Another day, another WCOOP tourney. Another shattered pre-tournament guarantee. If it sounds like record turnouts are going to be the theme of the fifth annual WCOOP, then get used to it --- Sunday's $500+30 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em event drew 4,495 contestants. It meant big, deep money, with a total prize pool of $2,247,500, a first-place prize of $365,218,75, five-digit paydays 18 places deep and 600 players in the money.
WCOOP Event #2 turned out to offer about double the payout of most recent Poker Stars Sunday Million events, with two even-larger NL tourneys waiting in the wings. Dozens of big names were on hand, and two of the deepest runners among them were celebrated Stars veteran 'ackbleh' (now primarily a cash-game player), who ended up 27th, and 'micon', of NeverWin Poker fame, who crashed out in 10th, in an event that took over 13 hours to complete.
A heavily European flavor marked this one, with six of the nine final players coming from the right side of the Atlantic. One of the six, Sweden's 'Rambo5', had amassed over $3.2 million in chips at the start of final-table action, a sizeable lead over second-place 'gski6986', who held just under $2 million at that juncture. Early fireworks were all but guaranteed, as the bottom four stacks were tightly bunched around the $550,000 chip level. Almost immediately, that battle ensued
The first major battle was a race between two of the shortest stacks, 'Mr. Neverquit' and 'Striker 10'. The chips went in pre-flop, and Striker 10's A-Q was pitted against Mr Neverquit's pocket tens. The board came J-J-6-9-2, helping neither player, and Striker 10 was out in ninth.
With several short stacks still in play, two more eliminations soon followed. Departing WCOOP #2 in eighth was 'Sassenage', who with the blinds at $20,000/$40,000 (plus $4,000 antes) tried his last $220,000 in with a J-9 steal attempt; the pot odds allowed 'lasbas' to make the call from the big blind, holding Q-10. A queen flopped and the final table's head count was seven. And then, quickly, six. 'Feb19' was similarly desperate for chips, and committed his last $300,000 with a suited A-3, only to be called by 'polpolpol', who held an unsuited but dominating A-J. The board arrived 9-8-2-J-7, with nary a club in the batch, and then six players, with somewhat healthier chip stacks, remained.
In between the few big showdowns, however, Rambo5 consolidated his lead, catching big hand after big hand and not being afraid to flash them after the fact. First K-K, then J-J, then A-J and A-Q several times, not even counting the A-A he'd find a minimum of three times, and get action on, during the last table's action. Nor was Rambo5 afraid to play big-stack poker, coming over the top of other raises, and his stack grew steadily --- first $3.5, then $4.1, then $5.5 million chips.
The task was even easier when second through sixth clumped together; the other players forming a tight pack a bit above the million-chip mark. As they parried for position and valuable spots on the payout ladder, Rambo5 stayed hot and on the attack. He forced a big fold from 'gski6986' with an all-in re-raise on a J-10-5 flop, then flashed his overpair of aces to confirm he had the hand. 'LUNOID', who had the bad fortune of being seated to Rambo5's right, still found the right moment for a big re-raise and pot takedown against lasbas, moving to about $2.6 million, at that moment good for a solid second place. Then it was Rambo5's turn again, hooking up in back-to-back big hands against Mr Neverquit, who had slid to short-stack status.
In the first hand, Rambo5 opened with a raise large enough to put Mr Neverquit all-in with the call, but call Mr Neverquit did. Both players showed A-8, but Rambo5's was suited (clubs), and when two more clubs flopped, Rambo5 had the freeroll for the flush and knockout. The club didn't show, though, and the chop kept Mr Neverquit alive for one more hand. In that one, Rambo5 made a standard 3x raise to $180,000, and Mr. Neverquit moved all-in over the top, which Rambo5 quickly called... again with pocket aces. Mr Neverquit's suited A-7 (clubs) was badly dominated, and the club-less 10-K-3-2-J board meant Mr Neverquit was out in sixth.
The next big collision saw lasbas survive an all-in race against polpolpol, when lasbas's J-10 of hearts raced polpolpol's pocket sevens. The flop was 8h-4h-7d, giving polpolpol the set but giving lasbas the flush draw, which was filled when the heart queen popped up on the turn. A meaningless two of clubs on the river meant lasbas survived, and polpolpol ended up being further endangered after being forced off the pot that moved leader Rambo5 to $5.5 million, but then polpolpol caught his own good fortune against gski6986. gski6986's pocket tens were well ahead of polpolpol's K-9 until a king flopped and no other helper cards showed; the hand moved polpolpol back into the middle of the hunt while leaving gki6986 on life support. Rambo5 notched the knockout for the last of gski6986's chips, sending gski6986 out in 5th and moving Rambo5 over the $6 million mark.
With four left, Rambo5 had almost two thirds of the chips in play, quickly nearing $7.0 million as polpolpol, LUNOID and lasbas each bounced between 1.0 and 1.5 million chips. The blinds had increased to $40,000/$80,000 and the challengers had no room for much beyond a push. lasbas and polpolpol quickly mixed it up, getting the chips in pre-flop --- lasbas held Q-J, polpolpol A-2, and the 9-4-2-3-A board sealed lasbas's fourth-place fate.
With a huge lead at the start of three-way play, leader Rambo5 then broached the possibility of negotiating a chop. It never had a chance to happen. On the very hand he opened the possibility, he opened from the button for $240,000, and polpolpol quickly pushed all-in for all of his $2.3 million. Rambo5 made the call and showed yet another big pair --- tens, this time --- but polpolpol held A-K, and the race was on. The flop was Q-5-3, and the turn-river 7-Q meant that polpolpol's A-K was unimproved, and polpolpol was out in third.
Then, the deal talks began in earnest. Rambo5 held nearly $9.5 million in chips, while LUNOID had less than $1.8 million, but it was Rambo5 that offered the generous end of the deal to his remaining, short-chipped challenger. And amazingly, LUNOID managed to negotiate an even better deal, managing to get Rambo5 to agree to split $540,000 of the remaining prize money on a $290,000 (Rambo5) to $250,000 (LUNOID) split, with $30,000 and change and the event bracelet still up for grabs. It was one of the best steals of the night.
The end came quick once the card playing resumed. Rambo5's cards stayed red-hot, and he managed to induce LUNOID to move all-in with 6-6, which Rambo5 happily called... with yet another A-A holding. The final board of the event read 8-9-3-4-5, close to a straight but never a possibility as it unfolded, and Rambo5 had the finishing touch on a very dominating win. The results:
*1st: ($320,865): Rambo5
*2nd ($250,000): LUNOID
3rd ($119,117.50): polpolpol
4th ($94,395): lasbas
5th ($76,415): gski6986
6th ($59,558.75): Mr Neverquit
7th ($46,073.75): Feb19
8th ($34,836.25): Sassenage
9th ($22,475): Striker 10
* final payouts based on two-way chop