.

Speaking of which, the Spain 2014 DSS Weekly Final will be held each Saturday at 9 pm, with the top 50 winning entry into the Grand Finale (August 17, 9 pm). Assuming four Saturdays between now and the 17th, that’ll be 199 other finalists you’ll have to oust in order to win the grand prize – a formidable task, but certainly not impossible.

Is it worth it?

If your a fan of either basketball, traveling or money than the answer is a resounding “Yes.” There’s simply too much potential upside for the latest DSS promo to be ignored.

Here’s why:

  • Participating in DSS series tournaments will cost you a grand total of nothing.
  • Freeroll tournaments allow you to hone your poker skills – especially useful if you’re just starting out.
  • Previous DSS tournaments have featured relatively small fields. The smaller the field, the better your odds of winning.
  • The winner gets an all expenses paid trip to Spain! Enough said.

The FIBA World Cup DSS promo is a testament to Party’s ongoing commitment to creating an exciting poker atmosphere, where the best prizes are not always strictly monetary in nature.

Now to the virtual felt!

William Tonking to Represent New Jersey in WSOP November Nine

NJ Poker Player in WSOP Main Event November Nine

New Jersey has a special reason to celebrate the 2014 World Series of Poker final table when it comes to pass in November of this year. One of the November Nine is William Tonking of Flemington, New Jersey.

Many online poker players in New Jersey will recognize him as “WillTonk21″ online, and others will know his face from the cash game tables in New Jersey and Pennsylvania casinos. Of course, he plays the occasional live tournament as well.

Who is that New Jersey Niner?

Tonking is a 27-year old from New Jersey, a grinder who has been playing poker since he was old enough to enter casinos and play legally online.

After most online poker disappeared from the US market on Black Friday, Tonking took to playing more live poker, both cash games and a few tournaments here and there on the East Coast. But the launch of online poker in New Jersey within the past year gave him more online options once again, and he is a regular player on sites like PartyPoker, Borgata, and WSOP.com.

He told one media outlet in an interview that he hit a $50K score online at WSOP.com prior to heading to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker.

Prior to this year, Tonking had accumulated some occasional live tournament finishes, final tabling events at series like the Borgata Poker Open and Sands Bethlehem Deepstack Extravaganza.

At the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, he cashed in two events in 2010 and the $1,500 NLHE Mixed Max in late June, just before playing the WSOP $10K Main Event.

That Main Event was a tough one, but Tonking told PokerNews that he felt he had an edge in it. He asserted that cash game players take to the deep stacks and good structure of the Main Event quite well, sometimes better than regular tournament players. He made the most of the frequent post-flop play as well.

During his Main Event run, he didn’t finish Day 3 in the top 200 and finished in 101th place on the Day 4 leaderboard. By the end of Day 5, he was in 58th, and he soared into the top 20 on Day 6. And when Day 7 was over, he was in the November Nine in seventh of the nine chip stacks.

Anonymous No More

As one of the 2014 WSOP November Nine, Tonking no longer has the option to stay under the radar and play anonymously online.

When interviewed by PokerNews the day after he made the biggest final table in all of poker, he commented that he used to enjoy being a relatively unknown player. It gave him an edge online and in live play.

Poker is a big deal in New Jersey, and since the launch of regulated online poker in the state, more poker players have been making their way to the Garden State. Tonking will now represent the East Coast poker hub in the WSOP Main Event.

With a combination of years of live cash game play, some tournaments, and quite a bit of online poker action on his résumé, Tonking has as much of a shot as any of the November Nine at winning the tournament, which would be worth $10 million.

Where are the Sponsorships?

Tonking wore a plain white t-shirt at his post-November Nine interviews on July 15 – no logos, no patches. It may not be that way for long.

WSOP.com has been adamant about not offering player sponsorships, but PartyPoker has signed deals with several New Jersey players since the site launched there.

Jamie Kerstetter and Scott Baumstein are the pros who have been sponsored for the longest time, and PartyPoker just announced the signing of Melissa Burr at the end of her summer in Las Vegas.

Whether PartyPoker or one of the other online poker sites initiates talks with Tonking, it is quite likely that the New Jersey player will be representing an online poker company by the time the November Nine reconvenes in Las Vegas in a few months.

Meanwhile, look for “WillTonk21″ online. He seems to have a little extra money in his bankroll these days.

