You can’t throw a rock in the Garden State these days without hitting an online poker tournament.
While WSOP.com is in the midst of its 2020 Spring Online Championships, running 100 tourneys from April 1-May 3, and the Borgata Spring Poker Open goes online via PartyPoker from April 5-12, PokerStars will add to the action starting this Saturday with the New Jersey Spring Championship of Online Poker (NJ SCOOP). The series features 96 tournaments over 17 days, from April 11-27.
The total guaranteed prize pool is not quite as large as it is with the PokerStars PA SCOOP in neighboring Pennsylvania, but that’s understandable, as the New Jersey site has competitors whereas there’s only one legal poker site in PA. The Pennsylvania series has a total of $2 million in guarantees; the NJ series guarantees “only” $1.2 million.
Whichever side of the Delaware River you’re on, though, online poker business is booming. The effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 has seen the governors of every single state on the East Coast issue stay-at-home orders, instructing citizens not to venture out unless absolutely necessary. A dramatic increase in time spent at home combined with an increased need for entertainment options has translated into some of the highest online poker numbers since New Jersey began regulating the activity in 2013.
The NJ SCOOP series is well positioned to build on that trend.
From high rollers to bargain hunters
As is the case with PA SCOOP, every tournament on the NJ SCOOP schedule offers both a “High” and “Low” buy-in edition. For example, the opening event, Saturday’s “NJSCOOP Warm-Up,” has a $100 buy-in version with a $20,000 guaranteed prize pool and a $10 option with a $5,000 guarantee.
Buy-ins for NJ SCOOP range from as low as $5 (there are two such “turbo” tournaments) to as high as $1,000 (the six-max “High Roller” on April 21).
For those who fit into that high-roller category, here’s a look at the eight tournaments over the course of the series with buy-ins of $300 or more:
|April 12||Sunday Special SE NLHE||$300||$45,000|
|April 14||Super Tuesday SE NLHE||$300||$35,000|
|April 15||Six-Max 8-Game||$500||$17,500|
|April 19||Sunday Special SE NLHE||$350||$50,000|
|April 19||Six-Max Turbo NLHE||$300||$25,000|
|April 20||Four-Max NLHE||$300||$30,000|
|April 21||Six-Max NLHE High Roller||$1,000||$45,000|
|April 26||NLHE Main Event||$300||$100,000|
The Main Event
The crown jewel of the NJ SCOOP schedule is its only two-day tournament, the no-limit hold’em Main Event beginning Sunday, April 26, and concluding Monday, April 27.
The true Main Event, the higher buy-in version, costs $300 to enter and promises a $100,000 prize pool. At a price point of $50, the “Low” edition has a $30,000 guarantee.
There are, of course, ways to satellite into the Main Event without paying full price. One of those is an April 26 freeroll for new depositors that will award 30 of those $300 seats. Another is special-edition NJ SCOOP Spin & Go’s, which cost $3 to enter and, on the occasional lucky spin, will award the winner of the three-player freezeout a $300 seat.
Also, if you bust out of a NJ SCOOP event short of the money, all is not necessarily lost. PokerStars is running daily “Second Chance All-In Shootout Freerolls,” awarding $1,000 in prizes each day to players who enter SCOOP tournaments but don’t cash. (The “all-in shootout” format means every player is automatically all-in each hand, so it is a purely luck-based tourney and the players don’t even need to be logged on to participate.)
Other games, unusual twists
As is the case with any major online tournament poker series, the great majority of the NJ SCOOP events feature no-limit hold’em, but there are a few exceptions. The other games being played include pot-limit Omaha, PLO 8-or-better, no-limit Omaha 8-or-better, 5-card PLO, seven-card stud 8-or-better, and 8-game mix.
There are also a variety of twists and tweaks in the NLHE events:
- Progressive KO
- Win The Button
- Escalating Antes
- 3-Max Turbo Zoom
- Progressive Total KO
Through the first few days of PA SCOOP, nearly every guarantee is being exceeded, with some prize pools more than doubling the promised amount. Starting Saturday, we’ll find out if PokerStars can command similar enthusiasm in New Jersey during this outlier online poker boom period.
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