PokerStars Underestimated Appetite For PACOOP, Boosts Guarantees Going Forward

The first major poker series in PA is off to a guarantee-crushing start, and PokerStars has responded by beefing up many of the prize pools.

PokerStars PA just raised the stakes in the Keystone State.

After the successful first weekend of the inaugural PokerStars Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker (PACOOP), the online poker giant and partner of Mount Airy Casino has announced that the guarantees for a number of the tournaments on the PACOOP schedule will be getting a boost.

PA players out in force

Poker players in Pennsylvania were more than excited for the return of online poker by the time it finally launched in early November. After all, it had been two years of waiting from the time that Gov. Tom Wolf first signed Bill H 271, which legalized regulated online gaming in the state.

From the get-go, the appetite for online poker was evident, as sometimes more than 1,000 players at a time participated in the PokerStars two-day soft launch.

In the ensuing weeks, the enthusiasm of the PA poker community has continued, supporting a full slate of tournaments as well as a wide range of regularly running cash games.

In an effort to keep the momentum going, PokerStars quickly announced that Pennsylvania would be getting its own Championship of Online Poker, an online poker series that promised tournament players the ability to build their bankrolls by battling over big guarantees.

PACOOP announcement 

The initial schedule was big: fifty events with $1,000,000 guaranteed across the entire series. It featured a $300 buy-in main event with $100,000 guaranteed, easily the biggest tournament to be offered in the state to date.

However, some in the industry actually expected PACOOP to be bigger than what was announced. 

“We were surprised when the PACCOP schedule was released and it mirrored the NJCOOP [New Jersey Championship of Online Poker] schedule in terms of the guarantees both overall and for the main event, given the population differences between the two states,” said PocketFives President & Editor in Chief Lance Bradley.

Back in 2016, when PokerStars launched the first ever NJCOOP, the series actually had fewer events (43) but arrived with $1.2 mm in total guarantees.

Simply based on the potential player pool, with Pennsylvania having a population of nearly 3 million more than New Jersey, it felt like there was room for the PACOOP announcement to hit even harder.

Big weekend = bigger guarantees

All of the numbers changed after the first weekend of PACOOP. Through the first eight events of the series, every single guarantee was bested. Some were even crushed.

“Obviously the opening weekend delivered with a strong turnout, and they’ve decided to increase the prize pool guarantees as a bit of a market correction,” Bradley said.

The excitement over PACOOP was most evident in the very first event. PACOOP Event #1 ($100 Nightly Stars PACOOP Warm-up) had a $20,000 guarantee. That number was quickly surpassed as 369 players generated a total of 546 entries, which shattered the guarantee with a prize pool in excess of $50,000.

Event #EventGuaranteePrize Pool
1$100 NLHE Nightly Stars – PACOOP Warm-up$20,000$50,122.80
2$200 NLHE Turbo – PACOOP Warm-up$15,000$21,390.00
3$100 NLHE Deepstack, Eight Max$15,000$34,608.60
4$100 NLHE Big Antes$15,000$18,543.60
5$150 NLHE Progressive KO$25,000$38,142.90
6$200 NLHE Sunday Special$50,000$63,436.00
7$100 Pot-Limit Omaha$10,000$16,707.60
8$50 NLHE Sunday SuperSonic Hyper-Turbo$10,000$13,650.00
9$50 NLHE Battle Royale SE PKO Six Max$10,000$30,803.50
10$75+R Pot-Limit Omaha Hi/Lo$10,000$15,492.75

In total, the weekend offered up eight different events and a total of $160,000 guaranteed. The amount of money won over those events was nearly $100k more, coming in at $256,601.50.

Apparently that was all Matt Primeaux, president of PokerStars USA and FOX Bet, needed to see.

PokerStars has announced an increase to the guarantee in 19 of the remaining 42 events, including a 25% increase to the main event taking it from $100,000 to $125,000.

In total, $120,000 worth of additional money has been added to the PACOOP schedule.

DateEventOriginal GuaranteeNew Guarantee
Dec. 4$100 NLHE Deepstack$20,000$25,000
Dec. 5$200 NLHE Thursday Thrill$30,000$35,000
Dec. 5$100 NLHE BigStack Turbo$12,000$15,000
Dec. 6$100 NLHE Six Max Turbo$12,000$15,000
Dec. 7$100 NLHE Eight Max Deepstack$12,000$20,000
Dec. 7$150 NLHE Saturday Speedway SE$12,000$15,000
Dec. 8$100 NLHE Marathon$10,000$25,000
Dec. 8$150 NLHE Big Antes Six Max$20,000$25,000
Dec. 8$300 Sunday Special SE$55,000$60,000
Dec. 8$200 NLHE PKO$30,000$35,000
Dec. 8$100 Sunday SuperSonic SE$10,000$12,000
Dec. 10$200 NLHE Super Tuesday$40,000$50,000
Dec. 12$150 NLHE Turbo$15,000$20,000
Dec. 14$75 NLHE Zoom$12,000$15,000
Dec. 15$100 NLHE Big Antes$12,000$15,000
Dec. 15$300 NLHE MAIN EVENT$100,000$125,000
Dec. 15$50 NLHE w/ Main Event Structure$20,000$25,000
Dec. 15$100 NLHE PKO$15,000$20,000
Dec. 16$150 Nightly Stars SE PACOOP Wrap-up$20,000$25,000

No slowing down

The numbers from Monday’s tournaments indicated that Primeaux’s confidence in the PA players to support higher guarantees is warranted. There were two tournaments on the schedule with a total of $20,000 up for grabs, and players pushed the total prize pools north of $45,000.

There’s still plenty of time for players to take part in the 2019 PACOOP, as it continues through Dec. 16. The main event, with its new $125,000 guarantee, is set to take place on Dec. 15 at 5:00 p.m. ET.


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