World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP)

by Joseph MacNaughton

The World Championship of Online Poker: What is it and How to Enter

 

Introduction and history of the World Championship of Online Poker

The World Championship of Online Poker or also known as WCOOP was founded in 2002 by the poker company, PokerStars. It was designed to give a similar or equivalent tournament event series to the World Series of Poker (WSOP), held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The WCOOP is the biggest online tournament event series in the world. It is held annually online at PokerStars. The WCOOP has grown over the years, and when it was first founded, it consisted of only nine tournament events.

The main event in 2002 was No Limit Hold'Em, and the buy-in was $1050 with a total prize pool of $238,000. By 2018 the WCOOP, as well as online poker as a whole, had grown in popularity dramatically. In 2018 the main event had a buy-in of $5200 with a prize pool of $10,220,000!

The WCOOP main event has always been No Limit Texas Hold'Em. The winner of the main event would receive not only the cash prize but also a 14 karat gold bracelet similar to the bracelets won by the World Series of Poker tournaments in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2015 PokerStars stopped awarding these bracelets as a different company - Amaya Gaming now runs PokerStars, and they have done so to cut costs.

Which poker formats are available in the WCOOP?

The amount of different types of poker formats and stakes that are offered in the recent WCOOP has been incredible. In 2002 PokerStars offered nine events, which has increased to 186 events in 2018. This is well over twice the number of tournaments offered than at the World Series of Poker!

PokerStars offers a lot of the tournaments of the WCOOP series in 3 stake levels. Low, Medium and High. The format will be mostly the same, but the buy-in amount and the prize pool will be very different. This gives players of all types of budgets, bankrolls and skill levels the opportunity to play in their favourite WCOOP event.

The WCOOP even offers some formats of poker that the WSOP does not, BADUGI being one of the more notable options. Just about any type of arrangement you can think of with poker will be provided. 6max, Turbo, Omaha, Stud, Razz and Mixed games are only a few that will be among them.  

Famous Players and wins

What makes the WCOOP quite exciting and even mysterious, is all players at the final table could be completely unknown. The tournament field or amount of entries in most online tournaments is generally quite large. This makes sense because people can play from most places in the world on any computer, tablet or phone and don't need to physically spend a whole day or evening at a casino.

The WCOOP is no different and can sometimes have massive player fields. The bigger the playing field, the bigger the prize pool. However, the more people who enter, the harder it is to win.

There have been many significant moments and wins at the WCOOP. Perhaps the most memorable ones are players entering the tournament on an incredibly small satellite and going on to take it down and come in first place! 

WCOOP Main Event

The WCOOP Main Event, this is the big one. It is the tournament everyone wants to win and will have a substantial guaranteed prize pool. A guaranteed prize pool means no matter how many people enter the competition, PokerStars will agree to have this amount of money available to the players who come into the event. In any WCOOP event, there are plenty of entries, and PokerStars has never needed to part with any of their own money to complete the guarantee.

The main event in 2018 has a buy-in of $5200. In the 2018 main event, there was a player who played in a satellite tournament and won a ticket to the main event. He then went on to take the main event down and come in first place!

The main event had 2044 entries and took about 25 hours of total play to complete. This was not played continuously! The event stretched over three days and then finally had a winner. Online tournaments will conclude a lot quicker than their live tournament counterparts. This is because the hands per hour in online matches are so much frequent than live tournaments.

How to enter the World Championship of Online Poker

As briefly mentioned above, the WCOOP is exclusively played on the PokerStars client. You can play PokerStars from just about any PC or Mac. You can also play on your phone or tablet. PokerStars have done everything in their power to give you easy access to their software.

You can enter a WCOOP event by depositing money into your Pokerstar's wallet and buying into a tournament for the full amount. Alternatively, you can qualify for by playing in a satellite event.

A satellite is a mini-tournament that you can buy-in for a much smaller amount. The winner or sometimes winners will then win a ticket to the desired WCOOP event.

Some satellite tournaments come in stages. What this means is that the winner of this satellite tournament will get a ticket to bigger buy-in satellite tournament where the first prize of that is the ticket to the desired tournament. This is commonly done for big buy-in tournaments like the main event, and you can typically enter a satellite that is only a few dollars.

How much you can win

The WCOOP has events for everyone. Most will have a low buy-in, medium buy-in and high buy-in that allow players to play in whatever type of tournament that fits their budget and abilities.

Some of the events the buy-ins are relatively small, and the fields aren't super big, so the prize pool will also not be that big. Then there are high roller tournaments with a considerable buy-in amount with huge prize pools.

The biggest factor affecting how much you win in the WCOOP is how long you survive! It doesn't matter what stakes the tournament is or what the prize pool is if you get knocked out early before the payouts begin.

In 2002 the main event winner won $65,450, and in 2018 the main event winner won 1.3 million. The main event has a low stakes version where the buy-in was only $55, and the first place took home almost $200k! A pretty good result for just a $55 entry. However, the Brazilian winner had to fight his way through practically 40,000 people while the regular main event winner only had to fight his way through 2,044 people.

The popularity of the WCOOP

The WCOOP gets bigger each year in just about every sense. The prize pools of all the tournaments are more significant, the list of entries are longer, and the number of different events offered keeps growing. In 2002 the total prize of all competitions was $730,000, which increased to around $100 million in 2018. This is more than 100 times the amount of money in just 16 years. What's crazy is that this amount of money isn't being thrown around in some fancy casino over a few months, this is all taken place online in just a little over two weeks.

Concluding Thoughts

The WCOOP is probably one of the best tournament series that gives you the opportunity to play against poker players from around the globe with all sorts of budgets. You can't ever get that from a live tournament due to geographical or budget constraints. How often will you sit down at a table of people with an average budget from different corners of the earth? Everyone has their own unique playing style and way of thinking about the game.

The idea and amount of satellites running for a lot of the WCOOP events keep these tournaments interesting. This lets people with lower budgets and maybe lower skill levels to enter these tournaments which can create more action for the other contestants. It also encourages players from around the world to participate in these big tournaments!