PokerStars released the schedule for the 2018 World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) a day after launching its new “Unfold Hold’em” gimmick, a game that allows players who fold pre-flop an opportunity to jump back into a hand after seeing the first three community cards. It’s almost like the latest offerings from the world’s largest online poker room are exemplary of both everything that’s right and everything that’s wrong with the modern game.
WCOOP, of course, is the popular annual tournament started in 2002 as an attempt to create an online equivalent of the World Series of Poker. This year’s WCOOP features a record guaranteed prize pool, awarding at least $116 million in money to be won across 182 tournaments from Sept. 2-17.
It’s become such a big deal that when Sept. 2 rolls around, thousands of players from the United States will travel to Canada, Mexico, and other countries with legal online poker to be able to compete in WCOOP tournaments.
Big Fields Guaranteed
To offer something for everybody, WCOOP has three versions of each tournament, with buy-ins for low-, mid-, and high-stakes players. The opening NLH event, for example, costs $11, $109, or $1,050 to enter.
Also on that first day, WCOOP has three events with $1 million guarantees.
The biggest event of the series, the $5,200 Main Event on Sept. 16, will feature a $10 million guaranteed prize pool. Steven van Zadelhoff is the defending champ after winning $1.6 million last year. Fedor Holz (2014), Yevgeniy Timoshenko (2009), and JC Tran (2006) are among past Main Event champs.
2018 WCOOP Key Events
Sep 2, Event #3 (High): $2,100 NLH Progressive KO ($1M guaranteed)
Sep 2, Event #4 (Medium): $215 NLH Sunday Million ($1M guaranteed)
Sep 2, Event #5 (High): $1,050 PLO 6-Max ($500,000 guaranteed)
Sep 4, Event #12 (High): $10,300 8-Max High Roller ($1M guaranteed)
Sep 5, Event #15 (Low): $5.50 NLH Deep Stacks ($50,000 guaranteed)
Sep 5, Event #16 (High): $25,000 PLO 6-Max ($1M guaranteed)
Sep 8, Event #25 (High): $2,100 8-Game Mix ($250,000 guaranteed)
Sep 15, Event #54 (High): $10,300 8-Game High Roller ($750,000 guaranteed)
Sep 16, Event #55 (Low): $55 NLH Main Event ($1M guaranteed)
Sep 16, Event #55 (High): $5,200 NLH Main Event ($10M guaranteed)
Out of the Muck
Meanwhile, players waiting for WCOOP to get underway can try their hand at PokerStars’ latest abomination — a new game called Unfold Hold’em. First of all, why on earth didn’t they call it “Unfold’em Hold’em”? That has a much better ring to it and doesn’t automatically offend one’s poker sensibilities.
Name fail aside, the new game is similar to traditional Texas hold’em, but with one major gimmick/twist, where players who folded pre-flop are still able to win money in the hand. (If, of course, they want to gamble.)
Before the hand is dealt, players put in an ante equal to half the small blind. This money goes to a side pot.
Players who fold pre-flop can choose to re-enter the side pot after seeing the flop by posting a bet that matches the side pot. They’re not eligible for the main pot, however, as that money still belongs to the people playing real poker.
To explain further, if there’s $5 in the side pot from the antes, for example, then all players who folded pre-flop can choose to buy back into the hand for $5 after the flop, and the player with the best five-card hand wins the side pot. There are no additional rounds of betting from these players.
Hmm, Unfold Hold’em could be an interesting game, albeit one with a tilt-worthy name.