Final 2016 PokerStars WCOOP Schedule Announced

It was just last week that we posted the fourth preliminary version of the upcoming PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) schedule that was published by the world’s largest online poker room, but now PokerStars has finalized said schedule, revealing it in all its glory. Well, not all of its glory. Though the site has said there will be over $50 million in guaranteed prize money, the individual event guarantees will not be known to players until the schedule is loaded into the PokerStars client. Estimated date on that is August 17th for the tournament series that will run Sunday, September 4th through Monday, September 26th.

PokerStarsIn a blog post announcing the official schedule, Senior Manager of Online Championships for PokerStars Bryan Slick said that as the schedule evolved, many of the changes were the result of the poker community’s suggestions. “One constant throughout, as it is each year that we go through this process, is that a large number of the changes were driven by feedback from our players,” Slick wrote. “As I say quite often, we not only listen to feedback from our players, we absolutely depend upon it.  After all, none of those of us who build our Championship series actually play in them (as much as we’d love to).”

Perhaps the biggest addition to the WCOOP this year is the Mini-WCOOP, a smaller-buy-in little brother to the main WCOOP series. While nobody from PokerStars has said as much, this appears to be a remnant of sorts from Full Tilt, which was also owned by Amaya, the parent company of PokerStars, until recently having its liquidity merged into that of PokerStars’. Full Tilt hosted FTOPS, a very popular online poker tournament series, as well as Mini-FTOPS, an equally popular lower buy-in companion series. As Full Tilt is, for all intents and purposes, gone, so is Mini-FTOPS. Thus, PokerStars has introduced Mini-WCOOP.

Bryan Slick provided some insight into Mini-WCOOP:

The schedule for Mini-WCOOP will follow the schedule for WCOOP, with the buy-in for each Mini-WCOOP Event being at 1/100th that of the corresponding WCOOP Event in most cases, except when the WCOOP Event eclipses $1,000, at which point the Mini-WCOOP Event is capped at $11.  We’re running this companion series to give everyone the chance to take part in the WCOOP experience, while rightfully keeping a respectable distance from the Events of WCOOP proper.

He also gave reasonable explanations as to why Second Chance tournaments and WCOOP bracelets have been eliminated:

As WCOOP has expanded over the years, both in number of Events as well as length and availability of late registration, the need for 2nd Chance tournaments has diminished significantly.  Removing the 2nd Chance tournaments has been something that we’ve been considering for a few years, and with the expansion to 82 Events, it’s a decision that we’ve finally taken.  Also in 2016, we have decided to stop awarding WCOOP bracelets.  As part of an extensive review, we have found that although some players have been highly appreciative and valued the bracelets as the prestigious trophies we intended them to be from the start, the vast majority of players have made it clear that going after a bracelet is not something which motivates them to play the series.  Given the fact that the spending on the bracelets represents a significant cost which is devoted to a very small percentage of the WCOOP population each year, the decision to discontinue them was clearer than it might have seemed initially.  We will of course continue to send all WCOOP final table participants and winners a token of recognition of their achievement, in addition to the massive prize awaiting each WCOOP Champion at the top of each prize table.

One would think that neither Second Chance tournaments nor WCOOP bracelets will be missed all that much. Bracelets, in particular, are certainly nice (and I would not reject one if I earned it), but I would be plenty surprised if anyone ever did much of anything with them beyond displaying them on their dresser.

As always, there will be a WCOOP leader board on which players will be ranked based on how they finish in the 82 WCOOP events. The WCOOP is normally enormous, but this one is particularly ambitious, as it has a dozen more events than last year’s. Among the highlights:

•    Event #78: $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event with $1.5 million guaranteed to the winner
•    Event #3: $1,050 No-Limit Hold’em Marathon Event – with five re-entries permitted and an “extremely deep” structure, this four-day event is the one for players who REALLY want to play
•    Event #20: $320 No-Limit Hold’em 3-Max, Progressive Knockout, Zoom – new to WCOOP, but a fan favorite from 2106 Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP)
•    Event #28: $102,000 No-Limit Hold’em Super High Roller – double the buy-in of last year’s priciest WCOOP tournament, this one will take over as the most expensive tournament in online poker history.
•    Events #48 and  #50: $215 Players’ Choice Events – players will e-mail PokerStars to nominate game types they want for these two events. The most nominated games will be turned into tournaments for which players can vote by actually registering as if they were already WCOOP events. The top two vote getters will become Events #48 and #50.

The complete schedule for the 2016 PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker can be found on the PokerStars blog.

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