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PokerStars entered the regulated New Jersey market in the spring of 2016 like a lion, but its roar soon quieted as it lost its initial market share and fought for the top spot with WSOP/888. With those two sites, as well as third place PartyPoker/Borgata, all offering solid deposit bonuses and regular promotions, players were no more impressed by PokerStars than they were with the others.

However, PokerStars may be ready to change that. Considering the global site corners more than 70% of the worldwide market, fighting for first place in New Jersey likely doesn’t sit well. As PokerStars announced its new Championship and Festival series for its players around the world, it set the first PokerStars Festival to take place in New Jersey.

What to Expect

The New Jersey series of events are set to launch on the final weekend of the New Jersey Championship of Online Poker (NJCOOP), the statewide version of the larger WCOOP which ends on October 30. PokerStars will then charge into Atlantic City, landing at the Resorts Casino with which it partners for online poker. All of the action will take place between October 29 and November 6.

There will be more than 50 live tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $100 to $5,000, including a $1,100 buy-in Main Event, a $340 PokerStars Cup, a $2,200 High Roller, and a $230 PokerStars Open. Members of Team PokerStars scheduled to attend include Daniel Negreanu, Chris Moneymaker, Vanessa Selbst, Jason Mercier, Barry Greenstein, Jennifer Shahade, and Jason Somerville.

pokerstars NJ

Credit: PokerStars

Some of the featured tournaments include a “Survivor Immunity” tournament featuring previous competitors on the television show, an entire “Run It Up” day featuring Jason Somerville, as well as tournaments in blackjack, video poker, slots, and roulette. There will also be a StarsFun skills zone, which will give players a break from the poker events as well. All will take place at Resorts.

One of the most interesting aspects of the project is that players from around the world are welcome to play online satellites to win their way to the New Jersey festival. This will introduce an entirely new group of players to the Atlantic City scene.

Note to Other New Jersey Sites: Step It Up

This schedule of events hosted by PokerStars ups the game for the other New Jersey online poker sites. In no uncertain terms, those sites should be prepared to lose their standing in the market once PokerStars holds this festival. Considering PokerStars’ determination to dominate this market and show other states (hello, California!) what they are missing, they will be undoubtedly setting a new standard for the New Jersey market leader.

PartyPoker already coordinates quite well with Borgata’s live events, but the site is consistently ranked third in the state. WSOP/888 hit a high during the live World Series of Poker this summer, but it will likely fall to second place by the time NJCOOP and the PokerStars Festival step up in late October.

The ho-hum attitude of online poker in New Jersey is going to be seriously challenged by PokerStars, and the sites’ executives are likely already talking about what to do about that. Whether they decide to mimic their competitor and host a live series or sign on some high-profile ambassadors or launch promotions that blow the minds of poker players, it will have to be something significant. It will have to coordinate the online and land-based partners to make a splash.

As many (including this author) have said before, the only way to give a boost to the New Jersey market is to implement new strategies and use innovative tactics. The new regulated markets in the United States and Europe are going to require online poker companies to take their marketing, advertising, and promotions to new levels in order to grow those separated markets, at least until more of them can join together for better liquidity.

For now, the bar for online poker in New Jersey is being raised. PokerStars’ competitors need to be coming up with their own ways to meet that bar and try to surpass it.


Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.