Jackpot! In the months since legal online gambling went live in New Jersey, we’ve had some big winners. Despite what some jaded players say, the casinos aren’t the only ones who’ve hit it big in Jersey. Players like poker champ MikeFrancesa (a username, not the actual sports talk show host) who walked away from the New Jersey Championship of Online Poker in April with $33,577 and the lucky slots player who won $153,638.75 at Borgata’s website in January prove that if you’re in it, you’ve got a real chance to win it.
And plenty of people are in it. By May 2014, there were more than 350,000 online gambling accounts registered with New Jersey’s casinos.
MikeFrancesa and The New Jersey Championship of Online Poker
The New Jersey Championship of Online Poker (NJCOP) was held from April 21st through April 27th at nj.partypoker.com and borgatapoker.com. More than $600,000 worth of prize money was advertised for the tournament, which drew in a crowd of more than 1,400 players. During the five-day span, there were fifteen tournaments. On Sunday, the 27th, these tournaments culminated in the final $200,000 Guaranteed Main Event, which drew almost 900 players. Once the game was over, MikeFrancesa came in first with $33,577 in winnings, followed by cb123579 with $26,459; MotherOfDragons with $23,164; and PocketSomun with $20,000.
Elsewhere during the New Jersey Championship of Online Poker, users soduediligent and glytterpyss won the $30,000 Guaranteed High Roller tournament with $36,185.89 and $23,099.61, respectively. Others took in three and four-figure earnings from smaller tournaments.
Drawing in the Out of State Crowd
It’s only the beginning for New Jersey’s poker tournament scene, but it’s a hot one, drawing crowds from out of state. Approximately 15% of PartyPoker’s registered users reside outside of New Jersey and come to the state to engage in what’s known as Poker Tourism. For Caesar’s spokesman Seth Palansky, this figure is encouraging. “For Atlantic City to rebound, we need to attract players from outside the state to have reason to come visit again,” he said. “To get them to sign up for our Total Rewards program and start gaining loyalty points will pay off for both our land-based and online businesses over the long term.”
As we move forward and if more states legalize online gambling, we might start to see interstate tournaments being held by Atlantic City’s online casinos. Online poker has a huge player base and future tournaments can only help build New Jersey’s casinos’ credibility as the premier poker tournament hosts.
Winning Big on Slots
Among online gamblers, poker is regarded as more fair to players than other games, such as slots, because of the skill involved. However, the odds of winning on an online slot machine are required by law to be identical to the odds of winning on a physical slot machine in a brick and mortar casino. The Casino Control Act, N.J.S.A. 5:12, states this in Article 6c. With this law in place, the percentage of winnings and the number of winners is the same in both types of slot game.
Despite this, many players are distrustful of online slot machines because they don’t know about this law or think it’s easier to be scammed by a computer (hint: it’s not. Modern slot machines are computers, which means that they can be programmed to be as “loose” or as “tight” as their manager wishes, all the same as a slot machine application on your computer.)
The Monmouth County man who won $153,638.75 on the progressive online slot “Going Nuts,” might have the highest reported online slot winnings, but he’s not alone. In March, another Monmouth County man won $84,300.00 on borgatacasino.com. He, like January’s big slots winner, chose to remain anonymous. Between these online winners and the big $655,852.28 win at Borgata’s brick and mortar casino in March, I think I know where I’ll be playing next time.
Still, The House is the Biggest Winner
Winning is what keeps people playing. The occasional jackpot makes all the losses worthwhile for players, giving them that little glimmer of hope that it could happen to them, too, someday. When a player hits it big and makes it onto the news, like user MikeFrancesa or the unnamed six-figure Borgata slots player, the entire industry wins because other players and non-gamblers alike see that win and think, “hey, that could be me.”
It’s the same principle that drives casinos to fill their halls with the raucous echo of winnings and convenience store owners to photocopy winning lottery tickets and tape them to their store’s front doors and windows. It’s free advertising based on real consumer experiences — the best kind of advertising. Without these organic success stories, the gambling industry’s pull on players wouldn’t have half its strength. Just like with table games, the house always comes out ahead. In cases like these, “the house” refers to the industry as a whole.