How to Fix Online Poker in New Jersey: A Pro Player’s Perspective

Melissa BurrNovember 26, 2013 was a big day. It was my birthday and the day New Jersey online poker went live. I was set to celebrate both of these occasions but was sadly disappointed by one.

As a resident of New Jersey and a professional poker player, I have a vested interest in seeing online poker succeed. As a college graduate with degrees in marketing and management, I also have a few thoughts on why the business of online poker in NJ is failing. Maybe these credentials qualify me as an adequate voice of criticism and maybe they don’t, but I do know that the current state of online poker in NJ is dismal at best, and will surely fail unless drastic changes are made soon.

Improve Branding and Visibility

First off, a recent survey was done by one of the major sites on all NJ residents and the results were shocking. The percentage of people who didn’t even know that New Jersey online poker existed was staggeringly high.

Here’s your first problem, visibility. Never mind the choice of which site to play on because if people don’t even know it exists, how can they play?

Truly Connect New Jersey’s Land-based Casinos with the Online Poker Sites

NJ state sealEach site is linked with a brick and mortar casino in Atlantic City. Let’s start here. Here is your very first FREE point of visibility. You have all the wall space you can dream of and in most cases a poker room where existing customers already play. Unless I’m mistaken, casinos did not just link up with these sites out of the kindness of their hearts. They are obviously sharing in the profit and revenue generated by the site they have chosen to back.

Why not help them? Why not pool the resources of all parties involved and incentivize every customer to patronize business?

Here’s a very simple four-step example of what I talking about:

  1. Borgata advertises their site borgatapoker.com.
  2. Borgatapoker.com implements a cross-comp system that allows you to redeem loyalty points for a free night at the Borgata Hotel and Casino.
  3. Mr. and Mrs. Poker come down to Atlantic City and spend a lovely evening at the Borgata, maybe they play some blackjack, and return home.
  4. Now Mr. and Mrs. Poker go home and play a bit more online. While accruing points during their play, they earn a free meal at Bobby Flay AND a free room…
Atlantic City

Atlantic City

Do you see where I’m going with this? Let’s call this a loop of profitability. Quite simply, it’s a win/win situation for all parties involved. Casinos have this incredibly lucrative FREE marketing resource at their disposal and they are passing on it. Land-based and online gambling have an opportunity to help each other thrive and it seems as though all anyone wants to do is throw their hands up and say “this isn’t working.”

All I know is that if I had a vested interest in an online poker site and I had the brick and mortar casino to advertise it, I’d be mass printing wall paper with my site’s name in big bold letters.

You’ve Gotta Spend Money; Here’s How To Do It Wisely

Marketing business salesRepresentatives of every site I’ve spoken with all have the same gripe, namely that they “don’t have the money.” Well, the cold hard fact of marketing is that you have to spend money to make money. HOW you spend your marketing dollars can vary though, and ultimately the marketing tools used will decide which company survives and which fails.

Every NJ online poker site has the opportunity to try and become the next PokerStars, but which of them have the moxie and marketing savvy to actually succeed on a grand scale?

Here’s another example:

This year, at the Aria500, Partypoker had a bowl of a few hundred patches. They gave them out to whoever wanted them. This to me was genius, but on a small scale.

From what I can see, amateurs imitate the professionals. Ultimately, everyone wants to be on TV wearing a patch and winning the money. Why not give Mr. and Mrs. Poker that experience on a smaller level? I’d be handing out that patch to who ever wanted to wear it.

Another company gave players their patch at this event, and the person who lasted the longest while wearing that patch won their entry fee back. For just $500 they got hundreds(!)of people advertising their company. If you were to quantify each marketing attempt and award exposure points in relation to dollars spent, this idea would certainly rank high. The moral of this story is that if you want to get more people playing online poker in New Jersey, be sure to spend those dollars wisely. They can go far with the right ideas.

