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This week, PokerStars begins its 8th annual Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) tournament series. The series, which runs from May 8-22, boasts well over 150 total events, $40 million in guaranteed prizes, and spreads out event buy-ins into three tiers.

Read More: PokerStars Seeks to Ensure SCOOP Success

Since 2009, the SCOOP has been one of the most anticipated yearly showcases for professional tournament players due to the amount of entries it attracts. This year will be no different.

Yet marquee online poker event series such as the SCOOP also offer an incredible amount of value to recreational players. This article provides tips for recreational, depositing online poker players on how to receive the most value for funds risked during one of the most talked about online poker spectacles of the year.

How Does The PokerStars SCOOP Work?

Over the course of two weeks, there are about 165 tournaments available with the title of an official SCOOP event. These are divided into 3 buy-in categories (Low, Mid, High). For example, SCOOP Event #1 has a start time of 8:00am ET on May 8 — and has three separate tournaments with respective buy-ins of $11, $109, and $1,050.

Serious money is up for grabs in these tournaments due to the large amount of entries. The $11 No Limit Hold-em SCOOP-01-L will boast of prize pool of at least $100,000 so whoever outlasts 10,000+ opponents is going to take home a five-figure score in the 2016 SCOOP inaugural Low Stakes event.

For the recreational online poker player (especially those with bankrolls exceeding $500 USD) the SCOOP is one of the best opportunities to have a reasonable shot at a deep run in a marquee event. But you can have plenty of fun, work on your game and compete in a bonafide SCOOP tournament with a minimum deposit of $25 USD on PokerStars.

This is due to the amount of Satellite (or Feeder) tournaments that award Seats to official events for a certain percentage of the top finishers. Using Event 01-L again as an example, you can qualify for a seat into that tournament as little as $0.11 (yes, the equivalent of 11 cents in US currency).

How Should Recreational Players Approach SCOOP Buy-Ins?

This has to be an “executive decision” that each player makes on his or her own and takes responsibility for. If you want to guarantee a slot in as many SCOOP events as possible, then you will obviously need a much larger bankroll than if you’re willing to frequently compete in Satellite events.

There are a handful of official SCOOP events with a buy-in of $7.50 (eight to be precise), so even online poker players who deposit $25 have a choice of directly entering three low stakes SCOOP tournaments from now until May 22. While this is the most direct route to “taking a shot,” the micro-stakes qualifiers are great for gaining invaluable experience if you’re relatively unfamiliar with how online poker tournaments work.

Satellites also give a great deal of leeway for new players who may not have half a day (and an entire night) to sit in front of a computer screen. The “Single Table” format of tournaments is very forgiving for anyone who has a limited amount of time for one sitting of online poker.

Rake Considerations

If you’ve been keeping up with the online poker industry at all, then you know that a lot has been reported about poker rake recently, especially the increased rake at PokerStars.

It is indeed true that some low stakes games on the world’s largest poker site charge higher percentage-based fees than competitors. Yet the sheer amount of action that takes place during the SCOOP combined with the value of the overall experience still trumps slightly higher rake in many weekend warriors’ eyes.

There are so many micro-stakes games available on PokerStars (even when major events aren’t running) that rake percentages probably won’t impact your recreational bankroll in any meaningful way. (However, you should definitely look into this further if you’re considering playing online poker seriously).

What Are Your Chances of Success During 2016 SCOOP?

I have some general ideas depending on what you define “success” as. If you want to know how good the odds are of you winning an actual SCOOP event, I’d say that’s probably not going to happen (but that doesn’t mean it won’t either).

I think a more reasonable approach for an online poker tournament fan would be to attempt to cash in an event and then work one of those In The Money finishes into a deep run. Such a scenario is much more likely and there is certainly a thrill to be gained from moving up the pay ladder in a major event for the first time.

Overall, if you’re looking for a great time frame to polish your online poker skills or even introduce yourself to the basics of the game, the 2016 PokerStars SCOOP is here.

Best of luck to everyone competing in the SCOOP this month!

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David Huber

David Huber has been involved in the poker industry for more than a decade: initially as a professional online poker player and later as an editor, consultant, writer, and forum manager. Known as "dhubermex" online, David's poker-related work has been heavily published across numerous websites since 2004.