Over the past two weeks, we’ve taken a look at how the World Series of Poker compares to the World Championship of Online Poker. These two events are the two largest and most prestigious tournaments from the live and virtual realm of poker, but which one is the overall best? Just in case you need to refresh on the past two articles, in the first one, we covered the events and prize pools from each. In the second article, we took a look at number of entrants, field sizes and the main events.
When it comes to the number of events on their respective schedules, the WCOOP takes the cake, although back in 2002 when it was born, the WCOOP had fewer events on its schedule than the WSOP did. Since then, the WCOOP has grown by an average 27.71 percent each year. This steady increase is far greater than the average growth of 6.88 percent that the WSOP has seen each year and effectively allowed the WCOOP to now have more events on its schedule than the WSOP does. Chalk one up to the WCOOP.
Also, when talking about the schedules of both events, the WCOOP now offers a much wider variety of events to play. It has games like badugi and triple stud. It also has events in turbo, knockout, rebuy and four-max formats. The WSOP has none of these, which makes the schedule for the WCOOP much more diverse. Chalk another one up for the WCOOP.
Right now you may be asking yourself why people even play the WSOP if it’s not as good as the WCOOP. Well, the WSOP has massive, massive prize pools and crushes the WCOOP in that respect. It does help that the WSOP buy-ins are much larger than those of the WCOOP, but one could argue that you can get more bang for your buck playing the WCOOP than the WSOP. Still, the prestige behind a WSOP gold bracelet will never be matched, so we can give this one to the WSOP.
When looking at prize pools though, you can’t just look at the straight number because it can be misleading. The WCOOP has seen much better growth in the size of its prize pools from year to year then has the WSOP. The WCOOP’s prize pool growth has been greater than 91 percent on average over the years. The WSOP has only seen an average increase of about 40 percent, less than half that of the WCOOP. If this continues over time, the WCOOP will surely surpass the WSOP prize pool, and all it will take is time.
One of the main reasons the WCOOP continues to increase every year is that PokerStars keeps upping the guarantees it slaps on each event. It rarely has an issue with reaching the guarantee, which shows that guarantees make a big difference in field sizes and prize pools. Imagine if the WSOP had a guarantee on its events every year. Guarantees are also a way of somewhat controlling the growth. The WSOP saw ridiculously large jumps from 2004 to 2005 and 2005 to 2006. Having a guarantee might allow for a much more steady increase from year to year and reduce the likelihood of a premature peak. PokerStars rarely crushes a guarantee by such an enormous number, but instead beats it by a little bit each time. It then feels safer increasing the guarantees by a little bit each time to drive up the field sizes and prize pools, without having that massive spike over just one or two years. The result is that the WCOOP has seen a much more fluid, exponential growth since 2002.
Given that the WSOP buy-ins cost a lot more than the WCOOP, I’d say the prize-pool argument is a wash.
Moving on to the numbers of entries each event sees, the cake goes to the WCOOP. Each year, the WCOOP has grown in number of entries — it nearly tied the WSOP for total entries in 2008 and has since crushed it by roughly double. The WCOOP is still running for 2010, but the projected numbers look to be just that, about double the WSOP numbers. That’s absolutely unreal and another effect of the guarantees that PokerStars slaps on each event. When it comes to the average number of entries for each event, the WCOOP has surpassed the WSOP every year and has seen much better increases over the years. Yet again, we’ll chalk this one up to the WCOOP.
Looking at the two main events from each series, there really is no argument here. The WSOP Main Event is the granddaddy of all poker tournaments and will never be matched. There is nothing like the WSOP Main Event in all of poker. The entries are the largest, the prize pool is the biggest, and the feel is unmatched by no other tournament. Although the WCOOP gets some pretty awesome numbers for its Main Event every year, it will never be the WSOP Main Event. Winning the WSOP Main Event is every poker player’s dream, hands down. Nothing has, does, or ever will top it, and for that reason we give this one to the WSOP in a landslide.
There are, of course some, other factors one needs to consider when drawing comparisons between these two tournament juggernauts. For one, the feel of playing a live tournament at the WSOP can’t really be matched. You can see your opponent, and each player is open to the world, under the bright lights and in plain sight. You’re not hiding behind a computer screen, probably half naked with empty Doritos bags scattered around. You’re vulnerable to being soul-read, giving off tells and having the sweat drip from your forehead in high-pressure situations. The pros can see your pulse beat through your skin and watch you shake as you move all-in. Nothing will ever top this feel and it’s one that you certainly can’t get from sitting in front of a computer playing a WCOOP event. Seeing your opponents and being live and in the moment is unmatched, which gives this nod to the WSOP.
The WSOP may have feel on its side, but the WCOOP has ease. Traveling to Las Vegas can be a hassle for some people, and an expensive one at that. Rolling out of bed, falling into your computer chair and clicking a few buttons is just a lot easier and one of the big reasons the WCOOP pulls many more entries every year.
Along with that, the WCOOP provides buy-ins for the fraction of what the WSOP does. For what it may cost to play one event at the WSOP, you can play several events in the WCOOP and still win quite the amount of cash compared to what you invested. The bang-for-your-buck factor and the ease of play the WCOOP provides, gives a couple more nods to the online series over the live one.
Now that we've reviewed the two, who’s the winner? Which series is the best series, the WCOOP or the WSOP? One could argue all day, but the “feel” factor of the WSOP and what a gold bracelet represents could just be the things to set it apart from the WCOOP. Personally, I don’t believe the WSOP is that far ahead of the WCOOP, especially with the way the WCOOP numbers are increasing. Even more so, you see more and more big “live” pros firing up a few online tournaments during the WCOOP series and making some deep runs.
In the end though, the WSOP is always going to be the greatest tournament ever, no matter how big the WCOOP gets. The WCOOP may provide the best return on your investment and the best variety, but winning one will never be the same as winning a WSOP gold bracelet. One thing is for certain though, with the number of events increasing each year for the WSOP, a gold bracelet becomes less prestigious. So many players can now win a bracelet every year that we wonder whether the value of a bracelet has gone down. Whether it has or not, a WSOP gold bracelet tops a WCOOP one and always will. There’s nothing like playing a WSOP event and there’s nothing like winning one. Bankrolls are won and lost in Las Vegas during the summer, and it’s hands down the best tournament series on the planet because it provides the best poker atmosphere around.
That wraps up our WSOP versus WCOOP series. We hope we were able to shed some light on the two events and draw a very arguable comparison, one that will keep you talking with your poker buddies for a while.
For more information on the WCOOP, check our our WCOOP page. Want to get in on the WCOOP action on PokerStars? Just sign up for an account today and maybe we'll be writing about you in our next WCOOP recap!
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