WCOOP 2012 review: Hailing the heroes

wcoop2009-thumb.jpgThe 2012 World Championship of Online Poker has come to an end after 22 days, 65 tournaments and a guarantee-smashing $55,522,590 in prizes. Millionaires have been made, bubbles have been burst and a new set of heroes have stepped into the limelight. If there was any doubt that this year's WCOOP was the biggest and best online poker festival ever then you need look no further than our Main Event champion, a low stakes grinder who started at the foot of the WCOOP Megapath with just 40 Frequent Player points and spun them into a life-changing $1,000,907.26.

That Russian grinder, maratik, converted those 40 FPPs, around 11.4% of the amount you'd need to get a car air freshener from the PokerStars VIP store, into an amount that could buy a fleet of high performance cars outright. It's a genuine Moneymaker moment. maratik may well be the stand-out hero of the 2012 WCOOP but he is certainly not alone in deserving of plaudits. A special mention must first be made of Mike 'munchenHB' Telker who was the biggest cash winner this year thanks to his six-handed Main Event deal making which saw him net $1,000.584.34. Six other cashes, including one other final table, saw the American sign off with $1,013,440.11.

While anybody can (in theory) barge their way up the Megapath to a million dollars, there is special kudos rewarded to those that consistently perform. The grinders that put in the hours, make cash after cash, multiple final tables and, in a couple of cases, multiple bracelets, they're the ones that often get the most respect from the online fraternity.

The 2012 WCOOP leader board
1. mikal12345, Norway, 395
2. Ti0373, Russia, 345
3. Team PokerStars Pro GeorgeDanzer, Germany, 315
4. TryToExploit, Poland, 270
5. Steve 'Illini213' Barshak, Costa Rica, 265
6. utvekklo2, Sweden, 260
7= djk123, Australia, 255
7= Jon 'PearlJammer' Turner, Mexico, 255
9= Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov, Ukraine, 250
9= Thor 'osten' Hansen, Norway, 250
9= Ami 'UhhMee' Barer, Canada, 250

This year two double WCOOP bracelet winners top the list with mikal12345 taking the title, the trophy, a TCOOP main event ticket and main event packages into the EPT Grand Final and the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. The two bracelets won, WCOOP-12 for $43,396 and WCOOP-26 for $83,158.69, were just two of the Norwegian's 15 cashes in this series.

Ti0373 wasn't far behind and shares much of the same booty (minus the Grand Final package and trophy, of course) thanks to a double bracelet haul, WCOOP- 39 for $120,600 and WCOOP-57 for $155,817.40. Overall he was the 11th biggest winner of the series with $357,956.95, no mean feat given that six of the top ten were from the Main Event final table.

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Team PokerStars Pro George Danzer

Team PokerStars Pro George Danzer came in third and certainly demands to be one of the players put into your 2012 WCOOP scrapbook. Not only did he win his second bracelet in WCOOP-12 for $69,717.09 but the mixed game specialist made multiple deeps runs during his 14 cashes. Had fortune flipped a little differently late on, the German could easily have found himself topping the leader board. Back-to-back tenth and eleventh place bust outs in events 33 and 34 stalled Danzer's rise and ultimately stopped him from a genuine shot at becoming Player of the Series. The irrepressible Danzer will no doubt laugh it off, toss a natty scarf around his neck and go on to win a couple of events at EPT Sanremo (which starts next week).

Dan 'djk123' Kelly confirmed his place as a WCOOP legend by scoring his fourth bracelet, now a standalone record, putting him ahead of the likes of Team PokerStars Online's Anders 'Donald' Berg and Ryan 'g0lfa' D'Angelo who chase on three apiece. A horde of other poker superstars follow them, a list of which you can find at the WCOOP stats page by clicking on 'All Time' and 'bracelets_player'. The PokerStars Blog's Brad Willis caught up with Kelly after his win.

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Dan 'djk123' Kelly

Now think of your average online WCOOP grinder. You can see the wide-brimmed baseball cap and supple skin yet to be ravaged by the horrific onset of the mid-twenties. What you don't imagine is a 65-year-old by the name of Thor Hansen. The Norwegian romped his way to victory in WCOOP-25 reaffirming Hansen's claim for a place in the Poker Hall of Fame (which he's currently short-listed for). The Norwegian carries some pretty serious health issues having been diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of the year but his love of the game saw him cash nine times, making two final tables and three other top twenty finishes. It's a performance that should give the double WSOP bracelet winner's Hall of Fame campaign a boost proving that not only has Hansen been able to keep up with the changes in the game but that he continues to dominate.


Thor 'osten' Hansen at EPT5 Copenhagen

No WCOOP is ever complete without a side bet or two. Nothing serious, you understand, just something to sweat over the three weeks of online action. Team PokerStars Pros Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier and Eugene Katchalov decided early on that they'd put themselves up to their gills in you'd-really-rather-just-give-over-some-money bets including 170km bike rides, having to belt out 1,000 push ups in a day, learning a new language and running a marathon. Katchalov got off to a flying start, some would say an untouchable lead, when he won WCOOP-14. ElkY can't be judged by normal standards and made an epic comeback to split side bet honours. As it stands, Katchalov will be doing the press-ups, ElkY will be learning Russian and both will be cycling some 170km from Cannes to Sanremo.


ElkY and Eugene Katchalov at the 2012 PCA

One of the events which ElkY mounted his cashes comeback was WCOOP-43: $10,300 High Roller Heads-Up, which was eventually won by the thinking man's poker player Olivier 'adonis112' Busquet. It was the first WCOOP bracelet for Busquet and a deserved title for a player that is regarded as among the best heads-up players in the world.


Olivier 'adonis112' Busquet at EPT8 Campione

And a fitting way to bring the WCOOP wrap to an end, Jason Mercier finally ended his tournament hoodoo with a win in WCOOP-64: $10,300 8-game High Roller, the penultimate event of the series. This year has been a tough one for #whenwillitend Mercier. Just $282,280 in live tournament cashes for the Team PokerStars Pro is a far cry from what he'd normally expect to rake in (he's averaged $1,908,666 per annum over the previous four years). The $253,425 he scooped for this win, which prevented third-place finisher Daniel Negreanu from winning his first WCOOP title, was a welcome gift.

"First tourney win of 2012... Why stop now? #itaintending"
- @JasonMercier

While we may take issue with the grammar of the hash tag we certainly don't challenge the sentiment. Mercier has reached the WSOPE €5,300 PLO final table, which plays out later today. Let the mashing commence.

Key WCOOP stats
Total prizes awarded: $55,522,590
Main Event prize pool: $9,125,000
Entrants: 126,041

Bracelets by country
1. Canada, 14
2. Russia, 8
3= Germany, 5
3= United Kingdom, 5
3= Mexico, 5
3= Norway, 5

The PokerStars Blog has covered every angle of the WCOOP throughout September. Click through below to catch up on all the action as it happened.

- Final table coverage of every single WCOOP event
- Final table highlights of blue ribbon WCOOP events on PokerStars.tv
- Get stat shooting at the PokerStars WCOOP website; countries, cashes, players... it's all there
- Listen back to the Joe Stapleton-Matt Broughton chaos at PokerStars Radio
- Read profiles and interviews with some of the big winners of WCOOP


WCOOP 2012: another guarantee-busting success

is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.

Rick Dacey
@PokerStars in WCOOP