PokerStars NJ and MI To Merge Player Pools For New Year’s Bash, $150,000 GTD

Written By Hill Kerby on December 31, 2022
PokerStars NJ/MI merger

January 1, 2023, marks a big day in New Jersey’s online poker history. Come the start of the new year, PokerStars NJ will merge player pools with its Michigan-facing client, becoming the second site in New Jersey to offer interstate poker play and the first to share liquidity between the two states.

With the merge, PokerStars NJ effectively more than doubles its player pool, as PokerStars is the most popular site in Michigan. It also gains a leg up over its competitors, WSOP.com and BetMGM Poker, which still operate separately within the Garden and Mitten States.

NJ online poker players will be the biggest winners of all, though. They can look forward to bigger prize pools and more action, paving the way for more sites and states to follow.

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Registration is already open for two massive PokerStars kickoff events

Online poker players know that Sundays are the biggest days each week. Conveniently, New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday, and PokerStars will be throwing a pair of large-guarantee events to commence its new shared player pools. The PokerStars New Year’s Bash will include $150,000 in guarantees: 

  • 6 p.m. ET: $100 buy-in, $100K guaranteed
  • 6:30 p.m. ET: $10 buy-in, $50K guaranteed

Moving forward, New Jersey poker players should expect increased guarantees from what they are used to on PokerStars, perhaps even double (or triple for large-scale tournament series such as USACOOP and SCOOP). 

Can PokerStars compete with WSOP.com in New Jersey?

With PokerStars taking part in shared liquidity between New Jersey and Michigan, it joins WSOP.com NJ, which has offered interstate tournaments alongside players in Nevada since 2018.

Despite interstate online poker being legal in New Jersey, WSOP has enjoyed four-plus years of being the only online poker site in the state to take advantage. This was primarily due to WSOP being the only site in Nevada, previously the only state eligible to share liquidity for tournaments. (Delaware is also included, but only for cash games.)

WSOP’s advantage has helped it become the undisputed leading NJ online poker site, but Michigan’s entry into the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) in May 2022 was the first step in changing the landscape.

As a result, all three of New Jersey’s networks can enter into shared liquidity agreements with their Michigan counterparts. However, PokerStars is the only one jumping at the opportunity for now. 

Given New Jersey’s population of greater than 9 million, PokerStars can still look at the Garden State as an untapped market, despite being nearly seven years old. It is an established brand with a worldwide presence. Coupled with a growth mindset, PokerStars could put a dent in WSOP’s market share, especially if WSOP is late to Michigan inclusion.

Look for BetMGM to merge pools early in 2023

Even though PokerStars is the first to join forces between Michigan and New Jersey, it was not the first to update its software in preparation for the occasion.

BetMGM Poker NJ updated its software in November 2022, bringing the client up to speed with the newer Michigan and Pennsylvania platforms native to those sites when they went live in 2021. While Pennsylvania’s games remain ring-fenced indefinitely, New Jersey and Michigan’s clients are compatible to share player pools.

So, why hasn’t BetMGM beaten PokerStars to the punch here? 

These sites have more to gain by increasing their player pools, and we expect BetMGM to feel more urgency once PokerStars hits the ground running. Thus, BetMGM should be announcing merged player pools early in 2023. Anything later would be a missed opportunity.

How will shared liquidity with Michigan benefit New Jersey poker players?

Since legalizing online poker in January 2021, Michigan has grown to challenge Pennsylvania as the largest market in the nation. 

All three sites stand to experience immediate growth by combining their fields, but even more prospects exist on the horizon. The momentum from that growth cements the legitimacy of online poker to players still on the fence about playing and gives sites more ammunition to invest more capital toward advertising and major tournament series. 

PokerStars will set domestic records for its annual Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) this spring. BetMGM’s monthly series will all guarantee higher prize pools, too.

Last but not least, if WSOP can merge its NJ/NV pools with those in MI before the summer, we will have unprecedented online turnouts for tri-state bracelet events.

Regardless of the site, New Jersey online poker players can look forward to 2023 being the biggest year yet.

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