On Tuesday, PokerStars announced a new tournament series, specifically for players in Spain, France, and Portugal, dubbed the Southern Europe Championship of Online Poker (SECOOP). It’s another Championship of Online Poker! Another COOP! We’ll just have to make sure we don’t misspell it, lest people think we’re talking about the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP). So SECOOP and SCOOP. Got it.

A Festivus for the Rest of Us

SECOOP will begin October 28th and run through November 12th, featuring 149 events and combined guaranteed prize pools of €10 million. The €250 will be held on November 11th and will have a guaranteed prize pool of €1 million.

Unlike some of PokerStars’ tournament series, SECOOP does not have different buy-in levels of the same tournament; all 149 events are independent of each other. That doesn’t mean they are all unique, though, as many of the same events and buy-ins repeat.

It’s a relatively affordable tournament series, with buy-ins as low as €5, going up to €250 (the Main Event is not the only €250 buy-in tournament).

“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. “Our players have really enjoyed our shared liquidity offerings and we look forward to seeing everyone playing at the SECOOP virtual felt.”

Three’s Company

Spain, France, and Portugal had previously ring-fenced themselves from the rest of the world, each country allowing only people to play against others from within their own country’s borders. It was a terrible decision, as it artificially limited the player pools. Online poker is dependent on player traffic in a way other online casino games are not, as poker is a player versus player game, not player versus house. The more people sitting at the tables, the more hands that are dealt and the more rake a poker room makes. Active poker rooms are also more attractive to prospective players, leading to further growth.

By restricting player pools, poker rooms end up with less traffic and less money. The empty tables cause potential players to turn away and current players to leave in frustration, further reducing the numbers and making things worse.

In January, though, Spain and France stopped isolating themselves somewhat and combined their player pools. They don’t play with the rest of the world, but it’s better than it was before. In May, Portugal joined up. Italy has also agreed to combine with the three countries (it is ring-fenced, as well), but it has not done so yet.

Because of differences in gaming laws, Portuguese players will not be able to compete for one of three Platinum Passes that will be awarded via SECOOP challenges and daily leader boards.

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