Beginner’s Guide To Online Poker

Michigan’s legal mobile poker market could evolve into one of the most extensive online poker networks in the US. The launch of PokerStars MI in January 2021 marked the start of a new era of regulated online poker in Michigan.

BetMGM Poker joined the Michigan market on March 22, 2021, using the partypoker platform players are used to in New Jersey and worldwide.

Michigan’s multijurisdictional online poker bill allows state-regulated poker sites to join player pools in other states. That stance on interstate poker could lead to Michigan’s poker sites joining with player pools in New Jersey and other states.

How To Play No-Limit Texas Hold’em

Texas Hold’em represents the most popular poker game in the world, by far. Most of the games found at Michigan’s online poker sites play as No-Limit Texas Hold’em.

A Texas Hold’em game starts with each player dealt two cards, face down. These cards are known as “hole cards” and are only viewable to the player in which they’re dealt.

Once all players have been dealt two hole cards, the pre-flop betting round begins. All players at the table get the chance to either call (match the amount of the largest previous bet), raise (increase the amount of the largest previous bet), or fold (surrender their hole cards and wait for the next hand).

The Flop

Texas Hold’em requires players to make the best possible five-card hand out of their two hole cards and five community cards dealt on the board.

After the pre-flop betting round is complete, the dealer puts the first three of those five community cards on the board. These three cards are known as the “flop.”

When the flop hits the board, another betting round begins. The first remaining player to act gets the option to either check (bet nothing and pass the action to the next player) or bet.

Each subsequent player can either call (or check if the previous player checked) or raise the bet amount. Like the preflop betting round, this process continues clockwise around the table until each active player gets the chance to call or raise any previous bet.

The Turn And The River

After the flop betting round completes, a fourth community card is dealt on the board. This card is known as the turn or fourth street.

Another betting round commences after the turn, after which the dealer puts the fifth and final community card on the board. This card, known as the river (or fifth street), kicks off a final betting round.

After the river betting round is complete, the remaining player with the strongest hand, according to the standard poker hand rankings, wins the pot.

The Blinds And The Button

When checking out the games at PokerStars MI, you’ll see games notated as $0.50/$1, $1/$2, and so on. These notations indicate the amount of the small blind and big blind in a particular game.

The blinds are mandatory bets that rotate around the table, moving one player clockwise after each hand. In the preflop betting round, the action begins with the player to the immediate left of the big blind.

For example, in a $1/$2 No-Limit Hold’em game, the player to the big blind’s left begins the pre-flop betting round with the option to either call the $2 big blind amount, raise it to a bigger amount, or fold. The skill level of your opponents will generally be higher in games with bigger blinds.

When starting off in poker, you should begin at the lowest of stakes. Playing at $0.01/$0.02, for instance, puts you in a pool that’s much easier to navigate when compared to playing $1/$2.

The big blind always sits to the immediate left of the small blind. In a $1/$2 game, the small blind is $1.

The button sometimes referred to as the “dealer,” is always one position to the left of the small blind. In all betting rounds after preflop, the player on the button is the last to act.

Sitting on the button gives you a huge advantage in Texas Hold’em, as you get to see what every other player does before you have to act.

Pot-Limit Omaha And Other Games

No-Limit Hold’em stands as the most popular poker variant in the world. Most of the games you’ll find at Michigan’s online poker sites play as No-Limit Hold’em, but several other game variants also await on the game menu.

Pot-Limit Omaha plays similar to No-Limit Hold’em, but with a few differences. Players are dealt four hole cards in Pot-Limit Omaha and must make the best possible five-card hand using exactly two of those hold cards and three community cards.

Pot-Limit Omaha uses a pot-limit betting structure. Any game using pot-limit rules mandates that the maximum allowed raise can only be equal to the amount of the pot.

Other games you might find at Michigan’s online poker rooms include Limit Hold’em, Stud, Badugi, Triple Draw, and several others. These game types aren’t nearly as popular as No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha, however.

Cash Games

All poker games, whether online or live, either play as cash games or tournaments. Cash games run around the clock at Michigan’s online poker rooms at a variety of stakes.

In a cash game, you buy-in for an amount of money within an allowed range, depending on the table stakes. The chips (whether physical chips or virtual currency) in front of you are equivalent to cash, and you can sit down or stand up from the table at any time.

The buy-in range for a cash game depends on the table stakes. The amount of the big blind in a cash game determines the stakes.

For example, if you click on a $0.50/$1 No-Limit Hold’em cash game at PokerStars MI, you’ll notice that the buy-in range is $40-$100. That means you can enter the game with any buy-in amount within that range.

The $0.50/$1 notation represents the amount of the small blind and big blind. The cash games at PokerStars start at $0.01/$0.02 stakes and go up to $25/$50.

