2018 WCOOP Winner Disqualified by PokerStars, $1.35M Prize Money Redistributed to Other Players

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PokerStars has disqualified the winner of the 2018 World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) Main Event, redistributing the player’s winnings to others who finished in the money as compensation.

PokerStars WCOOP 2018 disqualification
PokerStars disqualified the winner of the 2018 WCOOP Main Event, though the reasons for the decision haven’t been made public. (Image: Getty)

Dutch player “wann2play” initially won the tournament, claiming $1.353 million in the process.

Two Years Later, Waigel Takes 2018 WCOOP Crown

The winner never revealed their real-world identity. It was known that wann2play was a Dutch player, and that they earned their way into the WCOOP Main Event through a $530 satellite. But other than rumors that the account might belong to a professional player in the Netherlands, nothing was ever publicly revealed about the mysterious winner.

PokerStars declared Argentinian poker pro Ezequiel Waigel – who played in the 2018 WCOOP Main Event under the screen name eze88888 – the new winner of the tournament. Waigel took the victory in stride, declaring himself the “world default champ of online poker 2018” in his Twitter profile.

Waigel actually walks away with more money than wann2play initially won. The two initially played for a first-place prize of $1.529 million, but cut a deal that saw Waigel take home $1.257 million and wann2play bank $1.153 million. The two then played for the remaining $200,000 and a promised Platinum Pass from PokerStars.

While Waigel received the full $1.529 million, he made a point of asking PokerStars if he would get the extra bonus prize that came with the victory.

PocketFives.com reported that Waigel said he suspected there may have been something amiss with wann2play late in the WCOOP Main Event. Afterward, he reviewed the tournament with other professionals and reached out to PokerStars, prompting the site’s own investigation into the event.

Ghosting, Multi-Accounting Among DQ Theories

It’s unclear what wann2play did to earn his disqualification. However, there are a few likely issues that would lead PokerStars to take such drastic action.

One common theory posits that wann2play was a secondary account for another well-known professional, meaning that someone was multi-accounting, which is clearly against PokerStars’ rules. Another strong possibility is that PokerStars found that wann2play was “ghosting” – having one or more stronger players advise them on how to play their hands during the tournament.

This is not the first time that PokerStars has disqualified a WCOOP winner. In 2007, a player known as “TheVoid” won the $1.22 million first prize. PokerStars later took away that money after it was found that the account was registered to Natalie Teltscher, the sister of English professional poker player Mark Teltscher.

After investigating the matter, PokerStars determined that Natalie hadn’t played on her account during WCOOP. While she filed a lawsuit against PokerStars in an attempt to recoup her winnings, Teltscher later admitted that she hadn’t been the person who played on the account during the tournament.

The 2018 WCOOP Main Event featured a $5,200 buy-in. A total of 2,044 players entered the event, generating a prize pool of over $10.2 million.

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