The live poker tournament scene is a market that requires tenacity for success, not just for players but for organizers. Taking a poker tour to various countries in the Asia-Pacific market requires compliance with each country’s gambling laws, some of which can be unclear or even changed with little notice. Add in a pandemic that shuts down travel, border entries, and group gathers, and live poker series became immensely more difficult in the past year – technically a year and a half.
However, the World Class of Poker created and marketed its new poker tour over the past year. And the WCOP is coming together quite nicely from its home in South Kora.
What is WCOP?
The abbreviations in poker can be confusing. There is the WSOP, which is the World Series of Poker, as well as the WCOOP, which is the World Championship of Online Poker on PokerStars. But the WCOP is different from both of them.
The World Class of Poker or WCOP is a new poker brand that focuses on live poker tournaments. SoMuchPoker recently put a spotlight on the company, one that launched as the brainchild of World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner Ji-Young Kim.
WCOP Planning Manager Tyler Jang told SMP, “As a poker player, I started this project with the ambition of expanding the Korean Poker market base and creating a recognizable poker tournament organization (WCOP) not only in Korea but throughout Asia and eventually the world. My long-term goal is for WCOP to have the right ability to make our own tournament system, create and manage various successful tournaments in Korea continually.”
According to the website, WCOP is a system that allows amateur poker players to hold competitions locally and affordably. At the same time, it allows them to build a list of accomplishments that is recognized by other tours and particularly by the Global Poker Index (GPI).
Part of a Bigger Picture
Kim started the WCOP as a part of the larger JYK brand, using her initials. She calls the company one leading in domestic poker culture, working with partners to establish a new perception of poker, all with a home base in Korea.
“I set up a company because I wanted to feel the overwhelming moments I felt while participating in overseas tournaments with many players in Korea,” she wrote on the website. “We will take the lead in making the poker industry, which is already in the spotlight abroad, recognized as a mind sport that anyone can enjoy in Korea.”
Having just launched in April 2020, JYK has already established business relationships with 11 affiliates and more than 100 contracting companies.
Original events included the Changwon Sangnam World Class Open, Gimhae Jangyu World Class Open, and Jinju World Class Open, all within six months of launch. Before the end of the year, JYK hosted the Masan Sokcho World Class Open, Gangwon-do Poker Tournament (GPT), and the first WCOP Competition (Busan, Sacheon, Wonju World Class Open).
Partners in Poker
As mentioned, JYK has already secured a number of partnerships and franchises.
One is the World Class of Hold’em in partnership with the WCOP. The WCOP itself is the poker tournament subsidiary of JYK. In addition to hosting tournaments and series, further goals include expanding into sporting equipment, training, and providing professional staff for events.
The WPI is a game and solution development company with 15 years of experience in technologies, specializing in areas of game and app solutions. Currently, it is providing technology to WCOP while also developing and managing a brand called BBPOKER Korea.
First and Future Poker Tournaments
The first official WCOP event took place in November 2020 at the Gyeongnam Changwon World Class Arena. The only tournament on record with the Hendon Mob database is the 3Bet High Roller. It had a KRW1,000,000 buy-in and guaranteed KRW30,000,000. Out of 30 entries, Dongwoo Kim won it for KRW11,000,000.
There were also three events in March 2021 at the same location. There was a deepstack turbo event with 139 entries and a high roller with 99 entries. The Main Event was a KRW300,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament. Its 750 entries created a prize pool of KRW149,520,000, and Hyungyu Park won the event for KRW44,000,000.
The WCOP website offers information about current and upcoming events, though it is only in Korean.
What is known is that all WCOP events offer self-registration via mobile devices for convenience and safety. This is in line with JYK’s goal of making the details of tournament registration and play easier so players can focus on the game itself.
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