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What’s PokerStars without a COOP?

We all knew it was coming, and less than two weeks after PokerStars went live in Michigan, PokerStars confirmed everyone’s expectations, announcing the first Michigan Championship of Online Poker (MICOOP). The Wolverine State’s “COOP” will run February 20 through March 8 and will have $1 million in total guaranteed prize pools.

MICOOP will have 60 events, more than either PACOOP (Pennsylvania), which had 50 events in its last run, and NJCOOP (New Jersey), which had 54. It is a relatively low buy-in series, with prices ranging from $10 to $500. Upon a quick glance of the PokerStars Michigan lobby, the most common buy-ins seem to be $50 and $100.

The $300 MICOOP Main Event is a two-day affair beginning March 7. It has a $125,000 guaranteed prize pool. Also on March 7 is the Mini-Main Event with a $50 buy-in and a $35,000 guarantee. This one looks like it might only be a single day tournament, as there is nothing mentioned about a Day 2 in the tourney lobby (whereas Day 2 is mentioned for the Main Event).

“As the sole online and mobile poker product in Michigan, our commitment and investment in PokerStars is vital as we aim to bring all aspects of a great customer experience to the poker community,” said FOX Bet CEO Kip Levin. “We are excited for Michiganders to join our most popular series and crown our first big winner who will join in the prestigious footsteps of other Championship Of Online Poker (COOP) champions.”

As PokerStars often does, it is offering Second Chance Freerolls to all MICOOP participants. Anyone who fails to cash in a MICOOP event will earn a free entry into these daily freerolls, which award seats into other MICOOP events.

Michigan online poker a welcome sight

PokerStars surprised a lot of people when it went live in Michigan on Friday, January 29, becoming the first online poker room in the state. A week earlier, the state’s internet gaming industry launched with nearly a dozen online casino and sports betting sites flipping their switches in a coordinated launch.

Stars was not one of those sites and with no online poker rooms taking off that first day, it was assumed that it would be a while before we would see any. Online poker is usually below casino and sports betting on a state’s priority list because it is less profitable than the other games, it attracts fewer players because of the skill barrier to entry, and it is more complicated to setup and test.

But PokerStars knew something we did not and put a pep into Michigan poker players’ steps as the month came to a close.

The two questions are now what other poker rooms will launch in Michigan and when will interstate poker be available? To the first question, WSOP.com has already hinted that a Michigan franchise is coming this year, and partypoker – part of the BetMGM family – seems like a good bet at this point. As for multistate poker, it is permitted by Michigan gaming law, but all we know so far is that Michigan has talked to New Jersey about it. PokerStars has a site in New Jersey, so an interstate network would work.

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February 10, 2021
Tournaments & Cash Games

PokerStars Michigan is laying down a marker in the Wolverine State with the first in what’s likely to be a string of big-money festivals.
PokerStars Michigan is striking hard and fast with a $1 million guaranteed festival known as MICOOP. (Image: MelissaMN/Adobe Stock)
Just 12 days after launching in Michigan, PokerStars is setting the bar high with one of its famous COOP events.
The inaugural Michigan Championship of Online Poker (MICOOP) will get underway on February 20 and feature a $1 million guaranteed prizepool.
PokerStars Michigan Goes in Hard
PokerStars is currently the only online poker site live in Michigan. However, with 888 waiting in the wings and GGPoker potentially making its US debut this year, its tournament team aren’t wasting any time.
MICOOP will carry on a tradition that’s seen PokerStars obtain an early lead in Pennsylvania and make up for lost time in New Jersey.
The strength of COOP events is their consistency. PokerStars has used the same model across a variety of markets for more than a decade. As such, the team knows what events to offer and how to schedule them.

There will be 60 MTTs between February 20 and March 8. Buy-ins range from $10 to $500, and there will be a mixture of freezeouts, re-entry, and progressive KO tournaments across all variants.

The MICOOP main event will cost $300 and feature a $125,000 guarantee. It will be flanked by a $50 mini main event with a $35,000 guarantee.
Finally, satellites starting at $2 are already underway to get more players into the mix ahead of the start.
MICOOP Will Set the Bar in Michigan
PokerStars doesn’t have to worry about attracting players in Michigan just yet. It’s the lone operator and the early signs are positive.
After less than two weeks of activity, the site already has a seven day average of 450 players, according to PokerScout. For context, that’s more players than it attracts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Naturally, numbers could dip when the monopoly is broken. However, Kevin Lip, CEO of PokerStars’ partner FOX Bet, is well aware of this.
“As the sole online and mobile poker product in Michigan, our commitment and investment in PokerStars is vital as we aim to bring all aspects of a great customer experience,” Lip said in a February 9 press release.
Setting the bar higher than others can reach will be important, particularly if GGPoker joins the party.
GGPoker Could Shake Things Up
2020’s standout performer may have run into some issues over in the UK recently, but it continues to impress. Now, industry talk suggests that GGPoker will be licensed in Pennsylvania by the end of the week.
That would be the company’s first move into the US market. From there, it may only be a matter of time before it targets Michigan and other states.

That could be a problem for PokerStars. GGPoker is currently the third largest poker site in the world by seven day averages. However, in terms of average players online simultaneously, its 100,000+ total is double that of PokerStars.

The conditions in Michigan will be different to what they are internationally. As well as being a ring-fenced market, GGPoker hasn’t been around as long as PokerStars.
As such, it doesn’t have the same reputation. Indeed, American players have been exposed to PokerStars in one way or another since the early noughties. That could play into its favor.
What’s clear though is that no one is taking any chances. MICOOP will be great value for local players but it could be even more valuable for PokerStars in the long run.

Written by

Daniel Smyth

Dan Smyth is a poker media journeyman who politely reminds CardsChat readers that poker is played all around the world, not just America.

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