Move over, WSOP. There’s going to be a new multi-state poker network in town.
On Friday, Dec 9, PokerStars announced that it would shut down for two days starting Monday, Dec 11, for a major server update.
When it comes back online on Wednesday, it will be ready to share traffic with PokerStars Michigan.
The new network won’t go live right away, however. PokerStars’ announcement didn’t specify an exact date for the start of shared liquidity. However, it did use the phrase “in the coming weeks,” so it seems likely that Michigan and New Jersey will link up either over the holidays or early in the New Year.
As the company explains:
The upgrade is a necessary milestone to bring you more games, bigger prize pools & guarantees in poker tournaments so New Jersey and Michigan poker players can compete against one another in the near future.
The shutdown will impact the weekly tournament schedule and the 25 Days of Poker promotion. However, PokerStars has said that opted-in players will still receive all the promotional rewards they’re entitled to after the site is back online.
PokerStars Casino and Fox Bet will also be inaccessible during the server update.
Will Shared Liquidity Impact the NJ Poker Power Rankings?
In other states, PokerStars is far and away the market leader in poker, as measured by cash game traffic. PokerScout, which tracks traffic using data from GameIntel, shows it as being as large as WSOP and BetMGM Poker combined in Michigan and twice their combined size in Pennsylvania.
However, things have played out differently here in New Jersey, which launched over half a decade before either of those states.
WSOP was live from the start in 2013, while PokerStars only arrived in 2015. Around the same time, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement earned entry to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA).
Between its head start and the ability to offer multi-state poker, WSOP has been the clear traffic leader in NJ. PokerStars has generally been second, only slightly ahead of the BetMGM/Partypoker network.
However, at the moment, PokerStars Michigan has many more players than PokerStars NJ. Combining the two will almost triple the number of cash game tables New Jersey players have access to and probably have a similarly dramatic impact on tournament prize pools.
In the process, it will become comparable in size to WSOP’s tristate network.
Can WSOP Compete With a Multi-State PokerStars?
Pennsylvania has also considered joining the MSIGA, though it’s still far off. PokerStars’ dominance is the greatest there, so adding the Keystone State would firmly place it in the top spot.
Even before then, PokerStars may begin to outcompete WSOP in New Jersey. The question is how much of WSOP’s current popularity stems from it being the only option for playing against opponents in other states.
No matter what happens, though, WSOP has one thing going for it, which PokerStars never will. That is its connection with the live World Series of Poker. For those who want to compete for a WSOP Gold Bracelet or WSOP Circuit Ring, it will remain the only game in town.
Due to the brand’s cachet, those tournaments are also likely to continue producing the largest prize pools in US online poker. However, it may mean that WSOP.com becomes more of a seasonal destination for bracelet-hunters while PokerStars dominates cash game traffic for the rest of the year.