Championship events add spice to WCOOP’s brilliant schedule

As the poker world prepares for the start of WCOOP, we take a look at the new World Championship events scattered through a bulging schedule.


The World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) always offers an incredible array of games for all PokerStars players, but this year had added something fresh. There will be 12 “Championship” events in addition to the regular schedule, testing a wide array of skills for the biggest bucks.

Here’s a closer look at those Championship events, highlighting date, time and guarantee, as well as placing them in context of what has gone before during WCOOP. Chances are, these events will prove exceptionally popular, so why not take a look at what you might want to play.

Shakerchi was PKO Turbo champion last year

$5,200 NLHE PKO Championship
Date: Sept 4, 1.30pm
Guarantee: $1 million
Last year: Three $5K PKO events, won by Patrick “pads1161” Leonard ($121,328), “spaise411” ($149,837) and Talal “raidalot” Shakerchi ($124,688).
Overview: Progressive Knockout tournaments have become increasingly popular over the past few years, and even the Sunday Million is now played as a PKO. Numbers are big and competition is fierce, with the format offering a more action as players seek bounties, and an increased chance of some kind of return on investment. During last year’s WCOOP, there were three $5K NLHE PKO tournaments, two of which were won by the British tournament bosses Patrick “pads1161” Leonard and Talal “raidalot” Shakerchi, who both earned a little more than $120K. It proves that this kind of tournament will attract the leading lights. Those three events last year had prize pools of $735K, $800K and $580K (the latter being a turbo), so the step up to $1 million guaranteed this time around adds cash to the cache of a World Championship event.
Required reading: A complete strategy guide for PKO

Naoya Kihara is a mixed games specialist

$1,050 HORSE Championship
Date: Sept 7, 1.30pm
Guarantee: $100,000
Last year: Two HORSE events with $1K+ buy-ins, won by “_sennj_” ($25,970) and Naoya “nkeyno” Kihara ($37,000)
Overview: HORSE tournaments are well known as the ultimate test of all-round poker skills, and the $1K HORSE WCOOP World Championship will definitely attract all of the best mixed-games players. During last year’s WCOOP, the closest equivalent was a $1K HORSE event held towards the end of the series, which was won by Norway’s “_sennj_”, one of two titles he took last year. That event had a prize pool of $106,000, and the HORSE Championship this time should be very similar. Naoya “nkeyno” Kihara will likely play too: he won a $2K HORSE event during last year’s WCOOP, beating an elite field of 48 entries.
Required reading: A beginner’s guide to poker’s mixed games.

$1,050 Badugi Championship
Date: Sept 8, 1.30pm
Guarantee: $50,000
Last year: “Camilancefieldg” won only $1K Badugi title ($18,632)
Overview: The lowball game of Badugi is a real favourite among people who play a lot of poker as it contains a very unusual element: the suits of the cards are important. To be honest, if you’re only just learning that for the first time reading this article, perhaps a Championship event is not the best place to start. But there will be a good number of players sitting down to play the $1K badugi event, whose $50K guarantee is bigger than you’ll probably ever find for an event in this discipline. Canada’s enigmatic “Camilancefieldg” won the Badugi title in last year’s WCOOP, one of several significant results that put them in Player of the Series competition.
Required reading: Now for something completely different, a look at some non-hold’em games

Simon Higgins, right, won the big 6-Max last time

$5,200 NLHE 6-Max Championship
Date: Sept 11, 1.40pm
Guarantee: $750,000
Last year: Simon “simon1471” Higgins won $5,200 NLHE 6-Max High Roller ($127,847)
Overview: Six-max poker exposes players to a much tougher arena than full ring games, where you’re almost always either in the blinds, on the button or in good, late raising position. And if you’re not, it won’t be long until you are. It’s little wonder that most of the top players consider themselves short-handed experts. This tournament will offer bragging rights — and a huge payday — to whomever prospers from what is sure to be a tough field. Last year’s equivalent was billed as a High Roller, and attracted 107 entries for a prize pool of $535,000. There’s $215,000 more than that guaranteed this time, which means the field is certain to be bigger and the play even more intense. There’s not much more you can do to prepare for this one except get in as much short-handed experience as possible, and then play your A-game.

$1,050 PLO8 Championship
Date: Sept 12, 1.30pm
Guarantee: $100,000
Last year: Belarmino “PaGaOVelhinho” De Souza won a $2K PLO8 6-Max event for $55,834
Overview: Lots of action is guaranteed in this one, and lots of split pots. There’s was no direct equivalent in last year’s WCOOP, but Brazil’s Belarmino “PaGaOVelhinho” De Souza won both of the most similar events: a $1K 5-Card PLO8 tournament and a $2K PLO8 6-Max. This Championship event has one-card fewer than the first of those and a buy-in of $1K less than the second. Either way, the Brazilian will be the man to beat.


MORE ABOUT WCOOP:
GUIDE TO SATS | SCHEDULE ANALYSIS
YEAR-BY-YEAR GUIDE | COMPLETE RESULTS | MULTIPLE CHAMPIONS


$5,200 NLHE Heads-Up Championship
Date: Sept 13, 2.05pm
Guarantee: $200,000
Last year: No equivalent
Overview: With a recent proliferation of made-for-TV heads-up grudge matches providing thousands of column inches for the poker press in the past 12 months, it’s about time WCOOP figured out who is really the best. This is a $5K buy-in event, pitting players one-on-one in a bracket format until only one is left. The format is familiar in WCOOP, but the buy-in is five times more than it was for the tournament won last year by “jackstack99” of Canada. That tournament attracted 168 runners. If a similar number play this one, the $200K guarantee will be shattered.

