A Basic FAQ To Playing Online Poker in Michigan

Written By Brant James on February 11, 2021 - Last Updated on January 26, 2022

Michigan online poker finally became a reality on Jan. 29 as PokerStars went live a week after online gambling launched – and business has been booming.

“The recent court ruling on the Wire Act out of the First Circuit provided some further cushion to the online gaming market across the country including in Michigan,” Brendan Bussmann, governmental affairs director at Global Market Advisors told PlayUSA.  “It is an opportunity compliment gaming revenue in the state include through online poker that has shown success across state borders through the compact.

“Michigan is the latest state to move forward with online gaming include poker.  It is something that multiple states may consider in the future considering the success that online gaming has proven during the Great Shutdown.”

What online poker brands are live in Michigan?

Right now PokerStars Michigan, which gained access through a partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians, is the only game in town.

Under Michigan law, three commercial casinos in Detroit and 12 tribal casino operators elsewhere are eligible for gambling licenses and will be allowed one online casino brand and one online poker brand per license, up to two total brands apiece.

What online poker brands are coming to Michigan?

BetMGM Poker Michigan has been approved for online poker, but has not announced plans to launch. The company has a retail casino in the state, the MGM Grand Detroit.

Partypoker, whose parent company is ROAR Digital, a company partly owned by MGM, is also expected to arrive in the first half of 2021.

Because operators can have up to two brands per license, watch for other popular outlets like WSOP or 888 Poker, which are up and running elsewhere.

What online poker games are available in Michigan?

Online poker is comprised of basically four types of games: cash games, sit-and-gos, spin-and-gos and multi-player tournaments. 

A rundown: 

Cash games

Log in, buy-in and play for the stakes of that game.

For No-Limit Hold’em, the stakes in Michigan range from 1 cent/ 2 cents to $25/$50, with about 30 different game options from Hold’em and Omaha to the more obscure games like Badugi and Triple Draw.

Sit and gos

The option for the time-crunched or impatient.

In essence, you face one table only, and in heads-up versions, you play just one person. There are also six-handed options. PokerStars MI has both Pot-Limit Omaha and No-Limit Hold’em Sit and Gos with buy-ins ranging from $1 to $500.

Spin and Gos

These are similar to Sit and Gos, except the prize pool will vary. The buy-in amount ranges from $1-5. Blinds escalate rapidly in tournaments and players, therefore, go all-in pretty early in games. Games can be over very quickly.

Multi-player Tournaments

These are prestige events that many players dream of when venturing into online poker. These “MTTs” are announced on a schedule like an in-person event and can boast prize pools of varying sizes depending on the amount of buy-in. It’s not unusual to see a $500 guaranteed pool.

Bigger tournaments, some with guarantees in the hundreds of thousands are held quarterly, but weekly tournaments feature guarantees around $35,000.

PokerStars CEO Kip Levin says the popular Championship of Online Poker (COOP) series will begin soon.

There’s also the Michigan Championship of Online Poker that will feature 60 events.

How to register and fund online poker accounts in Michigan

Adults 21 years of age or older and with state borders are eligible to register and play. Geolocation technology makes sure players are in-state and age-verification measures are taken by the operators at time of sign-up.

Michigan online poker operators will offer many of the same funding and withdrawal options as sports betting and online casino, including third-party payment processors like PayPal, debit or credit cards, and cash.

These are the payment methods used by PokerStars in Pennsylvania and therefore can be expected in Michigan.:

  • Instant E-checks: ACH payment
  • Skrill: A secure online third-party payment option
  • Mastercard or Visa: Credit or debit card transactions through approving issuing banks
  • Neteller: A secure online third-party payment option
  • Stars Transfer: Instant deposits with online banking
  • PayNearMe: Make a cash payment at retail locations, including 7-Eleven and CVS
  • PokerStars Play+ Card
  • Cash Deposit
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Basics of Michigan online poker play

For online poker, you can only play through a phone or computer app or a so-called “poker client” from the PokerStars Michigan website. There is no browser play.

A poker client acts as an intermediary between your computer and the one hosting the game.

Players must download the Michigan version even if they have the PokerStars.net or the New Jersey or Pennsylvania version of the client. The client has baked-in geolocation software. Sometimes downloading with an incognito browser or clearing the cache solves downloading errors.

There are restrictions unique to using the mobile app

Players are limited to how much they can play in more than one tournament or cash game at once while on a mobile device. PokerStars’ app limits users to up to five tables. Only four of those can be cash games.

Does it matter that Michigan isn’t in the multi-state compact?

A technicality involved with the writing of gaming legislation prevents Michigan from joining the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association, which allows Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey to share player pools. Pools allow for financial stability for all through greater liquidity. Pennsylvania, which launched legal online in 2019, has not joined and Richard Kalm, executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board, said not to expect his state to enter into any alliances until later in 2021.

A clause that would have facilitated an interstate compact was removed before the legislation was passed, lawmakers have said. The removal was intended to address multi-state progressive slot jackpots. 

“While Michigan is still in its infancy for online gaming, the market appears to be out of the gate with a strong start,” Bussmann said.  Getting into the multi-state poker agreement will only help enhance this market and offer those that enjoy poker a wider array of players than those just within Michigan’s borders.”

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Brant James

Brant James is a veteran journalist who has twice been recognized in the Associated Press Sports Editors Awards, most recently in 2020. He's covered motorsports, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball among a myriad of others beats and written enterprise and sports business for publications including USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com.

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