For the last year, Delaware has received a great deal of criticism in regards to its nascent online poker market. Ostensibly, there just isn’t a large enough populace to support a ring-fenced industry of this nature. In many ways, that is true, but if you look at the situation from a different angle, particularly the view of an experienced poker player who seeks out the most profitable games, the Diamond State actually has something no other US jurisdiction can offer.
On the negative end, 888’s Delaware Poker network only attracts an average of 7 players at any given time, rising to between 30 and 35 at peak hours. There are many times throughout the day when the network is entirely void of traffic. It certainly doesn’t speak volumes for the munificence of the state’s three interlaced poker sites, operated by Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway.
Due to the palpable lack of activity, players can’t expect to find a wide range of operative cash games or stakes. Multi-table tournaments do exist, but they only draw fields of about 20-25, carrying comparably miniscule guaranteed prize pools of $650 at the $25 buy-in level. Sit n Go tournaments might as well not exist since, while they do appear in the tournament lobbies, only the heads-up variety garner any attention, and it’s scarce at best. Finding action on a full SNG table is about as rare as finding a four leaf clover in the Sahara.
One obvious question might be how the Diamond State can afford to keep such an indolent business above water? In the month of July, the Delaware Poker network raked a grand total of $31,261.18, which spreads out to $1,008.43 per day. To put that into perspective, New Jersey’s top online poker network alone, Party Borgata, skimmed $1.1 million in July.
From another perspective, New Jersey’s least frequented online poker room, Ultimate Poker, actually did worse than Delaware, raking in just $26,043 in the same month. Of interesting note, Ultimate Gaming, the company that operates UP and Ucasino via its land-based Atlantic City partner, Trump Taj Mahal, announced it will be ceasing operations in the Garden State as of October 5th.
Like UP in New Jersey, there are many online poker networks around the globe that get little or no action, but let’s not forget that 888 is operating the only network in Delaware, meaning it gets all of the state’s action, all of the time. UP was forced to compete with the likes of Party Poker / Borgata Poker and Caesar’s WSOP.com. There is no competition in Delaware, and certainly no deliberations towards closing up shop either.
Still, there are two things online poker players in Delaware can look forward to. First, the games that are available – when they are available – are extremely juicy. The 6-max NL Texas Hold’em cash tables are active every evening at stakes scaling from $0.01/$0.02 to $0.25/$0.50, sometimes as high as $1/$2, and the average pot size is often around 20+ big blinds. That’s well above the average pot sizes in New Jersey and Nevada, where 10-12 big blinds in the pot is typical. And what about viewed flop percentages? In Delaware, the average flop seen is in the 50%-60% range, more than twice that of the 15%-25% online poker players in the Silver State are accustomed to.
Realistically speaking, Delaware may have the juiciest online poker market in the industry. That may not last too much longer, though, which brings me to the second positive factor for players in the Diamond State. Nevada and Delaware struck a deal earlier this year to pool their players among all 888-powered poker rooms, which include all three sites in Delaware and WSOP.com in Nevada. When that compact comes to fruition in the near future, it could actually benefit both states. Nevada will have access to Delaware’s loose players, while Delaware’s players will find a lot more action in WSOP.com’s 100+ average player base. And if New Jersey jumps on the bandwagon, the results could be a hundredfold for everyone.