Professional Poker Players Have to Do Their Part

Melissa BurrLast, but certainly not least, I’ll address the professional poker players. If you thought I was going to simply write this article and JUST place blame on the companies, you are wrong. Whether we as players choose to accept it or not, part of the burden of responsibility for promoting online poker in New Jersey (and the rest of the United States) also lies on us.

The landscape of poker is changing and lately it’s requiring the efforts of all who are involved. Poker isn’t just about showing up, putting on your headphones, and collecting money. If you want your profession to survive you’re going to have to play your part.

If you want to see online poker make a comeback throughout the U.S., or especially if you’re a resident of states – like NJ – that have already legalized it, when you’re playing live be sure to talk positively about online poker. We all know it has its problems, and we have all experienced technical difficulties at one time or another. However, there is a time and a place to share these experiences. When you’re sitting at a $2/5 table with Mr. and Mrs. Poker is NOT that time.

Poker has afforded us professional players many opportunities, including the ability to sleep whenever we want, work whenever we want, and never have to answer to anyone. However, if we keep the mentality of “take, take, take” and never flip the switch to “give, give, give”, we may wind up having to dust off those resumes.

While it may not seem like a big deal to you, I assure you that if you’re kind to amateurs and make efforts to positively promote online poker to them, this small contribution will help. Hopefully if enough professional players pitch in like this, these small actions will someday combine to become something larger. It is incumbent upon as us players to help promote this game if we want to keep playing it.

Actions Speak Louder than Words

Please know that I also hold myself accountable to all of these standards. Those of you who know me personally know that I recently moved to Mexico to further pursue my career in poker.

While this may seem a bit hypocritical in nature, you should also know that I spoke to many of the NJ online poker sites before making my decision. Unfortunately, my ideas and advice fell on deaf ears. My hope is that this article does not.

I believe that we can all find ways to work together toward a solution instead of just complaining about the current state of affairs. Let’s do it!

22 Comments

  1. Researching
    Researching February 15, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    One of my complaints of WSOP and Borgata/Party is that there is no face or personality to the company. Getting a response from an intelligent person with knowledge of the company is near impossible. Every response is a canned reply and there’s no indication they have any desire for feedback or improvement.

    Even if it was just, (e.g. “We know there’s been a problem for 16 months with joining a table while on the wait list (WSOP), but we can’t fix that right now because of X”, or “We know we don’t have a cash game wait list (Borgata/Party), but we plan to add it by March 1).

  2. cardplayerlifestyle
    cardplayerlifestyle February 15, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    You make a very valid point. Personally, I always felt that a “real” approach is the right one, as opposed to hiding behind screens. Having proper spokespeople to whom players/customers can turn is definitely an important component as well. Thanks for reading this article and for your comment!

  3. Lori Kolstad
    Lori Kolstad February 16, 2015 at 12:26 am

    It is so refreshing to hear a pro speak out for online poker! As far as the points Melissa makes on the marketing…well, they should pay her for this information! It is brilliant as is she! Keep shining, Melissa!

  4. J T
    J T February 17, 2015 at 12:31 am

    Part of the concepts of tying online sites to casino promotions etc become the thesis of the Wealth of Chips: https://thewealthofchips.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/the-4th-wave/

  5. J T
    J T February 17, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Do you think censorship will help the future of poker?

  6. cardplayerlifestyle
    cardplayerlifestyle February 17, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Your comment from before that I removed seemed to have the sole purpose of you putting a link there. Furthermore, I skimmed the article you linked to and it was very abstractly/tangentially related to this, if at all. I’m not opposed to a commenter linking out, but the reason needs to be pretty clear; i.e., adding value to the article/discussion. In my estimation, that thesis did not.

  7. J T
    J T February 17, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    No. I was asking her, if censorship will help the future of poker. I am confident it won’t. I have extensively researched this topic, and among other related conclusions that are in the article I linked, I came up with the SAME intelligent conclusion this player did.

    You disgust me. All I did was post a link, for people that are interested and passionate about the future of poker like this writer is, so I might not have to spam these comments with many paragraphs. So that we might think together.

