Review of the SCOOP Low-Stakes Main Event


PokerStars, one of the two mainstream poker rooms that has its own Mac OS X downloadable client, just concluded its inaugural Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP). The Main Event boasted an enormous field of over 18,000 players and awarded a first place prize of a healthy $151,000. Let’s take a look at what PokerStars players navigated through in order to make this tournament one of the largest ever held online.

The Low-Stakes Event: $109 Buy-in with a $1 Million Guaranteed Prize Pool

This event boasted one of the largest fields in the history of online poker.  Players of all stakes did anything and everything to get into this event. After all, how often do you see a $109 buy-in event guarantee $1 million?   Most tournament experts agree that, early on, you have to take your shots when you have a hand to double up with, while others preach patience through the first few rounds.  Inherently, each table will dictate a style of its own.

How Players Satellited In

PokerStars made it easy to get as many people as possible into the event by having an extensive array of satellite tournaments.  Let’s take a look at each method and give a grade. This will help you decide what qualifying routes to take advantage of when the next major tournament series rolls around:

One Table Sit and Go, 1,500 FPP buy in, Two Tickets Awarded
This tournament seems like a great way to get in. Players only risk FPPs and just have to finish in the top two out of 10.  Blinds go up every 10 minutes, making for a reasonable game of poker to be played.
Grade: A

One Table Sit and Go, 750 FPP buy-in, One Ticket Awarded
Similar to the first event, this is a no-cost way of getting in.  This single table game is played short-stacked (1,000 in chips) and as an ultra-turbo (five minute blinds) for some fast and crazy action.
Grade: C-

One Table Sit and Go, $25+2 buy-in, Two Tickets Awarded
This is a nice cash satellite entry way to the tournament and if you finish third, you win $7, which takes a little of the sting out of losing out on the ticket.  The blinds increase every 10 minutes, so there’s good structure here for actual poker to be played.
Grade: A

One Table Sit and Go, $15+1 buy-in, One Ticket Awarded
This tournament is very similar to the 750 FPP event, with 1,000 in starting chips and five minute blind levels.  Second place gets $26, which is pretty nice.
Grade: C

Multi-table Tournament, 77 FPP buy-in, One Ticket for Every 87 People Entered
This tournament has 10 minute blind levels and even an add-on available for another 77 FPPs, so it works out that there’s one ticket for every 6,750 FPPs in the prize pool.  It seems like a really fun and crazy way to try to get into the SCOOP Main Event with absolutely no risk of losing anything but a few hours.
Grade: B

Multi-table Tournament, $1.01+0.10 buy-in, One Ticket for every $109 in the Prize Pool
This tournament starts with 2,000 chips, has an add-on giving 5,000 in chips, and blinds go up every five minutes.  If you feel like blowing $2 and having some fun playing a long tournament with the chance of getting a ticket, this was your chance.

Blind Structure and Strategy

Looking at the structure of the tournament (PokerStars tournament ID #200904221), players started with a 10,000 chip stack and blinds went up every 15 minutes.  The blind structure was extremely reasonable, starting at 25-50 and progressing to 30-60, 40-80, 50-100 (10 ante), 60-120 (15 ante), 75-150 (20 ante), and so on.

Well-known low- and mid-stakes cash game player Zachvac, who normally plays in the site’s Sunday Million tournament, expressed optimism at both the structure and the strategy needed to cash in this event. He told, “The best part was how slowly the blinds went up.  For example, going from 25-50 to 50-100 took three levels instead of one like in the Million.  With this type of structure, the idea was to see flops, hit the nuts, and stack someone who doesn’t know that felting their top pair weak kicker is bad for 200 big blinds deep.”


There’s a reason why PokerStars is among the favorites of Mac poker players. Not only does it offer a fully downloadable client for the Mac, but it also offers an extensive qualifying schedule into some of the world’s most unique tournaments. The next PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) should take place in September, so stay tuned to to learn more.


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