World Championship of Online Poker Begins on
By staff’s World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) began with a record-breaking number of participants that drove the top prize in the $500 No-Limit event to an astounding $306,200.

Snow Leopard, from Downey, Ca., outlasted 3,062 competitors to take first place after more than 13 hours of play.

Now entering its fourth consecutive year, the WCOOP attracts poker players from more than 50 countries around the globe, making this the most accessible and international of all poker competitions.

Nolan Dalla, Director of Communications for, said: “I am thrilled with the response to this year's WCOOP. Poker continues to boom and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. This is especially true for online poker. WCOOP gives all players a unique opportunity to compete for a world championship title from any computer in the world. With so many players and so many different tournaments -- this is the Olympic Games of poker.'

Until now, the previous record turnout for a major online poker tournament was 1,642 participants, which was set by the same PokerStars event last year.

By nearly doubling in size, the total prize pool amounted to a whopping $1,531,000. First prize paid $306,200. In all, 324 players received prize money -- second in number only to the 2005 World Series of Poker.

The 2005 WCOOP will continue to run through September 18 at

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