    My thesis is EXACTLY online sites and casinos WILL cross promote in the future. You sir are ignorant. And you might as well leave this comment up, cause I’ll create headache if you censor me.

  8. J T
    J T February 17, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    From the “abstract”:

    Lastly, and possibly most importantly, decentralization plays an
    integral role in our analysis and conclusions: we foresee giant industry
    moguls such as Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn will soon pave the way
    for the Nakamoto Consensus decentralized ID system by providing our
    civilization with next frontiers of Casino Resort/Online gambling
    ventures.

  9. J T
    J T February 17, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Just to be clear: “by providing our
    civilization with next frontiers of Casino Resort/Online gambling”

  10. cardplayerlifestyle
    cardplayerlifestyle February 17, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    Perhaps a little bit of understanding of “the other person’s perspective” is what everyone needs J T. I now understand yours. You must also please understand mine in that I see plenty of commenters attempting to just paste links underneath the articles I publish here on my site.

    Therefore:

    1. There’s absolutely no need to make something personal by saying that I “disgust you”. Language and antagonization of that sort disgusts me.

    2. Threats of you creating headaches won’t get anyone anywhere in life – positive communication and outreach will; so let’s try to work together and opt for that route instead, eh?

    3. I wrote that I skimmed your link; I did not read it in depth, nor – sadly – do I have the time to. Apologies.

    Precisely in the interest of working together, now that you have explained and quoted precisely relevant parts (rather than the implied assumption that someone would read the ENTIRE piece), I’m happy to re-add the link here myself.

    https://thewealthofchips.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/the-4th-wave/

    4. I will alert Melissa to your comments and hope that she replies here.

    Be well – and thank you for reading and engaging J T.

  11. J T
    J T February 17, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    It is very hard to find people in this industry that are creative and intelligent and that might understand the difficult material that I present. The writer of the above article is discussing what is broken with the game, and what is clear is that it is the inability of 2 intelligent and creative players to communicate that has destroyed it…

    Yes, it is disgusting that you would “skim” my works, deem it worthless, and delete it. How hard is it to just see its not spam, and let the other posters and writer decide if its relevant? What other important dialogue have you been censoring?

    I simply posted a VERY RELEVANT works…simply that’s all…

    I HOPE YOU DON’T GET PAID WITH PLAYERS RAKED MONEY.

    You might as well delete it all, I have no interest in connecting with a writer affiliated with you.

  12. J T
    J T February 17, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Here is a comment from the writer (Melissa): “I welcome any and all feedback positive and negative…”
    http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/showpost.php?p=46140111&postcount=13

  13. cardplayerlifestyle
    cardplayerlifestyle February 17, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Don’t really know where to start…

    1. First impressions are critical and as I admitted to and apologized for already in my previous comment, I botched mine with you J T. Take it for what it is – the apology was sincere.

    2. I’ve never referred a single player to any online poker site. I’ve never really been an affiliate in that sense. Do you see any links/banners to that extent? So no, I don’t “get paid”. This entire blog was just founded so that I could do something to try and promote poker. It is not my main business – I have a full-time job – and I usually work on this only at nights and weekend.

    3. In light of #2 above, indeed, I didn’t have the time to read your scholarly work in depth. Not being facetious. I skimmed – that was my error. If you find that disgusting, that’s your prerogative. Plenty of people skim my articles – one can’t force someone to read an article in a particular way. That’s not meant as an insult to you. You should be proud of the work you did – as I mentioned, you clearly put a lot of effort into it.

    4. In 5+ years of running this poker blog this is the first incident where I believe I’ve “erred” in deleting a comment that ought to have remained. The only other ones I’ve deleted we obvious spam and personal attacks on me – which I don’t believe I need to leave up to let readers decide upon.

    5. No, I will not delete this conversation as that’s precisely what communication is about and, as mentioned, I believe I have understood my error and want to be transparent about it. When one owns up to a mistake, it doesn’t fix the mistake no matter what, but there’s still something to be said for it.

