WCOOP 2021 is just around the corner. For recreational players and pros alike, it’s the biggest and best online series on the calendar. The trophies are coveted. The payouts life changing.
To win one WCOOP title is an achievement. But over the years, dozens of players have returned to earn their second, third, and even their nine title (yes, one player has nine!).
Here we take a look at the greatest players in the history of WCOOP:
Denis “aDreNalin710” Strebkov is, for now at least, the greatest WCOOP player ever in terms of events won. The Russian pro has nine titles to his name and, as something of an Omaha and mixed game specialist, none of his titles came from Hold ’em.
Strebkov won his first WCOOP title in 2014 in the $530 FL Omaha Hi-Lo. This was followed by a second Omaha Hi-Lo title in 2015.
In 2016, Strebkov won two titles in the space of one week; the $1,050 PLO for $63k, followed by the H.O.R.S.E tourney for $17k. Considering this was before the days of multi-tiered events, the double was a massive accomplishment.
Strebkov took it to the next level in 2018 when he became the first player in history to win five WCOOP tourneys in one series. This was one of the most astounding poker heaters not just in the history of WCOOP, but of all time. The run earned Stebkov the Player of the Year, brought his title count up to a total of nine, and crowned him King of WCOOP up to this day.
Denis “aDreNalin710” Strebkov didn’t win a title in 2019 or 2020, but he’s still active and often in contention for high stakes tourneys. Will he add to his list of WCOOP titles this year? Or will his record serve as the bar to beat for aspiring pros?
Shaun Deeb. He’s an OG. An original grinder who kicked college and went rogue as an online poker pro, playing 20+ tables at a time and taking down MTTs for a living. Didn’t turn out bad, considering Shaun has now amassed over $7.2 million in online winnings.
Deeb has a total of eight titles, making him the second most accomplished WCOOP player of all time. He gained his first victory way back in 2008, with a staggering $144k win in the $320+R PLO event. His second came in 2010 with a win in the $1,050 NLHE worth a jaw-dropping $242,610.
Following “Black Friday”, Shaun Deeb was forced to navigate the murky oceans of life as an online poker pro during its decline in America. A short break ensued before Deeb made his WCOOP comeback in 2015, winning the 4-Max for $68k to claim his third title. Wasting little time, Deeb was back the next year to win the 5-Card Draw event for $22k and make it four WCOOP titles.
In 2018 Shaun won both a PLO and PLO8 event, earning $109k in combined cashes and adding to his collection of WCOOP titles. Deeb hit the double once again in 2019, this time winning the $1,050 5-Card Draw (PKO) for $25k and then the $530 PLO 6-Max event for $52k to make eight titles in total.
Deeb spends more time with the family and less time at the tables these days, but he nearly always shows up for the major series. Despite missing out on a title, Deeb did cash in 57 tourneys in WCOOP 2020. He should be back for WCOOP 2021.
Before last year, Leknes had three WCOOP titles to his name. An excellent run of 2020 results shot him up to third place on the list as the only player to hold six titles.
Leknes’ WCOOP success began in 2017 when he won the #60-L: $109 2-7 Triple Draw event for $10k. The following year the Norwegian player earned his second WCOOP title in the 10-M: Win The Button event, this time for $44k.
In 2020, Leknes won three events in one year. First was the $11 NL 2-7 Single Draw for $2,448. Then Leknes won two titles in one day, a WCOOP first, taking down the $11 FL Badugi for $2k, then the $215 NLO8 (PKO) for a touch under $24k.
If his recent form is anything to go by, Leknes is well within shooting distance of Shaun Deeb and could well claim the second place spot in the next couple of years.
With over $3.3 million in online winnings to his name, Dzmitry “Colisea” Urbanovich is emerging as one of Poland’s top players. When it comes to the WCOOP, he follows a pattern that is common among players on this list, consistently beating Omaha and mixed games.
Urbanovich’s earned his first WCOOP title in the 2014 Triple Draw 2-7 event, then a second in 2016 in the Omaha Hi-Lo Championship.
2018 was Urbanovich’s best year. A win in the H.O.R.S.E event further demonstrated his mixed game proficiency and earned him a third title. Then Urbanovich came first in the 8-Game High Roller for $225k, bagging his biggest WCOOP win yet and cementing his reputation as a true master of mixed-games.
Although he didn’t manage to win a title in 2019, Urbanovich was back in 2020 with another huge 8-game victory, this time earning $42k and locking up his fifth and most recent title. Here’s another player who could well earn a title or two in WCOOP 2021.
