Party Borgata Garden State Super Series Struggling Again

This week, it was announced that two American retail stalwarts, Sears and Kmart (which are owned by the same company), are struggling so much that it is very possible they could go out of business. Bad business decisions over the years and the inability to compete in a changing marketplace have hammered their stores. While not American, partypoker has also been a steady name in online poker for years. It was the most well-known operator in the United States prior to Black Friday and was welcomed back with open arms when New Jersey started its regulated online gaming industry a few years ago. Unfortunately, partypoker, too, has had trouble keeping up in New Jersey and with the woeful performance of the Garden State Super Series VI, one has to wonder how much longer it can keep this up.

The Garden State Super Series (GSSS) began in 2014 as the Party Borgata Network’s attempt at getting a big online tournament series going for the state of New Jersey. The previous GSSS, GSSS V in October, was insanely ambitious. With 75 events and more than $1.1 million guaranteed prize pools, it was designed to go head-to-head with PokerStars’ New Jersey Championship of Online Poker.

Party PokerUnfortunately, GSSS V was disastrous. Party Borgata couldn’t draw enough players to avoid overlay in most of the events and ended up on the hook for thousands upon thousands of dollars in guarantees. And then, to make matters even worse, the network had geolocation issues while the Main Event and other tournaments were running, forcing many players to sit out. The tournaments ended up being cancelled. The network came up with a remedy for distributing prizes and reimbursing players, but even that got unnecessarily screwed up.

Fast forward to the current Garden State Super Series VI. This go around, the Party Borgata Network decided to tone things way down, including only eleven events and $265,000 in guaranteed prize pools. Really, the average guaranteed is up, but obviously the total guarantees were quartered.

The thing is, the tournament series is still failing horribly. Counting tonight, there have been seven events run. The total guaranteed prize pools have added up to $100,000 so far, but the total buy-ins, add-ons, and re-buys have only added up to $91,678. That’s an overlay of $8,322.

Even if you factor in entry fees, the network is still behind.

Here is a look at the numbers to this point:

Event #1 – $100 + $9 Six-Max No-Limit Hold’em Re-Entry – 116 entries – $10,000 guaranteed, $11,600 player generated prize pool
Event #2 – $200 + $15 No-Limit Hold’em Re-Entry – 201 entries – $50,000 guaranteed, $40,200 player generated prize pool
Event #3 – $18 + $2 No-Limit Hold’em 2x Re-Entry – 246 entries – $5,000 guaranteed, $4,428 player generated prize pool
Event #4 – $200 + $15 No-Limit Hold’em Bounty – 71 entries – $10,000 guaranteed, $10,650 player generated prize pool
Event #5 – $50 + $5 No-Limit Hold’em Re-Buy – 269 entries – $10,000 guaranteed, $13,450 player generated prize pool
Event #6 – $100 + $9 No-Limit Hold’em Heads-Up – 40 entries – $5,000 guaranteed, $4,000 player generated prize pool
Event #7 – $50 + $5 Pot-Limit Omaha Re-Buy – 147 entries – $10,000 guaranteed, $7,350 player generated prize pool

Two notes: a) for tournaments with re-entries, re-buys, or add-ons, the number of entries listed totals all those numbers, b) the player generated prize pool for the bounty event is probably a bit low, as it only counts the official prize pool that is based on order of finish, not the bounties ($50 on each player).

As you can see, whether Party ends up paying out overlay overall or is just barely in the black, this is a hell of a sad performance once again. What’s incredible is that the state of New Jersey has somewhere in the vicinity of 9 million residents. Ok, so a chunk of them are kids, but there are still millions of people who would be eligible to play online poker and the numbers above are all Party can muster?

Even if we say that most of those buy-ins are too steep for the average person, the network is only averaging 70 players per day over the last seven days according to PokerScout. SEVENTY. PokerStars has nearly double that (which, honestly, I don’t consider that impressive either).

And while Party Borgata hasn’t done itself any favors in the operating of its network, it is its inability to compete with PokerStars that has been its undoing. At the beginning of last year, Party Borgata had just over half of New Jersey’s online poker market share. It was just about exactly a year ago that PokerStars launched and when it did, Party Borgata’s traffic went into the tank. It is now below 30 percent (it’s actually below 22 percent at the moment), about where it has been since PokerStars took over.

Is it time for Party to throw in the towel in New Jersey? Hopefully not, as a bit of competition without watering down the player base is good in online poker, but there is no real reason to think the future is very bright, either.

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