After a successful first year in New Jersey, WSOP.com and 888Poker have decided to partially combine player pools in an effort to increase liquidity. The announcement was made late last week as State Senator Ray Lesniak hinted that PokerStars might go live sometime in March. CBS Philadelphia reports that both sites will begin partially sharing player pools on Monday.
The partial combining of player pools will help the sites improve player liquidity and help to remain competitive in a market where only 25% of revenue is based on online poker. According to All-American Poker Network CEO David Licht, “Shared liquidity will help create a better player experience that we hope will attract a diversity of players and begin to bring poker to a broader audience once again.”
Low Limit Cash Games and Select Tournaments to Share Players
Players at low limit cash games and selected tournaments will be those pooled at the beginning. Tournaments with guarantees of over $130,000 will now consist of players from both sites, making the events comparable to those currently held at PartyPoker.com and BorgataPoker.com.
PartyPoker has regularly offered a $50,000 Guaranteed event on Sundays, while WSOP.com has offered only a $25,000 Guarantee. With the combined player pools, expect event guarantees start to creep up as player volume warrants the change.
Why Not Pool From the Start?
The big question that’s been asked by players and analysts from the inception of iGaming in New Jersey is why WSOP.com and 888 didn’t combine pools to start with. PartyPoker and Borgata Poker immediately rose to #1 in New Jersey for online poker thanks to player pool sharing. While WSOP.com was competitive, they lacked the volume to put them over the top.
Expectations for iGaming were high when WSOP.com and 888 initially launched. Their success in Nevada led some to believe that they would take the top spot in New Jersey without a combined pool. However, a combination of successful advertising campaigns combined with solid promotions and guarantees allowed PartyPoker and Borgata Poker to explode in popularity. WSOP.com could never fully catch up. With a combined player pool, even a partial one, expect a solid battle for the top spot in New Jersey.
Are They Prepping for PokerStars?
Nearly every move made by an online poker site in New Jersey in recent months has had some type of PokerStars spin to it, including this one. This time, there may be some truth to the speculation.
Last week, State Senator Ray Lesniak stated that the PokerStars appeal process would wrap in March. Of course, we heard that several times last year. With the lame duck behind us, we could actually see some movement toward a PokerStars launch.
While some will try to convince you otherwise, the reality is that PokerStars will likely become the top site in New Jersey within a short time. As such, the other sites will need to ready themselves for the competition. WSOP.com and 888Poker combining player pools at this time may be in preparation for a PokerStars launch.
Regardless of the reason, combined player pools are a win for NJ residents. They now have a chance for bigger prize pools and some fresh blood in the cash games. We should begin to see impact immediately in player traffic and growing prize pools within a few weeks.