The fifth annual World Championship of Online Poker, hosted by Poker Stars, wrapped up in the early hours of Monday after its record-setting, 16-day run. 18 events spanning all major poker-game variations were contested. That the WCOOP shattered all but the most optimistic expectations for the series is easy to see; the collected pre-event guarantees assured that $10,000,000 would be up for grabs, but the actual figures were much higher: 27,399 individual tournament entries combined for a cumulative prize fund of $18,674,300.
Not only did that figure place the 2006 WCOOP as the largest-ever online tournament series, it ranks as the third largest of all 2006 poker series, including all land-based events. That it came in the shadow of larger events with the potential to affect the WCOOP's future, doesn't detract from the accomplishments and turnout here. Even as Event #18, the no-limit Main Event, was concluding, Poker Stars announced its contingency plans in the event that recently passed U.S. legislation, as expected, will be signed into law in the near future. Main Event champion J.C. Tran would be one of those affected by the worst-case-scenario Poker Stars plans, and would be unable to defend his title (without switching nationalities) should American players be barred from the Stars site.
Still, the 2006 WCOOP provided innumerable highlights, even if the lasting impression may be bittersweet. 'Rambo5' and Jason 'strassa2' Strasser took down the first two big no-limit events, but the special achievement was logged by Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada's 'spawng,' who became the first player ever to win a second WCOOP bracelet when he captured Event #4, the $215 No-Limit Match-Play Event. (spawng also took down Event #13 in the 2005 WCOOP, a $430 pot-limit Omaha event.) Ironically, the last of spawng's 11 consecutive heads-up victories, securing this second bracelet, came against 'k-knuts,' another player from the Kelowna, BC vicinity.
One multiple WCOOP bracelet winner was news enough, but a week later, there would be two --- and this time both of the wins came during the same series. Kyle 'kwob20' Bowker became the first player ever to win two WCOOP events within the same year's series, first capturing Event #5, a $530 fixed-limit Omaha hi/lo event, then taking down Event #14, the $530 7-card stud hi/lo event eight days later.
H.O.R.S.E. made its WCOOP debut as well (as did razz), and in one of the '06 WCOOP's showcases, Chad 'stelladora' Brown claimed the title in the $5,200 buy-in Event #16. This was the highest buy-in ever for a WCOOP event, and nearly seven times the initial estimate for players were on hand. And finally, J.C. Tran claimed the $2,600 Event #18 Main Event crown, wearing down his opponents and claiming the largest share of the prize money after a six-way deal assured most of that event's final table a deep payday. This event, with its $6,275,000 prize pool, was the single richest-ever tournament in online poker history.
Will the 2007 WCOOP be able to approach the lofty heights established by this year's record-setting run? It's an open question. Nonetheless, for a span of sixteen days, the WCOOP demonstrated once again that it deserves its status as one of the greatest of all poker events.
The final results for the 2006 WCOOP:
Event Description (Buy-In) Prize Pool Winner
1 Razz ($215) $259,400 'Nabokov'
2 No-Limit Hold'em ($530) $2,247,500 'Rambo5'
3 Pot-Limit Omaha w/ Rebuys ($320) $678,300 'thegiant'
4 No-Limit Hold'em Match Play ($215) $409,600 'spawng'
5 Omaha Hi/Lo ($530) $476,500 'kwob20'
6 No-Limit Hold'em w/ Rebuys ($215) $1,184,200 'austinlewis'
7 Limit Hold'em ($215) $374,400 'yaaaflow'
8 H.O.R.S.E. ($215) $359,600 'F.Briatore'
9 Pot-Limit Hold'em ($530) $547,500 'uncforte'
10 No-Limit Hold'em ($1,050) $2,458,000 'strassa2'
11 7-Card Stud ($320) $197,100 'nikstar'
12 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi/Lo ($320) $390,900 'Mr. Shhhhhhh'
13 Pot-Limit Hold'em ($320) $522,300 'dnKid'
14 7-Card Stud Hi/Lo ($530) $290,500 'kwob20'
15 Pot-Limit Omaha ($530) $433,500 'Trabelsi'
16 H.O.R.S.E ($5,200) $875,000 'stelladora'
17 Limit Hold'em ($1,050) $695,000 'laurentia'
18 No-Limit Hold'em ($2,600) $6,275,000 'area23JC'