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The PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker will begin simultaneously in Michigan and New Jersey on May 8. Pennsylvania’s PASCOOP just wrapped up on May 3, but PokerStars has elected to run its other two US series concurrently rather than one after the other.
NJSCOOP has been a regular favorite in the Garden State since 2016, but in Michigan it’s the newest thing in online poker.
The defining feature of PokerStars‘ Spring championships is their multiple buy-in tiers. The number of these rose increased from two to three this year, with the addition of a Mid tier.
Pennsylvania and Michigan both use a consistent ratio of 10 times the Low tier buy-in for the High tier, and 2.5 or 3 times for the Mid Tier. New Jersey’s ratios are both lower and more erratic. For instance, a $10 Low tier in New Jersey usually leads to a $30 Mid tier and a $75 (rather than $100) High tier, yet there is also one event (#30) with $10 Low, $15 Mid and $50 High.
PokerStars NJ is offering a Spring Championship with 165 events running from May 8 to May 24. Total guarantees for the series amount to $1.2 million, $100,000 of which comes from the $300 buy-in Main Event (Mid) starting on May 23. The High tier for the same event has a buy-in of $500, but a guarantee of only $20,000, and is called the Jersey Special rather than a Main Event.
Key promotional events supporting the tournament series include:
Events are split into low, medium and high buy-in levels, so players can play in the same format events regardless of budget. Most events are No Limit Hold’em (NLHE), but Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) players will find a good selection of tournaments and there even a few, Omaha 8 or Better (NLO8) events.
Tournament formats include a variety of table sizes, plenty of progressive knockouts and turbos, and a smattering of other variations including Win the Button. Many events are special editions of tournaments on the regular weekly schedule, some with half-price buy-ins.
MISCOOP is a bigger affair, offering $2 million in guaranteed prize money spread across over 120 events. The High-tier Main Event costs the same $300 as NJSCOOP’s Mid tier, but the guarantee is twice as large at $200,000.
Key promotional events are the same as in New Jersey, save for the the addition of a MISCOOP leaderboard. This offers an extra $10,000 in prizes for the best and most dedicated participants.
Broadly speaking, the spread of tournaments is similar to that in New Jersey. Notably, Michiganders get the chance to play a couple of H.O.R.S.E. events, which are absent from the NJ series. There are also more events at the bottom end of the buy-in spectrum, with Low tier tournaments starting at just $5.
In entering a new market, it looks like PokerStars is using the MISCOOP to achieve several objectives.
The tournaments look designed to appeal to a wider market. The guarantees appear to be stretching; overlays look more likely in Michigan than in New Jersey. PokerStars generally tries to avoid these, but they can be effective as an accidental marketing tool when they happen.
The first MISCOOP will enable PokerStars to fine tune its Michigan product for the market. The patchwork of US states where poker is legal are getting branded products that are very similar, but with little tweaks to secure a local marketing edge.
Michigan online poker, at least in its legal regulated form only began on Jan. 29 2021. In February PokerStars racked up total revenues of $5,723,261, increasing to $5,775,711 in March. That wasn’t much of an increase given the extra three days in March.
Typically, as the weather improves at this time of year, poker revenues slip. That’s one reason why the SCOOPs that PokerStars runs across its global sites are so important. They provide a critical revenue boost.
In the New Jersey online poker market, NJSCOOP sets PokerStars apart from competitors as it usually offers the biggest guarantees.
In a new market like Michigan, such series are also part of a poker room’s pitch to new players. New players see the size of the guaranteed prize money and sign up in droves — at least in theory. We’ll have to wait for the May revenue figures to see how successful the SCOOPs will be at increasing revenue.
Michigan and New Jersey are pretty similar markets. Michigan has around a million extra people with a population a tad under 10 million. However, New Jersey has the higher per capita income.
The real difference is in terms of competition. PokerStars is dominant in Michigan at the moment, with only BetMGM Poker attempting to get a toehold against it. Conversely, in New Jersey, it faces competition from both WSOP and the Partypoker Network, and is only the second place operator in the state. If the level of competition it faces in the two states equalizes in time, future SCOOPs might also be more similar in scale.
Over in Pennsylvania, the PASCOOP is just ending. It put together a package in between those offered for MI and NJ. $2 million guaranteed over 120 events with $200,000 on offer for the Main Event.
Put New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan together in an interstate compact to share player pools and a combined SCOOP could offer over $5 million in guaranteed prizes as a great marketing incentive. But look abroad and the numbers don’t look so good.
The dot-com market SCOOP has just finished. From Apr. 4 to Apr. 28, PokerStars handed out over $100 million in prize money in the course of 102 online poker tournaments.
If online poker was legal in all 50 states and all shared their player pools, those are the sort of numbers that US players could achieve. That day is a long way off, at the moment, though efforts to expand legal poker in the US are progressing.
Here’s the complete rundown of events in New Jersey.
