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

Online Poker Festivals, A Love-Hate Relationship - LOL Donkaments

By Matthew 'Yorkshire Pudding' Pitt

It sometimes feels like a month does not go by without a major online poker tournament festival taking place. Acronyms such as SCOOP, TCOOP, WCOOP, FTOPS, MiniFTOPS and MTOPS seem to dominate online poker sites’ offerings to tournament players. I’ve getting FEDUP of seeing them.

As someone who prefers tournament poker to any other form of this beautiful game, you would think that I would be tingling with anticipation at the mere thought of an online poker festival taking place. After all, my current life situation does not allow me to head to the various live festivals in the UK, Ireland and the rest of mainland Europe. Surely these online festivals are perfect for a player like me? No, they are not.

In August, Full Tilt Poker ran the FTOPS where the buy-ins ranged from $109 to $2,100 although most were in the region of $215. Three weeks later, Full Tilt Poker customers saw the tournament lobby filled with MiniFTOPS events, a festival that mirrored its larger cousin but with buy-ins around 10 times less. I did not play in a single event.

In less than a fortnight, the MTOPS takes place, which I believe stands for Micro Turbo Online Poker Series.

too many online poker events?Full Tilt Poker’s sister site, PokerStars, is the home to two of the richest online festivals – the SCOOP and WCOOP. The WCOOP, or World Championship Of Online Poker, only finished a couple of days ago and awarded more than $62 million during the series, a phenomenal amount. While I enjoyed reading about players winning ridiculous sums of money and getting to watch the biggest names in poker play against each other, I couldn’t afford to play in any of the events. That’s not entirely true, I could have bought into a couple of them but they are way outside the constraints of my bankroll. This particular festival is for the game’s elite.

The feeling I get from some of these festivals is they only cater for gamblers or for the professional players. High buy-in festivals such as FTOPS and WCOOP are fantastic to watch from the sidelines for reasons already mentioned, but most players won’t be able to afford more than one buy-in. Some will argue that the lower buy-in levels of the SCOOP series and the MiniFTOPS cater for those who can’t afford the bigger buy-in, and they would have a point.

The problem lies in that the field sizes in the low buy-in events are so large there is little point entering them because your chances of winning are so slim that I would rather invest my time elsewhere. Some of the low buy-in SCOOP tournament had more than 30,000 players in them and took 15-16 hours to finish. True, you could win a ridiculous sum of money for a tiny outlay, something that appeals to the gamblers in this game, but I could do that by playing the lottery or doing the football pools (do they still do those?).

As a spectacle, the online festivals are superb, but they just aren’t needed. The major online sites offer fantastic tournament schedules as it is. Maybe I would not be so anti-festival if they were run once or twice a year, not once every couple of weeks as it feels happens now.


Ironic addition from Mark... PokerStars just announced their 'Carnival Of Tournaments' kicking of October 13th, to celebrate 800 Million tournaments (mind blowing or what?). Looks pretty good with Golden SNGs returning + additions to regular guarantees + a $1M special. Check out the details at

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