showdown

Dreamstime/Johannes Gerhardus Swanepoel

Many American poker players are down in Las Vegas at the moment, enjoying the World Series of Poker. Those that aren’t still have a couple of good tournament options in late October, however, provided that they live in a state with legal online poker.

The PokerStars US Championships of Online Poker (NJCOOP, MICOOP and PACOOP) may have been last month, but that doesn’t mean the fun is over. It’s now BetMGM Poker‘s turn, with the latest installment of its Online Series. In Michigan and Pennsylvania, these will run from Oct. 24-31, while the New Jersey series starts this week and ends just as the others wrap up.

All three guarantee six figures total. The exact amount depends on the state:

  • $175,000 in New Jersey
  • $180,000 in Pennsylvania
  • $230,000 in Michigan

PokerStars isn’t sitting the month out, however. On Oct. 24, the same day the bigger two Online Series kick off and the New Jersey series concludes, it’s bringing back its Michigan Classic, New Jersey Classic, and Pennsyl-Mania. Each of these is a one-off event, but they’re big ones. In two of the three states, the guarantee for PokerStars’ single event exceeds that of the entire BetMGM series:

  • $100,000 in New Jersey
  • $350,000 in Pennsylvania
  • $250,000 in Michigan

BetMGM Online Series, October edition

BetMGM has a clear strategy when it comes to online tournament series. It has made them small, frequent, consistent, and focused on the mid range of buy-ins.

The particulars vary a little, but they tend to be monthly affairs with around 10 events on the schedule, give or take. Most of these are No-Limit Hold’em events with buy-ins of $109, $215 or $320. On each schedule, there’s usually one lower buy-in event, one high roller, and one Pot-Limit Omaha event.

BetMGM has been very conservative with its guarantees this time around. In Michigan, its best state currently, its series have often pulled in prize pools over $300,000. Its best to date, in August, generated over $430,000. Nonetheless, October’s combined guarantees of $230,000 are its lowest yet.

It may be worried about running overlays as it did with some of its early series, particularly the inaugural Pennsylvania series. The ongoing WSOP is likely a factor as well, since many of the most dedicated tournament players will be out of state for that.

Schedules for the three series are at the bottom of the article.

PokerStars Classics may help retain players

PokerStars is likewise scaling back guarantees for most of its one-off tournaments. The last time these events ran was also simultaneous, on April 4. The New Jersey Classic’s guarantee is unchanged at $100,000, but Michigan’s has dropped from $400,000 to $250,000, and Pennsyl-Mania’s from $500,000 to $350,000. Here too, the absence of players for the WSOP is likely one concern, with fatigue from September’s COOPs being another.

All of these tournaments are two-day affairs with $300 buy-ins. PokerStars has experimented with $200 and $500 buy-ins in the past, in some states, but $300 appears to be the new normal. Both the Michigan Classic and Pennsyl-Mania ran at that price point in April, while the New Jersey Classic went up to $500 for that edition.

There are no coincidences when it comes to tournament scheduling. It is surely intentional that PokerStars has elected to run the fall edition of these events concurrently with the beginning of BetMGM’s Online Series. It’s an aggressive strategy that was common at one time in the international market.

For instance, in 2017 and 2018, PokerStars, PartyPoker and 888poker were all running their biggest international series in direct competition with one another. Partypoker in particular was trying to pull high volume players away from PokerStars at that time.

In strict revenue terms, this seems like a mutually destructive idea, since most players won’t play tournaments on two different sites at the same time. However, collecting tournament fees isn’t necessarily the main point of a tournament series from the operator’s perspective. They also serve an important marketing role, as the big prize pools are a draw which lead players to redeposit or even sign up for a new site.

Given that online poker isn’t a growing industry in 2021, battling for share of the existing market is of paramount importance. The PokerStars one-off events have a similar buy-in but much larger guarantee than the events on BetMGM’s schedules. By running them just as the latter’s series kick off, PokerStars may be hoping to give its players a reason to stick around rather than trying their luck at BetMGM.

Schedules

Details for the three PokerStars events are as follows:

State Date Buy-In Format Guarantee
New Jersey Oct. 24-25 $300 Main Event Structure NLHE $100k
Pennsylvania Oct. 24-25 $300 Main Event Structure NLHE $350k
Michigan Oct. 24-25 $300 Main Event Structure NLHE $250k

Meanwhile, here are the schedules for all three BetMGM Poker series.

New Jersey

# Date Buy-In Format Guarantee
1 Oct. 17 $215 8-Max NLHE $40k
2 Oct. 18 $109 8-Max NLHE $10k
3 Oct. 19 $215 8-Max NLHE $20k
4 Oct. 20 $109 6-Max PLO $10k
5 Oct. 21 $109 Deep Stack 8-Max NLHE $10k
6 Oct. 22 $215 8-Max NLHE $20k
7 Oct. 23 $109 Turbo 6-Max NLHE $10k
8 Oct. 24 $20 8-Max NLHE $5k
9 Oct. 24 $535 8-Max NLHE Bounty $50k

Pennsylvania

# Date Buy-In Format Guarantee
1 Oct. 24 $215 8-Max NLHE $35k
2 Oct. 24 $20 8-Max NLHE $5k
3 Oct. 25 $109 8-Max NLHE $10k
4 Oct. 26 $215 6-Max NLHE $15k
5 Oct. 27 $109 6-Max PLO $10k
6 Oct. 28 $320 8-Max NLHE PKO $20k
7 Oct. 29 $109 Turbo 6-Max NLHE $10k
8 Oct. 30 $215 6-Max NLHE $15k
9 Oct. 31 $109 8-Max NLHE $30k
10 Oct. 31 $1,060 8-Max NLHE $50k

Michigan

# Date Buy-In Format Guarantee
1 Oct. 24 $215 8-Max NLHE $40k
2 Oct. 24 $20 8-Max NLHE $10k
3 Oct. 25 $215 8-Max NLHE PKO $20k
4 Oct. 26 $109 6-Max NLHE $10k
5 Oct. 27 $215 8-Max NLHE $20k
6 Oct. 28 $109 8-Max PLO $10k
7 Oct. 29 $109 Turbo 6-Max NLHE $10k
8 Oct. 30 $320 8-Max NLHE PKO $20k
9 Oct. 31 $215 8-Max NLHE $40k
10 Oct. 31 $1,060 8-Max NLHE $50k





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