Michigan Players Offer Insight on First Day at BetMGM; Site Announces Major $109 Event, Upcoming Series

Sean Chaffin March 23, 2021
USPoker spoke with BetMGM about what Michigan players can expect. Players also offered their impressions after the first day of play.

After one day of action at BetMGM Poker in Michigan, online players in the state now have another poker option. The expansion of the partypoker US Network offers more hope for a growing US market.

As players head to the new platform, USPoker spoke with BetMGM director of poker Ray Stefanelli about what Michigan players can expect. Players also offered their impressions of the site after the first day of play.

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What to expect from BetMGM Michigan

Michigan players have a lot to look forward to at BetMGM. Cash game players will find limits from $0.01/$0.02 to $25/$50. That includes:

Sit and Go players will find heads-up and six-max options in both No Limit Hold ‘em and PLO. Buy-ins range from $1 to $500. Daily tournaments include No Limit Hold ‘em, Limit Hold ‘em, PLO, and Seven Card Stud, from $0.25 to $535.

For players accustomed to the international partypoker software, players can expect a similar experience. In recent months, the international operator has greatly improved its software experience, including its poker app.

Stefanelli says players can expect much of that with the US BetMGM experience. However, there are some small differences.

“The platform is powered by partypoker US Network, which means that many of the partypoker software features are available for BetMGM Poker players,” he says. “Due to US market regulation, there are nuances that distinguish the US software from its international counterpart. However, much of it is consistent with offerings that are authorized in other regulated markets.”

The site is kickstarting its entry into the market with some big events. New players are eligible for a $50,000 Invitational Freeroll tournament on April 4.

On April 11, the site also hosts a $109 tournament with a $100,000 guaranteed prize pool. The event culminates with a live streamed final table on April 12.

As in New Jersey, partypoker US Network is also planning to offer its popular Online Series. The first of those festivals is set for April 18-25 with a tournament schedule complementing the daily event schedule.

There’s no word yet on shared liquidity between Michigan and New Jersey. However, partypoker sees that as the key to success in the US market. The expanding number of states can only add to that.

While New Jersey and Michigan are both running independently as ring-fenced liquidity pools, shared liquidity is core to the future of poker in the US,” Stefanelli says. “We’re committed to working with regulators to ensure this becomes a nationwide actuality.”

Michigan online poker players offer their insight on first day of play at BetMGM

As players jumped into the action at BetMGM, USPoker spoke with several about their experience on the site. Here’s a look at what they thought about their time at the tables so far.

Eric Rayner III, 41, plays poker about 20 hours a week, mostly at night after his children go to bed. He works as a vice president of sales at a home mortgage company and lives in Plymouth.

After the BetMGM launch, Rayner hit the law-stakes cash games. He played some $0.10/0.20 as well as a couple of tournaments. The BetMGM poker app continued to draw praise from several players, and that included Rayner.

“Not many people were playing because it was the first day,” he says. “My experience – on my phone it was way better than Stars. On my computer it was okay. I wish it had more options to check or call preflop.”

Henry Zou started his BetMGM experience by finishing third in the $109 daily $10,000 guaranteed event for a $1,250 score. (photo courtesy WPT)

For Henry Zou, BetMGM’s launch offered quite a score. The 60-year-old from Saginaw is disabled and poker winnings help supplement his disability income. He regularly plays tournaments with buy-ins of $100 or more.

hammerhank90” kicked off his BetMGM experience by finishing third in the $109 daily $10,000 guaranteed event. That scored a nice $1,250 in his first-ever tournament on the platform. Beyond the win, BetMGM and other sites offer more of an opportunity to play the game he loves.

While he enjoys playing live poker, being confined to a wheelchair can be a struggle. Online poker now gives him another option. Born in China, Zou was stricken with polio at age 1 and moved to the US in 2005. So far he’s pleased with BetMGM.

“It’s been good for me, since I have a disability and in a wheelchair,” he says. “But I still like live games.”

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Some criticisms of the software, app draws positive feedback

Jennie Allison, 40, lives in Sterling Heights and works in information technology (IT). She played a freeroll, finishing fifth out of about 150. Allison also played low stakes Omaha cash games at $0.01/0.02.

Mostly a live player, Allison chose to give BetMGM a shot but describes herself as just an occasional online player. She enjoyed playing but offered a few small criticisms.

“I did like that the statistics for the tournament were at the top of the screen, without getting them from the menu,” she says. “I didn’t really like the bet and call process. Once I accidentally called someone and had only intended to call the first bet, not the nearly all-in bet. It ended up being a non-issue, but I lost quite a bit of chips in that hand.”

Allison also wished the site showed who had the winning hand a bit longer. She found herself hitting the replay button often in these situations.

One positive for many players is the app experience. In several Michigan poker Facebook groups, players expressed compliments for the app’s design and gameplay.

Throughout 2019, partypoker made major efforts to improve the poker app. The new platform is designed for one-handed play and also appeals to more social gaming players. So far, that effort appears to be paying dividends with players in Michigan.

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