WSOP's Plan to Connect Michigan Online Poker with NJ and Nevada -- Here's What We Know WSOP's Plan to Connect Michigan Online Poker with NJ and Nevada -- Here's What We Know

On Thursday, we broke the story that it looked like WSOP was finally preparing for something two years in the making: To upgrade its software in Nevada and New Jersey and connect its player pool with Michigan online poker players.

As it stands today, WSOP combines its New Jersey and Nevada sites but Michigan is separate, despite the state signing an agreement permitting shared liquidity back in 2022. In January 2023, PokerStars took advantage of this and connected New Jersey with Michigan.

WSOP, to date, has not done the same. One reason for the delay was that its software in NV and NJ is on a much older version than in Michigan. Upgrading these was seen as a prerequisite.

It now looks like WSOP is going to do it all — the upgrade, and the player pooling — all in one fell swoop. And potentially very soon. It should mean that, by the time the 2024 WSOP gets underway, WSOP will be operating a three-state online poker network. The Nevada online poker software will be significantly improved, and there will be a single online bracelet series that spans all three states.

Let’s break it down.

What has actually happened?

At the time of writing, WSOP has not released any explicit statement regarding any of this. We expect an announcement soon.

But what did happen was very telling. WSOP published the schedules and terms for an upcoming WSOP Online Circuit event for May (not the online bracelet schedule for the summer — we’ll get back to that).

These pages have since been taken down. But while they were online, we gleaned five pieces of information:

  1. The planned schedules between Michigan, Nevada and New Jersey are identical, a strong hint that they will share a player pool. While matching schedules with separate networks have been done before, that Michigan is identical to MI and NV — while PA is notably different — is telling.
  2. The posted guarantees were much bigger. $640,000 is guaranteed in the schedules of these three states. A year ago in Michigan, it was half that size. That’s further evidence WSOP expects Michigan to be on a connected player pool by the time this series runs. There’s no way it could guarantee that much in Michigan if it were separate.
  3. In the T&Cs of that Thursday’s schedule leak, it states events will feature “shared liquidity with Nevada and Michigan (as permitted by law).” An odd statement for sure — no mention of NJ, which already shares liquidity with Nevada — but still making their intentions pretty clear.
  4. Mystery Bounty tournaments (MBTs) are on the schedule in NJ and Nevada for the first time. These are only possible on the more modern software.
  5. If we were still in doubt about the upgrades, one schedule page has the text “The all-new WSOP Online experience is here.”

There is one other factor to consider: That WSOP has still not announced its online bracelet schedule for this summer. This is normally released in March or early April. Its long delay is certainly because something happening behind the scenes.

That something has now taken shape. Taking all this information together, it seems certain that WSOP plans to:

  1. Upgrade the software in both Nevada and New Jersey.
  2. Connect WSOP Michigan to the existing WSOP USA network.

Of course, plans can get delayed, and this could just be hypothetical. But we believe WSOP hope that this is coming in the space of weeks, if not days.

When is this going to happen?

That’s perhaps the biggest surprise: Apparently, by May 11th, which is when this circuit series starts. That’s just two weeks away. And there’s also a strong hint that we’ll get a clear announcement on May 1.

On Thursday, WSOP guru Kevmath posited it as a date for the online bracelet schedule release. That will tip us off clearly one way or another whether WSOP expects to have connected Michigan with NJ + Nv by then.

Another clue that something will happen on May 1 is that no tournaments have been deployed in the client past this date. That might suggest the process could start then with software upgrades in New Jersey and Nevada.

Note that approval needs to be granted in both Michigan and New Jersey (and possibly Nevada). These will likely come after the software upgrade and some private testing. So this won’t all happen in the next week.

But we expect to see some concrete developments in the next week, and we now believe WSOP is hoping to have all approvals in place as soon as May 11.

What will this mean for WSOP online bracelets?

It should be a bigger schedule than previous years, with bigger prize pools and more competition.

Last year, there were seven WSOP bracelets in Michigan and 20 in Nevada and New Jersey. At a minimum, it seems fair to assume that there will be at least 25 available across these three states, but the site could go much further than this.

What’s the difference between the old and new software that’s going to roll out in Nevada and New Jersey?

The upgrade is substantial. From a user experience perspective, both the desktop and mobile clients are much nicer than the older versions. The design is much cleaner, and overall feels like a modern piece of tech. The old version is… well, it’s old. You can compare the two with the slider below.

But the upgrade is much more than skin-deep improvements. New features for users include multi-tabling and PLO on the mobile app. And it also gives the operator access to a lot of new game types, including Progressive Knockouts tournaments and Mystery Bounty tournaments.

So as soon as the new software rolls out, expect a much nicer experience, plus loads of new tournaments formats. And you’ll also be playing with a lot more players once Michigan connects.

I’m visiting Nevada for the WSOP. What does this mean for me?

If you’re also interested in playing online poker — you’re allowed to do so from the table — then know that the experience should be way better than before.

If you’ve been put off playing WSOP online at series in the past, it’s worth another try because the experience will be much better. In particular, the mobile app is significantly improved, so firing up an online bracelet event on your phone while also playing online is now a much more viable option.

Depending on where you reside, you might be able to sign up now and get your account all set for your arrival.

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I’m in Pennsylvania. What does this mean for me?

Unfortunately, this has no impact on Pennsylvania. The current regulations do not permit operators to combine player pools between PA and other states.

Pokerfuse has launched a grassroots movement to get this changed under the hashtag #GrowPAPoker. Check out that page if you want to learn how you can help spread the word and get a new bill passed so PA can join in the action.

What does this mean for other online poker sites in the US?

This certainly ups the competitive landscape of US online poker.

PokerStars has enjoyed an immense advantage among other online poker apps in Michigan as has until now offered the only connected player pool. That’s going to change very soon. We could see PokerStars really ramp up their marketing and promotions to keep players engaged.

Pressure is also really on at BetMGM Poker USA. The site is active in New Jersey and Michigan, and we are also expected them to combine player pools soon — but there have clearly been delays. Whatever is holding them up, hopefully this will be the catalyst to really push it across the line, as they will struggle to stay relevant against the mighty WSOP brand if they don’t have their own shared network.