PokerStars to Combine Michigan, New Jersey Player Pools on January 1, 2023

  • PokerStars will have the second interstate online poker network in the US after WSOP/888poker
  • The poker room will celebrate the occasion with two special tourneys on New Year’s Day
  • The WSOP/888poker network spans New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada
  • PokerStars is also in Pennsylvania, but the state hasn’t signed an interstate compact
Banner promoting PokerStars' upcoming Michigan and New Jersey shared player pools
On January 1, 2023 PokerStars players in Michigan and New Jersey will finally be able to sit at the same online poker tables together. [Image: PokerStars.com]

At long last, shared liquidity

As the calendar page turns to the New Year next weekend, so will a new page finally turn in the US online poker industry. On Friday, PokerStars announced that it will combine its Michigan and New Jersey player pools on January 1, 2023. It will be the first online poker operator to launch shared liquidity between those two states.

we hope that more will follow this great example”

“Our community will experience more breadth and depth of games, more tournaments with bigger prizes to win, amped-up promotions, and more choice,” said PokerStars US managing director Severin Rasset in the announcement. “To kick start, we are offering generous guarantees on our debut multi-state tournaments, that will no doubt provide lots of value for those who take to the tables. We worked closely with the regulators of New Jersey and Michigan, and we hope that more will follow this great example.”

PokerStars took down its games in the two states for more than 24 hours on December 12 and 13 as it conducted server maintenance to prepare for the joining of the two player pools. Since operations have resumed, players in both Michigan and New Jersey have seen identical private tournaments in the two states’ poker lobbies, indicating that interstate testing was probably underway.

Bigger and better tournaments

As Severin Rasset mentioned, PokerStars is celebrating the multi-state merger with a couple special tournaments on New Year’s Day, featuring a total of $150,000 in guaranteed prize pools.

The inaugural Michigan-New Jersey online poker tournament will commence at 6pm ET on January 1, 2023. This $100 buy-in event will have $100,000 in guarantees. The second, starting just a half hour later, has a $50,000 guaranteed prize pool and a low $10 buy-in. Players can begin registering for the tournaments on Tuesday, December 27.

As PokerStars is known for its huge selection of multi-table tournaments, one would expect a robust, full tournament schedule to appear on each site soon, with regular daily and weekly tournaments. With a larger player pool – PokerStars New Jersey has a seven-day average of 65 cash game players and Michigan has 170, according to PokerScout – the site should be able to offer prize pool guarantees that dwarf those of its competitors, at least in Michigan.

US online poker still small potatoes

Though legal, regulated online poker has been permitted for nearly a decade in the United States, this is just the second interstate online poker network in the country. The other is WSOP.com/888poker’s network, which combines 888-based platforms in New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada. PokerStars does not have a presence in either Delaware or Nevada, thus the reason why those states will not be included in the New Year’s union.

Michigan joined MSIGA in May

The above three states have been part of the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) for years, allowing them to share player pools and increase poker traffic. Michigan joined MSIGA in May, but it is still incumbent upon the poker sites to actually make shared liquidity happen. There is a WSOP.com in Michigan, but WSOP/888 have yet to combine it with the other states.

BetMGM has poker rooms in Michigan and New Jersey, which also includes the partypoker brand, but has not created its own interstate online poker network. It has been upgrading its poker software, though, reportedly in anticipation of combining player pools at some point in the future.

And then there is Pennsylvania. WSOP.com, BetMGM, and PokerStars all have sites in the Commonwealth, but because Pennsylvania is not part of the MSIGA, those poker rooms remain ring-fenced from their counterparts in other states.