Event #10 of Poker Stars' fifth annual World Championship of Online Poker could've been looked upon as little more than the replacement for Stars' premier weekly event, the Sunday Million. After all, this one did fill that spot on the Stars calendar, with the normal Sunday Million on the shelf for the duration of the WCOOP. Also, like the usual Sunday offering, Event #10 had the same pre-tournament, million-dollar guarantee.
No difference? Tell it to the players. This no-limit event's prize pool turned out to be the second-largest freezeout in Poker Stars history, behind only the '05 WCOOP Main Event. 2,458 players --- including many of the biggest online names --- made for an incredible $2,458,000 pool. The cash went 330 places deep, and the announced first-place prize was $442,440.
'strassa2' (Durham, NC's Jason Strasser) continued his recent great run by leading the way to the final table with just over $3,000,000 in chips, a margin of a million chips over 'razeit' and 'sappy123', with a player that many believed to be the Hendon Mob's Barny Boatman ('BarnyBoatman'), – but apparently isn't -was a bit further back in fourth.
Final table action was straightforward and aggressive, although it took some time for the first knockout to occur. strassa2 took advantage of the early parrying to pad his lead by a few hundred thousand, and then a big hand pitted 'razeit' against 'Pipestew,' who had one of the two shortest remaining stacks, at just over $500,000. With blinds of $30,000/$60,000, Pipestew pushed all-in from early position and was called by razeit from the small blind for a third of razeit's stack. Pipestew had an offsuit K-Q, while razeit produced pocket eights. When a third eight flopped the race was all but done, and a river queen gave Pipestew a meaningless two pair while completing razeit's boat, making Pipestew the first finalist out.
The second elimination came only a few hands later, and this time two of the leaders mixed it up. With the same blinds in effect, strassa2 opened from middle position for $160,000, and 'sappy123' responded by pushing all-in from the big blind, for a total of $1.54 million. After considering, strassa2 made the call, and this time strassa2 had the pocket eights (versus sappy123's A-Q), and again, the set-making eight arrived on the flop. The final board was 6-9-8-9-9, so the winning hand was technically nines full of eights, but the result was the same: sappy123 hit the rail in eighth.
strassa2 did the trick again, six hands later, this time knocking out the other of the original short stacks, 'elementry.' strassa2 raised from under the gun to $160,000, and elementry made the push to a little over $280,000, which strassa2 then called. elementry had started with the magic pocket eights, and strassa2 had been on an under-the-gun steal with T-2. The eights' magic failed; a ten flopped, a two turned, and a meaningless river three sent elementry out in seventh. The elimination capped a surge which saw strassa2 climb to over $5.5 million, at that point roughly three times the second-place stack. Though other players would challenge, strassa2 would never relinquish the lead.
Three players had departed in a 12-hand span, but it would be more than 30 hands before another knockout occurred, and at that point the pushes came fast and fierce --- three more players left in the space of six hands.
The first among these middle-stage victims was 'NNICOLAS,' whose stack had been crippled after a fold to a BarnyBoatman all-in push. 'MaltLiquor40' claimed the knockout honors, collecting the last of NNICOLAS's remaining $330,000 after calling NNICOLAS's pre-flop push. NNICOLAS started with K-J of clubs, but MaltLiquor40 started in front with A-4, and stayed there after the board came 4-Q-3-4-5. NNICOLAS, who represented Argentina at this final table, had his long run end in sixth.
The next two knockouts came courtesy of BarnyBoatman. On the first, BarnyBoatman had raised pre-flop with pocket kings, only to be re-raised all-in by razeit, who held A-Q. BarnyBoatman made the call for two-thirds of his remaining stack, showing razeit the bad news. A queen flopped to give razeit extra outs, but at hand's end, the board read J-Q-4-9-9. Four players remained.
And very soon, there were three. Again BarnyBoatman made the early-position, pre-flop raise, and again made the call after a re-raise push was made from a player behind. This time the all-in player was MaltLiquor40, who produced pocket jacks, and BarnyBoatman's A-Q was in trouble when the flop arrived 9-6-7. The six-outer hit, however, in the form of an ace on the turn, and the four on the river was no help for MaltLiquor40, who left in fourth.
From six players to three in barely five minutes, and the three remaining players --- strassa2, BarnyBoatman, and Fargo, ND's 'thugmoneymkr' --- agreed to at least examine the numbers that the chip counts would produce, should they chop. strassa2 had roughly half of the 12+ milion chips in play, and strassa2 squelched the deal talks after asking for more than an additional $20,000 over what the chip-count formula provided. Far apart, the players resumed the game. thugmoneymkr started three-way action deeply in third, with about $2 million, but rivered a set of threes against BarnyBoatman to take a $2.3 million pot and leapfrog into second. It turned out that the set was unnecessary, as BarnyBoatman had put thugmoneymkr on a bluff and made the river call with nothing more than ace-high.
The end for BarnyBoatman came a dozen hands later, when he pushed all-in over the top of strassa2's pre-flop raise. This time strassa2 had a big starting hand, A-Q, well ahead of BarnyBoatman's A-6, but BarnyBoatman's fortunes surged when a six appeared on the flop. strassa2 needed one of the three queens to appear on the river to win the $5.1 million pot, the tournament's biggest, and the diamond queen indeed fell. BarnyBoatman's tough luck in not fading the queen meant a third-place exit.
Heads-up action saw strassa2 begin with about 70% of the remaining chips, though thugmoneymkr took down a healthy $1.6 million pot on the tenth hand to tighten things up. strassa2 returned the favor with interest a few hands later by rivering a full house, sixes full of jacks, to win a pot worth more than $2.4 million. The hand restored strassa2's 3:1 advantage, and the end came after only three additional hands. strassa2 check-called thugmoneymkr's flop and pre-flop raises, then check-raised thugmoneymkr all-in on the turn, after which the board read 8d-9h-8h-Jc. thugmoneymkr pondered, then typed in 'gotta call ya...' and committed the last of his chips, showing A-J for two pair, jacks and eights. strassa2, however, offered J-9 for a better two pair, and the river six changed nothing --- strassa2 won the hand, over $440,000, and the WCOOP Event #10 bracelet, cementing his reputation as one of the best online players in the game.
WCOOP – Event #10 - $1,050 No-Limit Hold'em Final Results.
1st: ($442,440): strassa2
2nd ($266,693): thugmoneymkr
3rd ($155,345.60): BarnyBoatman
4th ($129,045): MaltLiquor40
5th ($105,694): razeit
6th ($82,343): NNICOLAS
7th ($61,450): elementry
8th ($46,702): sappy123
9th: (28,267): Pipestew