What PokerStars’ Bounty Builder Series Taught Us About PA And NJ Online Poker

Posted on March 2, 2020 - Last Updated on May 15, 2020

The Bounty Builder Series online poker tournament in New Jersey and Pennsylvania has come to a close.

There is no doubt when looking at the numbers that the series was a success. What may be shocking, though, is it was a success in both online poker markets.

In a surprise move last month, it was announced that the PokerStars and Fox Bet series was coming to NJ and PA for the first time, with the plan to host them concurrently.

With higher guarantees and a new, excited pool of poker players, it seemed PA was destined to thrive, and NJ online poker might take a step backward. Well, that wasn’t the case.

Sure, PA hosted a bigger series, but NJ performed similarly to its big tournament series of the past. The tournament didn’t lose any ground, and that says a lot for the struggling online poker market.

Bounty Builder Series, by the numbers

Both the New Jersey and Pennsylvania markets exceeded their series’ guarantees. New Jersey’s total prize pool came in at $354,653, 18% more than its $300,000 guarantee.

Pennsylvania, on the other hand, crushed its series’ guarantee by 58%. The guarantee was $500,000, and players contributed $788,056 to the total prize pool.

Overall, PA had a 122% bigger prize pool that NJ. It also had 109% more entries.

NJ registered 3,352 players across the 32 events. Of those, 1,682 of those players re-entered for 5,034 total entries.

In PA, 7,775 players took their seats in one or more of the Bounty Builder Series events. There were 3,231 rebuys for 11,006 total entries.

Unfortunately, PA also has another winning percentage: 404%. That is how much more PokerStars PA paid in overlays compared to PokerStars NJ. PA had three tournaments with overlays for a total of $14,108. New Jersey posted four overlays totaling $2,796.

When you look at the numbers, of course, it is easy to say PA won the battle. But truth be told, NJ won, too. Before you say, not everyone can be a winner; know this isn’t the same as a participation trophy.

We made it a competition when the reality is it is two online poker markets doing its thing to bring value to customers and profits to the bottom line. Both PokerStars PA and PokerStars NJ achieved those goals.

 New JerseyPennsylvania
Guarantees$300,000$500,000
Prize Pool$354,653.90$788,056.65
Entries3,3527,775
Re-buys1,6823,231.00
Total entries5,03410,565
Number of overlays43
Overlay total amount$2,796.30$14,108.60
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What we learned about online poker in NJ

On the surface, the Bounty Builder Series in NJ may appear as more of the same. It was, in the end, another tournament series that squeaked by its guarantees (mostly).

The series, however, speaks to the resilience of the NJ online poker market.

Think about it. It has been on its own for a long time. While we love Nevada and Delaware, it is no secret that NJ online poker helps them more than they help NJ online poker.

New Jersey online poker players are more seasoned; they’ve been around a while now. That is why we thought they might chase the money.

The PA online poker market is flush with new players. Another reason we thought NJ players would head across the border.

In the end, though, most everyone seemed to stay put. While we would not have been surprised to see an exodus to PA, we aren’t surprised that players stayed home either.

The whole point of playing online poker is the convenience it provides in playing a game we love. Well, it looks like it will take more than $200,000 more in guarantees to lure NJ online poker players out of their comfort zone.

One thing we do know is NJ online poker revenue (how the market measures its overall performance) has had two solid months after many months of lackluster results.

The fact that this slight rebound coincides with the launch of online poker in PA is not a coincidence.

Bringing online poker back into the spotlight and showing movement in the quest to get the nation back online is exciting, not only to new markets but to existing ones as well.

What we learned about online poker in PA

Looking strictly at the numbers, online poker in PA is thriving. There are a few things we learned from this series, as well as watching the market over the last few months.

If there is one area the PA market is struggling (and we use this term lightly), it is in the bigger buy-in tournaments.

Of its three overlays, two were in $100 buy-in events, and one in the $750 High Roller. All three of these events were on a Sunday, where five events in total were taking place.

This suggests a few things.

First, the market may be made up of new and recreational players. Second, because the market is new, players may not have the bankroll online to support all the events they want to play.

Now, this won’t always be the case. The market, and the players in it, will mature. That means more operators and players with more experience and bigger bankrolls.

