NJ Vs. PA: PokerStars’ Bounty Builder Series Tests Both Online Poker Markets

Posted on February 12, 2020 - Last Updated on May 15, 2020

To play online poker in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, that is the question. PokerStars recently announced its plans to run the popular Bounty Builder Series in both states — at the same time.

Online poker players in both states will have a big choice to make.

That means it is time for players to stop playing both sides of the border and pick one.

PokerStars’ Bounty Builder Series details

The Fox Bet and PokerStars series includes 32 Progressive Knockout events that will run from Feb. 20 to March 1.

New Jersey Bounty Builder Series, at a glance:

  • $300,000 in total guarantees
  • Buy-ins range from $10 to $750
  • $300 Main Event: $75,000 guaranteed
  • Depositor freeroll with $6,000 in Main Event tickets

Pennsylvania Bounty Builder Series, at a glance:

  • $500,000 in total guarantees
  • Buy-ins range from $10 to $750
  • $300 Main Event: $100,000 guaranteed
  • Depositor freeroll with $9,000 in Main Event tickets

The Bounty Builder Series consists of all bounty tournaments, but they are different than the traditional ones.

A player who knocks out a player would typically be awarded the player’s bounty. In the Bounty Builder Series series, however, the player only gets to keep 50% of the prize. The other 50% is added to their bounty, making them a bigger target.

Hence, the name Bounty Builder.

Bounty tournaments are naturally more aggressive and competitive as players try to collect as many bounties as they can on their way to the final table.

Bounty Builder tournaments take that degree of competitiveness to the next level as people go after those with bigger bounties on their heads.

The series has been popular on the global PokerStars site, but it is the first time the series will be played in the US.

Of course, running both the NJ and PA series at the same time is an unexpected move on PokerStars’ part.

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Are competing online poker events in NJ and PA a smart move?

New Jersey online poker has always benefitted from its proximity to Pennsylvania. That is true even after PA online poker launched late last year.

The states don’t technically share player pools, but border crossings benefit both states when a big tournament series is on the schedule.

Last fall, NJCOOP was followed by PACOOP and the Winter Series NJ was followed by one in PA, and all of them did quite well.

It seemed as though PokerStars figured out how to capitalize on a “combined” player pool without actually combining them.

Not until now.

It is a bit of a gamble to host the two series simultaneously when both markets feed off each other. Forcing players to choose one market over another will likely result in one market posting overlays while the other thrives.

And, to be honest, online poker in Pennsylvania is the market designed to thrive in this scenario.

It has:

  • More robust cash games
  • A larger poker playing population
  • Higher guarantees

Let’s face it; poker players will drive to the room with the bigger guarantees.

Sure, there is probably some promotional value and marketing hype PokerStars will get from the series.

But maybe PokerStars’ goal is not to necessarily to grow the two poker markets but to grow their bottom line instead.

For instance, say players start sharing that they are laying down roots in PA for a few weeks.

Soon, more players will follow because bigger guarantees and more bounties equal more money. We all know poker players keep score with money.

So maybe, the end game for PokerStars is a strong bottom line, not a strong PA or NJ online poker market. It would be unfortunate if that were the case, especially for NJ, which may be the sacrificial lamb in this scenario.

Whether it pays off or not, it will be interesting to watch and analyze how it plays out.

PA and NJ Bounty Builder schedule

EventDay, DateTimeNameTotal BuyinNJ GuaranteePA Guarantee
1Thursday, Feb. 207 p.m.Bounty Builder Series Kick-Off$ 100 $ 12,000 $ 20,000
2Thursday, Feb. 208 p.m.Mini Kick-Off$ 20 $ 3,500 $ 5,000
3Friday, Feb. 218 p.m.Bounty Builder $30$ 30 $ 5,000 $ 8,000
4Friday, Feb. 219 p.m.Turbo$ 75 $ 5,000 $ 8,000
5Saturday, Feb. 225 p.m.DeepStack$ 100 $ 10,000 $ 20,000
6Saturday, Feb. 228 p.m.4-Max$ 30 $ 5,000 $ 5,000
7Saturday, Feb. 2210 p.m.Hyper-Turbo$ 50 $ 3,000 $ 5,000
8Sunday, Feb. 232: p.m.Marathon$ 150 $ 10,000 $ 20,000
9Sunday, Feb. 234 p.m.Warm-Up - Bounty Builder Edition$ 50 $ 5,000 $ 10,000
10Sunday, Feb. 235 p.m.Storm - Bounty Builder Edition$ 10 $ 4,000 $ 5,000
11Sunday, Feb. 236 p.m.Sunday Special - Bounty Builder Edition$ 200 $ 30,000 $ 50,000
12Sunday, Feb. 236 p.m.Mini Special$ 25 $ 6,000 $ 10,000
13Sunday, Feb. 237 p.m.Sunday High Roller - Bounty Builder Edition$ 500 $ 10,000 $ 15,000
14Sunday, Feb. 2310 p.m.SuperSonic - Bounty Builder Edition$ 75 $ 4,000 $ 5,000
15Monday, Feb. 247 p.m.Bounty Builder $50$ 50 $ 8,000 $ 15,000
16Monday, Feb. 248 p.m.PL Omaha$ 100 $ 5,000 $ 8,000
17Tuesday, Feb. 257 p.m.Bounty Builder $75$ 75 $ 7,500 $ 10,000
18Tuesday, Feb. 258 p.m.High Roller$ 750 $ 20,000 $ 35,000
19Wednesday, Feb. 267 p.m.6-Max$ 50 $ 4,000 $ 5,000
20Wednesday, Feb. 268 p.m.NL Omaha Hi/Lo$ 100 $ 4,000 $ 8,000
21Thursday, Feb. 277 p.m.Thursday Thrill SE$ 250 $ 15,000 $ 25,000
22Thursday, Feb. 278 p.m.Mini Thrill$ 30 $ 5,000 $ 12,000
23Friday, Feb. 288 p.m.6-Max, Turbo$ 50 $ 3,500 $ 5,000
24Friday, Feb. 289 p.m.Hyper-Turbo$ 100 $ 5,000 $ 8,000
25Saturday, Feb. 296 p.m.25% KO$ 100 $ 7,500 $ 10,000
26Saturday, Feb. 298 p.m.Turbo$ 50 $ 3,500 $ 5,000
27Saturday, Feb. 299 p.m.8-Max, Turbo$ 10 $ 2,000 $ 3,000
28Sunday, March 14 p.m.Warm-Up$ 30 $ 3,000 $ 10,000
29Sunday, March 15 p.m.Main Event$ 300 $ 65,000 $ 100,000
30Sunday, March 16 p.m.Mini Main Event$ 50 $ 12,000 $ 25,000
31Sunday, March 18 p.m.Bounty Builder $100$ 100 $ 10,000 $ 20,000
32Sunday, March 110 p.m.Series Wrap-Up$ 75 $ 7,500 $ 10,000
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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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