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Update (03/28/2022): WSOP Michigan is now live! This article, originally published as a launch preview last week, has been updated to reflect that the launch has occurred.
Michigan poker players have had their patience tested since the market opened 14 months ago. Unlike their peers in Pennsylvania, they got a day one PokerStars launch. Everything else they’ve hoped for has been a waiting game, however.
In particular, they’ve been waiting for the ability to play against peers in other states, and for WSOP to launch. The latter, at least, is here now here!
A representative of WSOP’s parent company Caesars informed PlayMichigan and Online Poker Report last week of its intention to go live with the new site at 10 a.m. Eastern, on Monday, March 28. We’re now pleased to report that the launch has gone ahead on schedule and without trouble.
There’s still no timeline for the beginning of multi-state poker, unfortunately. However, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) recently posted guidelines for such on its website. It’s still waiting for other states to approve its entry to the compact, but the guidelines suggest that it feels the date is approaching.
There have been false alarms and disappointments on both fronts. About a year ago, WSOP said that its launch was coming in a matter of months. The MGCB likewise said it expected to begin interstate traffic sharing before the end of 2021.
Multi-state poker is very important to WSOP’s business. At the moment, it’s the only operator able to offer shared traffic, as the compact includes only New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. WSOP and its technology partner 888poker are the only ones operating in the latter two states.
As a result, it holds the number one spot in New Jersey, whereas PokerStars is the market leader in the as-yet un-networked states, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Therefore, the delays on those two fronts are probably linked. The first months after launch often establish the tone for a new site, and WSOP would be at a competitive disadvantage without the ability to link up with other states. That it is launching now may be another indication that Michigan’s entry to the compact is in fact imminent.
However, it’s probably also not a coincidence that WSOP made another important announcement last week. In a joint press release, it revealed that it and GGPoker will be teaming up for the upcoming Ontario online gambling market. GGPoker has previously played host to WSOP tournaments for international players, but this will be the first time WSOP’s name will be applied directly to GGPoker software.
WSOP has shared a few details about what players can expect from the new site. Aside from multi-state poker, WSOP’s biggest selling point is its connection to the live World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and, by extension, multi-table tournaments more generally.
From the start, the Michigan site will have a weekly Sunday tournament with a $100 buy-in and a $50,000 guarantee. For comparison, PokerStars biggest Sunday tournament in the state is the Sunday Special with a $45,000 guarantee and $100 buy-in, while BetMGM Poker has one with a $30,000 guarantee and a $215 price tag.
Based on those numbers, WSOP clearly expects to be competitive from the start, at least in the tournament department.
Naturally, there will also be qualifiers to the live WSOP, which is back to its usual time slot this summer. WSOP is the only site legally able to offer such qualifiers, and Main Event satellites will start at $1.
Michiganders will also get a chance to compete for WSOP Circuit Rings from the comfort of their own homes. Since 2020, as a result of the COVID pandemic, WSOP has had an online version of its Circuit. The first stop in Michigan will run from April 20 to May 1 and feature combined guarantees of $350,000.
In the meantime, Wolverine State players will have PokerStars’ MICOOP to tide them over, running from March 11 through April 11.