The World Series of Poker is the premier tournament series in the live realm of poker. Online, the World Championship of Online Poker takes the cake. The WCOOP has only been around since 2002 and it has drawn some of the largest tournament fields, creating ridiculously large prize pools, ever since it began. That’s very similar to the WSOP, which saw it’s big boom after Chris Moneymaker won in 2003, following a small boom in 2002 after Robert Varkonyi took home the title. That begs the question now, how do these two juggernauts compare against each other?
Back in 2002, the WSOP had 35 events. Although that may seem like a good amount of tournaments to run during the summer months in Las Vegas, it’s much smaller than the 55 or more events that are now taking place at the WSOP. Next year they may top 60, who knows. From 2002 to 2010, the WSOP only decreased the number of events it had compared to the previous year once and that was in 2004, where the number of events dropped to 33 from 36 the year before. Every other year, the number has at least stayed the same. The largest increase occurred from the 2004 to 2005 WSOP, where an increase of over 30 percent was seen in the number of events held in the summer.
Over on the virtual felt, the WCOOP began with far less events in 2002, holding only nine that first year. Although that number may be small, the WCOOP has a whopping 62 events slated on its schedule for 2010, and they have increased their events more and more every year. The WCOOP has seen an average increase of 27.71 percent in the number of events held each year. The WSOP’s average increase in number of events held every year is only about 6.88%.
Taking a look at the graph of the number of events on each schedule from 2002 to 2010, you can see that the WCOOP has had a much more cubic or exponential growth whereas the WSOP sees a more linear growth from year to year.
Moving on to the total prize pool amounts for each series, the WSOP trumps the WCOOP every year by an extremely wide margin. The 2010 WCOOP hasn’t been completed yet, but the data from 2002 to 2009 can still be looked at and compared. The WSOP prize pools saw large spikes in 2004, 2005 and 2006. In the years after, the total has stayed relatively the same. Over the years from 2002 to 2009, the WSOP has seen an average increase of 44.62% in the total prize pool, but if you break those years up into two sections of 2002 to 2006 and 2006 to 2009, you’ll see some very black and white numbers.
From 2002 to 2006, the average increase in the size of the prize pool for the WSOP was 75.71 percent. From 2006 to 2009, that number dropped significantly to 3.18 percent and that also includes a -4 percent drop from 2008 to 2009, something the WCOOP has never seen since its conception. The largest increase was from 2004 to 2005, where the prize pool jumped by 130.76 percent. The WSOP did rise back up with an increase of 7.82 percent in 2010 compared to 2009, but those numbers are still far from the ones it saw during the poker boom.
The WCOOP, on the other hand, has seen a much nicer average over the years. From 2002 to 2009, the total prize pool for WCOOP events has ranged from just under $800,000 in 2002 to over $50,000,000 in 2009. The average increase has been 91.49 percent since 2002 and that’s a lot better than what the WSOP has seen. In 2010, another $50,000,000-plus is guaranteed and there are more events than ever, meaning this number should once again increase. The smallest increase was from 2008 to 2009, where the WCOOP prize pool only rose by 27.32 percent. Even with that being much smaller than its largest rise of 235.41 percent in 2003, that number is still well above the 4 percent decrease that the WSOP saw in 2009.
As you can see by the graph, the WSOP shot off to a nice exponential growth from 2002 to 2006, but has since leveled off with a very linear slope. Heck, it has almost stayed level throughout those years. The WCOOP has seen a steady linear rise that could be interpreted as slightly cubic. Either way, it’s increases over the years have proved to be much more consistent. If you were to take out 2010 from the graph above, the WSOP prize pool would be taking on the shape of a bell curve, which is on a decline. It may still decline in the years post-2010 to represent somewhat of a bell curve shape, but more than likely it will simply fluctuate around the $160,000,000 to $190,000,000 range.
When looking at the total prize pools from each series, you have to take into account that the WCOOP’s buy-ins amount to far less than the WSOP. The smallest WSOP event is the $500 Casino Employee Event and the largest the $50,000 Players Championship. The WCOOP has buy-ins for a few hundred dollars ranging up to $25,000. The return on your investment for the WCOOP is amazing and competes extremely well with the WSOP, although you can’t put a number on the worth of a WSOP gold bracelet. One thing is for certain though. If the WSOP prize pool increases by a smaller percentage every year (or decreases) than the WCOOP prize pool does, it will only be a matter of time before the WCOOP provides more money to be won.
So which series is the better of the two? Well, there’s some more information we’re going to have to take a look at. For now, we’ll let you be the judge. The WCOOP brings massive prizes for a fraction of the WSOP prize, but you really can’t compare to owning a piece of gold WSOP hardware. Next week we’ll continue with the second part of this comparison where we’ll take a look at the number of entrants each series draws in along with comparison of the two main events.
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