It’s a big weekend for online poker tournament fans in the United States as PokerStars launches its Summer Stacks Festival in Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Running June 12-28, each state’s series features 100 tournaments. There are over $2.5m in guaranteed prize pools across all three states: $1m in Michigan, $1.045m in Pennsylvania, and $528,000 in New Jersey.
The schedules for each state are largely – if not exactly – the same. All three $100 buy-in Main Events start on Sunday, June 27 and will last two days. Pennsylvania’s and Michigan’s Main Event guarantees are $100,000, while New Jersey’s is $50,000.
One of the nice things about the Summer Stacks Festival, as is evident from the Main Event pricing, is that the buy-ins are extremely affordable. Casual poker players are often priced out of the big PokerStars tournament series, but here, none of the buy-ins are more than $100. Many are $30 or less, while some events cost as little as $5.
Some “free” chances to play
There are also some opportunities to play in the Summer Stacks Festival for free…sort of. The first does require an outlay of money, but if you are planning playing on PokerStars aside from the Summer Stacks Festival, it is effectively a free shot. All that is required is a deposit of at least $30 using the bonus code “SUMMER21.” Those who do that will earn a free seat in a daily Depositor Freeroll for the chance to win a share of $10,000 worth of Main Event tickets.
automatically awarded an entry into the next day’s freeroll
The second is called the Second Chance Freeroll. Anyone who is eliminated in a Summer Stacks Festival event without making the money is automatically awarded an entry into the next day’s freeroll. These tourneys will give out $10,000 in tournament tickets throughout the entire run of the series.
So the Second Chance Freerolls still require a tournament buy-in (and, in turn, a loss), but similar to the Depositor Freeroll, if you are playing in the festival, anyway, this is just a nice, free opportunity.
States are separate for now
Keep in mind that PokerStars players in all three states are ringfenced from each other, if that was not obvious by the festival descriptions. Summer Stacks tournaments in each state are completely separate from the others. And, of course, players must be located within state borders to participate in their respective state’s poker games.
At some point, PokerStars players might be able to sit together at the same tables from different states, but that point is not now. Stars’ first foray into the regulated US online poker market was in New Jersey in March 2016. It took until November 2019 to enter Pennsylvania, it’s second state, where it had a monopoly until this April when BetMGM and Borgata Poker launched their joint network. It opened its Michigan online poker room in January, quickly getting competition from BetMGM two months later.
New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada, are all linked via the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement, but right now, that only affects sites on the 888poker platform, including WSOP.com, as 888/WSOP are the only ones with poker rooms in each state (WSOP.com in Nevada and New Jersey, three 888-powered racino sites in Delaware). Pennsylvania and Michigan both permit interstate online poker compacts, but neither state has entered into one yet. Thus, PokerStars players will have to wait to be able to play against people in other states.