PokerStars Michigan launched on January 29, and the site wasted no time bringing its flagship Championship of Online Poker (COOP) series to the Wolverine State. The inaugural MICOOP started just three weeks later, on February 20, with an announced 60 events set to run over 17 days, encompassing three weekends, culminating with the MICOOP Main Event.
Raising the Bar Immediately
An initial $1 million in guaranteed prize pools resulted in huge turnouts across the board. Participation was so high that nearly $500,000 was added to those guarantees less than a week into the series. The increase was brought about by raising guarantees in upcoming events, including fully doubling the guarantees during last weekend’s slate of tournaments (February 27-28).
The new guarantee for the series was $1,456,000, and to date, that number has already been exceeded in total money paid out to players. Through the first 45 events of the inaugural MICOOP series, $1,474,260.80 has been distributed. Further, just three of the 45 events seeing overlay. Two of those events ran last Sunday night among a slate of seven events for the day, with one being a turbo and the other being a hyper turbo. Last night’s Event #46 was also a turbo event that overlaid slightly.
Besides those three, all events featuring a standard blind structure (and all other turbos/hypers) have exceeded their guarantees, many by significant margins.
PokerStars MI Outpacing the First PACOOP
With the immediate introduction of a full series so soon after launching, PokerStars MI followed the trajectory of its domestic counterpart, PokerStars Pennsylvania. PokerStars PA went live on November 4, 2019, and held its first-ever Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker (PACOOP) later that month.
The inaugural PACOOP ran from November 30 to December 15, 2019, and featured $1 million in guarantees upon announcement.
Much like Michigan, online poker in Pennsylvania was a smash hit from the get-go. Guarantees were raised in Pennsylvania just the same, though “only” to $1,225,000. Despite having more events in its series, Michigan has had objectively more success upon launch than when Pennsylvania went live 16 months ago.
More than $1.5 million was awarded throughout the 50-event-long 2019 PACOOP, a number that Michigan is just $84K from surpassing through the first three-quarters of its series. Furthermore, the 2019 PACOOP saw 10 of its 50 events fail to meet their guarantees, meaning 20% of all tournaments in the series had overlay.
To date, only 6.5% of MICOOP events have not met their guarantees, though that number could increase or decrease depending on how this weekend’s events fare with a similar schedule to last weekend, when there were overlays in two events.
More Records Will Be Set This Weekend
Another $70K in guarantees are promised across the six events slated for March 5-6, meaning Pennsylvania’s $1.558 million in total payouts has a shot at being eclipsed even before Sunday’s $300 Main Event, which features a $200K guarantee of its own. In total, Sunday’s seven MICOOP events have $370K in guarantees, and the final two events on Monday will add another $40K to that figure.
In 2019, the $300 PACOOP Main Event had a smaller guarantee ($125,000) than Michigan’s upcoming version. It exceeded that number by 43%, drawing 640 entries and generating a total prize pool of $179,200. The MICOOP Main Event also has a price point of $300, but its $200,000 guarantee means that it will have a higher overall prize pool regardless of turnout.
With that being said, the MICOOP Main Event will need a massive turnout to break the record for the largest prize pool across any US-facing PokerStars skin. The $200 PokerStars PA “Pennsyl-MANIA” event in May 2020 doubled its $250K guarantee as 2,774 entries, created an overall prize pool of $515,964.
More than $2 million in overall prizes is almost certain for MICOOP 2021.
One interesting note regarding MICOOP is the time of year in which it is running. Historically, all COOP series have run during the fall, though it makes sense PokerStars chose to run MICOOP shortly after its Michigan debut like it did in Pennsylvania.
PokerStars also traditionally runs a springtime version of its series, appropriately named SCOOP (with the S standing for spring). Of course, spring is right around the corner, meaning another series could follow very soon. Last year, the other two stateside markets PokerStars serves in Pennsylvania, and New Jersey ran their SCOOPS overlapping from April 4-20 and April 11-27, respectively. No announcement has been made for 2021 yet, but similar dates would be just a month out.
Finally, Michigan online poker law explicitly had the possibility of interstate poker written into it. Operators must wait 90 days before exploring shared player pools with other markets, meaning Michigan could join forces with either New Jersey or Pennsylvania come April 29. It’s unlikely to occur in time for a SCOOP event, but the possibility is on the table in the future.