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WCOOP smorgasbord keeps participation skyrocketing
It's time once again for the biggest poker festival on the Internet: the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) at PokerStars.
The satellites have been running all summer long at PokerStars for a tournament schedule arguably more diverse than that of any festival in the world, live or online.
It's not all Hold'em with a little Omaha sprinkled in for effect like the most tournament series from the early poker boom; nearly every variant of poker will see action at some point during the WCOOP's 33-event schedule.
Pot-Limit Five-Card Draw? Check. No-Limit 2-7 Single Draw? Check. Even old standby No-Limit Hold'em gets a facelift, with a four-max event early in the schedule.
Not only is there variety in the games at WCOOP, but there's a buy-in to fit every aspiring champion and grizzled pro. Buy-ins for a slew of events on the low end of the scale run $215, with a full complement of $320 and $530 tournaments rounding out the middle.
Then there's the high end: the two-day $5,200 NLHE Main Event, a $10,300 H.O.R.S.E. tournament, and two High Roller NLHE events (one full-ring $10,300 and one heads-up $25,500) that rival some of the biggest land-based tournaments in terms of the money up for grabs and the quality of the expected entrants.
Every event on the schedule has a guaranteed prize pool. Low-buy-in events in some of the less popular variants like Five-Card Draw and Razz are guaranteed to distribute at least $100,000, but no fewer than seven events on this year's schedule guarantee at least $1 million in prize money. Fittingly, the largest of these is $10 million for the Main Event.
An online series with history
WCOOP officially enters its seventh year when the action gets going on PokerStars Friday. In that time it has mirrored the rise of online poker in general, going from small but healthy participation to a huge event with more money up for grabs than the GDP of some small countries.
Held back in the pre-Moneymaker days of online poker's infancy, the 2002 WCOOP schedule featured a nine-event schedule that took place over the course of eight days in July.
Only one event, the $109 Limit Hold'em, drew more than 287 players (it got 565); the $1,090 Main Event, meanwhile, got 238 entries and saw Sweden's MultiMarine walk away with $65,540 for first place. All told, 2,452 players vied for $799,050 in prize money in 2002.
By contrast, the Main Event alone at the 2003 WCOOP had a prize pool of $891,000 despite the buy-in staying exactly the same. The rest of the WCOOP was bigger in every way, from the number of events (11) to the number of days on the schedule (also 11) to the number of participants (6,796). Even before American DeOhGee won the $222,750 first prize in the Main Event, it was clear PokerStars had a hit on its hands.
The following years have only seen refinement of the formula, keeping WCOOP a winner for all involved. The schedule has expanded every year, adding more buy-in levels and poker variants to suit the players. The prize pools have gotten bigger, in many cases larger than those of similar land-based tournaments.
The number of players, meanwhile, has grown to an astounding level. Before a single card is dealt on Friday, a total of 106,739 players will have participated in WCOOP's 88 events held since 2002. Last year alone saw 40,280 of those players take to the virtual felt - nearly 38 percent of the WCOOP's all-time total.
For your chance to become a part of the online action in the WCOOP, visit PokerStars.