Jussi “calvin7v” Nevanlinna began his WCOOP journey in 2015 with a first place finish in the $1,050 Turbo for a whopping $309k. In 2018, Nevanlinna earned his second title with a win in the 2-7 Single Draw for a slightly more humble $2.5k. In 2019 he earned his third, winning the $1,050 Budugi event for $19k.
After a slow and steady build up, the Finnish pro hit a huge heater in last year’s series. He won the $55+R PLO for $22k, the $1,050 8-Game for $1k, as well as cashing numerous times and securing enough points to win 2020 Player of the Series
With five titles in total, and showing top form in recent years, Nevanlinna is well positioned to earn additional titles in WCOOP 2021.
Andrey “Kroko-dill” Zaichenko is a long term grinder from Russia who’s WCOOP success started off early on in 2010, when he won the $215 PLO Hi-Lo event for $X.
After his first title, Zaichenko didn’t manage a first place WCOOP finish for a good few years. He seemed to be aiming to take down the biggest tourneys possible, cashing in the 2013 High Roller for $119k and running deep in the Main Event in the same year, and finishing third in the 2015 High Roller for $135k.
Zaichenko earned his place as a two-time WCOOP champion in 2016, winning the $1,050 Omaha Hi-Lo Championship for $44k, claimed his third title in the 2017 high stakes FLO8 for $36k, then a fourth in the 2019 Afternoon Deepstack worth just under $70k.
Zaichenko had yet his most recent WCOOP success in 2020, earning his fifth title by winning the Stud Hi-Lo event for $24k. Look out for “Kroko-dill”. He’ll no doubt be on the prowl for yet another title this time around.
The mystery player; “nilsef” is the only player on the list of all time greatest WCOOP players who’s name is not known. His results are also hidden. What we do know is that the German player has now earned five titles, elevating his status to one of the greatest WCOOP players of all time.
Nilsef earned his first title in 2010 when he won the PLO (PKO) event for $50k. After a good few years without a second, nilsef came back in 2016 and won the NL Single Draw 2-7 Championship for $30k.
A big double in 2018 brought Nilsef up to four titles. He won the NLO8 for $41k, and in the very same day took down the high stakes Win the Button event for $74k. Nilsef earned his latest WCOOP title in 2020, the $109 PLO Main Event for $40k.
This is a player who shows surprising bursts of form. Earlier in the year, nilsef won three tourneys in one weekend. The enigmatic player is more than capable of securing a title or two in WCOOP 2021.
Dan “djk123” Kelly was once known as the greatest WCOOP player in history, at least in terms of win rate. Despite a sustained period of inactivity, Kelly still has a place on the list as one of only several players to achieve five or more titles.
Originally from Maryland, America, Dan “djk123” Kelly started his WCOOP streak in 2009 with a performance that earned him 11 cashes and two titles, including a $53k win in the Razz event and then a $10k H.O.R.S.E event worth $252,350. Kelly also locked up a fourth place finish in the 2009 Main Event worth $643,200. Needless to say, his performance made him comfortable winner of Player of the Year.
Kelly took down his third WCOOP event in 2011 in the $109 8-Game, his fourth in 2012 in the $215 NLHE+R, and his fifth in 2016 in the 4-Max event. In doing so, he became the first player ever to have five WCOOP titles to his name.
And that’s how his record has stayed ever since. Word on the street is Kelly no longer plays poker, so his spot is always up for grabs. We expect by the end of the 2021 series a few more players will join him as five-time winners…
Four titles is nothing to be scoffed at. To claim even one WCOOP crown is glory enough. All it takes is a hot run and one or more of these players could move up the list this year.
In no particular order, the players who currently hold four WCOOP titles are:
Adrian “Amadi_017” Mateos from the UK, Noah “Exclusive” Boeken from the Netherlands, Joao “Naza114” Vieira from the Netherlands, Yuri “theNERDguy” Martins from Brazil, and Gleb “Ti0373” Tremzin from Russia.
You can find the full list of multiple WCOOP champions here.
You’ve seen the list of the most accomplished players in WCOOP history. Here’s some takeaway points to consider as you play and watch the WCOOP 2021:
It will be interesting to see who remains on the list, and which new and aspiring players step up to become WCOOP’s greatest players as the 2021 series progresses. Will Strebkov sill hold the top spot, or is it time for a new WCOOP all-time great to take his place?