We grill PokerStars Team Pro ahead of one of the most prestigious online poker series of the year
The Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) 2023 is underway, running from May 7 through to May 31 with $75 million guaranteed across 363 tournaments.
Before the series began we gathered up Lex Veldhuis, Ben “Spraggy” Spragg, Fintan “easywithaces” Hand and Parker “Tonkaaaa” Talbot of PokerStars Team Pro to find out what they can’t live without during SCOOP, who they’d most like to defeat heads-up, who they expect to capture trophies this year, and more.
Check it out.
Outside of the Main Events, which tournament would you most like to win?
Lex: I really love to win bounty builders because of the extra excitement it offers. Obviously, I look at poker very much from an entertainment perspective. There’s definitely something gangster about regular tournaments, but with the bounties and who knocks out who, short stacks at the final table, bounty daddy, that gives such an extra layer of strategy and excitement, so those are the most fun to win. Also, the difference between first and second is biggest in bounty builders so the heads-ups are incredibly nerve-wracking.
Spraggy: Anything with a big whack of money up top. I’m here for big fat scores and chunks of cash. PKO, freezeout, Hold ‘em, PLO, Razz? Badugi? Doesn’t bother me as long as we can walk away with some nice stacks of cash.
Fintan: It’s always the Super Tuesday, the Thursday Thrill or the Milly for me. The iconic names.
Tonkaaaa: Either the $1K Razz or the $1K 8-Game. Those are definitely the 2 events I’m looking forward most to, outside of the Mains.
Who would you most like to defeat heads-up in the series?
Fintan: I’d love to get heads-up with any streamer. It’s never happened before, and it would be incredible content.
Lex: I definitely have some nemeses in my online grind. “Wizowizo”, Ole Schemion, he’s a big one. But I put him down last time. I snapped him like a twig in a super deep heads-up SCOOP or WCOOP event, so I feel like I settled that beef. It’s clear that I’m the better player there.
My next target who I really want to demoralise, discourage, and fill with fear, would definitely be Juan Pardo, “MalakaStyle”. I’m coming for him. I’m going to break him, even if it breaks me! My heart will fill with joy every time he gets two-outered, even if it’s not done by me. He’s someone I love to battle with and it’s always good fun.
Spraggy: My wife, Marle, that way she takes second place and we can both celebrate SCOOP success.
Tonkaaaa: For sure, Spraggy. Running deep with Spragg would be so fun, the content would be great, and he’d be a very easy heads-up opponent. I have lots of tells…
Three PokerStars Team Pros won SCOOPs last year. Who do you expect to win this year from PokerStars Team Pro?
Lex: My mind says Sam Grafton, just because of how good he is. He’s been on such a tear the last year or so. He’s still infatuated with the game, studies a lot, hangs out and is friends with all the best players, so he’s in a really good climate to pull off something big.
I have a sneaky feeling that Parker might do well as well. Mr NeverLucky. This “never lucky” stuff has got to stop! I always think Parker is very creative, and a very good player. In the high-roller SCOOP fields, he could do very well.
Spraggy: I’m feeling a big series for Seb, aka, “peaceandloove”. That man has been working hard in the poker streets posting up some big scores. He streams about 14 hours a day and seems to be doing very well in his tournaments. He’s my most likely PokerStars Team Pro pick for a SCOOP title.
Fintan: I’m backing GJ Reggie. She’s been on a tear and has all the mixed games she can play.
Tonkaaaa: PapoMC is always my pick from PokerStars Team Pro to win big field events. The man is untouched in the area.
NOTE: Lasse “Wistern” Jagd Lauritsen has already won one for PokerStars Team Pro just two days in!
Are you trying anything new this SCOOP?
Fintan: Nope! If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Going for a fourth year in a row of winning a SCOOP!
Lex: How about winning a tournament? How about that?
I have a Summer Series title. A Blowout Series title. One was a one-off series, and the other has been renamed. So where’s my legacy?
I have three top-three finishes in SCOOP, I have two second places in WCOOP. But where are my COOP victories? I could have had five.
I’m lacking. The boys are bullying me with it. So how about I change something and I close out a tournament for once? How about that?
