On February 18, 2015 NJ.PartyPoker.com and Barstool Sports will play host to what on the surface seems like little more than pedestrian $20 buy-in, $500 Guaranteed online poker tournament.
Sure, there will also be a $100 bounty on the head of Barstool founder Dave “ElPresidente” Portnoy. There will also be free Barstool gear for people who make the final table. But the real value of this tournament for New Jersey online poker is in marketing and awareness.
This is the third such tournament Barstool Sports has hosted at a New Jersey online poker site, and in my opinion, it’s also one of the more ingenious marketing efforts the online poker sites in New Jersey have undertaken.
Barstool and WSOP.com team up
Credit where credit is due, it was WSOP.com that first teamed up with Barstool Sports in New Jersey.
The first Barstool tournament took place on June 4, 2014, and was played at WSOP.com. Unnecessary entry restrictions likely hampered the event (players had to register through a special Barstool Sports link), but the tournament was still fairly successful.
Barstool and partypoker
The Barstool online poker tournament then moved to partypoker NJ, where Barstool hosted their second online poker tournament on October 22, 2014, a tournament that featured a $2,500 guarantee.
Unlike the WSOP.com tournament, which required players to join the site via the Barstool link, the partypoker tournament was simply password protected, and could be found on the Barstool blog, essentially making it open to anyone with a partypoker New Jersey account.
Why these events work
First of all, Barstool is a community website. because of this the site is not advertising it as a “Man Wins Tournament” story. The vibe is far more personal.
Several of the writers for the site will be playing in the tournament and they have posted several blogs discussing the tournament, including some trash talk between the site’s bloggers. Dave Portnoy also flies into Atlantic City and stays at the Borgata to play in the tournaments, adding to the community feel.
The tournament’s themselves may not be huge draws, but with millions of people visiting Barstool each month (the site is ranked 792nd in the U.S.), seeing blog about legal online poker tournaments in New Jersey, and seeing partypoker advertisements on the site is certainly raising awareness across the country that legal online poker is available. Here is how one Barstool blogger summed it up [bold mine]:
“The tourney has buy-in of just $20 bucks, and your dignity. We’ll be giving away Barstool jazz to the final table as well as other good stuff. The ONLY catch is you have to be in a Jersey zipcode to be because the government says you can’t make adult decisions with your money in most states. It is the land of the free, after all. Pres will be making his way to NJ and I will be dancing as well for one reason and one reason only, to kill the Presidente. The boss put a $100 bounty on his head and that dinero will go nicely towards 1/2 of this month’s health insurance.”
Furthermore, the marketing and awareness is reaching the right people.
Barstool Sports and online poker share key demographics
Barstool Sports readership may seem to be on the sophomoric side, but a quick look through their Alexa statistics quickly paints a different picture.
Barstool’s readership is on the younger side, predominately male, well-educated, and has a high-income level. For lack of a better term, Barstool readers are an online poker site’s wet dream – they’re an online poker site’s version of the Smokeshow of the Day.
Because of this, even if the tournament doesn’t draw a huge field it will still be a success; raising consumer awareness and building loyalty between brands. In my opinion, these are the types of events where partypoker and other New Jersey sites should go above and beyond, tossing an extra $1,000 into the prize-pool and giving away partypoker swag to anyone who enters.
It may pay immediate dividends, but in the long run it will more than pay for itself.
In effect, this is an extension of partypoker’s sports partnerships with the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers.
Like a Barstool tournament, it’s hard to quantify how many players registered accounts based on the immediate results of the marketing campaign, as the number of players who sign up at partypoker kiosks at the games is only a small percentage of the people your brand has reached.