The 2018 NJSCOOP came to a close on Monday after 17-day series that included 40 high and 40 low buy-in events.
The New Jersey version of SCOOP promised to be “NJ’s richest tournament series ever” with guarantees of over $1.3 million.
It looks like PokerStars lived up to its promise with total prize pools totally over $1.5 million, more than $200,000 more than was guaranteed.
NJSCOOP 2018 is one for the record books
Of the 80 total events, only four high and six low buy-in events failed to meet the guarantee.
It was mostly the mixed games that had an overlay. The only game to miss its guarantee in both the high and low version was Event #34: Limit Stud H/L.
The largest turnout was for Event #37 – Low: $50 NLH Main Event. The 1,173 entries produced a prize pool of $53,371.50, over $13,000 more than what was guaranteed.
One of the tournaments that fell short was Event #37 – High: $500 NLH, 2-Day Main Event. It had a guarantee of $200,000 and fell short of its guarantee by $4,010. Even so, it still had 416 entries. You can still catch a replay of the final table on the PokerStarsNJ client.
With 70 of the 80 events exceeding its guarantee, NJSCOOP continues to prove itself as one of, if not the most popular online tournament series in New Jersey.
Moneymaker making money in NJSCOOP
As is often the case with online poker tournaments, it can be hard to see who is having a good series. Well, one player has a hard time flying under the radar regardless of where he is playing.
Chris “Money800NJ” Moneymaker, often credited with igniting the poker boom after his 2003 WSOP Main Event win, is recognized whenever he sits down at a poker table – both online and in person.
Streaming his series and tweeting about it makes it impossible to elude the headlines. As it turns out, this past weekend was headline worthy for the PokerStars pro.
And that was before his fourth-place finish in the $200 Mixed NLHE/PLO.
When asked about the highlight of the weekend, it wasn’t a specific hand or win that Moneymaker talked about. It was the community.
“It’s the community in New Jersey. I play the NJSCOOP every year, and it’s always the same guys,” Moneymaker told USPoker. “It’s a really tight-knit community. There’s a lot of communication at the table, a lot of talking back and forth, and it’s just a little bit different experience than what one would normally be used to when playing in an online setting. ”
Moneymaker in the winner’s circle
Moneymaker admits to having a target on his back every time he takes a seat in a tournament. It is no secret players play differently against the big names of the game.
Even so, he spent the weekend streaming his NJSCOOP grind, knowing full well it would attract attention and maybe even criticism.
“Streaming is tough because you’re trying to explain your thoughts, you’re trying to answer questions, and you’re also trying to play two or three tables at a time,” said Moneymaker. “It’s a lot of work. It adds to your day, instead of focusing on just playing poker, you’ve got a lot of other stuff going on.”
When asked if he thought streaming helped or hindered his game, Moneymaker said both.
“I think it helps overall, but it does hinder some. [It helps] when you have actually to vocalize your decision, explain why you’re doing it, and walk through the steps, so it makes sense to people.”
Moneymaker goes on to explain that it hurts the other games he is playing outside of the mainstream. He isn’t putting as much attention or time into the decisions in those events.
“At the end of the day, it’s okay to have the other ones lose a little bit of their expected value if you can increase your expected value in the main one.”
Moneymaker’s thoughts on NJSCOOP and poker in New Jersey
Moneymaker admits to liking this series. He travels from his home in Tennessee to the Garden State every year to play.
“[PokerStars] has a really good series here and it has grown since the inception. Every year it gets bigger. Last year, I think we were camping out at about a thousand people online. This year, I noticed that we had tipped over 1500.”
The numbers indicate online poker as a whole is declining in New Jersey. It seems as if players are looking towards shared liquidity and specifically, Pennsylvania coming online to help reverse the trend.
Moneymaker agrees Pennsylvania will have a considerable impact on the state of online poker in the state.
“The biggest thing for poker is having the volume and the mass of players that are playing at any given time. With Pennsylvania coming online, and then hopefully adding the player pools together it’ll make it a lot easier to find games. Then maybe you’ll start seeing more and more people playing during all hours of the day.”
Platinum Passes, SCOOP, and the WSOP … Oh, my!
PokerStars is getting itself ready for the time that legal and regulated online poker spreads across the U.S.
“People in the U.S. have very fond memories of PokerStars after Black Friday,” Moneymaker said. “They have a lot of goodwill built up in the U.S., and they want to be relevant in players minds. So as states do regulate, they’ll remember PokerStars.”
One way PokerStars hopes to remain relevant is by creating buzz about the PokerStars Player’s Championship.
“There hasn’t been a whole lot of opportunity for U.S. players to pick up Platinum Passes,” explains Moneymaker. “One of our big pushes going forth for the rest of the year is to get some of these passes into the pockets of U.S. players and get some buzz going around in rooms across the country.”
Two New Jersey residents took home a Platinum Pass valued at $30,000 – each by winning one of the two Main Events. Derik Li won his pass by claiming victory in Event #37 – Low: $50 NLH Main Event for $5,302.35. Michael Page won Event #37 – High: $500 NLH Main Event for $36,015.96 to pocket his.
Li and Page joined Maria Konnikova, Thai Ha and David Peters as US players who have secured a ticket to the highly-anticipated PSPC in the Bahamas in January 2019.
The next chance in North America for a Platinum Pass happens up north. While not in the U.S., a lot of players make the trek to Canada for SCOOP. Moneymaker is one of them.
Moneymaker has a busy few months ahead of him. After a few weeks at home with his family, Moneymaker will venture up north to his apartment just outside of Toronto, Canada.
It’s there that he will play the last half of SCOOP, one of his favorite online events. Coming off a successful weekend of streaming at NJSCOOP, Moneymaker says he will likely stream from May 13 – 18. Family and some personal appearances are preventing him from playing the full series.
He can’t, however, imagine not playing the tournament that made him a household name.
“I don’t want to say the excitement has worn off,” Moneymaker said about the Main Event. “Any time I’m able to go play a big buy-in poker tournament it’s always a really cool thing.”
One thing is clear after talking to the former Main Event champion is he loves his job.
“Whether I’m playing the Main Event or even if I’m in New Jersey, I realize I’ve got a pretty cool job. I’ve had it pretty well, and I’m very thankful for that.