Party Poker New Jersey Comments on recent NJCOP High Roller Payouts

NJCOP LogoThe recent New Jersey Championship of poker ran on the New Jersey Party Poker Network, which includes the Borgata branded client. The NJCOP High Roller ran on the final day of the series, the 27th of April and ran with first and second places having guaranteed payouts of $20,000 and $10,000.

149 players entered the event, generating a prize pool of around $70,000, but even though the guarantee was more than doubled, only 2 players received any money from the tournament.

Players were understandable upset by this result, as this payout structure is a massive departure from the usually used in Party Poker tournaments. A thread was created on the Two Plus Two forums, which saw a member of the High Roller final table comment on the situation:

“Just busted from the final table and got nothing for my efforts lol. Like all of you I would have never entered the tourney if I knew only the top 2 would be paid. To make things worse there was no possibility of even making a deal at the FT. I’m really frustrated with party and I hope they do something to rectify this situation.” typed 2+2 member “Ddub”

It seems that several players contacted the Party Poker live support team asking about this issue. The response they say they received from the Party Poker representatives was pretty  much a paraphrasing of:
“The tournament lobby was an error, and we are working diligently to fix it but have no further information at that time.”

While the 2+2 Party Poker Representative (Party_Rep) was active on the forum, the account didn’t appear in this thread until the 9th of May, nearly two weeks after the event had ended. The pertinent parts of the official communication are below:

“In response to some of the concerns raised here and elsewhere about the payout structure used for NJCOP Event #14, please note that our intent for this event was always for it to pay just two positions, and advertised it with $20K guaranteed for first place and $10K guaranteed for second place. 
“…[We] regret that we did not advertise this structure more as a feature of the event as the actual turnout and post-event comments indicate we might have had even greater participation. 
“Our poker software shows payout structures clearly in each tournament’s lobby, and they update in almost-real-time as players register and rebuy… The registration lobby for this event did show the payout structure correctly at all times… Therefore, we do stand by our payout structure for NJCOP Event #14 and will not be revisiting it.”

NJCOP High Roller Lobby

NJCOP High Roller Lobby

While Party Poker may have considered this a reasonable response, it has not been received well by the New Jersey poker playing community. Most responses seems to agree that the payouts remained constant in the client, but feel disappointed that the payout structure was so poor for what was meant to be one of the jewels in the crown of the first Party Poker NJCOP.

This could have been an opportunity for the Party Poker Network to differentiate itself from the others poker sites in the relatively new market in New Jersey. The payout structure doesn’t really make sense, nor does the lack of deal making opportunities at the final table. It seems that Party Poker were more interested in making headlines along the lines of “Player Wins Large Amount of Money in First NJCOP High Roller” than offering a structure that was reasonable to all the players involved.

The guarantees for both first and second place used up the entire $30,000 original prize pool, which also doesn’t make much sense to me. What has been industry standard in my experience for large guarantee events is to guarantee an amount for first place but then payout the remainder of the prize pool as per usual payout structures.

The fact the guarantee was smashed, and that Party Poker’s Representatives appear to have described this as an error, compound this issue in a significant way.
If this event had only attracted a small number of players, guaranteeing to pay two players is reasonable, but not when 149 players each pay $500 to play a poker tournament. Paying less than 2% of a tournament field is totally unacceptable in the current market. The $50k Gtd Sunday Party Poker event from last week paid out 22% of players who entered.

I personally think paying out more then 15% of a tournament field makes it almost impossible for tournament players to make a consistent income as the money rally is concentrated in the top few spots. The rest of the field get paid a relatively flat payout up to the final table. This makes deep runs that don’t make the final table effectively worthless for grinders, as it makes little difference to them if they min cash, or bust just before the final table, but even this structure is preferable to only paying two players out of a 149 player field.

The general consensus is that either an error was made in setting up this event in the Party Poker client, or someone in the marketing department didn’t foresee the issues with the payout structure that gave great headline opportunities.

If either of these is true, Party Poker seems to have missed a great opportunity to build a better relationship with the New Jersey poker community. A simple apology and a few dollars to resolve the issue would have earned the network a lot of respect, and would have been worth a lot more in good will than it would have ever cost to resolve the issue.

With this issue apparently consigned to the annals of history, we’ll just have to see what happens for the next NJCOP High Roller and if the payout structure will change for the better.


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