A staggering $51,652,800 was up for grabs at PokerStars' 2009 World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP). The annual event expanded to 45 tournaments in which 44,000 different players from 140 different countries competed. Americans dominated the field, winning 25 bracelets, with other champions hailing from the UK, Germany, Canada, Spain, Finland, Sweden, Brazil, France, Greece, Netherlands, and Slovakia. Yevgeniy "Jovial Gent" Timoshenko won the main event championship for a $1.7 million score. Winners in WCOOP preliminary events included Terrance "Unassigned" Chan, David "RugDoctor" Williams, Raymond Davis, and German pro George Danzer.
The biggest story this year? Three multiple bracelet winners. ElkY, djk123, and g0lfa each won two bracelets apiece. The first player to win two bracelets in this year's WCOOP was Ryan "g0lfa" D'Angelo. Mixed games are his specialty. He won the 8-Game mixed and smoked the field in the half pot-limit hold 'em and half pot-limit Omaha event.
During the last two years, very few players have had a better run than Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier. He won more than $5.3 million in live tournaments since 2008. Over a three day period in September, ElkY won $500,000 and two WCOOP bracelets. He finished first in a rebuy event and two days later faded a monster field of 9,220 players to win Event No. 43, a $215 no-limit tournament. That feat alone was impressive, let alone the fact that he took down two tournaments in such a short period of time.
Even though ElkY's run solidified why he's one of the premier tournament players in the game, everyone was talking about a remarkable run by a 20-year old college student. Dan "djk123" Kelly, a junior at Villanova University, won two bracelets, made three final tables, and collected almost $1 million in total winnings. His performance netted him the 2009 WCOOP Player of the Year award.
Despite his young age, Kelly was no stranger to the WCOOP. He was a runner up in last year's $10,000 HORSE event. Dutch pro Noah Boeken beat the young gun heads up for the bracelet last September. Kelly had a full year to improve his mixed game skills. The result? A first place finish in the same event this year. Kelly also had won Event No. 2 on the opening day of the WCOOP. He seemed untouchable going into the main event.
The prize pool for the $5,200 buy-in main event swelled to over $10 million with 2,144 entrants. The star-studded event was spread out over two days. Kelly continued his sizzling streak as he ended the first day of play as the chip leader. He held the chip lead all the way to the final table. He seemed destined to pick up his third WCOOP bracelet until he ran into Yevgeniy "Jovial Gent" Timoshenko.
Just as he did for most of the main event, Timoshenko steamrolled the final table with relentless aggression. Kelly could not stop him and bowed out in fourth place. No one could stop Timoshenko's march to victory. He won a bracelet and $1.7 million for first place. Not too shabby a paycheck for two days of work.
Timoshenko, who was born in the Ukraine in 1988 and raised in Seattle, WA, is a rising star in the midst of a highly successful year on the circuit. In 2008, he won an event on the Asian Poker Tour for $500,000 and this April he won the WPT Championships at the Bellagio for a $2.1 million score. The 21-year old has over $3.1 million in career earnings.
Less than two weeks after Timoshenko won the WCOOP main event, he flew to London and cashed in the WSOP-Europe main event Championship where he finished in 25th place. Timoshenko is already an exceptional player. Scary thing? The "Jovial Gent" is only going to get better.
Paul 'Dr. Pauly' McGuire is the author of the upcoming book 'Lost Vegas'. You can read his poker blog, Tao of Poker, over at www.taopoker.com.