The second annual PokerStars Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker (PACOOP) begins this coming Saturday, yet another big online poker tournament series during this unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic half-year. Running through Sunday, October 4, PACOOP will feature 50 events and $1.5 million in guaranteed prize pools, the most ever for an online tournament series in the state. Online poker is not even a year old in the Keystone State yet and PokerStars is the only poker site up and running, but that is still a solid milestone.

The $300 buy-in Main Event will be held on October 4 and will have a $200,000 guarantee.

The schedule is largely the same as it was last year. Buy-ins are fairly low for a PokerStars tourney series, ranging from $50 to $500. Most of the tournaments are of the No-Limit Hold’em flavor, with a few Omaha and other less popular game varieties mixed in.

One of the bigger differences from last year to now is that the number of Progressive Knockout tournaments has doubled, from four to eight, though they are all No-Limit Hold’em. That should not come as too much of a surprise, however, as online poker rooms have found that players like PKO tourneys and we have seen more and more of them in tournament series.

Several tournament formats have been deleted, as well: Big Antes, Zoom, Escalating Antes, and Re-buys. One might guess that this was done to simplify things a bit. Phased tournaments are new this year. Again, phased tourneys have become more prevalent across the online poker landscape, so this is not necessarily surprising. Phased events have multiple starting days, just like, say, the traditional World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas, though oftentimes, the starting flights are spaced more than a day apart, sometimes as much as a week. The benefit for the player is that it provides more flexibility, while the poker room benefits from attracting more entrants.

Last year’s PACOOP was a rousing success and we should expect the same thing this year. In fact, with people still staying home more than normal (though what is normal at this point, anyway), PokerStars should see large fields with few, if any, overlays. Plus, online poker is the only poker action Pennsylvanians can get right now. Though the state’s casinos are open, the poker rooms are not.

PokerStars tends to mirror Pennsylvania’s tournament series with New Jersey’s, though last year, NJCOOP came before PACOOP. Online Poker Report has an idea of why Pennsylvania is before New Jersey this year, and I agree. With live tournament series being moved online during the pandemic, there have been loads of opportunities for poker players in New Jersey to play and they may, as OPR puts it, have “tournament fatigue.” Related, Pennsylvania has not had the opportunities that New Jersey has had, so players there are probably itching for something.

Additionally, partypoker’s inevitable launch is looming, so PokerStars may be trying to get PACOOP in before there is finally some competition.

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