A record 378 runners showed up for Party/Borgata’s restructured 50k guarantee.
Since launching in New Jersey last November, PartyPoker has experienced its fair share of problems. Software glitches, disconnects and geo-location issues plague the sleek looking site. And its much-maligned customer service department has repeatedly been the object of player scorn. That said, PartyPoker sits alone atop New Jersey’s burgeoning online poker market, largely due to their willingness to listen.
And listen they did. Nearly two months after first posting a poll on the Two Plus Two forums regarding the starting time and structure of its flagship tournament, the $50k Guarantee, a representative of the site announced:
We’ve listened to our players’ feedback and we’re rolling out a new and improved $50,000 Tournament this Sunday.
The new $50k Guaranteed features a 5 pm local starting time, a significantly faster structure and a guaranteed first-place take of $10,000. At first, player reactions to the new structure were decidedly mixed. But on Wednesday, Party made a second announcement stating that several mid-blind levels were being reinstated and that three of the largely irrelevant pre-ante levels were being consolidated into one 25/50 level.
To say that players responded to the changes favorably would be a gross understatement. In total 378 runners participated in Sunday’s $50k, shattering the previous week’s turnout by over 80%. The first place prize of $13,276.92, won by a player who goes by the moniker “Papo353,” was also the largest in the tournament’s infant history. Even the second place prize of $9,335.65 surpassed that of the previous week’s first-place reward.
Sunday’s $50k concluded at approximately 3:00 am, late by most people’s standards, but far earlier than it had ended in the past. The tournament’s previous starting time of 8:00 pm was one of the primary reasons players hesitated to put up the $200 to compete. Yes, despite popular belief, some poker players actually have to go into work on Monday mornings.
Party/Borgata’s other Sunday Major, the $10k Guarantee, fared admirably, but nowhere near as well as its big brother. In total, the tournament drew 118 runners, just barely covering its guarantee.
WSOP and Ultimate Poker’s Sunday Majors also drew more runners than usual, with WSOP’s $25,000 Weekly Sunday Guarantee exceeding its guarantee by over $5,000 and Ultimate Poker “only” undercutting its guarantee by $7,800. That, despite launching a new NO-verlay promo that refunds a player’s initial buy-in, should the tournament’s guarantee be met.
Overall, it appears that after a slow week, online poker in New Jersey is back on track. Just remember NJ poker operators: if you listen, they will come.