No one knew quite what to expect when H.O.R.S.E. was added to the lineup for this year's World Championship of Online Poker. Sure, the game had received a big boost from the recently completed WSOP, where Chip Reese won the debut of the event, with its marquee-level $50,000 buy-in, but would the game sell to the deeper levels? Would a H.O.R.S.E. buy-in with a $215 entry fee draw the crowds?
No one knew for sure, even the number-crunchers at Poker Stars, despite the positive indicators elsewhere. The tournament was listed with a modest $100,000 guarantee... but it was never a worry. The event attracted 1,798 players, and the resulting prize pool of $359,600 wasn't far from quadrupling the original guarantee. In fact, the computed first prize alone (barring any chop) was nearly $80,000, not far from the original guarantee itself.
With two seven-card stud versions among the five H.O.R.S.E. variants, there was room for only eight players at the final table, rather than the nine, the Stars norm in non-stud events. 'F.Briatore' led the way as final-table action began, playing limit Hold'em with blinds of $15,000/$30,000, each over $1,000,000 in chips. The blinds were large, relative to the stacks in play, so early action and leaderboard swings were all but guaranteed. An all-in 'thag' took down the first big pot, doubling through F.Briatore by rivering a king-high straight, and 'LakersRule' did the same thing on a very next hand, winning a double-through worth $660,000 from 'fat&50' after his pocket kings stayed ahead of fat&50's eights.
When 'P10ker' (British pro Gary Jones) took a sizeable pot from F.Briatore and followed that up by taking down two more sizeable pots, p10ker suddenly found himself over $1.6 million, and with a lead of almost 3:1 over second place. That runner-up spot moved between F.Briatore, 'Siren' (Shirley Rosario) and 'thumbers' as the action moved to Omaha high/low with blinds of $20,000/$40,000. The first knockout came soon after, as 'TheTownhouse' reraised all in to $113,000, and was called by p10ker. TheTownhouse had a solid start for high, with Qc-Ah-Kc-Qs, while p10ker offered 7h-Th-2c-3c, for two-way chances. The board offered no low-hand completion, but it was P10ker's high that connected, not TheTownhouse's. The final board read 7d-Ts-Kd-Tc-5s, making p10ker a tens-high full house, and TheTownhouse was sent to the rail in eighth.
Despite several all-ins, no other knockouts occurred during the Omaha session, and play moved on to razz with p10ker owning 1.9 million chips, and the six others battling for position, each in the $200,000-$600,000 range. p10ker sat back for a short bit and let the short stacks clash, and Siren was the first to fall. After losing a big pot on the first razz hand to F.Briatore, Siren's last $145,000 went to fat&50. Siren's hand sequence ran 2-3-8-4-Q-9-J, while fat&50's went 7-8-3-6-4-4-K. fat&50's 8-low bettered Siren's 9-low, and Siren was out in seventh. The hand was part of a surge that saw fat&50 move over $1.1 million, and within a single big pot of p10ker's leading margin. However, p10ker took the next hand (from fat&50), caught several low up-cards on subsequent hands (with which to bully the short stacks), and soon had topped $2.1 million in, a large margin once again.
During this run the remaining shortest stack, LakersRule, departed. p10ker made the knockout, completing a 9-8-5-3-2 low that never trailed LakersRule's hand, which ended up at T-9-8-6-A after a seventh-street ace. At this point five players were left in the action. 'thag' was the shortest remaining stack, dropping under $100,000 in chips, but when F.Briatore lost a huge pot to fat&50, he dropped down to barely $200,000, with fat&50 surging to $1.4 million. Still, F.Briatore then took two pots from p10ker to climb back from the edge.
thag's ouster came shortly after the game switched to seven-card stud, with antes of $15,000, a forced bring-in of $22,500 and bets of $75,000 and $150,000. thag committed the last of his chips when he started with (T-3)-3, and ended up catching 9-J-J-(T) for two pairs, jacks over tens, but fat&50 started with three cards to a straight (Q-T)-J, and caught A-Q-3-(K) for the rivered straight. The hand put fat&50 into a short-lived lead, but a half dozen hands, later, p10ker took down a huge $1.6 million pot to reassume command, making trip tens after five cards, which stood up.
p10ker stretched the lead further with a knockout of thumbers in fourth. thumbers was all-in by fourth street despite p10ker's up-card ace, and the news was worse by hand's end. thumbers's card sequence read (Qh-Ad)-Jd-3s-5c-6h-, never making a pair, and p10ker ten had been riding paired aces from the start. His sequence read (5h-Ac)-As-Kh-Qc-2c-, never improving from the single pair, but never needing to.
Three players were left, and the cards turned F.Briatore's way. From just over $300,000 in chips, and a distant third place, it took less than 20 hands for F. Briatore to take down seven huge pots, climbing into the lead, then seal the win by dispatching p10ker and fat&50 on back-to-back hands. The amazing run included two huge full houses (aces over eights, then queens over sixes), and three late folds from the others when fifth or sixth street cards gave F.Briatore an imposing board. The huge hands came largely at p10ker's expense, and with just a few chips remaining for p10ker, the elimination hand was an automatic race. F.Briatore made two pair, aces and eights, and p10ker mucked his beaten hand, sent to the rail in third.
On the final hand, fortune stayed solidly behind F.Briatore. fat&50 pushed hard after starting 4s-Js-3s-4d, for a pair and the start of a spade flush. But F.Briatore, who started with Qh-7c-Kh-2d, was facing the prospect of dumping the hand when the king of spades arrived on fifth street, while fat&50 received a non-fitting ten of hearts. From there F.Briatore stayed ahead, catching 5s-Qd on sixth and seventh for two pair, kings and queens, as fat&50 received 8d-Jc, for a lower, jacks-up two pair. The comeback was complete, and F.Briatore claimed $79,112 and the first-ever WCOOP H.O.R.S.E. title.
WCOOP – Event #8 - $215 H.O.R.S.E. Final Results.
1st: ($79,112): F.Briatore
2nd ($46,748): fat&560
3rd ($30,566): p10ker
4th ($22,654.80): thumbers
5th ($18,339.60): thag
6th ($14,384): LakersRule
7th ($10,788): Siren
8th ($7,551.60): TheTownhouse