PokerStars Michigan has taken full advantage of its monopoly in the Great Lake State by smashing the guarantee for its inaugural MTT series.
Following approval from the Michigan Gaming Control Board on Jan. 29, PokerStars became the state’s first online poker site.
It immediately laid down a marker with the Michigan Championship of Online Poker (MICOOP). The $1 million series ran from Feb. 20 to March 8 and paid out more than double its guarantee.
Staking its claim
MICOOP would have set records without surpassing initial expectations, simply by being the first major online MTT series to take place in Michigan.
However, breaking records by default isn’t PokerStars’ style, particularly given how competitive the US gaming market is becoming.
When the final chips fell, the marker laid down by MICOOP will be tough to beat. A total of 56 out of 60 tournaments exceeded their guarantees, many of them generating six-figure prize pools.
That pushed the inaugural MICOOP’s total payout to $2.2 million; more than double its guarantee and a positive sign for online poker in Michigan.
The MICOOP Main Event was the proverbial star of the show. The $300 MTT attracted 1,284 players, creating a $359,520 prize pool.
Of the nine finalists, two qualified via satellites but it was online grinder “smftt” who took the title and $56,398 after buying in directly.
MICOOP shows potential
Mass interest in Michigan’s first online MTT series was inevitable given that PokerStars is the state’s only operator at this point. However, the level of interest also demonstrates the Great Lake State’s potential as an online gaming market; a fact acknowledged by PokerStars’ Rebecca McAdam Willetts.
“We were blown away by the overwhelming support from the poker community in Michigan. We are very encouraged by the success of our inaugural MICOOP and look forward to hosting future poker events,” said the Associate Director of Consumer Engagement and Public Relations.
The biggest online poker state in the US right now is New Jersey, which has a population of 8.8 million. Michigan has a population of 9.9 million.
Comparing like-for-like at this point is unfair given that New Jersey has offered online gaming since 2013. Moreover, PokerStars is just one of many operators in the Garden State.
The most recent incarnation of NJCOOP generated a total prize pool of $1.1 million across 54 MTTs. MICOOP doubled that.
Things can, and will, almost certainly change when the likes of WSOP.com, 888poker, and Partypoker go live in Michigan. But the latest data shows that Michigan is on its way to becoming one of the leading states for online poker in the US.