    Lastly, Melissa is not “affiliated with me” nor is she a poker writer. As per her bio, she is a professional poker player. This article came about as a result of us talking a few days ago and her wanting and agreeing to write something up (as she had strong opinions and good suggestions) that I agreed to publish here. I assisted her with the editing of this article and with it’s promotion across social media.

    I have nothing to hide J T and no problem admitting my errors. Olive branch extended sir – the rest is up to you…

  14. cardplayerlifestyle
    cardplayerlifestyle February 17, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    I’m aware of the thread – yes. Happy to see that the 2+2 community is discussing the issue.

  15. J T
    J T February 17, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    I can’t help but wonder if you are not a student of K. If you are not then you won’t know who that is. I will accept/extend the Olive branch, but I must take caution (time) as to the words I use and how I use them. Please stand by and I will try to clarify much confusion.

  16. J T
    J T February 18, 2015 at 12:07 am

    With the heaviest of hearts I write this and perhaps I have written far too much for us to care. Melissa (and you possibly in dialogue with her) seem to have come to the same logical conclusion that I did, but a few years back. This happens much like pyramids arise among different civilizations not necessarily from some simultaneous spiritual realization but also just as explainable as science and logic’s relation to gravity.

    ***I realize you will not read my articles, it is not why I link to them, I do not expect you to.***

    However I have extended this realization, and formulated it, I turned it into a tangible problem so that we might solve it. We call it “poker’s value measurement problem” (extensively explained here https://thewealthofchips.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/the-problem-of-measuring-effective-rake/)

    This relvated the exact paradigm problem: https://thewealthofchips.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/definition-effective-rake/

    Now here is what is relevant to our “introduction”. The concept of “Ideal Poker” and the discussion of it, is a banned, deleted, and censored subject on 2 + 2. Furthermore, Moral Poker (https://thewealthofchips.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/moral-poker/) which is the exact paradigm shift needed for change was posted on Run It Once in their blog section over a year ago. Not a single RIO coach commented. Also a thread on cooperative poker, not a single pro commented. Eventually Moral Poker was deleted. Is this Ideal and Moral poker? How much do we pay these coaches to teach us to destroy our own game?

    All of these subjects and topics are also very specifically banned on reddit, which should not be a surprise since the moderators are made up of (for example) 2 + 2 regulars that are quite in with the 2 + 2 moderators crowd. On the other major poker community recently the subject of moral poker (which I didn’t’ even start) was also locked.

    If I mention (on a poker community) the obvious fact that Poker Stars “pays the rent” for every major or successful poker media/community site I get ridiculed and banned for “conspiracy”, when it is clearly and painfully obvious that we have systematically allowed our game and communities to degenerate into this form and fashion of self censoring “truth”.

    Recently Danial Neg. went on a social media campaign trying to convince the players that higher rake is good for the game (while he receives a pay check from Stars).

    I cannot recall exactly what my post on this blog was, I suspect it was nearly a link and something like “thanks for your blog, you might appreciate this”. I realize we don’t read each others blogs (I actually do.) But even a quick skim of my works will show that I have traversed the entire history and legal history of the game to get to the very roots of the issues we face today, and I have related it to some very new economic theories and technological solutions we have available today.

    Alas, it is nearly impossible for me to get the perfectly relevant, tangible, and significant information to anyone with any “status’ in the industry. So I look for players like the above author that MIGHT give me just enough time and attention to realize that we are not at all in the dark when it comes to the causes of the degeneration of the game as well as the solutions we have available.

    I realize my material is incredibly dense, and will not often get read, but perhaps slowly I can accumulate a small network of sincere, intelligent, and creative players, that might for example simple connect on a twitter, or some small easy form of social media, so there may be a beacon of light, truth, logic, reason, and clarity in the industry. I meant something very very small in relation to the above author, and unfortunately we have but this entire mountain between my initial succinct post.

