Patience Is A Virtue: Michigan Online Poker Players Await Their Turn For Launch

Posted By Martin Harris on January 26, 2021 - Last Updated on January 27, 2021

Most poker players understand the value of being patient. That is to say, most know it’s not a good idea not to play every hand. You increase your chance of success if you can fold bad hands and wait for more promising spots.

There has been a lot of excitement surrounding last week’s launch of legal online casinos and sportsbooks in Michigan. However, poker players will need to be a little more patient as they await the first legal online poker rooms to start dealing hands.

First Michigan online poker sites due soon

Last Friday saw no less than 10 new online gambling sites and apps go live in Michigan. All but two feature both online casino games and sports betting. However online poker has yet to make its legal debut in the Wolverine State.

Such was not unexpected. During the days and weeks leading up to last Friday, indications had been that while online casinos and sportsbooks would be ready to go at the start, the first online poker rooms would likely take a few more days to arrive.

But poker is coming… and likely soon. The puzzle pieces are in place if not completely set.

In early December, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) gave conditional approvals to both BetMGM and PokerStars. That indicates those two established poker brands should be the first to launch online poker rooms in Michigan. In fact, the first rooms may go live within days if not weeks.

Three days before Friday’s online launch, the MGCB confirmed that online poker was approved as well. However, of the operators expected to launch poker, only BetMGM got the OK for online gaming and sports betting. Online gaming includes poker, but BetMGM has not definitively said when its site will go live.

Legal online gambling is here; unlicensed sites remain a risk

As they wait, Michigan online poker players may be tempted to play on other sites not licensed or regulated in the state.

However, players should remain aware that just because online gambling is legal and live in Michigan, that does not mean unlicensed and unregulated online poker sites are legal. Such sites continue to operate outside of Michigan gambling law.

For instance, last Friday the Winning Poker Network (WPN) kicked off its popular multi-day tournament known as The Venom. The WPN includes several different skins, the most popular of which is Americas Cardroom.

The tournament features a $2,650 buy-in with multiple starting flights and a huge $8 million guaranteed prize pool. It will likely draw something approaching (or even exceeding) 4,000 entries. If it does hit that mark, the prize pool would reach $10 million.

That would set a new record for WPN. In fact, it would be the largest online poker tournament on a site serving US players in nearly a decade.

That said, there hasn’t been much competition for such a record ever since “Black Friday,” April 15, 2011. That was the day the largest global online poker sites stopped serving Americans after the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed indictments and civil complaints against them.

Ever since then, sites like Americas Cardroom that serve US players do so at the risk of facing similar legal repercussions. In fact, players in Michigan should know that the WPN withdrew from Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware after those states each legalized online poker.

Playing on legal sites ensures protections for players

Players in Michigan who play on WPN sites and other sites not licensed or regulated by the state also take a risk. Without the protections afforded by the state’s legal framework, players on such sites have no recourse should they experience any trouble concerning the security of their funds or the integrity of the sites.

By contrast, playing on licensed and legal online poker sites in Michigan ensures those sites will abide by rules and guidelines set for them by the MGCB. Such rules include protection for the players regarding their funds and the fairness of the games.

BetMGM Poker in Michigan and PokerStars, once active, carry a Michigan online gambling license and must follow Michigan account security and safety rules.

In other words, Michigan poker players would be smart to sit tight and keep an eye out for the imminent launch of the first legal online sites.

Stay tuned to PlayMichigan for news of when the sites will first shuffle up and deal. Hopefully, soon there will be hands to play.

Martin Harris Avatar
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Martin Harris

Martin Harris is a writer and teacher who has reported on poker, online gambling, and sports betting since the mid-2000s. Once a full-time academic (Ph.D., English), he currently teaches part-time in the American Studies program at UNC Charlotte. In 2019, his book Poker & Pop Culture was published by D&B Books.

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