PokerStars has announced dates and the total prize pool guarantee for the upcoming World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP). The online extravaganza will take place between August 22 and September 15, and carries a prize pool of $100 million.
At first glance this seems a fairly standard teaser for one of online poker’s most eagerly anticipated festivals. But like so much else in these unusual times, there is a fair bit more going on beneath the surface.
- For more than a decade, PokerStars has led the industry with the best software, largest player pool and safest environment to play
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Firstly, $100 million is the largest WCOOP guarantee ever. That is a significant increase on last year’s $80 million. It shows that PokerStars is confident in its high-profile series.
That confidence would appear to be well-placed. PokerStars’ recent series have been huge successes. Last year’s WCOOP easily surpassed its promised figure, pulling in almost $100 million. More recently, this year’s SCOOP generated $135 million in prize money—shattering its $100 million guarantee.
An Early Start for WCOOP
Aside from the headline figures, the timing itself is interesting. The WCOOP is generally held entirely in September, but the 2021 festival has been brought forward to commence in the last week of August.
WCOOP Last Six Years’ History
|Year||Starting Day||Start Date||Finish Date||Total Duration||GTD||Tournaments||Avg Gtd|
|2015||Sunday||Sep 6||Sep 27||22||$45,000,000||70||$642,857|
|2016||Sunday||Sep 4||Sep 26||23||$50,000,000||82||$609,756|
|2017||Sunday||Sep 3||Sep 25||23||$60,000,000||162||$370,370|
|2018||Sunday||Sep 2||Sep 17||16||$70,000,000||182||$384,615|
|2019||Thursday||Sep 5||Sep 25||21||$75,000,000||219||$342,466|
|2020||Sunday||Aug 30||Sep 23||25||$80,000,000||225||$355,556|
|2021||Sunday||Aug 22||Sep 15||23||$100,000,000||TBA||TBA|
This is the earliest start to the online festival for at least six years, and the obvious conclusion to draw is that the schedule has been moved to avoid clashing with the World Series 2021 live events.
Whilst that would seem to be a sensible decision, it does put the WCOOP in more direct competition with the WSOP Online Bracelet events, hosted by GGPoker from August 1 through September 12.
With GG recently overtaking PokerStars in cash game traffic—the first time Stars has ceded top spot in 15 years—it will be interesting to see how the WCOOP fares against the current industry disruptor, especially with satellites to the live WSOP Main Event running on GG during that period.
Online Poker Continues to Surprise in 2021
The Stars Blog post which announced the WCOOP was low on specifics, but the fact that PokerStars has released any details at all is telling in itself. The news comes well over a month before the first event and suggests that the operator wants to take some time to build up publicity.
This summer is shaping up to be one of the most exciting periods for online poker in recent memory. And whilst it is impossible to predict what will happen next, it seems likely that will look back on 2021 as a pivotal year in the history of the game.
The World Series is just around the corner—after 18 months with virtually no live poker. PokerStars’ dominance is being seriously challenged. And online poker in the US is finally opening up after a decade in the doldrums.
The WCOOP is one of the biggest online series in the world, but these are strange days, and perhaps its success is not quite the slam dunk it was a year or two ago. If the increased size of the series speaks of PokerStars confidence in WCOOP 2021, the timing of the announcement suggests it is certainly not complacent.
The WCOOP runs from August 22 until September 15. Further details will be published as they are released.