Spraggy: Winning? Does that count? I’ve never won a SCOOP! I have two WCOOP titles under my belt but since that oh-so-near in 2021 where I lost heads up in the $1K PKO, I’ve been unable to capture gold. I’m hoping that can change this year.
But in terms of new approaches to preparation or playstyle, I don’t think so. I like to think I have my processes and my plan of attack pretty well defined and am sticking with what has brought me success in the past.
Tonkaaaa: Nothing new, just a new grind location! Montreal!
What is your streaming and content schedule looking like for the series?
Spraggy: I’ll be streaming and playing every day, playing as many events as my skill level and bankroll will allow. The schedule is nice in recent years in that we have Fridays off for a scheduled break but other than that you can expect to see me live on Twitch for the entirety of the series!
Lex: I will play every Saturday through Thursday, with Thursdays only if I make a Day 2. Fridays are a day off of course and I love that we get those in the big series now.
So Thursdays will be like a half day. My daughter is seven months old now, and my son is two. There are a lot of responsibilities at home and a lot that I don’t want to miss, so being away for too long won’t make me play better.
I feel like this is a good schedule. I’m going to play a lot of high rollers and really go for it. In terms of content, the stream will be live every minute I play. It doesn’t matter if I only have the $11 Bounty Builder or some $11 5-card draw event at the end. I’ll be streaming it on both Twitch and YouTube.
I’ll be online every afternoon from 4pm CET, which is 10am ET, until around 3 am.
Tonkaaaa: I’m going to grind a lot and stream all Sundays and a few of the weekly events that I’m very excited to play. Some of the mixed games where I’ll be laughing my way through while guessing at hands!
Fintan: I’ll be streaming four or five days a week. Any other content will need to take a back seat for a few weeks.
What are the 5 things you can’t live without during a SCOOP series?
1. My cats, Billy and Olaf will be around the house providing much-needed moments of support and calm during the long SCOOP grinds.
2. Coffee is a big one for me, what a great drink, maybe the best drink. A lot of people might think that as an Englishman I’d be more of a tea enjoyer in the hot drink category, and whilst I love some Yorkshire tea, coffee keeps me firing.
3. Doughnuts on the desk. Vital for moments of frustration, boredom, and hunger, the doughnut is a small helping of sugary, sometimes glazed, goodness that solves all of these roadblocks. Be careful with the jam on the keyboard!
4. A smile. Material objects be damned! SCOOP is there to be enjoyed so if I don’t have a smile on my face for the duration then one must ask one’s self – “What’s the point?”.
Lex: Rice, chicken and veggies. It’s my go-to meal, I love eating it. I have like 60 of those stocked in the freezer. Seriously, it really helps me have consistent energy.
I’d also say UFC podcasts. I love them and it’s a great way for me to unwind from the grind when I’m walking outside. Ariel Halwani’s podcast is great and gets me hyped up for the Saturday-night fights that I watch on Sundays.
Lastly, I’d say DODA 2 just to show that there’s more madness outside of poker. Grinding a $10K SCOOP becomes the most normal thing I did that day when I start playing DODA.
Fintan: Coffee. And coffee. Then coffee. Followed by coffee. And more coffee.
Tonkaaaa: I’m going to do yoga throughout the whole series so I’ll need a yoga mat!
Do you have any interesting plans for rest days (or tips for how readers should spend theirs)?
Fintan: It’s my first SCOOP as a Dad, so I’ll be busy catching up on changing nappies!
Spraggy: Nothing special. Detaching from the game a little bit, no poker, no real study, turn the brain off and get ready to dive back into the action on Saturday.
Tonkaaaa: Nothing interesting planned. I’ll probably end up playing Dota with Spraggy and yapping at each other all day. A nice relaxing day off!
Lex: I’m going to go home and spend time with my wife and kids. Put the phone down. Play in the grass with the kids. My son loves to run around playing with water, building sandcastles, walking through the forest, and swimming. That’s mostly what we’ll be doing on my days off. Barbecue, friends coming over. I just want to be present for family and friends time.
MORE FROM SCOOP 2023:
LAST YEAR’S SCOOP (2022)
ALL-TIME SCOOP STATS (2009 – 2022)
GREATEST SCOOP PLAYERS
OFFICIAL SCOOP SITE