888poker and Party Poker will both be competing directly with PokerStars’s WCOOP this year. BetStars has a new sponsorship deal with Leicester City FC. Appeals were denied in lawsuits relating to the Borgata’s distribution of prize pool money following the Christian Lusardi counterfeit chip scandal. And more.

The War on WCOOP

The World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) has long been considered one of the year’s must-play events for anyone serious about playing online poker professionally, especially for those focusing on tournaments. 888poker and Party Poker now seem to think they have a shot at changing that, as both sites have announced their own major tournament series, featuring huge guarantees by those sites’ respective standards, and scheduled to coincide with WCOOP.

PokerStars’s decision to focus on its recreational players and strip high-volume professionals of many of their benefits has tarnished the site’s reputation in the eyes of many. It may be the case, then, that its competitors smell blood in the water and see 2016 as their best opportunity to end PokerStars’s domination of the market.

888poker’s Super XL Series has done well historically, and its sixth instalment will represent 888’s shot at ripping players away from the WCOOP and will have $5 million in guarantees, including a $1 million guaranteed Main Event.

Party Poker’s effort is also a repeat of an already successful series called Powerfest. Although Party Poker is the smaller of the two sites, its series will have a whopping $10 million in guarantees, albeit spread over a similarly large number of events, 196 to be precise.

Quick Hitters

– BetStars has made a canny move in signing a sponsorship deal with Leicester City FC. It’s a non-obvious choice, but obviously cheaper than going with the likes of Manchester United or Real Madrid. Moreover, it’s a natural fit for a sports betting brand, since the most-hyped aspect of their Premiere League win last season was the fact that bets on them to win had paid off at an incredible 5000-1, the kind of odds which cause punters to wake up with sticky sheets.

– Christian Lusardi continues to serve his five-year jail sentence for counterfeiting chips in a tournament at the Borgata. Not everyone was pleased with how the Borgata elected to redistribute the remaining prize pool money once the scam was discovered and the tournament cancelled, however. Several lawsuits were filed against the casino in the aftermath, but all were ruled in Borgata’s favor, and the appeals have all now been denied, rendering the New Jersey DGE’s distribution plan final.

– The Big One for One Drop will make a comeback, but as an invitational, for business people and celebrities only. Opinions are split on whether or not it’s a good idea, or fair, to exclude pros from the €1,000,000 buy-in event.

– You may not have heard of Cody Pack, but he’s been crushing the WSOP Circuit and had a good run at this summer’s WSOP as well, cashing for six figures. PokerUpdate has an interview with this new kid on the block.