Photo Credit: pokernews.com

New Jersey Traffic Report: Summer Downtrend? Not in New Jersey

Online gaming improves despite it being summer out

Apparently, the US’s regulated poker rooms are immune to the summer sickness that infects most online gaming networks.

Thus far this summer, iPoker traffic in both Nevada and New Jersey has experienced gains. And while the level of growth was far more pronounced in Nevada than it was in New Jersey, Nevada’s online poker boom can easily be justified by the presence of the live-WSOP.

This is accounted for by the thousands of out-of-state poker players that come with it – not to mention the nearly heroic cross-promotional efforts of WSOP.com.

But I’d argue that the modest, incremental growth exhibited in New Jersey was all the more impressive, if only because the state’s industry managed to buck the seasonal downtrend despite the presence of a live poker festival. If anything, New Jersey’s market found itself at a detriment, as some of its most dedicated online players were to be found some 2,500 miles west in Las Vegas.

Alright, enough with the accolades.  Let’s take a peek at the numbers.

Cash-game Traffic Inches Upwards

The fact that we’re celebrating modest growth is a testament to just how poorly New Jersey’s iPoker market performed during the spring months.

But progress is progress. Here’s a look at current 7-day averages across all NJ networks (June 16th averages in parenthesis)

PokerFuse Pro no longer displays data for Ultimate Poker‘s New Jersey room (hence the question marks), probably because there isn’t any traffic to report. Thus, from this point forward, UP will be stricken from our report.

Assuming cash-game traffic on UP is non-existent, the average number of players mixing it up at one of the state’s regulated poker rooms is 335. That represents a 7.3 % margin of growth in the past four weeks.

Compare this to the global market, where volume has stood relatively pat since June 16th, and it becomes evident that NJ is outperforming expectations.

But Why?

A few theories come to mind:

  • The more cynical side of me believes that traffic levels could not realistically sink much lower, and that the modest reversal of fortunes is merely a consequence of a few players becoming cognizant of the increased value to be had by playing MTTs featuring massive overlays.
  • A better theory is that New Jersey’s sites have finally gotten their act together. Compared to a few months ago, the software is more responsive, daily tournament schedules are much improved, and the mobile apps have finally reached a serviceable state.
  • 888′s Double Points Summer headlines the market’s strong promotional schedule. Other notable promos include WSOP’s recently expired 2014 WSOP Reload Bonus , Party’s overdue SNG leaderboards and incredible New Player Bonus, and 888′s Summer Slam. Together, these promos have attracted renewed interest in the fledgling market.
  • It’s possible that the seemingly inevitable reentry of PokerStars has New Jersey players pumped up, and hence playing more.

Major Tournaments Back to Meeting Guarantees

For a while there, the state’s biggest daily and weekly tournaments were struggling to meet their guarantees.

June’s WSOP Online Championship Main Event was the biggest offender, featuring a more than $100,000 (50 %) overlay. But even Party’s Sunday $50k, which for months was crushing its minimum benchmark, was suddenly coming up decidedly short.

Last week, MTT turnouts fared significantly better. Granted, overlays were still fairly abundant, but at least they were smaller.

Here’s a look at a few of last week’s results:

  • Party / Borgata’s $50k Guarantee: 271 runners, $50,135 prize pool
  • Party / Borgata’s $10k Daily (Sunday): 144 players turned up to create a $13,104 prize pool.
  • WSOP’s $25k Weekly Sunday: 113 runners, $2,400 overlay
  • 888′s The Big Sunday $10k Guarantee: 53 entrants, $195 overlay

Clearly, the partnership of PartyPoker and the Borgata has reasserted its position as the premier destination for tournament poker in New Jersey.

Other Noteworthy Trends

  • On July 5, WSOP.com came within one player of tying PartyPoker’s average cash-game traffic mark. This is the closest WSOP has come to usurping the state’s perennial market share leader since regulated online poker was launched in late-November 2013.
  • Party has since opened up a sizable (12.5 %) gap over its closest competitor.
  • Ring game traffic on 888 is up 50 % since June 8.
  • Since slashing the guarantee for its Sunday Major by 87.5 %, the average turnout for UP‘s now $2,500 Sundays has fallen by approximately 75 %. On a more positive note, the average overlay has dropped from over $10,000 to a few hundred bucks.

