PokerStars Hosts First Online Poker Tournaments for Michigan, New Jersey This Week

By | January 9, 2023

Now that the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) has decided to bring back poker, PokerStars is taking full advantage of it. The Flutter-owned company is hosting a multi-state online poker tournament series starting this weekend for Michigan and New Jersey.

PokerStars Team Pro Parker Talbot
PokerStars Team Pro Parker Talbot participates in the EPT London. PokerStars is expanding its online poker reach in the US through player liquidity in Michigan and New Jersey. (Image: Tomas Stacha)

Almost 12 years after poker’s Black Friday crippled the online poker industry in the US, the Department of Justice continues to lose. It had pulled out a decades-old law in order to shut down online poker, but states have increasingly fought against it in recent years.

PokerStars was one of several platforms that were forced into exile in the US in April 2011. The return of online poker tournaments in the country through Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreements (MSIGA) gives it a small sense of vindication and the possibility of restoring itself to a leading role.

Online Poker Stages A Comeback

PokerStars will host its online tournament with player liquidity from Michigan and New Jersey, a concept that typically means higher prize packages. In the case of the upcoming events, there’s a total of $2.5 million in guarantees up for grabs.

The PSPC Online series begins this Friday, January 13, and runs through January 30. Players shouldn’t be confused into thinking that this has anything to do with the PokerStars Players Championship, also abbreviated PSPC, as it seems PokerStars is only playing on the branding of the latter.

The PSPC Online Main Event for Michigan-New Jersey will be a $250 buy-in event with a $300,000 guarantee. By way of comparison, the other PSPC, which PokerStars will host in the Bahamas this month, has a Main Event with a $25,000 buy-in.

There will also be a “Mini Main Event” with a $50 buy-in, as well as a $2,500 High Roller Main Event. Those have a combined guarantee of $200,000. In total, there are 85 events waiting for poker players in Michigan and New Jersey.

The player pooling is possible because of the MGCB’s intervention. The regulator began making advances almost a year ago when pooling became a real thing. It then signed off on an agreement to join its poker pool with that of New Jersey, which went live at the beginning of this year.

At some point, Pennsylvania will likely make its way into the mix, once the state signs off on its own player liquidity deal with the other two. In the meantime, Pennsylvania has its own PSPC from PokerStars, which offers 72 events and $1.5 million in guaranteed cash.

PokerStars Tests the Waters

PokerStars is confident that the response to the upcoming series will prevent any overlays. Once Michigan and New Jersey began player pooling at the beginning of the year, it ran a test to gauge the response and was happy with the results.

There were two multi-state tournaments, one that had a $100 buy-in and a guarantee of $100,000 and another with a $10 buy-in and $50,000 on the table. Both were overwhelming successes and easily cleared their guarantees.

The $10 event drew a smaller crowd and just barely covered the $50K – it was $39 over. The $100 event, however, blew away the guarantee. Its number of entries greatly exceeded the minimum needed, leading to a prize pool that was double the guarantee.

Delaware and Nevada were the first states to establish MSIGAs. New Jersey later joined before Michigan arrived last May. Pennsylvania could be coming, and Kentucky might be in there, as well. The latter is going to consider online poker legislation this year, but this won’t save it from the $300 million it had to pay to the state for previously violating its no-online-poker laws.

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