The max buy-in for a cash game generally caps at 100 times the big blind. For example, $0.01/$0.02 games cap the buy-in at $2, while $25/$50 stakes the maximum buy-in would be $5,000.

When starting out as a poker player, you should begin at the lowest stakes. When you can solidly beat a stake, try moving up to the next stake.

The competition gets tougher as you move up the ladder, so you don’t want to jump right into high-stakes games when you’re starting out at one of Michigan’s online poker sites.

Tournaments

Multi-table tournaments represent the world’s most popular way to play poker. Major international events like the World Series of Poker feature games in the tournament format.

Tournaments offer a set buy-in price, with all players receiving the same amount of the chips. Unlike in a cash game, tournament chips don’t carry any cash value.

When you run out of chips in a multi-table tournament, you’re eliminated from play. The object of a poker tournament is to last as long as possible.

In all tournaments, a certain percentage of the field gets paid, while all other players lose their buy-in. Michigan’s poker sites feature a daily schedule of tournaments, as well as special series like the PokerStars Michigan Championship of Online Poker (MICOOP).

For example, the 2021 MICOOP Main Event featured a $300 buy-in. A total of 1,284 entries registered for the tournament and the final 179 players made it into the money.

The 1,284 entries created a total prize pool of $359,520 and all players that made it to the payout structure earned at least $649. The eventual winner took home $56,398, making a massive return on investment from the $300 buy-in.

Spin & Go

PokerStars MI offers a tournament variant known as Spin & Go, and other poker sites often feature this tournament type under different names.

A Spin & Go plays as a single-table, three-player tournament. Buy-ins range from $1 to $25, and before each tournament starts, a random spin determines the prize pool.

For example, a $10 buy-in Spin & Go can award up to $10,000. The random spin yields a wide range of potential payouts, and each tournament usually lasts only a few minutes.

Welcome Bonuses At Michigan Poker Sites

Legal online gambling sites generally offer welcome bonuses that award free credits to new players. BetMGM Poker is offering $25 of free credit, plus a 100% deposit match bonus up to $600.

PokerStars MI also extends a welcome promotion that includes a 100% deposit match bonus up to $600.

The deposit match bonus matches your first deposit with an equal amount of free poker credits, up to a max of $600. Like most deposit match bonuses, these offers come with a playthrough requirement, unlocking portions of the bonus depending on how much you play.

For example, the PokerStars MI bonus unlocks $0.35 of the bonus for every $1 you pay in rake. You pay rake every time you enter a tournament or play a pot in a cash game.

Once you’ve made your first deposit, you have 120 days to unlock as much of the bonus as possible through playing.

Legal Online Poker FAQs

Is It Legal To Play Online Poker In Michigan?

Yes. Michigan laws allow online poker, but only from operators approved and licensed by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

PokerStars Michigan launched on Jan. 29, 2021, and BetMGM Poker MI went live in March 2021. MichiganSharp.com continuously updates our online poker page with the latest information on approved Michigan poker sites.

Can I Play On Michigan’s Poker Sites From Outside Of The State?

No. State laws mandate that you must be located within Michigan borders to play at a legal online poker site.

Platforms like PokerStars MI use geolocation technology to determine your location when you try to play. The geolocation services won’t allow you to play poker if it determines you’re outside of Michigan.

You don’t have to live in Michigan to play online poker, but you must be located within state lines whenever you’re at the table.

Can I Play Online Poker On My Phone?

Yes. PokerStars MI offers its platform as a mobile app for both Apple iOS and Android devices.

Apple iOS device owners can find the PokerStars MI at the App Store. Android device owners can download the app directly from PokerStars. It’s best to register and claim a bonus offer before downloading the app.

What Kind Of Games Can I Play At Michigan’s Online Poker Sites?

PokerStars MI offers just about any poker variant you’ll see at a live casino. No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha games run around the clock.

Most of the games at Michigan’s online poker sites play as No-Limit Hold’em games. You can find cash games, tournaments, and Spin & Gos running all day at PokerStars MI.

Is Playing Online Poker Safe?

Yes. The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) only approves online gambling sites that pass a rigorous vetting process. You can play the games at PokerStars MI and BetMGM Poker MI, knowing that the MGCB carefully audits Michigan’s poker sites.

The cards dealt at a Michigan online poker site are determined by random number generators, and the MGCB constantly investigates the RNG at Michigan’s poker sites to ensure fair play.

About the Author

Geoffrey Fisk

Geoff Fisk is a San Diego-based freelance writer, specializing in the poker and gambling industries. He’s written for numerous platforms and has traveled the globe as a live poker tournament reporter. Geoff’s interests include the legal online poker industry in the U.S. and abroad.