Friday, September 04, 2015

WCOOP Returns This Weekend

The World Championship of Online Poker returns this weekend on PokerStars, the 14th year of the festival. There are 70 events this time around -- up from the previous high of 66 the last two years -- with the guarantees adding up to $45 million.

In truth, this year’s WCOOP technically began several days ago. Event No. 1, the $109 NLHE “Kickoff” event, is being staged in two phases, with there being several “Phase 1” flights -- two per day, in fact, from last Sunday through today, then five more tomorrow and another Sunday morning to make 18 total.

It somewhat resembles the Barcelona Cup I was covering not long ago which had six different initial starting flights, each of which played down to 15% of the field, then all the survivors combined for a “Day 2” and stuck together thereafter. In the Barcelona Cup players could keep entering subsequent flights if they busted; similarly can players keep trying different Phase 1s until they make it through one of them.

I was writing earlier in the week about my personal preference for freezeouts over reentry events, although I do think there is something kind of fun about these sort of tourneys that experiment with formats and create unique conditions without altering strategy too greatly.

In the Barcelona Cup, everyone making it through an initial flight made the money -- i.e., the “bubble” always coincided with the end of each starting flight. Such is not quiet the case for the WCOOP “Kickoff,” as each “Phase 1” plays fourteen 15-minute levels (taking about four-and-a-half hours), then after the fields are combined the money bubble will burst at some point during “Phase 2,” probably early.

Phase 2 (taking place on Sunday) will then consist of fifteen 20-minute levels, then survivors from that will return on Monday to play it out to a winner, making it the first three-day WCOOP event (technically) I believe there has ever been.

The schedule is a monster, with buy-ins ranging from $109 to three different $10,300 events plus that $51,000 “Ultra-High-Roller” (starting September 20) which will surely draw a lot of eyes when it comes around.

Here’s the full schedule.

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