Planet Mark's Blog. Thoughts, News And Strategy For Poker Tournaments Of All Size

Head to Head with the SCOOP

When I saw that both Party and 888 Poker had scheduled their latest events to clash with the PokerStars SCOOP, I was puzzled. Surely the behemoth that is PokerStars have enough players to crush these ‘minnows’ ?

After pondering this for a couple of days, I have changed my mind. There are a few different reasons for this, detailed below. First up, some background on the clashing events.

3 Clashing Poker Events Running May 7th to 21st

Poker Sites going head to head with the SCOOPThe big one is the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) which is an annual tradition at PokerStars. This is a huge online poker event, with more than $55 million in guaranteed prizes. The SCOOP was (I believe) the first poker event to spread events over 3 different buy-in tiers… with identical formats for the lower buy-in players, mid-stakes and the high rollers too. As usual, there are lots of big buy-in games to attract the press coverage.

Alongside this we have the latest PowerFest event from Party Poker. This has $20 million in guarantees, which is big in proportion to the size of the site. The events are split into 3 tiers, and there are leaderboard contests and plenty of ‘missions’ to get you spots in the games.

888 are running one of their ‘XL’ events. Instead of the main ‘Super XL Series’ they have opted for ‘XL Inferno’ this time… besides the striking graphics, you’ll find $7.5 million in guaranteed prizes, plus plenty of promos to go alongside. I am sure you will have guessed it, though the games are in 3 tiers once again – for different buy-in levels. With freebies just for signing up (up to $88 in some countries, £20 for the UK), 888 Poker have also managed to reduce the friction for players that want to take a quick look.

The opening events are all on the 7th, the ‘Main Events’ on that last Sunday (the 21st)… so, what gives?

PokerStars Side-By-Side Does Not Look Good!

This is the main factor. There will be players who schedule time for these events who find that extra big guarantees at the other sites are worth a look. Some will play Stars + Party, others Stars + 888 and others still all 3.

Everything will be smooth and easy until the games start.

At that point the difference between half the field multi-tabling with their HUD software tracking every move and the recreational vibe of those other sites will become blindingly obvious.

As the middle stages kick in, and players at PokerStars start reshoving more or less correctly, the contrast between the limp folders, tight passives and ‘married to 3rd pair’ types at the more recreational sites will be a glaring contrast.

By the time the later stages kick in (if you are lucky enough to have dodged the suckouts along the way), then there are a lot of players going to start asking questions.

These questions are going cover the topic of exactly why you are playing at a site where half of the fields are pro grinders, when there are plenty of fish in the big, though not huge, brand sites.

PokerStars Still Excellent!Don’t Get Me Wrong – PokerStars is a Fantastic Site

They have the best software, best mobile options, biggest choice of games and formats… there is a lot to like about Stars!

The point that this clash of events brought home to me is that a lot of players live in what I call the PokerStars bubble. In the arms race to out-math the other grinders (or join the queues of players waiting to join a table with just 1 fish), it can be easy to forget that there are some happy hunting grounds out there.

Do yourself just one small favour this May – check out the rivals, even if this is just to have a look and rail the games. If you want to come back and tell me I got it wrong after the events wrap up, I’m all ears!

Couple More Reasons the Smaller Sites Made the Right Call

It is not only the ability to showcase their soft games which make clashing with the SCOOP a genius move. Those sites get to highlight some of their other events and promos too.

For 888 Poker, this is the WSOP qualifiers. They are a sponsor, and are pushing very hard to give players a shot at a prize package which includes Main Event entry, hotel + spending money. These games run in steps, with the bottom step at just 1c. If you can’t stand the crazy play at those micro buy-ins, then you can buy-in direct at the $5. $50 or $150 levels. You can find more on this topic on my dedicated WSOP Qualifiers 2017 page.

For Party Poker, many people will not have enjoyed their SNG Hero games, or their huge list of live event qualifiers… I’ll bet there are still many players who think of the original software (complete with that psycho looking guy!).

Summing up, I think that deliberately going head to head with the SCOOP is a genius idea... and once you see the games at 888 Poker, I'm sure you'll agree!

Of course, PokerStars are big enough, and smart enough to fight back.

I’ll look forward to seeing it.

GL at the tables,


Check out these popular pages while you are here:

- Best Poker Bonus Deals (updated each month for both US and WW players)

- 888 Poker Review 2017 (the low down on this fast-growing site)

- Fishiest Poker Site (my infamous fish-o-meter tool)

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