Following a soft-launch period that took place from March 16-20, PokerStars officially launched in New Jersey on Monday, March 21. During the soft-launch phase, play on the site was restricted to a cap of 500 players. That cap was removed Monday, and without it numbers swelled to some of the best we've seen in the Garden State.
"We could not be more proud to bring PokerStars to New Jersey," said David Baazov, Chairman and CEO of Amaya, in a press release issued on the morning of the launch. "Working with our partner, Resorts Casino Hotel, we look forward to providing the most exciting, innovative, and secure gaming experience to New Jersey."
The day started with players slowly trickling in to the online poker room. Traffic soon picked up and moved over 100 players around 10-10:30 a.m. ET, but not without a couple of bumps in the road, as two of the early scheduled tournaments were canceled due to not reaching the minimum requirement of players. A third tournament that started at 9 a.m. ET attracted 27 entries. It was a $15 No-Limit Hold'em [6-Max, Turbo, Progressive SuperKO] with a $250 guarantee, and the prize pool reached $364.50.
As the clock ticked past midday, PokerStars' New Jersey traffic increased, and then shortly after 3 p.m. ET. Jason Somerville began streaming live from New Jersey on Twitch.
The 500-barrier was surpassed in the evening, and plenty of games were running across the site in a variety of limits, but the traffic didn't stop growing from there. PokerStars New Jersey eclipsed 700 just before 7 p.m. ET and then moved over 1,100 players just before 8 p.m. ET.
The impressive traffic numbers weren't the only milestones being reached on Monday, either. About an hour and a half after he began streaming from New Jersey on Twitch, Somerville his a milestone of his own when his Twitch channel, RunItUp.tv, surpassed 10 million total views.
For a brief moment, according to PocketFives' Lance Bradley on Twitter, the PokerStars New Jersey client pushed over the 1,200-player mark, but then quickly returned to the 1,100s.
Only One Daily Tournament Misses Guarantee On Opening Day
To start, PokerStars New Jersey plans to hold 17 daily tournaments on its schedule. The tournaments range in buy-ins os low as $5 and all the way up to $100, with plenty of increments in between. Each event also comes with a guaranteed prize pool, and the total guarantees amount to $25,500 across the daily tournament schedule.
The biggest daily tournament of the day, in terms of buy-in and guaranteed prize pool, was the $100 Nightly Stars event that took place at 7 p.m. ET. The event's $10,000 guarantee was easily eclipsed, with 141 entries piling up a prize pool of nearly $13,000. The top 27 spots were paid, with Steven "FadeOrHoldz" Madara earning top honors and a first-place prize of $2,783.09. "AlCream" (2nd - $2,006.28), "JKupz27" (3rd - $1,520.89), and "Ketel1Kid" (4th - $1,132.58) also collected four-figure payouts.
To view the complete schedule of PokerStars New Jersey's daily tournaments, click here.
Of the 17 tournaments, only one had a prize pool that failed to exceed the posted guarantee. That event was the $5 Change-Up [PLO H/L] with a $500 guarantee that started at 5:30 p.m. ET. Interestingly, both the $20 Change-Up [PLO] that took place starting at 7 p.m. ET and the $15 Change-Up [7 Stud] that started at 9:30 p.m. ET both eclipsed their guarantees. With a smaller buy-in, the $5 Change-Up [PLO H/L] needed many more entries than the other two Change-Up events to reach the guarantee, and it also could have suffered from the earlier time slot, as site traffic was at its peak around 8 p.m. ET.
The three Change-Up events did generate 220 total entries across the three tournaments and the success of the $20 Change-Up [PLO] exceeding its guarantee by more than $400 more than made up for the overlay from the $5 Change-Up [PLO H/L] event.
Notable winners included "RIU Trap" in The Big $50, defeating a field of 79 entries for $979.54 in prize money, and "RosiesThornE" in The Hot $50, defeating a field of 69 entries to earn $863.42. The Hot $50 event had a $1,000 guarantee that was more than tripled with a $3,139.50 prize pool.
Freerolls and Bonuses
With excitement high around the official return of PokerStars to New Jersey this week, the traffic on the site should fare well leading up to the first big Sunday, which will be this weekend, March 27. You can view the Sunday major tournament schedule by clicking here, and there will also be a $25,000 "We Are In New Jersey" Freeroll at 5 p.m. ET this Sunday with a first-place prize set at $5,000.
For those looking for some incentives to get in on the action, PokerStars New Jersey is offering a couple of deposit bonus options for you.
First, there is an option to get $50 in free play by depositing $20 or more. The free $50 comes as a combination of a $40 cash bonus and a $10 Spin & Go ticket. With this option, you'll also receive one ticket to the $5,000 Depositor Freeroll, played on the last Sunday of every month, plus 1 million in play-money chips.
Second, there is an option for a 100-percent deposit bonus up to $600. This bonus will be released as a cash bonus based on VPPs earned. For every 100 VPPs you earn, PokerStars New Jersey will credit your account with $10.