Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Watchin’ the WCOOP

PokerStars' World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP)Last year around this time I wrote a post comparing the turnouts for the 2011 World Championship of Online Poker at PokerStars with what we had seen the year before. Was kind of curious then to find out how great of an effect Black Friday would have on the overall numbers, given that U.S. players could no longer play.

Back in 2010, Americans comprised just about one-third of the overall player pool in WCOOP, so some sort of dip was obviously expected to occur in 2011. PokerStars signaled they were anticipating such by reducing all of the guarantees across the board.

As it turned out, the decline in turnouts from 2010 to 2011 at the WCOOP wasn’t that enormous. See my post from last year for details of how the numbers compared for the first half of the series. In some cases events did lose just about a third of the entrants from year to year, although most saw much smaller decreases and in couple of cases the numbers held steady or even increased.

As the WCOOP is getting close to its midpoint again I thought I’d once more take a peek at the turnouts thus far. In this case I wasn’t really sure what to expect, although given the fact that most of the events and guarantees were kept the same from last year, I thought we’d probably see very similar numbers in terms of entrants.

Here’s how things appear through the first 30 events of this year’s WCOOP, along with figures from the last two years for similar events/buy-ins.

I left off referring to Event #s this time, since a few were moved around. Also, whereas the schedule was virtually unchanged from 2010 to 2011, there were a few more alterations this year, and so among the first 30 events this year there are really only 25 with parallels from a year ago. In a couple of cases buy-ins were changed or the format tweaked (e.g., $320 mixed hold’em became full ring this time rather than 6-max.). And a couple more ($215 razz, $265 NL Omaha H/L 6-max.) were removed from the schedule in 2012.

Looking at those remaining 25 events then, 16 saw greater turnouts this year (in some cases significantly greater), 8 saw declines (only a couple more than 10%), and one went unchanged (the $320 NLHE 6-max. shootout that’s reached its cap the last three years).

There are various factors in play here, obviously, including the fact that this year there are certainly more U.S. players participating in WCOOP from Canada, Mexico, and other countries than was the case in 2011. A few had done so last year, but it seems like considerably more decided the WCOOP was worth traveling for this time.

I say that in part because of anecdotal evidence, with Twitter and forum buzz suggesting a lot of American players have trekked up to Vancouver or Toronto this month. Also, the fact that Canada is currently leading all countries thus far in cashes, money won, final table appearances, and WCOOP bracelets is probably an indicator, too, that some Americans have found their way back into the WCOOP. (Canada did lead in cashes in 2011 although by a slimmer margin, and didn’t have as high a frequency of final table appearances or events won.)

Looking ahead a bit, it will be interesting to see going forward what effect the launch of Full Tilt Poker 2.0 by PokerStars (likely to occur in early November) will have on tournament series like WCOOP, SCOOP, and others. Meanwhile, as the rest of the online poker world continues to endure various struggles, PokerStars and the WCOOP keep on keeping on.

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