WCOOP 2011: A matter of flags

wcoop2009-thumb.jpgAbout this time every year since 2002, the world's online poker community (and, let's face it, the live community, too) has turned its attention to the PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker. In the past nine years, WCOOP has established itself as the undisputed king of online tournament series. There mere act of wearing a WCOOP bracelet elevates the winner to a status reserved for the game's greats.

Not to oversell it, of course, because poker its at its core an individual pursuit. However, over the past decade, there has been a certain trend toward in celebrating a country's success in the game.

It's been evidenced in the PokerStars World Cup of Poker. The celebrations surrounding that purely flag-driven contest are the stuff of legend. Or look to Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari winning a bracelet at this year's World Series of Poker. He was celebrated as more than a poker player. He was celebrated as more than a Team Pro. He was championed most loudly as a Brazilian. His winning Brazil's second WSOP bracelet made him a national poker hero, a champion draped in the green flag, and his country's most important ambassador to the game. Even more recently on the LAPT, both Brazil and Uruguay have celebrated winning their first LAPT titles. It was clear that the money involved was secondary to the pride of representing a nation.

Still, in WCOOP's long history, only 30 countries have turned out WCOOP bracelet winners.

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Alex Komaromi (center) representing Uruguay on the LAPT

So, now, as the poker world begins to focus on next's month's WCOOP festival--three weeks, 62 events, $30 million in guaranteed prize money--it's not necessarily a futile exercise to look back at how countries have fared in WCOOP over the years.

Due to the vagaries and popularity of the game, it's no surprise the United States has the most WCOOP bracelets and cash winnings. Putting that aside, there are some interesting stats from years gone by. Here are a few.

  • Only 18 countries claimed WCOOP bracelets in 2010: United States, Australia, Germany, Russia, Austria, Brazil, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway, Netherlands Antilles, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Luxembourg, Monaco, Ukraine, and Uruguay
  • After the U.S., Canadian players have won the most cash in 2010 ($3,935,598.66), followed by Russia ($3,715,346.35), Germany ($3,474,460.37), and the UK ($3,220,217.07).
  • Of all the nations who have cashed in WCOOP history, Kuwait's winnings total $200.
  • In the ever-changing dynamic of international poker, 2011 has been an interesting year, to say the least. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this year's WCOOP will provide the best opportunity in the series' history for people around the world to position their nation as a WCOOP superpower.

    Will your country be the next on the list of WCOOP bracelet winners? Your chance starts in less than two weeks.

    Brad Willis
    @BradWillis in WCOOP