Throughout its first year, PokerStars MI has been the top dog in the Mitten State — the site has undoubtedly been a success, but it is hard to know exactly how much of a success.
Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) — Michigan’s state regulatory agency — only declares combined revenue from poker and casino, rather than treating the two verticals separately. Ergo, it is impossible to ascertain how much revenue comes directly from poker.
PokerStars MI: Key Moments in 2021
|Jan 29||PokerStars MI goes live, becoming Michigan’s first online poker room|
|Feb 20||The Inaugural MICOOP gets underway — exceeds all expectations|
|Feb 21||Traffic peaks at 540 concurrent cash game players|
|Mar 22||BetMGM Poker MI launches|
|Apr 4||PokerStars MI hosts the $500,000 GTD Michigan Classic, the biggest tournament ever in the state|
|May 8||PokerStars runs MISCOOP which generates $2.3 million in prizes|
|Sep 10||The operator launches another MICOOP — its third series to exceed $1.5 million in 8 months|
|Nov 23||BetMGM runs End Boss Series, featuring new ambassador Darren Elias|
In addition to non-specific data, there are other factors that prohibit an accurate evaluation of PokerStars MI's performance. To start, the operator has remained largely unchallenged in the jurisdiction, so it is difficult to make comparisons with anyone else.
By that time PokerStars had already established itself as a powerful force in the marketplace. Michiganders had waited 9 long years for an online poker room and they were clearly quite eager to get back to the virtual tables.
A mere week after launching, PokerStars MI was already averaging more than 400 concurrent players — the highest traffic of any site in the whole of the US.
Moreover, it maintained this volume for two and a half more months — four weeks of which was after BetMGM’s MI launch. Traffic peaked at 540 in February, and never once dipped below 400 prior to April 16.
PokerStars’ Debut MICOOP Goes Stratospheric
The year’s performance as a whole may be hard to measure, but PokerStars’ inaugural MICOOP was, without doubt, an unqualified success. The numbers surprised everyone, not least the operator itself, which was forced to inflate tournament guarantees, over and over again.
The series — which had initially promised a total of $1 million in prizes — pulled in more than double that, eventually generating $2.2 million. The operator ran MISCOOP just two months later. Proving the debut series was no fluke, it went one better, topping its original $2 million guarantee and generating $2.3 million.
By the middle of June, PokerStars’ ring game numbers had fallen to around 200 concurrent players, while BetMGM was averaging roughly 70. Those stats have remained fairly steady ever since. The most recent figures — from Sunday, January 30, 2022 — show PokerStars at 205 and BetMGM at 66.
The Stars’ iconic tournaments continued to perform well all year round. The Michigan Classic set a record for the state with its $500,000 prize pool. While the Fall Fest, the Champions Preseason, and September’s COOP were all hugely successful series.
Tougher Challenges Ahead
PokerStars is likely to face much stiffer competition in Michigan throughout 2022. BetMGM MI appears to be gaining some traction, with its policy of running tournament series on an almost monthly basis.
The appointment of Darren Elias as a partypoker brand ambassador, and his debut End Boss series in November, has set the tone for what is to come in 2022. The $1060 Main Event generated $113,000, a figure any operator would be proud of.
But perhaps the greatest concern to PokerStars MI will be the long-awaited arrival of a new competitor — WSOP MI. The Michigan launch of poker powerhouse WSOP has been touted for almost a year now. On several occasions, its launch has seemed imminent, only for the date to be pushed back yet again.
However, it seems almost inevitable that the site will go live at some point this year — and others may follow. Another story that seems sure to further develop in 2022, is the very real prospect of interstate shared liquidity.
It may be that WSOP is waiting for that to happen before going live in Michigan. It currently has the country’s only shared liquidity arrangement – pooling players in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. While the operator has said it plans to launch with or without shared liquidity, the chance to add a fourth jurisdiction to that group would be a major plus for WSOP MI and would certainly help MI’s newest poker room get off to a running start and give it a solid competitive edge.
2021 turned out to be a relatively quiet year for online poker in Michigan. It may only be February, but 2022 already looks like it will shape up to be a whole lot busier.