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Garden of Eden for Poker Players in the Garden State

March 25th, 2016 by Todd McGee
PokerstarsNJ is a great first step for U.S. online players. Traffic for the opening week was very high, and tournaments were meeting their guarantees.

PokerstarsNJ is a great first step for U.S. online players. Traffic for the opening week was very high, and tournaments were meeting their guarantees.

Finally some good news for online poker players in the United States, and really, the world. PokerStars launched its New Jersey online site on Monday, and by the end of the day, more than 1,000 players were participating on the site.

The site will host 17 daily tournaments with buy-ins from $5 to $100 and guarantees running from $500 to $10,000. Ring games are available for up to $5/$10, the ultra-fast Zoom Poker and the ever-popular Spin-n-Gos are often available.

“This is a great day for online gaming, for state players and residents and for Atlantic City,” said Morris Bailey, owner of Resorts Casino Hotel. “Resorts has worked diligently to build a home for globally renowned brands in New Jersey and, with the addition of PokerStars, is proud to introduce yet another respected partner.”

PokerStarsNJ will run additional tournaments on Sundays, including a $200 buy-in with a $50,000 guarantee, and a high-roller tournament with a $500 buy-in and $15,000 guarantee.

PokerStars’ return to the U.S. market comes almost five years after Black Friday. Their player pool is segregated from PokerStars’ international players, but this is a great start. Let’s hope this is one giant step forward for the U.S. online poker market.

I got my second Pub League tournament win on Sunday, overcoming being the short stack at the final table. When the final table started, I had 25,000 chips (the average stack size was around 65,000) and the BB was 10,000, so I didn’t have a lot of wiggle room. The final table redraw put me in UTG+1 position, which meant I was going to have to do something within the first three hands.

In the first hand I got 8-3 and made the easy decision to fold. On the second hand I got 10-10 in UTG, which made the decision to shove an easy one. It folded around to the SB, who re-shoved (he had 30,000 and was the second-smallest stack). The BB got out of the way, and my 10s held up against the SBs pocket 8s, so I scooped a pot of 60,000 (no antes in this league).

This put me slightly below the chip average. The very next hand was my BB. UTG limped in and UTG+4 raised to 30,000. The button went all-in for his final 5,000 (he was the SB I beat in the first hand). It folded to me, so I looked down at A-Q hearts and easily shoved my 60,000, thinking I could isolate UTG+4 and hope for the best. Well of course UTG called (he was slow-playing KK) as did UTG+4 (who had QQ). A non-descript flop increased my anxiety level, but a glorious ace showed up on the turn and gave me hope. The river was a brick and when they flipped over their cards, I found myself the chip leader with almost 200,000 chips, just two hands after being the table doormat.

I nursed my chips for the next few orbits, stealing enough blinds to maintain my stack around 200,000 while letting the other folks cannibalize themselves. When it got to the final three, I was still the chip leader with around 200,000 chips. The other two had about 150,000 or so apiece.

I knocked out the first guy when I had A-9 on the button and raised to 40k (BB was 20k at this point). The SB with Q8 hearts called and the BB folded. The flop came up 9-6-4 with two hearts. I shoved my top pair, he called for his flush draw and bricked the turn and river, putting me over 300,000 heading into heads-up play.

After about 15 minutes of cautious heads- up play, I got 33s in the small blind and shoved. The other guy looked at me and said, ‘well we’re going to have to do this at some point, so I might as well do it now.’ He flipped over K-10 hearts and I faded hearts, kings and 10s to take down first place.

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