A Torrent Of Tourneys: PokerStars Michigan Giving Players What They Want

Posted on February 2, 2021 - Last Updated on February 19, 2021

PokerStars Michigan launched last Friday, and already the site has generated a great deal of traffic as players log in from the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

The cash games have been busy, where stakes range from $0.01/$0.02 to $25/$50 at the no-limit hold’em tables. Sit-n-go’s and Spin & Go’s are available as well to provide more variety.

Meanwhile, multi-table tournament players in Michigan already have a full menu of options popping up in the lobby. With more players signing on each day, the fields and prize pools in these tournaments are starting to increase as well.

Here’s a quick look at what tournament players at PokerStars MI can currently expect to find.

PokerStars MI opens up with familiar lineup of ‘Sunday Majors’

As expected, PokerStars has already branded a group of weekly events as Sunday “majors.” Here are the five big ones along with this Sunday’s guarantees:

  • Sunday Storm – $10 buy-in, $2,000 gtd. prize pool
  • Sunday Warm-Up – $30 buy-in, $5,000 gtd. prize pool
  • Sunday Supersonic – $50 buy-in, $2,500 gtd. prize pool
  • Sunday High Roller – $250 buy-in, $10,000 gtd. prize pool
  • Sunday Special – $100 buy-in, $20,000 gtd. prize pool

On its first Sunday online, PokerStars MI hosted four of these five events. The Sunday Special has been added to the schedule for this coming Sunday, Feb. 7.

Given the site had only been up and running for two days, PokerStars MI likely didn’t want to roll out the marquee Sunday Special with its big $20,000 guarantee right away.

That said, the other four Sunday tournaments all comfortably eclipsed the guarantees set for each. In fact, the Sunday High Roller attracted a big enough field to create a prize pool of nearly $14,700, almost twice the $7,500 guarantee.

Dozens of tournaments filling out each day’s schedule

Meanwhile, those now visiting PokerStars in Michigan will find the weekly schedule has been populated with a wide variety of tournaments each day.

All of them feature guaranteed prize pools, and after some modest guarantees over the weekend those have started to increase as well. For example, over the weekend The Big $30 initially ran with a $300 guarantee, and now that event’s guarantee is $2,500.

No-limit hold’em is featured variant in practically every scheduled tournament so far. Only occasionally do pot-limit Omaha and PLO hi-lo events appear. Some of the recurring NLHE events include:

  • The Big $5, The Big $10, The Big $20, The Big $30
  • The Hot $5, The Hot $10, The Hot $30, The Hot $50 (turbo tournaments)
  • Bounty Builder $15, Bounty Builder $20, Bounty Builder $30 (progressive knockout tournaments)
  • Nightly Stars (a $100 event happening each night)
  • Moonlight Express (at midnight) and Moonlight Express 2nd Chance (at 12:30 a.m.), both $20 tournaments

This week all players PokerStars MI should additionally be entering the numerous freeroll tournaments. These are identified in the lobby as We Are in Michigan – Welcome Freeroll events.

These tournaments cost nothing to play, and players can enter as many of them as they wish. Most feature $2,500 prize pools, although later in the week some have $5,000 and $7,500 prize pools.

Any cash players win in these events goes straight into their accounts and they can use it right away to play cash games or tournaments. The money can even be withdrawn, as there are no “playthrough” requirements or other restrictions attached.

PokerStars MI is giving away $50,000 total in these freerolls, which last through Feb. 7.

Comparing Michigan online poker to Pennsylvania, New Jersey

PokerStars Pennsylvania launched in late 2019, about three-and-a-half years after PokerStars New Jersey’s debut in 2016. Soon after going live, the Pennsylvania site began quickly to outpace the NJ site in player traffic.

That came as no surprise. One reason is that PA has a greater population than NJ, about 12.8 million compared to 8.9 million.

PokerStars PA also had the advantage of being the only online poker room up and running in PA. By contrast, PokerStars NJ faced competitors in both WSOP.com and the partypoker NJ network. In fact, more than a year later PokerStars PA is still the only live online poker room in the Keystone State, although other sites may be launching soon.

Population-wise, Michigan sits in between those two states with just about 10 million residents. On Saturday, PokerStars boasted 1,500 seats filled in Michigan.

As in PA, PokerStars was first to launch online poker in Michigan and may enjoy at least a short period as the lone provider. That said, indications appear to suggest the “only-game-in-town” honeymoon period won’t last as long for PokerStars in Michigan as has been the case in PA.

Like the sites in PA and NJ, PokerStars MI is “ring-fenced” meaning players only play against others in-state. There is no multi-state compact between the different PokerStars sites allowing player pools to be shared.

Looking at the Sunday majors at PokerStars NJ, PA, MI

Both PA and NJ feature those same Sunday “majors,” making those poker tournaments good candidates for comparison between the states.

PokerStars MI started out featuring the same buy-ins as PokerStars PA has for its Sunday tournaments, albeit with understandably lower guarantees. For most of the Sunday tournaments, PokerStars NJ’s guarantees have generally been about half of PokerStars PA’s. Also, in most cases, the buy-ins are larger for the NJ events.

For comparison’s sake, here is what the three PokerStars sites have lined up for players in MI, PA, and NJ this Sunday:

TournamentPokerStars NJPokerStars PAPokerStars MI
Sunday Storm$10 buy-in, $3,000 gtd.$10 buy-in, $3,500 gtd.$10 buy-in, $2,000 gtd.
Sunday Warm-Up$50 buy-in, $4,000 gtd.$30 buy-in, $8,500 gtd.$30 buy-in, $5,000 gtd.
Sunday Supersonic$75 buy-in, $3,000 gtd.$50 buy-in, $6,000 gtd.$50 buy-in, $2,500 gtd.
Sunday High Roller$500 buy-in, $6,500 gtd.$250 buy-in, $15,000 gtd.$250 buy-in, $10,000 gtd.
Sunday Special$200 buy-in, $25,000 gtd.$100 buy-in, $50,000 gtd.$100 buy-in, $20,000 gtd.

The NJ guarantees change from week to week (e.g., some were higher last Sunday). It appears PokerStars MI will begin with a similar Sunday schedule strategy to the one employed at PA. Michigan tournament players should expect guarantees across all PokerStars events to be adjusted over the coming weeks as a clearer picture of site traffic emerges.

Last weekend, PokerStars MI was already showing more traffic than PokerStars NJ. That’s despite the fact that players were only able to start creating accounts at PokerStars MI two days earlier. PokerStars PA remains well ahead of both for now, but it will be interesting to watch how Michigan’s PokerStars site performs going forward following such a strong start.

Get ready for Michigan COOPs, other tournament series

Speaking of going forward, Michigan online tournament players can also expect to see an inaugural Michigan “COOP” event soon, perhaps even later this month.

Both PokerStars PA and PokerStars NJ host a Spring Championship of Online Poker series (PASCOOP, NJSCOOP) and a Championship of Online Poker (PACOOP, NJCOOP) series each year.

Soon after PokerStars PA launched, the first-ever PACOOP featured 50 events with guarantees initially totaling $1 million. Big turnouts early on encouraged the site to boost guarantees in later events, making the overall total $1.225 million.

These series also generally throw in a few non-NLHE events as well, including stud, draw and mixed game events.

Expect Michigan to follow the Pennsylvania pattern with its own COOP series, with additional tournament series likely to fill out the 2021 calendar going forward.

Until then, PokerStars appears determined to provide Michigan tournament players all the action they want.

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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