PokerStars Releases 2017 WCOOP Schedule
PokerStars released the complete schedule for the 2017 World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) today, giving us a schedule with 81 dual-tournament events running September 3rd through September 26th.
That’s right, each event is set up in a dual structure with a High and Low buy-in version of each, a departure from previous years. Last year, PokerStars added the Mini-WCOOP, a smaller buy-in companion tournament to the WCOOP. It seemed like that might have been the influence of Full Tilt, which The Stars Group (Amaya at the time) owns, though is now just a skin of PokerStars. Full Tilt ran the very popular tournament series FTOPS as well as Mini-FTOPS, also quite popular.
This year, PokerStars is doing away with Mini-WCOOP but is adding a Low tier buy-in to each event, very much how the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) is structured.
“….make no mistake,” PokerStars Tournaments Team Manager Luke Staudenmaier said in a blog post, “it is not a companion series!”
“With over $11,000,000 guaranteed,” he added, “WCOOP Low is the real deal. Featuring buy-ins approximately 1/20th the size of their High counterparts, Low events will run 24 hours after High events (with a couple notable exceptions). We feel WCOOP Low will offer something special to our players whose bankroll may not support playing the High events.”
To give an example of how this will work, the first “High” event is a straightforward $215 No-Limit Hold’em tournament, starting at 8:00am ET on September 3rd. Its companion event, an $11 buy-in tournament of the same type, starts at 8:00am ET on September 4th.
As most people in the poker community will agree, PokerStars is not immune to making its share of mistakes. Fortunately, one thing it did for 2017 SCOOP that did not really work out will be remedied for 2017 WCOOP. In SCOOP, PokerStars allowed players to win a satellite ticket for a tournament in which they were currently playing, unregister, then re-register during late registration with their ticket. If that seemed like a dubious proposition at the time, that’s because it was. Staudenmaier said that it “created operational stress and confusion among players.”
Thus, for 2017 WCOOP, anyone who wins a ticket to a WCOOP event via satellite will be required to play in the tournament from the get-go if it hasn’t already started. Those who win multiple tickets to the same event will win tournament dollars for the extras, though some events will not allow players to win more than one seat.
There are always new events added to the WCOOP schedule every year, but PokerStars is highlighting just one this go-around: a phased HORSE tournament. Phase tourneys are a relatively new thing in the online poker world, but they are commonplace in major live tournaments, even if they don’t go by the “phase” name. Phase tournaments are essentially just tournaments with multiple starting days, just like how the World Series of Poker had three starting flights for the Main Event, Days 1A, 1B, and 1C.
The HORSE phase tournament is interesting. There are six Phase 1 days (the starting flights), all of which feed into the Phase 2 and final day of the tournament. The twist here is that each Phase 1 day is a different game type: Fixed-Limit Hold’em, Fixed-Limit Omaha 8, Razz, Stud, Stud Hi/Lo, and HORSE. So, if someone is a Stud specialist, they can opt to play in the Stud Phase 1 and not have to worry about the other game. Of course, Phase 2 is all HORSE, so specialists won’t be able to avoid the other game types forever.
The High buy-in for the phased HORSE event is $215. The six Phase 1 days will be September 11th through September 16th and will end when 10 percent of the field remains. Those survivors will meet up in Phase 2 on September 16th (there is a five-hour start time difference between the final Phase 1 and Phase 2 that day).
The Low buy-in phased HORSE event costs $11 and will actually run concurrently with the High buy-in event, rather than a day later.
PokerStars also wants “players to feel like they’re entering a truly special tournament when they take their seat.”
To this end, Low buy-in events will have starting stacks of 25,000 chips and High buy-in events will have starting stacks of 50,000 chips. To go along with this, new blind structures with shorter levels but also smaller blind increases will be implemented. PokerStars assures players that the stacks will be “deep” and allow for plenty of play.
As of this writing, the complete 2017 WCOOP schedule has not been posted on the PokerStars website, but it was released to members of the poker media and can be downloaded here.