The PokerStars 2023 US Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) recently wrapped up, with players earning nearly $6.8 million across a plethora of events. The prize money smashed the advertised $5 million guarantee for the series.
While Pennsylvania players were involved in their own battles, 2023 marked the first year where players from Michigan were matched up against those from New Jersey.
Without a doubt, it was Michigan online poker players who destroyed the competition, winning all three MI/NJ SCOOP leaderboards and giving PokerStars MI players a victory in the first year of inter-state play.
BeamDoctorPoker, AKA Jared Halter, wins big in PokerStars US SCOOP
One Michigan poker player who found some success is Jared Halter of Mount Pleasant. Halter is part of the Central Michigan University faculty in intergroup relations and justice, and also hosts a poker stream with the username BeamDoctorPoker.
During SCOOP, he won more than $18K by finishing in the top two of a pair of tournaments. He won the Phase II Low tournament and placed second in the Phase II High. He did it all while streaming.
“I got second in the Phase High, and then I was still on the Phase Low final table,” Halter told PlayMichigan. “I was just really focused on the final tables. I was very lucky — I have a couple mods in my stream that were handling the chat, and there’s a lot of people there watching, because it was a big moment. I feel very fortunate for that. I don’t know if I felt like I was going to win. I feel like my final table plays are one of the stronger points in my game.”
While those moments were pressure-packed, it’s something Halter thoroughly enjoyed.
“I feel very fortunate to be in such a situation where I get to one, stream and play, but I’m also a winning poker player,” he said. “And making more money than I ever would have imagined, like where I came from in terms of my family and stuff like that. … It’s just a really cool story that I’ll get to always be able to remember, and I’ll have a video of it and I’ll be able to watch that forever. If I want to go back and relive that glory, and who doesn’t want to relive their own glory?”
Halter said he was impressed with the schedule put together for SCOOP in its first year as a combined event in Michigan and New Jersey.
“Not only did I have a wonderful experience, but from what I heard from most people is that they were really enjoying the schedule that was put together,” Halter said. “I love the phase tournaments. Outside of the fact that won one and got second, I think they’re just such cool ideas. I’m looking forward to playing more and hopefully helping to grow the poker community here in Michigan and New Jersey, and in the United States.”
Michigan’s LetsGoGlobal wins High Leaderboard during PokerStars SCOOP
Michigan’s LetsGoGlobal won $2,000 for topping the High Leaderboard, notably winning the $100 NLH Sunday Warm Up PKO, $20K GTD for $4,903.37, and the $250 NLH Turbo Storm, $30K GTD for $6,488.09. He also added a third title, the $100 NLH Deepstack Championship, $22.5K GTD for $6,972.73, and finished second on the Medium leaderboard for an additional $600 bonus.
The Medium Leaderboard title would end up going to Michigan’s own mcleskey, who also won three titles: the $100 NLH Turbo Night Fight, PKO, $15K GTD for $4,333.21, the $30 NLH 6-Max Big PKO, $10K GTD for $2,589.43 and the $30 5-Card PLO, $2K GTD for $946.28.
Not too far behind on the High Leaderboard was New Jersey’s Daniel “loxonbagel” Buzgon, who finished second and was awarded a bonus of $1,500. Buzgon, a six-time WSOP Circuit Ring winner with over $2.5 million in live tournament earnings, won three titles: the $20 8-Game Championship, $4K GTD for $1,049.15, the $100 NLH Turbo PKO, $25K GTD for $6,323.71 and the $100 5-Card PLO, $5K GTD for $1,996.31. 1WINATATIME, mariopartypoker and mcleskey, all from Michigan, completed the High leaderboard and were awarded $750, $500 and $250, respectively.
Michigan’s tittybumpin2 would win the Low Leaderboard and the $500 prize. They won the $10 NLH Hyper-Turbo Adrenaline, $5K GTD for $1,072.24. New Jersey’s Trump&Glantz came in second on the Low Leaderboard and was awarded $300 after winning the $10 PLO8, $2.5K GTD for $535.60 and the $10 FL 2-7 Triple Draw, $1K GTD for $433.40.
However, despite only appearing on the Medium leaderboard in ninth place for a meager $100 bonus, Binkwen was, without a doubt, the best player of the MI/NJ SCOOP. They were the only player to win an incredible four titles, including the $300 NLH Main Event. New Jersey’s Binkwen emerged victorious from a field of 1,106 entries to claim a massive $50,263.97 grand prize – the largest prize awarded during the series.
Binkwen also won the $300 NLH PKO Battle Royale Championship for $11,213.51; the $30 NLH KO Special Trainer PKO Turbo for $3,051.77; and the $100 NLH Storm Championship for $6,002.45.
PlayMichigan Lead Writer Drew Ellis contributed to this report.