PokerStars Creates SECOOP for Spain, France, Portugal
PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker room, will not rest until every corner of the globe, every week of the calendar, is covered by a Championship of Online Poker, a COOP, if you will. The World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) is the granddaddy, arguably the highlight of the online poker year for tournament players. Spring has its own COOP with the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) and even New Jersey has one (NJCOOP). And now, as announced this week by PokerStars, Spain, France, and Portugal will get to participate in the newly-formed Southern Europe Championship of Online Poker (SECOOP). It’s almost SCOOP, but it’s not. It’s SECOOP. With an “E.”
“We are happy to transform our renowned COOP series into a COOP specifically for our players in Southern Europe that will allow them to compete for bigger prize pools in prestigious tournaments,” said Severin Rasset, Director of Poker Innovation and Operations at PokerStars, in a press release Tuesday. “Our players have really enjoyed our shared liquidity offerings and we look forward to seeing everyone playing at the SECOOP virtual felt.”
Loads of Tourneys, Something for Everyone
For a tournament series that includes poker players from just three nations, SECOOP is not small. Running October 28th through November 12th, SECOOP will feature 149 events and more than €10 million in guaranteed prizes. The Main Event will be held on November 11th and will cost €250 to enter.
With WCOOP and SCOOP, we have gotten used to seeing one event split into three tournaments of different buy-in levels. For instance, a No-Limit Hold’em Six-Max Shootout might have a version with a $22 buy-in, one with a $215 buy-in, and another with a $2,100 buy-in. It’s a great idea, as it gives people of all bankrolls a chance to play.
SECOOP is different, in that there are no buy-in tiers. Just 149 unrelated tournaments. That’s not to say every single tournament is different. Many repeat. For example, the €20 “Midnight Express” is held every night at…midnight. There are many tournament variations that come up multiple times, sometimes with the same buy-in sometimes with different buy-ins. The bottom line, though, is that each tourney is held on its own at its own time, without other buy-in levels at the same time.
And Of Course, Platinum Passes
As one might expect from a Championship of Online Poker at PokerStars, SECOOP will have a leader board, tracking how players do across all events. With this, though, there will be 16 leader boards, one for each day. The players who top the daily leader boards will play against each other, with the winner grabbing a Platinum Pass worth $30,000 for the PokerStars Players NL Hold’em Championship, coming up in January in the Bahamas.
Another Platinum Pass will be awarded to one player who plays in an SECOOP in four different days. Each day a player participates, that player will earn one stamp. Earn four and one gets a seat in a freeroll with a prize pool that includes a Platinum Pass and €5,000. Players who earn eight stamps will win a seat into a second freeroll with the same prizes, so that means three Platinum Passes in total will be awarded during SECOOP.
A Brief History of Southern European Poker
Spain, France, and Portugal used to ring-fence their populations from the rest of the online poker world. Poker players in each country were only allowed to play at tables against players located in the same country. Thus, online poker rooms had different sites for different countries.
As online poker players well know, ring-fencing is awful. Poker rooms need as large of a potential player pool as possible because poker is entirely player versus player. If traffic in the poker room is low, there won’t be enough players to get games going, sinking rake revenue. And when the games are unattractive, players scattered here and there, current customers and potential customers turn away and head to greener pastures. That, of course, reduces traffic even more, killing a poker room.
In the summer of 2017, Spain, France, Portugal, and Italy all agreed to cut down the fences and merge their online poker player pools. In January of this year, Spain and France completed their end of the deal, with PokerStars being the first site on which players from both countries could compete against each other. In May, Portugal joined them.
Italy is lagging behind and is a bit of a mystery, as it is unclear exactly what is taking it so long to unite with the other three countries. Last November, it was reported that while the other three countries were nearly ready to hold hands, Italy hadn’t even started accepting operator applications. As far as where Italy is now, who knows?