Daniel Negreanu was traveling across Europe with his then-girlfriend. It wasn't an ideal time to be thinking about poker, but Negreanu couldn't tear his eyes away from his computer screen. He was in the running for the World Championship of Online Poker's Player of the Series. This is a man with more titles to his name than most active poker players today. He wanted another one, and he got close. He cashed 15 times in that year's WCOOP, but just missed Player of the Series. He's not forgotten it.
"It was a grind, but it was a fun grind," he said.
Player of the Series aside, Negreanu is among a large group of people who now covet a WCOOP title. There aren't that many WCOOP bracelets out there, and winning one has become a source of immense pride in modern poker. Where at one time WCOOP might have been seen as a little online poker series, today it's a must-win for players looking to build their resume.
"It really has cemented itself in terms of the prestige. These bracelets actually mean something," Negreanu said. "Now you have all the best online and live game players both playing the WCOOP, so the level of prestige has been elevated."
Negreanu is among a number of highly successful Team Pros who are still fighting for their first WCOOP title. Just this year, fellow Team Pros George Danzer and Eugene Katchalov won their second bracelets. It's the kind of thing that will make even WSOP Main Event champions a little jealous.
Consider this: Jonathan Duhamel is only a couple of years removed from winning the WSOP gold bracelet.
"I have had some big wins live, but if you're able to get a big win online, you're more of a complete player. That's what I'm looking for," he said. "It's really prestigious. I really want to have a WCOOP title."
Fellow Team Pro Barry Greenstein--unable to play this year--echoes the sentiment.
"I won a World Series of Poker bracelet. I won a World Poker Tour titles. I've won other titles, but if you win a WCOOP you beat people from all around the world," he said.
Today marks the halfway point in this year's WCOOP. So far, two Team Pros have won bracelets, and several others have come tantalizingly close. With more than 30 events left in this year's festival, they still have a chance in 2012, which is good news for Kid Poker.
"I'm kind of itching to get that first win.," he said.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging