Shared Player Pools Bring Bigger Payouts, Some Concerns For Michigan Poker Players

Written By Drew Ellis on January 4, 2023
Pokerstars michigan new jersey

The start of 2023 also marked the start of interstate play for Michigan online poker players.

After earning permission from both gaming commissions in Michigan and New Jersey, PokerStars was able to combine player pools in the two states on Jan. 1.

Interstate play has been an anticipated, but long journey for the state. Now that it is here, has it lived up to the hype?

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Over $250K paid in opening Michigan-New Jersey PokerStars tournaments

To commemorate the start of interstate play with New Jersey, PokerStars MI offered up two special tournaments on Jan. 1.

The first was a $100 buy-in that began at 6 p.m. ET with $100,000 guaranteed player pool. The 2-day event ended with a total of 2,189 entries (1,230 individuals, 959 total re-entries). Up to five re-entries were available during the late registration period.

In the end the prize pool was $200,950. First place took home $29,895 while a total of 319 places were paid out. That means 14.6% of the entries finished in the money.

The second event was a $10 buy-in that started at 6:30 p.m. ET with $50,000 guaranteed. This two-day tournament ended with a total of 6,378 entries (3,424 individuals, 2,954 re-entries). Unlimited re-entries were allowed during the late registration period.

The final prize pool totaled $58,039. First place took home $8,253. A total of 1,039 places were paid, which equated to 16.3% of the total entries.

Larger player pools with interstate poker

The Jan. 1 tournaments definitely saw a boost in player pools.

Prior to the green flag waving for interstate play, PokerStars was holding its 25 Days of Tournaments promotion throughout December.

The weekend of Christmas saw tournaments topping out around 600 players.

With more players comes larger prize pools.

From Dec. 22-Dec. 30, only two PokerStars tournaments saw a prize pool eclipse $10,000.

Since Jan. 1, PokerStars has held 11 tournaments with pools over $10,000. That includes six of $19,000 or more, and five over $36,000.

“Poker players in Michigan have anticipated eagerly the launch of mult-istate internet poker,” said Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Henry Williams on behalf of the board. “A larger volume of players likely will result in more game options, more frequent games and larger tournament prizes.”

Higher percentage payouts in early Michigan-NJ poker tournaments

The week prior to interstate play, PokerStars was paying out around 12.5% of its entries for larger tournaments.

Here’s a look at the numbers of some of its tournaments leading up to Jan. 1.

  • Dec. 21: $10 buy-in, 428 entries-53 paid out (12.4%)
  • Dec. 22: $10 buy-in, 373 entries-47 paid out (12.6%)
  • Dec. 25: $10 buy-in, 605 entries-77 paid out (12.7%)
  • Dec. 25: $50 buy-in, 187 entries-23 paid out (12.3%)
  • Dec. 26: $10 buy-in, 641 entries-79 paid out (12.3%)

Since Jan. 1, PokerStars has been paying out a larger percentage of entries for their tournament pools.

  • Jan. 1: $100 buy-in, 2,189 entries-319 paid out (14.6%)
  • Jan. 1: $10 buy-in, 6,378 entries-1,036 paid out (16.3%)
  • Jan. 2: $500 buy-in, 206 entries-27 paid out (13.1%)
  • Jan. 2: $30 buy-in, 439 entries-59 paid out (13.4%)
  • Jan. 3: $15 buy-in, 243 entries-39 paid out (16.0%)
  • Jan. 3: $25 buy-in, 680 entries-95 paid out (14.0%)
  • Jan. 4: $50 buy-in, 512 entries-71 paid out (13.9%)
  • Jan. 4: $30 buy-in, 490 entries-71 paid out (14.5%)

Concerns from Michigan poker players on interstate play

Though there are a lot of positives coming from the debut of interstate poker, some players do have concerns.

Late-running tournaments

One of the most common critiques in the opening days has been concern over tournament start times. With larger player pools and long re-entry periods of multiple hours, tournaments that include New Jersey players could go into the early hours of the following morning.

“My biggest concern is the large tournaments starting and ending too late now that they will have bigger numbers,” said Todd Estes, a 2022 Michigan WSOP online bracelet winner. “For a guy that works full time and has a family, I can only commit to so much.”

Spin and Go changes?

One avid spin and go player from Michigan noticed some changes in what Michigan players are offered at PokerStars since the interstate launch.

Brian Keel, a native of Lansing, posted to the Team Michigan Poker Facebook group a look at the what each state offers. Michigan offers spins of $1, $5, $10 and $25. New Jersey offers the same with also a $2 option.

But, Keel’s concern was more about the multiplier odds. For New Jersey, the 2X multiplier for a spin and go is just under 72% for its games. For Michigan, it is just under 49%.

According to PokerStars, Michigan does have a 3X multiplier sitting just under 42% before bumping up to 5X at 8%. New Jersey doesn’t have a 3X option, instead jumping to 4X at just under 20%.

However, Keel stated that he has seen 4X multipliers while playing spins since Jan. 1. He has concerns that Michigan has translated over to New Jersey’s spin format with the interstate launch.

Ultimately, Keel, an avid spin and go player, is concerned about the profitability of PokerStars spins if that is the case, with their 2X multiplier being so much higher than Michigan’s.

Attempts to reach PokerStars for clarification on the format in Michigan since the start of interstate play have not been immediately returned.

When will BetMGM, WSOP have interstate poker?

PokerStars MI was the first online poker platform to get permission to begin interstate play from the MGCB.

Both World Series of Poker MI and BetMGM Poker are free to do the same if they meet the MGCB’s requirements for combined play.

Among the requirements included are:

  • Obtaining MGCB approval for anything new related to multijurisdictional poker, including technical security standards, games or platform modifications, remote gaming systems and game software.
  • Allowing MGCB staff to inspect any new data centers.
  • Licensing of new suppliers, including new platform providers, and registration of new vendors.
  • Licensing of certain new employees involved in the conduct of multistate poker.

BetMGM and WSOP have not made any announcement regarding when it could launch its own interstate platforms.

Photo by Shutterstock.com
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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