The shared-market PokerStars action between Michigan and New Jersey went live on Sunday with two special events as well as other tournaments and cash game action.
Online poker players took to the site on Sunday with many reporting nice numbers and seeing players they hadn’t seen before. The site seemed to have no trouble meeting tournament guarantees as well, according to players on the site.
The merger comes after Michigan joined the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) in May. The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) granted approval Dec. 20. Several players spoke with USPoker on Monday about what they’ve observed on the merged platform so far.
Inside the PokerStars New Jersey-Michigan experience
PokerStars announced the merger of the company’s Michigan and New Jersey platforms in December. This is the first US operator to include Michigan in a shared-market platform. It’s also only the second combined platform in the US with WSOP.com as the first (Nevada, New Jersey, and with 88poker in Delaware).
Players on the site were greeted with two special events on Sunday with a total guarantee of $150,000. The debut Michigan/New Jersey event featured a $100 buy-in with a $100,000 guarantee. The $10 version came with a $50,000 guarantee.
Bobby Novotny, 34, was one of those jumping in the MI-NJ PokerStars events on Day 1. He was pleased with the first day of play between the two markets.
Novotny was fairly active on the first day, playing the $30 Warmup, the two special events, and some other tournaments. He found a sixth-place finish in the $30 Nightly Turbo for $300. The online grinder noticed that all the events he played met their guarantees.
“I thought it was a major win for both states overall,” said Novotny, who lives in Holly, Michigan, and works as a water jet operator. “Combined player pools definitely brought out players that haven’t played in months and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
🔥 Day 2 of the PA Spacial sees 68 players return for a chance at the 💰 $16,048.76 winner's prize. 🔥
foodcookssteve has a slight chip lead.
Thanks to the 1,088 entrants that generated a prize pool of $99,878.40 🤝
Who do you think will win tonight? 👇 pic.twitter.com/jlIdd5OCXH
— PokerStarsUSA (@PokerStarsUSA) January 2, 2023
Michigan players on first day of shared liquidity
Other players echoed some of Novothy’s thoughts on the experience. Ron Wren, 46, lives in Novi, Michigan, and usually plays online on weekends and some select tournaments during the week.
Overall, he gave the first day high ratings. He played a few tournaments, including the Mini Sunday and a regular Pot Limit Omaha event, while also grinding some cash games.
“It kind of felt like the PokerStars of old,” said Wren, who works as a construction worker. “Way bigger fields than normal. Nothing like pre-Black Friday, but it did feel similar.”
Unfortunately, Wren ran pocket Kings into pocket Aces in the Mini. Despite that setback, he plans to be back at the tables soon and has enjoyed the experience so far.
“I prefer live cash over the Internet,” he said. “But with the merger, I plan on playing more tournaments online.”
Eric Rayner 41, lives in Plymouth, Michigan, and works as vice president of sales at a home mortgage company. He jumped on the virtual felt on Day 1 and was glad to see field sizes receive a significant bump. However, Rayner noticed that the full slate of tournaments may not be available yet.
“It’s nice to add more players to the mix, but the morning and mixed-game tournaments are missing,” he said. “So it’s been just PLO cash for me so far. But it’s nice to have new faces at the table.”
Other players also express sentiments regarding a reduced schedule on social media. Rayner is hoping to see more in the coming days.
That wasn’t the only criticism. K.C. Vaughan, 42, lives in Gagetown, Michigan, and plays poker full time. He wished Stars would make some adjustments so that bigger tournaments don’t run so late.
“I hate how the tournaments start so late on a Sunday,” he said. “I don’t want to be up until 2 or 3 am playing tournaments and don’t see why they can’t start at 2-4 pm. 3,000-plus players and late registration for three and half hours for a $10 buy-in is crazy.”
First look at the new @PokerStarsUSA tournaments and I tournament buy ins are lowered. But guarantees are higher.
— BeefyJermz (@PokerJermz) January 1, 2023
New Jersey players pleased with PokerStars platform
Michigan players weren’t the only ones happy about the rollout. Garden State grinders also expressed their thoughts about a smooth launch and having a second multi-state option.
Pierre Diessler, 50, is retired and lives in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. He plays every Sunday and a bit during the week. On Day 1 of interstate play, he played the two special events and thinks the launch was successful overall.
“I enjoyed it,” he said. “I’m happy it all went off without an issue as far as I know. Hoping that this continues and other sites jump on. Bigger fields obviously bring bigger prize pools, which is nice. PokerStars still needs to tweak a few things with the structures and it would be great.”
Bill Grzyb, 42, lives in Clark, New Jersey, and works as a supervisor at a payroll company. He plays about four hours a day when not working. Sunday proved to be a nice online poker experience for him.
“I thought it was great,” he said. “The larger tournaments ran very smoothly without a hiccup. It was great to see US poker having some larger buy-ins and fielding a tournament with over 6,000 people. It truly shows poker is alive and well in the US.”