Pokerstars Wcoop Offers 100m Reasons to Play

This will be the biggest World Championship of Online Poker in its 20-year history. PokerStars put a $100M guarantee on its signature WCOOP series this year. The annual series of tournaments will start on 22 August and run for several weeks, providing opportunities for players to win WCOOP titles for buy-ins as low as $5.50. And as it awards $100M in the coming weeks, WCOOP will eclipse the $1B in prize money awarded in its 20 years of action.

Many Aussies used to play the WCOOP when it was allowed in Australia. Now, players need to leave Australia and play from a nearby country that doesn’t ban online poker. But this is the one time of year that it might be worth making that trip to play. PokerStars provides $100M worth of reasons to think about it.

Millions and Billions

The 2021 WCOOP kicks off on 22 August and will continue through 15 September. The weeks will deliver 102 official World Championship of Online Poker events. And since each of them offers a low, medium, and high buy-in level, that creates an entire schedule of 306 tournaments.

Altogether, they guarantee to pay out at least $100,805,000 in prize money.

That number comes into play when looking at the history of the series. PokerStars ran its first WCOOP in 2002, which makes this the 20th anniversary of its flagship series. That inaugural series offered nine tournaments and paid out $799,150 in prize money. The next year upped the number of events to 11 and paid out more than $2.7M. Prize pools increased exponentially from there:

  • 2002 WCOOP: 9 events; $799,150 paid
  • 2003 WCOOP: 11 events; $2,716,000 paid
  • 2004 WCOOP: 12 events; $5,999,300 paid
  • 2005 WCOOP: 15 events; $12,783,900 paid
  • 2006 WCOOP: 18 events; $18,674,300 paid
  • 2007 WCOOP: 23 events; $22,897,123 paid
  • 2008 WCOOP: 33 events; $39,958,200 paid
  • 2009 WCOOP: 45 events; $51,571,800 paid
  • 2010 WCOOP: 62 events; $62,717,400 paid
  • 2011 WCOOP: 62 events; $47,121,157 paid
  • 2012 WCOOP: 65 events; $52,153,962 paid
  • 2013 WCOOP: 66 events; $63,242,622 paid
  • 2014 WCOOP: 66 events; $61,935,186 paid
  • 2015 WCOOP: 70 events; $66,245,305 paid
  • 2016 WCOOP: 82 events; $68,569,327 paid
  • 2017 WCOOP: 165 events; $91,433,722 paid
  • 2018 WCOOP: 185 events; $99,559,391 paid
  • 2019 WCOOP: 219 events; $104,735,858 paid
  • 2020 WCOOP: 225 events; $99,780,229 paid

The decreases and stagnancy of evens and prize pools from 2011 to 2016 was primarily due to the forced exit of PokerStars from the United States market. And last year, the dip seemed to be a result of increased competition from the likes of GGPoker and its offering of WSOP products.

It should also be noted that the number of events began to rise in the past few years due to the offering of three buy-in levels for each event and the demand for more variety. It’s also important to mention that prize pools drastically increased around the same time – 2017-2018 – due to the more commonplace occurrence of reentry tournaments.

Nevertheless, the totals going into the 2021 WCOOP are:

  • Total events played to date: 1,433
  • Total entries to date: 5,194,981
  • Total prize money awarded to date: $972,894,032
  • Total first-place prizes awarded to date: $149,128,829

This means that the upcoming series will push the total prize pools in WCOOP’s history past the $1B mark. That will go down as a major milestone in the history of poker, not just PokerStars’ history.

WCOOP 2021 Highlights

From the 306 tournaments on the schedule, it is difficult to pick any highlights besides the Main Event. Speaking of that one, there are two different events – six tournaments in all – classified as Main Events, though only one (the highlighted one below) is the big one.

They will all play out on 12 September as follows:

  • Event 91-Low: $55 buy-in NLHE 8-Max ($1.5M GTD)
  • Event 91-Medium: $530 buy-in NLHE 8-Max ($2.5M GTD)
  • Event 91-High: $5,200 buy-in NLHE 8-Max ($10M GTD)
  • Event 92-Low: $109 buy-in PLO 6-Max ($275K GTD)
  • Event 92-Medium: $1,050 buy-in PLO 6-Max ($750K GTD)
  • Event 92-High: $10,300 buy-in PLO 6-Max ($1M GTD)

Players looking to compete on the most popular level on PokerStars, they will find 23 tournaments with the lowest buy-in of $5.50. In fact, there will be 62 tournaments in all that cost $11 or less.

High rollers can find several big buy-in tournaments with big guarantees.

  • Event 14-H on 24 Aug: $10,300 buy-in NLHE 8-Max ($1M GTD)
  • Event 34-H on 29 Aug: $25,500 buy-in NLHE 8-Max ($3M GTD)
  • Event 52-H on 2 Sept: $10,300 buy-in 8-Game Mix ($500K GTD)
  • Event 63-H on 5 Sept: $10,300 buy-in 8-Max PKO ($1M GTD)
  • Event 80-H on 9 Sept: $10,300 buy-in NLHE 8-Max PKO ($750K GTD)

One unique tournament is Event 1, though it doesn’t show up on the schedule until Phase 2 starts on 13 September. The Phase tournaments offer multiple chances to play starting days and then carry the best stack into Phase 2. Event 1 gets underway prior to the 22 August series start and plays through the next several weeks. The low buy-in is $5.50, medium is $22, and high is $109. Each of them offers a $1M guarantee on their prize pools.

For the full schedule, complete with a search option, check the PokerStars blog page.

Make Time for Satellites

For Aussies heading to a safe country from which to play online poker, leave a little extra time to play some satellites. There are so many ways to get into the 2021 WCOOP at bargain prices that it makes sense to try.

The Road to WCOOP is a promotion to which players can opt-in and then accept challenges. They will complete those challenges to earn points, ultimately a seat into a weekly prize draw on Sundays. Prizes include tournament tickets to the WCOOP Main Events.

The WCOOP Fast Track is a steps-based satellite system set up especially for WCOOP players. The first step is just $1 to play, though players can buy in to any step and climb from there.

  • Step 1: $1 12-player SNG = winner receives ticket to Step 2
  • Step 2: $11 21-player SNG = top two finishers receive Step 3 tickets
  • Step 3: $109 MTT = at least top two players win Step 4 tickets
  • Step 4: $1,050 MTT = at least top three players receive Main Events seats worth $5,200 each

There are also special WCOOP Spin & Go tournaments. These are fast-fold three-player SNGs that randomly choose prize pools. Some of them will contain $5,200 Main Event tickets. Buy-ins start as low as $1.50 and $4, with the highest ones set at $22.

Regular satellites abound as well. Simply click on the desired WCOOP tournament to find satellites specific to that event, or visit the satellite lobby to see all that are available.


Rose Varrelli avatar
Rose Varrelli
Senior Casino & News Writer

Hi there! I’m Rose, and with nine years behind me in the iGaming industry, I craft engaging narratives at CasinoAus. My education in Communication across Europe has sharpened my skills in fintech, casino legislation, and digital marketing. Backed by a strong foundation in SEO, storytelling, and cross-cultural communication, I’m passionate about creating content that resonates globally and educates our audience.

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