The excitement is growing for online as PokerStars plans to launch its regulated online poker room in the state of New Jersey on March 21.
This marks the first time PokerStars will be available to customers playing within the United States since the U.S. Department of Justice shut down the online poker room from serving customers in the country on April 15, 2011, otherwise known throughout the poker world as Black Friday.
While players on the new PokerStars.nj site will not have access to worldwide player liquidity and only be playing against players that are located in New Jersey, much of everything else that PokerStars will be offering is similar to what is available on other clients, including the software, games, tiered VIP program, and a variety of promotions.
To help explain what players should expect after the launch, VIP Manager at PokerStars Dylan Coady opened a thread on the TwoPlusTwo poker forum titled PokerStars NJ — Official Thread.
Soft Launch Begins March 16
Coady explained in the thread that while the official launch date is March 21, there will be a five-day testing period leading up to the official launch capped at 500 players. On March 16-17, players be able to enjoy games from 16:00 to midnight ET, on March 18 from 08:00 to midnight ET, and during the entire day on March 20-21.
New Jersey players will have the option of keeping the account they may have previously had or opening up an account under a new screen name. If they choose the former, their older account will be automatically closed, however, player balances they may not have been cashed out will be automatically transferred to the new client.
Additionally, Coady informed the poker community that PokerStars will credit migrated accounts with a VIP status, play-money chips balance, and StarsCoins (formerly FPPs) based on each player's historic activity. StarsCoin conversion from FPPs will take place at a 1.6-to-1 rate, which is a bit higher than the 1.2-to-1 rate provided to players when the VIP program changed in the rest of the world on Jan. 1, 2016.
Coady informed the community that this was due to rest-of-world players being provided two months notice to redeem their FPPs under the old program while New Jersey players were not given any notice.
What won't be transferred from old PokerStars accounts are pending bonuses, tournament money, and tournament tickets.
Differences Between NJ and ROW
There are a few differences that PokerStars players in New Jersey will experience when compared to the rest of the world. First of all, players must be at least 21 years of age to play on the New Jersey client due to regulations set forth by the state's gaming regulatory authority, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE). Players on other PokerStars clients outside of New Jersey only have to be at least 18 years old.
Another difference due to gaming regulation is that player-to-player transfers will not be allowed on the New Jersey client. While this is allowed on the rest-of-world PokerStars client, this isn't much different to the other ring-fenced PokerStars clients where this is also prohibited.
The VIP program is very similar to the one available to the rest of the world, with the main difference being there will be lower thresholds required to reach each tier as listed below.
|VIP Level||VPP Requirement||Estimated Rewards|
|ChromeStar||100 per month||12-15%|
|SilverStars||500 per month||15-18%|
|GoldStar||2,000 per month||17-21%|
|PlatinumStar||4,000 per month||22-25%|
|Supernova||50,000 per year||27-305|
Coady mentioned another difference in the VIP program will be the absence of VIP tournaments scheduled upon the launch. However, he added that PokerStars plans to run a variety of value- and seat-added VIP Bash Satellites to bigger events during the year.
Games are expected to be similar to what is on offer on other PokerStars clients, albeit with lower tournament guarantees and less liquidity in cash games due to the smaller overall market size. This means popular games like the fast-fold Zoom Poker and the lottery-style Spin & Go tournaments will be available to players in the Garden State.
PokerStars is encouraging players to sign up to the site by luring them in with a "We Are in New Jersey Freeroll" for any player who creates their new account within the first week of launch. The freeroll takes place on March 27 at 17:00 ET with a generous $25,000 guarantee. To put this into perspective, the biggest tournament on the week on the partypoker NJ/BorgataPoker.com is typically a $215 buy-in tournament with a $50,000 guarantee while the biggest tournament of the week on 888poker NJ/WSOP NJ is typically a $200 buy-in tournament with a $30,000 guarantee.
Coady stated that there would be other promotions, but wouldn't elaborate at this time, posting that, "There is more planned for launch that I'm unable to announce at this time. Stay tuned!"
This may suggest that PokerStars does not plan a huge marketing blitz causing other New Jersey sites to react accordingly. Regardless of how big the promotions may or may not be, PokerStars reentering the marketplace in the Garden State is likely to change the landscape since they were the most well-known brand in the United States for many years.
One question that currently remains unanswered is whether players that leave the country to play on the worldwide PokerStars client will be able to keep their old account if they set up a new one under a new screen name. A number of players have asked this question, however, no clear answer was provided yet.
What About Full Tilt?
In case you were wondering whether Full Tilt would also be launching, Coady made it clear that it would not be included in its New Jersey offering at this time. Additionally, Full Tilt VIP statuses will not be considered in determining the status players start off with on the New Jersey client.
Also of note is, while players must be within the borders of New Jersey to play on PokerStars NJ, they do not need to be residents of the state. Residents of other states or even other countries will be able to sign up and fund an account provided that they have a valid Social Security Number and a U.S. postal address.
Let us know about your reaction to PokerStars returned to New Jersey in the comment box below.