Party Poker’s WPT500 at ARIA Has Eye-popping Numbers

Partypoker WPT500 has Yu as the Winner

The recently completed WPT500 at ARIA Resort and Casino presented by Party Poker monumentally exceeded everyone’s expectations. From July 4th though 9th, Party ran this tournament for the first time, not sure with what the results would be.

Exceeding expectations at ARIA

With a $500 + $65 buy-in and $1 million guaranteed, PartyPoker was hoping it would draw a lot of players and fans. What they got was a grand total of 3,599 entries, more than any other event in Wold Poker Tour history, smashing their expectations.

The prize pool also exceeded the $1 million number that they guaranteed. The $1,799,500 prize pool with first place receiving $260,000 had players from all over wanting to get a piece of the pot.

A champion emerges among tough final table

At the end of the 5 day tournament, 39-year-old Sean Yu took home the first place prize. The Biotech sales consultant from Los Angeles said,

“I entered on Day 1A but didn’t get through so I had a go at the last chance satellite at 8.30am this morning. In one day of poker I have turned $565 into $260,000 – it is really amazing, I love the format.”

At the final table, Yu beat WPT Champions Club members Christian Harder and Scott Clements, French pro Brian Benhamou, and bwin.be online qualifier Messadek Soufiane from Belgium.

Runner-up was Foxwoods regular Kareem Marshall from Boston. Defeating the runner-up was a tough task for Yu, seeing as Marshall had NFL defensive tackle and three time Super Bowl winner Richard Seymour cheering him on the entire time.

Along with the $260,000 first place prize, Sean Yu won a £2,000 package and a spot in the November WPT500 in the United Kingdom. Yu was thrilled to receive this prize package, as he has never been to the UK before.

There he will have a chance to win a portion of the £1,000,000 guaranteed prize pool. For other players, online qualifiers start on August 3rd on partypoker.com and partner sites.

WPT500 success felt all around

In his post tournament statement, Group Director for partypoker Jeffrey Haas said:

“This event was an amazing success that surpassed our expectations and really seemed to strike a chord with the community. There were more than 100 online qualifiers from partypoker and partners, all of whom seemed to love the opportunity to qualify online to play one of the greatest events in Las Vegas this summer… We cannot wait for next year’s event when we expect bigger fields, richer prize pools and an even more FUN experience for recreational poker players from around the world.”

World Poker Tour President Adam Pliska was also very thankful to ARIA Resort and Casino and excited at the great response that the tournament got from fans.

Adam Altwies, the Director of Poker Operations at ARIA Resort and Casino, acknowledges his appreciation:

“Our whole staff at ARIA would like to thank everyone for a great event: 3,599 entries for the inaugural partypoker presents the WPT500 at ARIA! That is simply fantastic anyway you look at it. I am grateful to the players that experienced Aria for their first time; we hope you come back soon…We would also like to thank partypoker, WPT and the ARIA poker staff. We all care about poker players. We hope you experienced that during this event. There is always a next. This next is July 2015. Bigger and better.”

A few of the big names who joined the tournament via the $565 buy-in included:

  • Poker legend Phil Hellmuth
  • New Jersey Devils NHL icon Ken Daneyko
  • WPT Alpha 8 regulars Bill Perkins and Dan Shak
  • Team partypoker.com’s Kara Scott, Mike Sexton, Marvin Rettenmaier, Scott Baumstein and Jamie Kerstetter.

The success of this year’s tournament has led to the WPT500 at ARIA Resort and Casino already being confirmed for next summer. Next year should be bigger and better than ever!

For more information on the tournament visit worldpokertour.com and the nj.partypoker.com blog.

Burr Joins PartyPoker, New Jersey Pros Shine at WSOP

As the Main Event approaches, New Jersey players are having great success.

As the World Series of Poker got underway in Las Vegas, Nevada, players who traveled from the state of New Jersey were already preparing to make their marks on the series.

The first 23 events were examined to find some big finishes from PartyPoker-sponsored players like Jamie Kerstetter and big final table finishes by the likes of Jason Paster.

While difficult to determine just how much of an effect New Jersey online poker had on the play of any competitor hailing from the Garden State, it is undeniable that a number of the players in Las Vegas won their WSOP seats via online poker in New Jersey. And the mere presence of online poker in New Jersey has allowed many players to hone their skills and bring them to Las Vegas for the summer.

