How PokerStars Impressively Puts Together the $75 Million 2023 SCOOP Series

How PokerStars Impressively Puts Together the $75 Million 2023 SCOOP Series

Your writer started an attempt to come up with an accurate count of the number of online poker tournaments that are seen in the world of real money online poker during the course of just a week, for example but, with such vast numbers, I thought better of undertaking such a monumental task...

As players, we tend to simply sit down and enjoy the game, not giving even a moment’s thought to what went behind its creation, from inception to execution. But someone has the job of putting together all the key elements of a tournament - which variant (not everyone wants to only play Texas Hold'em all the time), which format, Blind levels, what start time (and late registration period) and, of course, how much should a guarantee be?

Doing this for just one tournament can be problematic enough, but when we consider a whole series schedule it’s something else again! The upcoming $75 Million SCOOP at PokerStars is a perfect illustration of the mammoth job that faces those responsible for planning major events. Just looking at the numbers is intimidating in itself, and begs the question how a balance can be achieved that pleases the wide spectrum of players that ranges from newcomer and recreational hobbyists to serious grinders and seasoned pros - and, in turn, bankrolls of all sizes need to be catered for. This edition of SCOOP, which takes place 7-31 May, will have a bumper schedule of 121 events consisting of 363 tournaments, featuring 16 different poker variants and, when the dust settles, will pay out at least $75 million guaranteed in prizes!

As much as this is clearly a logistical nightmare, PokerStars nevertheless manages to keep hosting streamlined SCOOP series, not least because the brains behind the team given organisational duties, Steve Clarricoats, Head of Poker Operations at PokerStars, is honing his craft very nicely...

In an interview with Poker in the Ears podcast hosts James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton, Clarricoats goes into fascinating detail about what goes in to putting such a massive series together.

Here, for instance, are some of the critical questions to be addressed when devising the schedule and its contents:

  • Which tournaments should go where?
  • How to cater for players with different wants and needs?
  • Timing: poker fans come from around the globe, and therefore reside in different time zones.
  • What should the guarantee be for this or that tournament?

Solving the Scheduling Riddle

Research seems to play a big part in determining key factors. This might address which games and formats are gaining in popularity, for example. Even when including a specific game, it also has to have logical time slots, while the actual times need to be distributed in a way that players living in different global regions have a share of the action at reasonable times of the day/night.

Time is also a factor when determining guarantees, which, it should be noted, need to be accurately levelled as too big a guarantee risks overlay, while if it’s too small it might not attract enough runners.

Even the time of year can be significant which, given the number of series that crop up in a 12-month period, must be a nightmare to nail down. Then comes the range of buy-ins, with an imperative being to find a level that makes such major events accessible to the vast majority of players who make up the poker eco-system, namely ‘fun’ players.    

Of course, it’s not always possible to please everyone as different groups of players have different wants, needs and ideals. At the end of the day, successfully organising poker series requires - as in life – some sort of workable balance. If previous editions are anything to go by, Clarricoats and his team can look forward to another triumphant SCOOP series when it kicks off on 7 May...

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Good luck at the tables, and have fun!

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