[toc]Generally, the sentiment try, try again is good advice. However, for PokerStars, a second failure in New Jersey might be a hint that live poker is too tough a market for it to crack.
PokerStars NJ missed guarantee in both events
The weekend-long series tried to appeal to the small-stakes recreational player with a two-event series that did not interrupt the work week. The Main Event featured a $220 buy-in tournament with four starting flights. More importantly, the event featured a $100,000 guarantee. Additionally, there was a $120 buy-in deep stack tournament with a $25,000 guarantee.
Even though the guarantees were arguably modest, Resorts missed on both fronts. The Main Event drew 409 entries, resulting in around $18,000 of overlay.
The other event fared even worse. WIth only 119 entries, there was $13,100 in overlay. In other words, PokerStars NJ and Resorts put up over half the prize pool.
Granted, the overlay arguably went back into the company’s own pocket. Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker ended up winning the event. He collected $6,220 for his victory, per US Poker.
John Monahan of Egg Harbor Township, NJ won the Main Event. His prize amounted to $19,920.
Second-straight disappointing autumn event for NJ poker
Last fall, PokerStars and Resorts aimed the bar even higher with a full-blown PokerStars Festival event. The week-long series featured a schedule with more than 40 events on it. The Festival offered an array of formats not normally spread in the US. What it did not offer was events with guarantees.
During the series, Resorts staffers canceled a number of events due to lack of interest. The $1,100 buy-in Main Event generated just 208 entries. Meanwhile the High Roller event drew only 16 players.
The thought was the buy-ins on these tournaments were a little too high for the PokerStars NJ customer base. Additionally, the weekday scheduling meant few local amateurs would be interested in playing.
While the Megastack approach addressed those issues, PokerStars still can’t find a foothold in the competitive East Coast live poker market.
If you guarantee it, they will come
Though the Megastack series did feature guaranteed prize pools, unlike the PokerStars Festival, these numbers pale in comparison to the competition.
Take, for example, Borgata’s recent Borgata Poker Open. That series opened up with a $500 buy-in tournament with a $2 million guarantee and a $350 event with a $1 million guarantee. Those guarantees are 20 and 10 times the size of what PokerStars offered at a similar price point.
In one event, Borgata had to put up over $50,000 in overlay, but the turnout of 3,570 entries is likely worth the fiscal sacrifice.
Even for poker series without the guarnteed prize pools of Borgata, the regularity of their schedules keeps drawing customers back. For example, the day the Megastack series ended, Parx Casino in nearby Philadelphia started its latest Big Stax tournament.
The opening flight of that $300 buy-in event ran on a Wednesday, but still generated nearly 300 entries. That is 75 percent of what PokerStars and Resorts generated across four different flights.
So long as PokerStars NJ has neither a monetary nor a consistent presence on the East Coast live tournament scene, it is unlikely they can ever compete with the bigger poker casinos like Borgata, Parx, and even Foxwoods. With added competition from Rivers Casino in NY and major casinos in Massachusetts on the horizon too, it will take a lot more than one event a year for PokerStars NJ to be anything but an online player.