There is good news for United States online poker players who are looking to play in bigger player pools, as the two states Michigan and New Jersey will be merging on PokerStars in 2023. It’s the first time for 12 years that players in The Great Lake State and The Garden State will have been able to play together and it’s a cause of celebration.

PokerStars Leading the ‘Race for States’

“Michigan and New Jersey joining forces is great news… for poker.”

Approximately half a century ago, American and Russia were locked in the ‘Race for Space’ as each country looked to be the first to land on the moon. The battle for online poker supremacy may be slightly lower down the list of priorities but it is vital to players and PokerStars are determined to capture as many new players as possible with this move.

“Michigan and New Jersey joining forces is great news for our players in these two states, and poker, more generally,” the PokerStars Managing Director in the United States, Severin Rasset, said. “As it promises a better experience and even more value, all with the confidence provided by a trusted, licensed operator.”

With PokerStars back online in New Jersey since 2016, it’s been a long time coming that the first state to welcome back online poker after Black Friday in 2011 gets to play in conjunction with another U.S. state. Michigan only returned to online poker action in January 2021, and two years on from that moment they’ll be back in bigger player pools.

Two Special New Year Events to Welcome Players

“We are offering generous guarantees on our debut multi-state tournaments.”

PokerStars are no fools and they are putting on two special events in order to win over as many players as they can from both Michigan and New Jersey. As Rasset explained to PokerNews this week, players will love the changes being made.

“Our community will experience more breadth and depth of games,” he said. “More tournaments with bigger prizes to win, amped-up promotions, and more choice. To kick start, we are offering generous guarantees on our debut multi-state tournaments, that will no doubt provide lots of value for those who take to the tables.”

This shared liquidity will see players enjoy ‘industry-leading security and gaming integrity tools’ on New Year’s Day. Kicking off at 6pm local time, a $100-entry event with a $100,000 guarantee will be followed by a $10 buy-in event with a $50,000 guarantee. Expect the world and his wife to play that one. Registration for both events opens on December 27th.

Could the Move Indicate a Wider Return for U.S. Online Poker?

The partnership between Michigan and New Jersey could well lead to other states ‘buddying up’ and joining forces to merge player pools. If so, then the pressure really will escalate on the senate to improve plans to bring online poker back to the masses.

It’s been the best part of 12 years since Black Friday saw the U.S. Government, under Barack Obama’s stewardship, close down sites such as Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and everyone in between. It was devastating at the time; players who ran their lives as a professional poker player had to change vast plans across multiple areas of their lives.

If Michigan and New Jersey players bolster the player pools over the first few weeks of 2023 and regulators are happy with what they see, who knows where online poker could be opened up next in the United States of America. The ‘land of the free’ might apply to the online poker streets once again.

Joe Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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