Following a very long day of poker in the Bahamas, Team Germany claimed victory at PokerStars' World Cup V on Tuesday, outlasting the New Zealand team sometime after 3 a.m. to take the final table and its accompanying $100,000 prize.
After having played out the first four World Cups in Barcelona, PokerStars chose this year to send finalists to the Bahamas and play the finals alongside the 2009 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Eight teams made it through the three weeks' worth of qualifying tournaments on PokerStars. Those teams represented the following eight divisions (teams in parentheses): USA (Team USA 1), Canada (Nova Scotia), Latin America (Mexico), Europe I (Italy), Europe II (Poland), Europe III (Latvia), Germany (Team Germany 1), and Rest of World (New Zealand). The United Kingdom also received an automatic bid, making nine teams altogether.
Each team consisted of four members, plus a captain selected from the Team PokerStars roster. The first round of play began around 10 a.m. and consisted of five simultaneously-played, one-table tournaments, with a member of each team represented at each nine-handed table. Finishes in those one-table tourneys then determined stack sizes at the final table according to a somewhat complicated rubric.
At each table, points were assigned to how players finished, with 1st = 15 points; 2nd = 12 points; 3rd = 10 points; 4th = 8 points; 5th = 6 points; 6th = 4 points; and 7th-9th = 0 points. Each team's first round score consisted of the total points accumulated by its five players.
That first round of play finished sometime after lunch, with the U.K. team emerging with the most points (45), thanks in part to captain Vicky Coren's victory at her table. The Greg Raymer-led U.S. team finished with the second-most points (37), followed by Mexico, Poland, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Latvia, and Canada.
As a reward for finishing the first round with the most points, the team from Great Britain was able to bring the most chips to the final table (50,000). The U.S. team brought 45,000, Mexico 41,000, and so forth down to Team Canada, led by Daniel Negreanu, who brought only 25,000 chips.
Adding to the fun, the final table was played by all five team members, with teams switching players at the end of each level. Making things even more complicated, each of the five players brought 20% of his or her team's chips into play when first coming into the game. That means Coren, who played Level 1 of the final table for the U.K., started with 10,000 chips, Jarred Gabin (U.S.) started with 9,000, and so forth.
The final table began about 3:30 p.m. Despite only being able to bring a total of 31,000 chips to the final table, Team Germany closed the gap on the U.K. considerably by the time all of the chips were finally in play, with the two teams being nearly tied atop the leaderboard at the start of Level 6. The U.K. would reassume a large chip advantage over the next couple of levels, but would eventually go out in fifth place at the hands of the Germans.
The final hand came approximately 12 hours after the final table first began. That hand between New Zealand's Richard Grace and Germany's Jan Heitmann went down as follows: With a greater than 2-to-1 chip advantage, Heitmann pushed all in on the first hand of heads-up play with and Grace called with . The flop came , and New Zealand remained ahead. However, the turn brought the , giving the advantage to Germany. A nine came on the river, but it was the , giving Germany a flush and the title.
Here is how the nine teams finished, with prize money in parentheses: Germany (1st, $100,000); New Zealand (2nd, $70,000); Italy (3rd, $50,000); U.S. (4th, $30,000); U.K. (5th, $10,000); Poland (6th, $10,000); Latvia (7th, $5,000); Mexico (8th, $5,000); Canada (9th, $5,000).