This was the day that the Department of Justice unsealed a 52-page indictment against the top executives of Full Tilt, PokerStars, and Absolute Poker.
The executives faced years in prison, and a civil complaint sought $3 billion from the sites. PokerStars and Full Tilt were forced to immediately close their “doors” to online players, and Absolute Poker followed soon after.
For the hundreds of thousands of Americans who played online poker on a regular basis, Black Friday came as a surprising blow. Many players had large sums of money locked in their poker accounts for more than a year.
One day online poker was hugely popular, and the next it had disappeared almost entirely.
When New Jersey began licensing online gambling, players in the state were very excited to get back to the tables. However, they quickly realized that it wasn’t the same.
Before Black Friday when they logged into their PokerStars accounts, there were an endless number of cash games going at any given time, and poker tournaments had fields that numbered in the thousands.
For a small investment in a poker tournament, a player could walk away with thousands of dollars.
What changed for online poker after Black Friday?
The thing to take into consideration is that when you log into your PokerStarsNJ.com account, you are only allowed to play against other players currently in New Jersey. In the past, you were playing with people from all over the world.
With a much larger population to draw from, the traffic on these sites was obviously much higher than now. With a player pool limited to the New Jersey online gambling market, it is no wonder that the traffic is so diminished.
Why play legal online poker in New Jersey? And where?
But don’t let this deter you from playing online poker in New Jersey. There are always plenty of places for you to find the action you are looking for.
As things stand currently, the two largest player pools for online poker in New Jersey are WSOP.com and PokerStarsNJ.com. Both these sites have the most popular games running 24 hours a day and offer fantastic welcoming packages to new players.
PokerStars.com will currently give you a free 100 percent match bonus of up to $600 when you sign up for a new account with bonus code STARS600.
WSOP.com will give you a free 100 percent match bonus of up to $400 along with seven $100 freeroll tickets exclusive to new depositors.
So will the NJ poker player base ever grow?
Yes. New Jersey wants to serve as a regulatory hub for other US states that are attempting to legalize online gambling.
New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck promoted these aspirations at the East Coast Gaming Congress back in May 2015 and has engaged in several conversations with regulators from the UK over the issue of sharing player pools.
As more and more states jump on board with online gambling, it is only a matter of time before New Jersey poker players will be able to play online poker with gamblers from other states, and possibly even other countries. Discussion of this matter is naturally one of great interest on online gambling forums in New Jersey, though at this point it is unknown exactly when such compacts may happen.
Once this occurs, New Jersey online poker sites will see a dramatic increase in traffic, and players will see improved game selection as well as larger tournament fields.