It also means dividing the players among multiple operators, something PokerStars doesn’t have to worry about, at least for now. There is no doubt that being first to market will benefit PokerStars in the long run. But PokerStars won’t have the market to itself forever.

As more operators enter the PA online poker market, it would not be surprising to see the guarantees in PA online poker tournaments start to decrease, much as they did in NJ over the years.

Bounty Builder Series results

EventNameBuyinNJ GuaranteeTotal EntriesNJ Prize Pool (Overlay)PA GuaranteeTotal EntriesPA Prize Pool (Overlay)
1Event 1: Bounty Builder Series Kick-Off$100$12,000161$14,779.80$20,000363$33,323.40
2Event 2: Mini Kick-Off$20$3,500319$5,805.80$5,000690$12,558.00
3Event 3: Bounty Builder $30$30$5,000283$7,725.90$8,000628$17,144.40
4Event 4: Turbo$75$5,00095$6,483.75$8,000199$13,581.75
5Event 5: DeepStack$100$10,000111$10,189.80$20,000319$29,284.20
6Event 6: 4-Max$30$5,000234$6,388.20$5,000618$11,247.60
7Event 7: Hyper-Turbo$50$3,00073$3,431.00$5,000152$7,144.00
8Event 8: Marathon$150$10,00097$13,356.90$20,000250$22,950.00
9Event 9: Warm-Up - Bounty Builder Edition$50$5,000136$6,188.00$10,000450$12,285.00
10Evetn 10: Storm - Bounty Builder Edition$10$3,000391$4,000.00 ($400)$5,000586$5,332.60
11Event 11: Sunday Special - Bounty Builder Edition$200$30,000165$30,690.00$50,000470$50,000 ($6,854)
12Event 12: Mini Special$25$6,000292$6,643.00$10,000619$14,082.25
13Event 13: Sunday High Roller - Bounty Builder Edition$500$10,00033$15,510.00$15,00088$20,504.00
14Event 14: SuperSonic - Bounty Builder Edition$75$4,00097$6,838.50$5,000160$7,520.00
15Event 15: Bounty Builder $50$50$8,000154$8,000.00 ($977)$15,000472$21,476.00
16Event 16: PL Omaha$100$5,00060$5,508.00$8,000124$11,383.20
17Event 17: Bounty Builder $75$75$7,500157$10,715.25$10,000297$20,270.25
18Event 18: High Roller$750$20,00038$26,980.00$35,00041$35,000.00 ($5890)
19Event 19: 6-Max$50$4,000158$7,189.00$5,000335$15,242.50
20Event 20: NL Omaha Hi/Lo$100$4,00039$4,000.00 ($419)$8,00091$8,353.50
21Event 21: Thursday Thrill SE$250$10,00065$15,145.00$25,000194$36,084.00
22Event 22: Mini Thrill$30$5,000247$6,743.10$12,000593$16,188.90
23Event 23: 6-Max, Turbo$50$3,500113$5,141.50$5,000291$13,240.50
24Event 24: Hyper-Turbo$100$5,00061$5,795.00$8,000127$12,065.00
25Event 25: 25% KO$100$7,500122$11,199.60$10,000201$18,451.80
26Event 26: Turbo$50$3,500114$5,187.00$5,000188$8,554.00
27Event 27: 8-Max, Turbo$10$2,000271$2,466.10$3,00087$4,804.80
28Event 28: Warm-Up$30$3,000194$5,292.20$10,000492$13,4361.00
29Event 29: Main Event$300$75,000234$65,520.00$100,000405$113,400.00
30Event 30: Mini Main Event$50$12,000313$14,241.50$25,000640$29,120.00
31Event 31: Bounty Builder $100$100$10,000104$10,000.00 ($452)$20,000203$20,000.00 ($1,364)
32Event 32: Series Wrap-Up$75$7,500103$7,500.00 ($465)$10,000192$13,104.00
Kim Yuhl Avatar
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Kim Yuhl

Kim Yuhl has been covering the US online gambling market since 2013. Her work is featured on various sites and covers sports betting, online casino gambling, and online poker. Kim is a full-time traveler and vlogger and is currently slow traveling to 60 countries. You can follow her travels at kimandway.com and on YouTube at kimandway.

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