David Kaye: Michigan’s First Year Of Online Poker Was A Success, But Bigger, Better Things Could Be On The Way

Written By David Kaye on January 28, 2022 - Last Updated on December 7, 2023
Poker hand and chips

Saturday, Jan. 29, marks the one-year anniversary of regulated online poker launching in Michigan, and what a year it has been!

PokerStars was the first operator to launch online poker that day. This was a long-awaited return as PokerStars had not offered online poker in the Great Lakes state since leaving on April 15, 2011. BetMGM Poker would join the Michigan market a few months later to give Michiganders two online poker sites to choose from.

Online poker’s long-awaited return to Michigan

April 15, 2011, is often referred to as “Black Friday” by those in the poker industry. That was the day the two largest online poker sites at the time, PokerStars and Full Tilt, left the United States market. Although I had just started playing poker when this happened, I remember how dark a day this was across the online poker landscape, particularly in the US.

David Kaye Poker November 2021

While poker is back in Michigan, it looks different than it did in 2011. Currently, the two sites offered in Michigan are Michigan-restricted sites. This means you must be physically located in the state of Michigan to play in these player pools.

While I was excited to have regulated online poker, I was concerned a one-state player pool wouldn’t have enough players to sustain a strong player base to run cash games and tournaments with large prize pool guarantees. I knew Michigan had a strong poker community, but was it enough to sustain an entire player pool?

Year 1 of online poker a success in Michigan

The short answer was yes. From the start, PokerStars Michigan was running a lot of cash games with many buy-in levels, and tournament series with prize pools all the way up to $100,000!

The numbers may have dipped slightly at times, but the Michigan market is still pushing on strong one year later. 

In any new market, players flock with excitement to play. Also, at the time of launch, we were in state-issued lockdowns from the on-going Covid-19 pandemic. This included casinos and poker rooms across the state being shut down.

The launch of these online poker sites gave Michigan residents a place they could play poker.

Bigger, better things on horizon for Michigan online poker?

Although the first year of online poker in Michigan has been great, many players and industry professionals have bigger hopes for the coming months and years.

It has been rumored for months that Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey will combine player pools, along with any future states that approve online poker with these operators.

In my opinion, this is crucial for the success of online poker in the United States in the coming years. The player pools in each of these states have been successful, but to reach the full potential of regulated online poker in the United States, we need to be playing together.

A single player pool with a larger number of participants creates more games and more options for players. 

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Tournament players love and chase the tournament series with the big guarantees. With all the states in one pool, more players can enter any one tournament, creating bigger prize pools. This is helpful from a marketing perspective for site operators as well. A tournament with a $1 million prize pool creates more excitement for potential players than a prize pool of $100,000.

For cash games, the more players a player pool has, the more options that will be created for players. This means more poker variants, more tables to play, and higher stakes. All of these are vital to the longevity of a cash-game market.

I’m a huge believer in the potential of the regulated online poker market in the United States. So much so, that I left my corporate job to pursue playing poker and creating poker-based content in late 2021.

To reach this full potential, I believe it is vital for the states with regulated online poker to be combined into one player pool. Myself, and poker players across the country, are hopeful this is something to come in 2022.

Just how well did David Kaye do in 2021?

So, now that you have read my review of the first year of online poker in the Michigan regulated online poker market, you may be asking yourself “I wonder how David did at the tables in 2021?” 

I thought you might ask that, so here are my poker results from playing on the Michigan state regulated sites from the launch date on Jan. 29, 2021, to the date I’m writing this article, Jan. 27, 2022.

Below are my results from cash games. As you can see from the pictures, I won $36,199 playing primarily in the $2.50/$5 and $1/$2 no-limit hold-em cash games. I also included a graph of my results so you can see some of the ups and downs I experienced throughout the year.

David Kaye online poker results

David Kaye chart of yearly winnings

Although I consider myself primarily a cash game player, I was able to have some success playing tournaments in the past year as well! I have profited $32,622 on the Michigan online poker sites over the past year, including my largest score of $9,419 for taking third place in a $215 buy-in event on BetMGM.

David Kaye poker tournament winnings

Both sites have programs that give players money back through bonuses and rakeback. I’ve received roughly $6,000 through these programs over the past year.

If you add up cash games, tournaments and promotions, this brings my profit to roughly $74,000 over the past year playing on PokerStars and BetMGM. I’m particularly happy with this number considering I was still working a full-time job until September of 2021, played live poker, and dedicated many hours to editing content for my YouTube and Twitch channels.

I hope you all had as much fun playing online poker over the past year as I did, and I look forward to doing it again in 2022!

Poker content creator David Kaye of Mason writes a regular column for PlayMichigan. You can follow David’s poker journey on his social media accounts under the handle “DavidKayePoker.” David is on YouTube, Twitch, Twitter and Instagram.

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David Kaye

Poker content creator David Kaye of Mason writes a regular column for PlayMichigan. You can follow David’s poker journey on his social media accounts under the handle “DavidKayePoker.” David is on YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram.

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