Monday at the fifth annual World Championship of Online Poker saw the return of fixed-limit poker to the fore at Poker Stars. Event #11 was on tap, a $300+20 buy-in 7-card stud tourney, and as is the norm for this year's WCOOP, the initial $100,000 guarantee had little meaning. 657 stud specialists signed on, producing a total prize pool of $197,100, with a scheduled first prize of $46,220 and payouts 88 places deep.
Germany's 'Sassenage' led the way to the final table with $344,000 in chips, just ahead of Denmark's 'morten,' but the greater story was that Sassenage became the first player at this year's WCOOP to final-table two different events. (Sassenage placed eighth in Event #2.) Still, the early excitement was the battle between a couple short stacks on the way to the final eight. 'davebreal' won that battle, sliding past 'debill,' by starting with rolled-up kings at the most opportune moment --- when he was down to just $23,000 in chips. With almost a triple-through to $63,000, he jumped well ahead of debill, who, on the next hand at the other table, commited to a window-card ace for his last $20,000, but ran headlong into Carlsbad, CA's 'nikstar' and his rolled-up threes.
It looked like davebreal might climb higher, as 'jcsacc' dropped a big pot to nikstar, dropping into eight place, as nikstar surged to the lead. nikstar won another sizeable pot, over $200,000, to build to about $450,000 and open a sizable margin over Sassenage and 'Evelyn,' who battled for second. But jcsacc survived an all-in hand, and the curtain came first for davebreal, who dropped most of his remaining chips in a $100,000 pot taken down by morten, and then lost his last $10,000 two hands later to Sassenage. davebreal started the hand with an ace in the hole, and was already in the small blind, but Sassenage started with aces under, caught the remaining ace on fourth street, and only needed to fade davebreal's prayed-for five on seventh street, which would have filled a straight. davebreal's final sequence read (Ad-4s)-2c-2h-3h-Jh-, for a modest pair of deuces and the busted draw, and Sasssenage's was (As-Ah)-Qd-Ac-2d-8d-, for trip aces. davebreal collected over $3,700 for his eight-place finish.
jcsacc outlasted davebreal's ouster, but would climb no higher. jcsacc never managed to take down a big final-table pot, and after being on life support for several hands, was priced in after the $1,500 ante brought his stack under $10,000. This time nikstar claimed the knockout, after both he and 'BJCAS' checked it down, and nikstar ended up with jacks and sevens, while jcsacc mustered only a pair of eights. BJCAS's cards were mucked, but no matter --- jcsacc was out in seventh.
Despite the $7,500/$15,000 levels, another twenty or so hands passed until the next knockout occurred. By this time the field had split into three parts: nikstar held a comfortable lead, over $600,000; Evelyn and Sassenage swapped second and third spots with stacks in the $300,000-$400,000 range; and BJCAS, morten and 'hurricaneace' held $100,000 or a bit more each, and were in danger any time they committed to a big pot. Soon, a battle of the short stacks built up between hurricaneace and BJCAS, and both players made solid hands. BJCAS's sequence read (Kh-Ts)-Jh-Kd-2h-Qh-, with the river completing the ace-high straight, but hurricaneace also connected on seventh; his sequence read (Jc-Ac)-Jd-Qc-7s-Tc-, the club six completing the winning flush and sending BJCAS out in sixth place.
Not long after five-way play ensued, the levels jumped to $10,000/$20,000, with a $2,000 ante and a forced $3,000 low-card bring-in. It coincided with the reversal of fortune for Evelyn, who suffered a couple of seventh-street beats --- one by morten, who survived an all-in by catching a spade for a flush --- to drop from the second-place battle all the way to the brink. Evelyn dodged a big flush/open-ended straight draw held by Sassenage to evade elimination and climb back over $100,000, but the respite was short-lived. The final blow came from morten, as part of a surge of big hands and imposing boards that pushed morten over $300,000 and into a solid third-place spot. Evelyn's last hand came after a river fold in a $150,000 pot against Sassenage, likely when a big draw (possibly to a diamond flush) failed to connect. On that final hand, Evelyn's last $8,000 went in at the start, having nothing more than a high-card ace to show against morten's sixes and fours, and the table's original eight was halved.
hurricaneace, by this time the remaining short stack, had dodged elimination on a couple of previous occasions but finally ran out of cards. After dropping three successive pots, one each to the other players, hurricaneace had less than $7,500, barely more than the antes. He pushed on the next hand, each of the other players made the cheap call in hopes of the knockout, and Sassenage made a king-high flush, ahead of morten's trip tens. hurricaneace never caught as much as a pair, and was out in fourth.
Meanwhile, nikstar protected his lead by finding key spots, attacking weakness, and avoiding the huge confrontations. As a result, his stack edged ever higher, and by the time three-way play began, he'd climbed over $800,000 --- more than half of all the chips in play. Sassenage and morten were in a tight battle, but at about $350,000 each, both had a sizeable climb to the lead. Still, Sassenage drew the next significant blood, finally dinging nikstar for a $430,000 pot by completing a queens-over-sixes full house on the river, despite having only a king-high for up-cards. The hand drew Sassenage close to $600,000 and put him back in the hunt.
Sassenage edged into the lead, briefly, before nikstar went on a run, taking down seven consecutive smaller pots. When Sassenage followed that up with a couple of nice pots of his own, the result was a tight spot for morten, now knocked down to elimination's edge. Sassenage claimed the knockout after a hand where the last of morten's $70,000 of chips was in the pot after fifth street, hoping that catching and pairing high cards would be enough. On that hand, morten's card sequence read (7d-8h)-Ah-Jc-5s-9c-, never making even a pair, while Sassenage's read (Qh-Ac)-Th-4d-Qc-9s-, for the winning pair of queens. morten claimed nearly $17,000 in third-place money.
The knockout pushed Sassenage close to nikstar in chips, with $762,000 compared to nikstar's $880,000. The two looked at the payouts, and quickly agreed on a deal based on their chip counts, which guaranteed Sassenage more than $33,000, nikstar a thousand more, and left $5,000 and the champion's bracelet up for grabs.
With both players having about 40 big bets in hand, the potential existed for a lengthy heads-up battle... and that's what occurred. Most hands ended after the initial three cards, with the player forced to make the bring-in then unable to call the other player's all-but-automatic raise. Both players made small runs, and both players crested above the million-chip mark before falling back as the hands passed by. After 69 hands of heads-up action, the two were separated by $3,000 in chips. The duel ended up lasting over an hour and spanned an incredible 115 hands, and it took two increases in blind levels and a couple of late, key hands for nikstar to put this one in the books. Down to less than $300,000, most of Sassenage's chips disappeared into a huge pot where nikstar had aces and sixes up after six cards, and showed sixes full. Sassenage's big (bit not big enough) hand hit the muck.
The last gasp came five hands later. The last of Sassenage's chips went in after fifth street, after which the boards were 8d-4s-Qh for Sassenage, and 3c-Jh-Qc for nikstar. Sassenage had made the push with K-2 down, trying to seize the pot, but with Q-J in the hole, nikstar had already made a big two pair. Sixth and seven streets were J-8 for Sassenage, producing only a pair of eights, while nikstar caught an unneeded K-6. After the deal, nikstar's winnings topped $39,000.
WCOOP – Event #11 - $300 Limit 7-Card Stud. Final Results.
1st: ($39,548): nikstar
2nd ($33,517): Sassenage
3rd ($16,950.60): morten
4th ($12,239.91): hurricaneace
5th ($9,855): Evelyn
6th ($7,686.90): BJCAS
7th ($5,755,32): jcsacc
8th ($3,744.90): davebreal