Since going live last March, PokerStars NJ has tailored the bulk of its promotional offers toward low volume, net depositing players. Typically, these promos take the form of easy to complete challenges. The reward for completion is usually some form of randomly drawn prize.

But with its latest promotional vehicle, it appears the operator has ripped a page straight out of its 2009 playbook.

The plainly titled Reload Bonus is a traditional match deposit bonus in which returning players will have the opportunity to temporarily earn additional rakeback.

Rakeback: Now that’s a term we haven’t associated with a PokerStars promo in a while. But will this old-school offer be able to alter PokerStars NJ’s downward trajectory?

Reloading the clip

In terms of the fine print, this offer is about as straightforward as it gets. From now until February 19, players that make a qualifying deposit of at least $20 using the promotional code NJ500 will receive a 100-percent match bonus. The monetary value of this offer is capped relatively high, at $500.

From that point forward, for every 100 VIP Player Points (VPPs) that players earn, they will unlock $5 of their bonus. For the most part, VPPs accumulate at a clip of 5.5 VPPs per dollar paid in rake and tournament fees.

At this rate, players would earn 27.5 percent rakeback, on top of what they already earn in accordance with their VIP loyalty tier (up to 30 percent).

Players will have 35 days after making their qualifying deposit to clear the bonus. That means a player who deposits the full $500 will have to rake just over $1,800 in a little over a month in order to fully capitalize — a tall task.

This offer is only available to players who have made a qualifying deposit in the past. New players are entitled to either a 100-percent match up to $600 that clears at a 50-percent rakeback rate, or $30 free.

Will Reload Bonus turn the tide for PokerStars?

With Reload Bonus, PokerStars has turned its promotional strategy on its head.

Until now, PokerStars has focused squarely on promotions with a randomized payout structure, where the overwhelming majority of players only receive a few bucks for their efforts, but will occasionally score a substantial prize.

These promotions typically require players to complete trivial tasks, such as playing in five Spin & Go’s, or mixing it up at the cash game tables for a few orbits.

By contrast, Reload Bonus targets the same players PokerStars has written off of late — high volume grinders. This initially comes off as odd, but makes sense in context.

PokerStars has watched its cash-game traffic flounder of late. According to Poker Industry Pro via PokerScout.com, 7-day rolling averages have nosedived 30.4 percent since the start of the year.

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The PokerStars competition

The WSOP NJ 888 Poker network has once again overtaken PokerStars for first place in the market.

Worth noting: WSOP NJ commonly offers reload bonuses, with monetary caps that sometimes exceed $1,000. Traffic on WSOP/888 has held relatively pat since the new year.

It’s plausible that the reason the network is able to maintain such high cash-game numbers is because there is more free-flowing promotional money on the site. PokerStars may be trying to mimic the network’s stability with this promotion.

It’s yet to be seen if Reload Bonus will provide PokerStars with that much needed uptick. But given the high prevalence of regulars on the site, the prospects look good.

In either case, players haven’t responded to the site’s “fun” promotions. PokerStars was due to try something new, or in this instance, try something old.