PartyPoker Pros Pick Up New Addition during WSOP

Players sponsored by PartyPoker made a splash at the WSOP, especially those with New Jersey sponsorships. Jamie Kerstetter and Scott Baumstein represented the site well throughout the WSOP.

Kerstetter launched into the WSOP with three cashes in the first week, the deepest run being in Event 4, where she finished in the $1K NLHE event in 27th place for $10,308. She also cashed in Events 8 and 11.

Baumstein started with a solid run in Event 4 but hit his stride as the Series rolled on. His accomplishments before the start of the main event included:

  • 36th place in Event 35, a $5K NLHE event, for $12,847.
  • 5th place in Event 40, a $10K NLHE Heads-Up tournament, for $54,736
  • 24th place in Event 60, a $1,500 NLHE event, for $17,577

And then, one of the breakout stars of the 2014 WSOP was revealed as the newest member of Team PartyPoker for New Jersey. The US PartyPoker Twitter account announced that Melissa Burr was officially making her debut as the newest team member when she played the WPT500 tournament at Aria this week.


Burr has been on fire during the WSOP. Though she is quite well known in cash game circles in New Jersey and has been for many years, Burr isn’t a tournament grinder and didn’t have many tournament credits to her name prior to this summer. Cash games are her bread and butter. But then, she launched into the 2014 WSOP, and everyone took notice.

Her first big finish came early at the Series in Event 10, the $10K buy-in Limit Omaha Hi/Lo tournament. She made the final table and finished in eighth place for $51,768.

From there, she made a second final table 12 days later and finished fifth in Event 30, the $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo tournament, for $39,181.

Less than a week later, she ran deep in the $1,500 Dealer’s Choice Six-Handed event (#41) and just missed the final table, finishing ninth for $9,944.

Days later, she played the $50K Poker Players Championship and finished seventh for $165,435, becoming the first woman to ever cash in nine years of that tournament’s history.

Finally, Burr finished 13th in the $3K Omaha Hi/Lo that was Event 59 for a take-home amount of $14,122.

It has been a whirlwind summer for Burr, and she is enjoying all of it.

WSOP Final Table Players Doing New Jersey Proud

As reported through the first 23 events, New Jersey poker players were doing quite well at the WSOP in Las Vegas. Let’s review that list first:

Event 4: $1K NLHE

  • Jason Paster, Morganville (2nd place – $223,418)
  • Daniel Dizenao, Sussex (4th place – $113,499)
  • Ken Weinstein, Chatham (8th place – $34,552)

Event 20: $3K NLHE Shootout

  • Jack Duong, South Plainfield (4th place – $85,616)

Event 21: $1K NLHE

  • Dave D’Alesandro, Wenonah (2nd place – $208,931)

And the rest of the WSOP had even more solid results:

Event 25: $2,500 Omaha/Stud-8

  • Terrence Hastoo, Teaneck (4th place – $75,713)

Event 26: $1,500 NLHE

  • Michael Katz, Manalapan (2nd place – $252,826)

Event 30: $1,500 Stud-8

  • Sanjay Pandya, Galloway (6th place – 28,346)

Event 33: $1K NLHE

  • Steven Norden, Princeton (2nd place – $178,490)

Event 34: $1,500 Stud

  • William Thompson, Toms River (4th place – $34,283)

Event 41: $1,500 Dealer’s Choice

  • Aaron Schaff, East Brunswick (2nd place – $90,854)

Event 48: $1,500 PLO-8

  • Gary Kosakowski, Newark (5th place – $56,216)

Event 59: $3K Omaha-8

  • Michael Bees, Medford (3rd place – $118,036)
  • John D’Agostino, Egg Harbor (5th place – $65,736)

Event 61: $10K Stud

  • Henry Orenstein, Verona (8th place – $31,419)

Event 62: $1,111 NLHE Little One for One Drop

  • Jack Duong, South Plainfield (6th place – $117,507)

Event 63: $1,500 10-Game Mix Six-Handed

  • Daniel Zack, Princeton (4th place – $40,550)

Keeping Both Eyes on Main Event

The $10K WSOP Main Event has begun. Action started on July 5 and offered three starting days. We’ll be keeping our eyes on New Jersey players throughout the big event, including those who won their seats through WSOP.com in New Jersey.

Before everyone heads back to the online poker tables in the Garden State, there is the potential to make poker history in Las Vegas.