PokerStars WCOOP turns 20; tops $1 billion in prize pools

Kat Martin
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Posted on: August 4, 2021 6:51 pm EDT

PokerStars will reach twin milestones this fall. As the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) celebrates its 20th anniversary, the total cumulative prizes awarded over those two decades will shatter the $1 billion mark at some point during the series.

To date, WCOOP has paid out a total of $972,894,032 to players cashing in the series. With an eye-popping $100 million in guaranteed prize pools for the 2021 iteration, the billion dollar threshold will easily be crossed.

As part of the ramifications of Black Friday, PokerStars purchased Full Tilt Poker in 2012, giving them a virtual monopoly of online poker outside the U.S. Still denied access to the bulk of that market, PokerStars has been facing increasing competition from its rivals. In June of this year, GGPoker edged ahead of PokerStars in volume, as measured by concurrent cash game players.

On the tournament front, the massive $10 million Venom tournament hosted by America’s Cardroom competes in scale with anything PokerStars has offered. Similarly, GGPoker and branding partner have the benefit of the World Series of Poker name, and the large player pools it attracts for online bracelet series.

With competitors breathing down their neck, the billion dollar landmark could not have come at a better time for PokerStars.

The full tournament schedule for the series, slated for August 22nd to September 15th, has yet to be announced. However, PokerStars is already leveraging the event, with a “Road to WCOOP” qualifying series running from July 26th through August 21st.

Other details have been promoted on Twitter:

“The Road to #WCOOP includes a $200K Ambassador freeroll”

Despite the inability of players within the U.S. to participate in these events, the tally of winners over the last two decades illustrates that WCOOP truly is a “world” championship. 67 nations are represented in the list of WCOOP event winners, with Russia leading the way at 156 titles. The domination of WCOOP by U.S.-based players in its first decade still places the nation third, with 136 titles.

Contrast this to an upcoming WSOP series that awards gold bracelets to players within the state borders of Pennsylvania.

While the breaking of the $1 billion barrier is a notable feat, it’s perhaps more remarkable when one notes that the WCOOP reflects a tiny fraction of PokerStars total traffic. It follows that the roughly $100 million in tournament fees associated with that prize pool is a tiny fraction of the site’s raked income. This will doubtless provide some comfort to PokerStars as they battle with rivals in an increasingly competitive market.

Featured image source: Twitter