    I know why you did what you did. I looked for your apology because I couldn’t find it earlier, and when I couldn’t find it again I looked again and finally did see it. I accept it for everything you admit to, and I myself apologize for the rest, that I (seemingly) overreacted to. But I am sincere, and standing on rock solid logic. I have waited too long for the concept of “What is Ideal Poker?” to be discussed and I am ashamed and saddened it has taken this long to start the discussion of it.

    I leave you and anyone who might have traversed our discussion with the intro to the paper you censored along with the suggestion it is the most relevant and significant article you have seen in the history of your poker blog career. The issue is it is too dense, and we have a cognitive bias towards truth, it (the whole article) is but the SURFACE of the entire argument I present:

    “The history of gambling in the United States has been studied, analyzed, and well documented in terms of its legal history but seemingly never in relation to overall national or global economic conditions, nor in relation to the newly proposed Kula Ring solution by Nick Szabo and John Nash’s lectures “Ideal Money”.
    I Nelson Rose coined the concept of 3 waves starting with the Colonial lotteries, moving across WW1 and WWII prohibition and other movements, and the resurgence afterwards of destinations such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Rose predicts a total abolition after the 3rd wave, however, by using the theory of the Kula Ring we have shown that the morality of gambling is highly related to the overall underlying economic conditions and therefore quite predictable and not necessarily doomed by pattern or intrinsic fault.
    Somewhat contrary to (or more specifically than) Roses’s explanation, historical gambling used as socialist and government type funding of ventures has ended in disaster and created avarice towards the industry while gambling created by worthy private investors with a long term plan has helped our society gain leaps and bounds in the field of technology (specifically but not confined to financial networks and transportation). We propose in the near future gambling will help propel space travel and bio tech fields and proper well constructed regulation and laws could pave the way to expedite this process. Among other points we also suggest a strong and stable global gaming environment is essential for the liberation and self governance of our civilization.
    Lastly, and possibly most importantly, decentralization plays an integral role in our analysis and conclusions: we foresee giant industry moguls such as Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn will soon pave the way for the Nakamoto Consensus decentralized ID system by providing our civilization with next frontiers of Casino Resort/Online gambling ventures.”

  17. J T
    J T February 19, 2015 at 10:05 am

    I extended the olive branch. Perhaps my logic sux. Perhaps pretty faces deserve praise and logic doesn’t.

    Keep in mind, although the industry agrees I should be censored from every site….you deleted my works without a clue of its relevance.

  18. J T
    J T February 19, 2015 at 10:06 am

    We should delete this whole conversation. Like I pointed out, you ruined my chance of the intelligent offer accidentally discovering the deep intensity of my works.

    What is moral poker? What is ideal poker?

  19. Katie Dozier
    Katie Dozier February 24, 2015 at 5:10 am

    Great article, Melissa– full of excellent points! 🙂

  20. cardplayerlifestyle
    cardplayerlifestyle February 24, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    I’ve let Melissa know about your comment. Just want to say thanks to you as well Katie for reading and commenting; it’s much appreciated. – Robbie

  21. EatmyCockLibtards
    EatmyCockLibtards February 25, 2015 at 12:03 am

    poker is against god. all you heathens will burn for eternity. Accept HIS word and repent for your sins

  22. Melissa burr
    Melissa burr October 27, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Wow, it appears I am several months late to this conversation, please accept my apologies, as i did not receive any notifications when comments were posted. TBH I didnt realize how many people this article would reach. I am happy to discuss these ideas in more detail and will read each of the links you have posted here. I hope there are no ill feeling towards myself, and am happy to clarify any beliefs or opinions I shared. Feel free to continue this conversation via Twitter or Facebook messenger. I am and always have been an advocate for the growth, success and sustainability of poker. I hope and trust my accomplishments within the industry combined with my degrees in marketing and philosophy qualify me as more than just a “pretty face.” (Btw flattered if the pretty face comment was directed at myself.)

    I look forward to further discussion via any of the suggested channels above, and regardless, wish you the best of luck in all future endeavors gambling or non gambling related 🙂

    Twitter handle is @burrrrrberry
    Facebook is Melissa Burr

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