If you’re looking for the MISCOOP schedule instead, that’s below. Click here to jump ahead.
|#||Date||Buy-in (L/M/H)||Game||Format||GTE (L/M/H)|
|2||May 8||$30/$100/$200||NLHE||8-Max PKO Deep||$7.5k/$15k/$20k|
|4||May 8/15/24*||$10/$30/$75||NLHE||HU Tb. Zm. PKO||$2.5k/$6.5k/$10k|
|7||May 9||$30/$200/$500||NLHE||8-Max High Roller||$8k/$35k/$15k|
|11||May 10||$30/$100/$200||NLHE||6-Max PKO||$4k/$7.5k/$10k|
|12||May 10||$20/$30/$100||NLHE||8-Max Turbo||$1.5k/$2k/$5k|
|13||May 11||$20/$30/$100||NLHE||6-Max Win the Button||$3k/$4k/$7k|
|17||May 12||$20/$30/$100||NLHE||6-Max Turbo PKO||$1.5k/$2k/$5k|
|20||May 13||$20/$30/$100||NLHE||4-Max Turbo||$1.5k/$2k/$5k|
|23||May 14||$10/$30/$75||PLO||6-Max Turbo PKO||$1k/$2k/$4k|
|24||May 15||$10/$30/$75||NLHE||8-Max Rebuy||$4k/$6k/$8k|
|26||May 15||$30/$100/$200||NLHE||8-Max Deep||$7.5k/$12.5k/$17.5k|
|29||May 16||$15/$100/$250||NLHE||8-Max High Roller||$8k/$35k/$15k|
|33||May 17||$30/$100/$200||NLHE||6-Max PKO||$4k/$7.5k/$10k|
|34||May 17||$10/$30/$75||NLHE||6-Max Hyper PKO||$0.5k/$1.5k/$3k|
|35||May 18||$20/$30/$100||NLHE||25% PKO||$3.5k/$5k/$8k|
|39||May 19||$20/$30/$100||NLHE||4-Max Turbo PKO||$1.5k/$2k/$5k|
|42||May 20||$20/$30/$100||NLHE||6-Max Turbo||$1.5k/$2k/$5k|
|44||May 21||$30/$100/$200||NLHE||4-Max Deep||$4k/$8k/$12k|
|45||May 21||$10/$30/$75||NLHE||8-Max Turbo PKO||$2.5k/$3.5k/$7.5k|
|46||May 22||$20/$30/$100||NLHE||8-Max Deep||$3.5k/$6.5k/$10k|
|48||May 22||$10/$30/$75||NLHE||6-Max Rebuy||$4k/$6k/$8k|
|51||May 23||$50/$300/$500||NLHE||8-Max MAIN EVENT||$10k/$100k/$20k|
|55||May 24||$20/$30/$75||NLHE||6-Max Deep||$3k/$6k/$8k|
* NJSCOOP-04 bucks the usual trend and has the three tiers spread out across three weeks
Here’s what awaits Michiganders in May:
|#||Date||Buy-in (L/M/H)||Game||Format||GTE (L/M/H)|
|2||May 8||$10/$30/$100||NLHE||6-Max Tb. Zoom||$5k/$10k/$20k|
|7||May 9||$5/$15/$50||NLHE||6-Max Hyper||$1k/$2.5k/$7.5k|
|8||May 10||$10/$30/$100||NLHE||6-Max PKO||$5k/$15k/$30k|
|11||May 12||$200/$500/$2000||NLHE||High Roller||$30k/$50k/$80k|
|12||May 12||$20/$50/$200||NLHE||8-Max Turbo||$5k/$12.5k/$17.5k|
|16||May 15||$20/$50/$200||NLHE||8-Max PKO Deep||$8k/$17.5k/$25k|
|17||May 15||$10/$30/$100||5-Cd PLO||6-Max||$2k/$4k/$7.5k|
|18||May 15||$5/$15/$50||NLHE||HU Tb. Zm. 100% PKO||$2k/$5k/$10k|
|19||May 16||$10/$30/$100||NLHE||Deep/Marathon (H only)||$6k/$15k/$30k|
|23||May 16||$5/$15/$50||NLHE||6-Max Hyper PKO||$1k/$3k/$7.5k|
|24||May 17||$20/$50/$200||NLHE||6-Max PKO||$5k/$15k/$30k|
|25||May 17||$10/$30/$100||PLO||6-Max PKO||$2k/$5k/$10k|
|27||May 19||$100/$250/$1000||NLHE||6-Max High Roller||$15k/$30k/$50k|
|30||May 21||$20/$50/$200||NLHE||25% PKO||$5k/$10k/$20k|
|32||May 22||$10/$50/$100||NLHE||Win the Button||$3.5k/$10k/$20k|
|33||May 22||$50/$200/$500||NLHE||8-Max Turbo PKO HR||$15k/$30k/$40k|
|34||May 22||$5/$15/$50||NLHE||4-Max Turbo PKO||$2k/$5k/$10k|
|36||May 23||$30/$75/$300||NLHE||MAIN EVENT||$20k/$40k/$200k|
|38||May 23||$10/$30/$100||NLHE||6-Max Hyper Deep||$2k/$6k/$10k|
|40||May 24||$5/$15/$50||NLHE||6-Max Hyper PKO||$1k/$2.5k/$6k|