Winter came and winter fell. We’re now left with a dream of spring, and a battle that kicks off this Sunday.
No, we’re not talking about S8E5 of Game of Thrones and the impending battle of King’s Landing, which coincidentally also runs on Sunday night. Sorry about that.
We are, of course, referring to one of the most exciting times in the online poker calendar: the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) 2019.
What it lacks in dragons, SCOOP makes up for with 67 events spread across three buy-in tiers (low, medium, and high), a record $75 million in guaranteed prize pools, and a minimum of $1 million guaranteed every day throughout the series.
Whatever your game of choice, SCOOP has it covered with tournament variants in no-limit hold’em (NLHE), pot-limit Omaha (PLO), 2-7 single draw, win the button, 5-card PLO, and the ever-popular progressive knock-out (PKO) events.
THE NIGHT’S WATCH
As there are so many events at varying buy-ins, picking out only five “players to watch” ultimately became a fruitless endeavour.
Instead, we’ve picked out five players for the medium and high buy-in tiers, plus a couple for those who might specialise in non-NLHE events too.
They’ll no doubt all be in action right from the off on Sunday, and who knows? You might even find yourself sat next to one of them throughout SCOOP (although, for your sake, we hope not).
Let’s kick things off with the Medium tier.
(All player rankings are provided by PocketFives.com)
CHARLIE “JIZOINT” COMBES
If you’re looking for some inspiration prior to this SCOOP, check out the story of legendary British pro Charlie “JIZOINT” Combes. In our interview, Combes told us that after a year away from the game he felt that he had fallen far behind the curve. However, upon undertaking a new coaching and study regime, he’s finding his form once again.
In March of this year, Combes’ comeback was cemented with a Sunday Million chop for $83K. Expect to see “JIZOINT” putting in a good grind over the next couple of weeks.
FINTAN “easywithaces” HAND
No Twitch streamer has been chalking up big results quite as consistently as Fintan “easywithaces” Hand in recent months. He boasts victories in everything from the $55 Sunday Marathon to two recent wins in the $530 Bounty Builder for a combined $61K.
Plus, Hand is one of the guys you can actually watch, as the PokerStars Ambassador will be streaming all of his play live on Twitch.
MORE ABOUT FINTAN HAND
INTERVIEW | $530 BOUNTY BUILDER WIN | $109 BATTLE ROYALE WIN |
$44 BOUNTY BUILDER WIN
CONOR “1_conor_b_1” BERESFORD
Fresh from his deep run in the EPT Monte Carlo Main Event last week, Conor “1_conor_b_1” Beresford returned to the online felt with a vengeance, finishing second in the $109 Sunday Kickoff last week for $9,703, and placing seventh in the High Roller Club’s $1,050 Sunday Warm-up on the same day for $9,300.
Beresford, who is currently ranked 15th in the world, already has a big SCOOP title to his name, having taken down a $2,100 4-max event in 2016 for $171K. He’s a force to be reckoned with in any buy-in he chooses to play.
DAN “NukeTheFish” WILSON
Ireland’s Dan “NukeTheFish” Wilson has long been a force at the medium to high buy-in PokerStars schedule and has more recently been seen crushing in the High Roller Club too.
This past Saturday he took down the High Roller Club’s $530 Daily Supersonic for $15,904. He doesn’t have a SCOOP title yet, but we think this could be his year to capture a trophy.
ARTEM “veeea” VEZHENKOV
Three-time Sunday Million winner Artem “veeea” Vezhenkov might have a better résumé than anyone when it comes to that buy-in level. He also has a SCOOP title, a WCOOP title, two Super Tuesday titles, and just about everything else going too.
Could “veeea” be victorious in 2019? Our guess is yes.
TAKING YOU HIGHER
We’re now moving into High Stakes territory…
NIKLAS “Lena900” ÅSTEDT
You can’t make a list of players to watch without featuring the world No 1, can you?
Niklas “Lena900” Åstedt is a crusher of the highest calibre, as anyone who plays the high stakes tournaments will tell you.
Åstedt took down two SCOOP titles last year: one in a $530 re-buy event, and another in a no-limit Omaha 8 event showing he’s no one-trick pony.
There’s not a lot we can say about this man other than this: he’s amazing. Watch him.
We could say the same for Lex Veldhuis, as he’ll actually be streaming his cards-up high stakes SCOOP schedule live on his Twitch channel.
Veldhuis told Joe Ingram last week that he’ll be taking this week off before SCOOP to chill out, study, and prepare for the grind. That makes us confident that you’ll see Veldhuis make some deep runs.
He’s enjoyed some nice results of late, including a win in the Sunday Warm-up for $34K. We’ll certainly be watching the most popular poker in the world throughout SCOOP. Will you?
ROMAN “RomeOpro” ROMANOVSKY
It seems like not a week goes by where we don’t write about a big High Roller Club score for this guy.
Currently ranked fifth in the world, Ukraine’s Roman “RomeOpro” Romanovsky has been crushing of late, and he has a SCOOP CV that anyone would be proud of.
Last year he not only took down two events for a combined $262K, he also finished second in the $25K High Roller for a massive $442K payday.
We’re pretty sure we’ll be writing about him a lot over the next couple of weeks too.
ANDRAS “probirs” NEMETH
You might have seen Andras “probirs” Nemeth on live streams recently, as the Hungarian pro has taken to playing more live Super High Roller events. What you might not have known is that he’s also ranked No 2 in the world online, and has long been considered one of the best on the virtual tournament felt.
Nemeth has three SCOOP titles already (2015, 2017, and 2018). The one he won last year was the same $25K that “RomeOpro” finished second in, and for his win Nemeth banked $576K.
We’d be shocked if we don’t see Nemeth put up big results this year.
The Belgian player has a WCOOP title ($196K – 2017) and two Turbo Series titles (2019 and 2017 for a combined $123K) already under his belt, plus plenty of close calls in SCOOP events. In 2017, “girafganger7” finished second in the $215 11th anniversary Sunday Million for $292K, so he knows a thing or two about navigating his way through those huge medium-to-high buy-in fields.
A former worldwide No 1 ranked player, he’s currently ranked fourth. Will this SCOOP be where “girafganger7” makes the push back to the top spot?
OUTSIDE OF NLHE
SHAUN “shaundeeb” DEEB
He may only ever play online poker during the SCOOP and WCOOP, but when he does, Shaun Deeb gets results.
We spoke to him last year before WCOOP, where he retold the now infamous story of him missing the birth of his son to capture another title.
Deeb’s SCOOP titles came in PLO8 and HORSE, while he has WCOOP titles in just about every game going.
If he puts in a big grind this year, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the winner’s list.
SAMI “LarsLuzak” KELOPURO
Finland’s Sami “LarsLuzak” Kelopuro is great at just about every game, and is currently ranked #9 in the world.
He took down the $10K SCOOP NLHE Main Event in 2011 for $735K, and his other SCOOP win came in a NLHE event too. But he has so many close calls in PLO and mixed game events (including a runner-up WCOOP finish in the $10K eight-game last year) that we’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on him in 2019.
Good luck with your own grinds this SCOOP, which kicks off on PokerStars this Sunday. And remember, if you bust everything, there’s always Game of Thrones on TV.
And what do we say to the Gods of poker?
Unless they ask if you’d like to win a SCOOP title. In that case, answer: “Yes please.”
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