PokerStars World Cup of Poker: Memories

With seven of the final eight teams already planning their trips to the PokerStars World Cup of Poker IV finals in Barcelona, Spain, I found myself thinking today about the first time I saw the World Cup of Poker take place on a live stage.

In 2005, I started doing blogging work for PokerStars. It started with a blog I created the 2005 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January of that year. A few weeks later, I was on a plane to Copenhagen and had created a blog for the European Poker Tour. After the Grand Final in Monte Carlo, the idea arose that PokerStars needed its own full-time blog. As it happened, that's what you're reading now and all PokerStars coverage has been here ever since.

With the PCA and EPT events done for the season in 2005, I wondered when the PokerStars Blog would next see live event action. I didn't have to wait long before I hopped on a plane and found myself in jolly old England for the PokerStars World Cup of Poker II. Back then, the WCP was a series of heads-up matches from beginning to end and in 2005 the finals were hosted in a television studio. It was a far different world back then, but one that I found more enjoyable than even I thought I would.

Among my favorite memories from that time was stumbling, exhausted out of the TV studio on the penultimate night of the competition. Here's what I wrote at the time.

Last night as I departed Riverside Studios, I happened upon the Costa Rican team. They stood at curbside, speaking in rapid-fire Spanish with tense looks on their faces. My rudimentary understanding of the language allowed me an ever-so-simple understanding of the conversation. They were working out their line-up for the final. They looked up at me knowing full-well who I was and knowing I was no threat, but hushed their voices as if I might be a spy for the Norwegian team.

It was a simple little moment that made clear to me that the teams in this competition don't take their roles lightly. It's serious business. The next night, Team Costa Rica went on to win its second straight World Cup of Poker title and took its championship back across the pond. It would be more than a year before Team Poland took over the title. For a look back at the final match of Costa Rica's win, visit the World Cup of Poker II Champions recap.

Jose Rosenkrantz celebrates his title winning match

Team Costa Roca celebrates its win

World Cup of Poker II Champions

Now, Barcelona is the home to the World Cup of Poker finals. This year, a new champion will be crowned in the first week of September and once again the PokerStars Blog will be on hand to cover the action live. It will be another year of memories as a new country takes home the title. For a look at who will be heading to Spain for the championship, be sure to take a look at the PokerStars World Cup of Poker IV Division Finals recap.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in