$1,050 Razz Championship
Date: Sept 14, 1.30pm
Guarantee: $75,000
Last year: “_sennj_” won 92-runner tournament for $25K
Overview: Razz is another discipline that always proves popular during ‘COOP series on PokerStars, and gives those mixed-games maestros the chance to shine. The $1K Razz during WCOOP 2021 went to “_sennj_” — a second appearance in this round-up — and it’ll be players like the Norwegian who will again make the running in this one. There were 92 entries to that tournament last time, so the $75K guarantee on the Championship event is modest. But by how far can it be beaten by players looking to make the worst hand possible?
Required reading: How to play Razz

$530 Women’s Championship
Date: Sept 18, 1.30pm
Guarantee: $65,000
Last year: No equivalent
Overview: Arguably the most overdue addition to the WCOOP schedule is a women’s only event, and the omission has been addressed emphatically in 2022. Not only is there a women’s event on the main schedule (with low, medium and high buy-ins at $5.50, $22 and $109), but there’s this $530 buy-in championship event, which comes with a $65K guarantee. It’s going to be the one to play for all women, and there will be a number of satellites running to ensure maximum participation.

Jussi Nevanlinna is one of the most decorated ‘COOP players in the game

$2,100 8-Game Championship
Date: Sept 19, 1.30pm
Guarantee: $100,000
Last year:
Overview: Whenever HORSE players claim that they have the best all-round set of poker skills, 8-Game aficionados say, “Hold my beer.” There are an additional three games involved in an 8-Game rotation and so these tournaments promise an even greater test of participants’ full talents. Last year, there was a $10K 8-Game High Roller, won by Germany’s “RaúlGonzalez”, and two $1K 8-Game tournaments, won by Jussi “calvin7v” Nevanlinna and Talal “raidalot” Shakerchi, underlining the kind of players who prosper in these environments. But the $2K buy-in this time is new, and probably hits a sweet spot for potential players — while the generous $100K guarantee makes certain of something significant to play for.
Required reading: How to play 8-Game Mix

$1,050 NL 2-7 Single Draw Championship
Date: Sept 22, 1.30pm
Guarantee: $65,000
Last year: Patrick “pads1161” Leonard won $1K 2-7 Single Draw title ($20,475)
Overview: Single draw events guarantee a whole lot of aggression and a whole lot of bluffing, and that is even more true when it’s a 2-7 variant — i.e., when the idea is to land the lowest hand possible. Even so, there’s a lot of skill in harnessing all the variance, as evidenced by a victory in last year’s equivalent tournament for Patrick “pads1161” Leonard, the perennial Player of the Series challenger. There was 70 entries to the tournament Leonard won last time, and organisers have put a $65K guarantee on the Championship event this year, clearly expecting a similar turnout.
Required reading: How to play 2-7 Single Draw Lowball

$10,300 NLHE Main Event / Championship
Date: Sept 25, 1.30pm
Guarantee: $6 million
Last year:
Overview: If ever a tournament needs no introduction it’s the WCOOP Main Event, which has always decided the World Champion of Online Poker. Specifically, this is the $10K “High” buy-in NLHE Main Event, and it carries the biggest guarantee of the series and takes place over four days. With $6 million guaranteed in the prize pool, it will again be the one that takes top slot in the list of events everyone will most want to win. In last year’s running, Russia’s “Crazy Lissy” took it down for a near $1.5 million score. You simply don’t get prizes that big in many online events, and so it’s well worth finding a way to get into this one.
Required reading: ‘Crazy Lissy’ downs Lefrancois for WCOOP success

Andras Nemeth will be defending his PLO title

$10,300 PLO Main Event / Championship
Date: Sept 25, 4.05pm
Guarantee: $1 million
Last year: Andras “probirs” Nemeth won $308,556 for $10K PLO Main Event win
Overview: It’s sometimes easy to forget that what’s typically called the “Main Event” in WCOOP is only the NLHE version. There’s also the $10K PLO tournament, which for many players is even more exciting. It’s very rare for a PLO tournament to attract a seven-figure guarantee, much less for it to be routinely smashed, but that’s exactly what tends to happen in WCOOP. This time last year, the Hungarian crusher Andras “probirs” Nemeth came out on top of the 147-entry PLO Main Event field, snaring $309K or a $1.47 million prize pool. The four-card sharks, Nemeth included, will be preparing already for an assault on this year’s top prize.


A reminder of the full list of Championship events:

Sept 4: $5,200 NLHE PKO Championship
Sept 7: $1,050 HORSE Championship
Sept 8: $1,050 Badugi Championship
Sept 11: $5,200 NLHE 6-Max Championship
Sept 12: $1,050 PLO8 Championship
Sept 13: $5,200 NLHE Heads-Up Championship
Sept 14: $1,050 Razz Championship
Sept 18: $530 Women’s Championship
Sept 19: $2,100 8-Game Championship
Sept 22: $1,050 NL 2-7 Single Draw Championship
Sept 25: $10,300 NLHE Main Event / Championship
Sept 25: $10,300 PLO Main Event / Championship

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