The early success of the fifth Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS V) shows once again that the demand for prestigious online poker events is stronger than ever. The biggest example of this is PokerStars' annual World Championship Of Online Poker (WCOOP), which has crushed its guarantees since... ever... and is poised to make another record-setting run when it starts its 2007 edition at the end of the month.
Supposedly, the big online sites use actuaries and sophisticated projection programs that allow them to set high guarantees that will still invariably be topped by the actual turnout; in this way, they can advertise the biggest numbers possible while still not having serious worries about chipping in major piles of money themselves. That's why it's surprising to see WCOOP and FTOPS events exceed their guarantee by 30... 50... 75... even 100%, because that's advertising punch left unfulfilled.
Look at the guarantees and prize purses for the first five FTOPS events:
Event Guarantee Actual Over %
1 $500,000 $833,000 66.7%
2 $150,000 $207,200 38.1%
3 $200,000 $334,600 67.3%
4 $150,000 $311,000 107.3%
5 $300,000 $476,200 58.7%
Online poker is dying, right? Hardly. While the game is becoming ever more international, the U.S. players are still there, even if funding one's account is a bit more difficult these days than it used to be for those U.S. players. The scores, in fact, are getting bigger and bigger. Bigger prizes means more allure, meaning more players wanting to take a shot.
For online poker, long-term, the future is very bright. It's just the short-term bumps that need to be worked out.