WCOOP 2013: Guarantees in shambles as halfway point looms

I don't know if you've been keeping an eye on the 2013 PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker. If you are, you know something's happening in a big way.

We're nearing the halfway point of this year's online poker championship series, and players are flocking from every part of the globe, crushing guarantees, and pushing the envelopes of the fields.

Through 30 events, PokerStars has awarded nearly $26 million in WCOOP prize money. Some back-of-the-envelope math confirms that's nearly $10 million more than the prize money guaranteed at the start of the series.

There's good reason for that. So far, WCOOP has seen more than 87,000 entries during its first ten days. Compared to last year's WCOOP, that's a 24% jump on buy-ins.

Indeed, something is happening. It's just a question of why?

Well, first, there is the combination of longtime and respected rounders who are still making their mark. Case in point, last night Stephen "stevie444" Chidwick, a legend in the online community, won Event #29, $320 PL Badugi. He's been joined by the likes of David Bach and Toby Lewis in the well-known names to capture gold so far this year.


Stephen Chidwick

And then there is the high-rolling action. Over the weekend, we saw the $10,300 High Roller play out and MauriceSch take down more than half a million bucks. You can see highlights of that action below.

Those are the obvious things. But beyond that, the motivation is different for everybody.

Event #27 winner IN_THE_Z0NE is a 26-year-old is a full-time player who came out of school with a economics degree but has spent the last several years as a pro player. This was his first WCOOP bracelet.

"I'm just a guy who likes playing and competing all day," he told us this week. "I'm in it for the game. The thrill, competition, and action. It's all in the game, and I love it."

The same thing goes for NL_Profit who KO'd 20 fellow players and outlasted the rest in Event #20 ($320 NLHE Super-Knockout) for a payday worth nearly $100,000.He's been a full-time pro for five years. For him, it's all about the game and his wife.

"There is no legal live in Moscow," he said. "So, I play on PokerStars!"



It's not just the full-time pros. Stepan "Scombat" Nekrasov is a 42-year old born in Soviet Russia who now owns his own consulting business and plays poker in his spare time.

"It was really amazing for me for the first time to win the the big tournament like this! I was really happy," he said. "The main part of the money I won I'm going to put on my bank roll for further games. The rest I will spend for party with my friends and a gift for my loving daughter."


Stepan "Scombat" Nekrasov

There's lots of folks like that: fathers working for their kids, people switching their life goals, and people who will just scare the hell out of you.

Want in? There's still time. Check out the rest of the WCOOP schedule here.

Good luck.

Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in WCOOP