BetMGM Poker's first-ever live poker tournament beat its $1 million guarantee*. The success of the four-day tournament in Las Vegas also boosted speculation that BetMGM Poker NV — a project long-rumored to be in the works — could be closer to reality.
The premiere BetMGM Poker Championship, held at the ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas from June 23 to June 26, drew a total of 343 players. The tournament’s popularity ultimately pushed the prize pool up to $1,097,600. The top 44 finishers took home prize money.
Another factor that helped propel the BetMGM tournament was that it headlined the ARIA Poker Classic, a more extensive series that began on June 1 and wraps on July 17.
The BetMGM Poker Championship represented the operator’s second crack at running a major online satellite campaign across Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania — the other states where it offers online poker. Its first campaign supported March Poker Mania, a series held in the three states mentioned above in March.
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Series Shows BetMGM’s Potential to Challenge WSOP/888
For BetMGM, the live series provided a rare opportunity to see how it could give the rival WSOP/888 Network some severe competition.
WSOP NV is currently the only online poker operator in Nevada. The brand’s monopoly started in 2014, when the state’s first online poker room, Ultimate Bet, ceased operations.
Nevada is one of four states to have signed the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), which allows operators to combine player pools with those in Delaware, Michigan, and New Jersey and share liquidity. Michigan joined the interstate compact in May and is currently working on getting its three online poker operators, including BetMGM, on completing a handful of requirements before authorizing interstate play.
To date, the WSOP/888 Network is the only operator able to take advantage of being in all four MSIGA states. The network includes WSOP NJ and 888poker NJ, WSOP NV in Nevada, and three racinos in Delaware running 888poker software with racino-branded skins.
A new entity, potentially called the partypoker US Network, could link BetMGM Poker MI and its counterparts in New Jersey that form the BetMGM NJ Network — specifically, BetMGM Poker NJ, Borgata Poker NJ, and partypoker NJ.
While a four-room poker network across two states could blunt WSOP/888 to a degree, the prospect of a five-room poker network that spans three states would make the BetMGM brand — a 50-50 joint venture between Entain and MGM Resort International — more competitive. Hence, the allure of a BetMGM Poker NV launch.
Weissman Draws Royal Flush on the Way to Tournament Win
Joey Weissman of New York won the BetMGM Poker Championship and took home $224,236. The poker pro scored three final table knockouts, including a royal flush. Paul Hoefer of Germany was second with $159,152 in winnings and was the only player from outside the US to make it to the final table of six players. Noel Rodriguez of California finished third and won $104,272.
Benji Felson, an online qualifier from New Jersey, finished fifth. BetMGM said the New Jersey resident was able to turn “a $500 online tournament into a Las Vegas poker package before securing a spot at the final table.” Felson ultimately took home a $51,587 payout.