As far as opening ceremonies go poker tends to skip the fanfare. No flags paraded past an ensemble of dignitaries in suits. Occasionally someone makes a speech but it’s never much more than ‘shuffle up and deal’. As play got underway in this year’s World Championship of Online Poker it was in keeping with this tradition. But perhaps online poker in general needs some kind of ceremony to mark the record numbers from across the world that converged to get the 2007 WCOOP, the biggest poker series of poker online anywhere in the world, finally started.
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Cut to the first final table - the Pot Limit 5 Card Draw event which had started 90 minutes after Event #1 which had yet to reach a final table. This was a $215 buy-in show that had whittled 857 players down to just six as the clock made its way past midnight. Making its debut appearance in the WCOOP schedule few predicted that a game that has a reputation as being one from the olden days could attract so many entrants. But if you build it they will come, and come they did, making for a prize pool of $171,400.
“The average age [of each player] is deceased”, quipped Team PokerStars player Tom McEvoy commentating before the final table, speculating as well that a lot of entrants qualified either via satellite or were “hotshot online poker players and they’ll play any tournament!”
Whether he was right or not is up for conjecture but there’s no mistaking Draw’s old time feel, especially when compared alongside Hold’em. It’s the game your father played, probably against your grandfather, and both probably still bemoan it’s disappearance to this day.
But such generalisations may be out of place. The final table was testament to PokerStars’ scope around the world, with five different nations represented amongst the last six.
Seat 1: jaygee1984 (Germany) 819,102 in chips
Seat 2: pairDboard21 (United States) 144,323 in chips
Seat 3: boro83 (Ireland) 326,065 in chips
Seat 4: BadgerPro (United States) 442,947 in chips
Seat 5: peseudos (Spain) 342,020 in chips
Seat 6: spielraum.at (Austria) 496,543 in chips
Two players, in the shape of pairDboard21 and BadgerPro, hailed from the States but it was they who would be rail birding first. The claim some make that Five Card Draw is a European game might have gone some way to ease their pain but not by much.
pairDboard21 was out just moments after the final six converged. The short stack, he called an initial raise from spielraum.at then watched peseudos raise again before pushing all-in. Peseudos stayed in, changing two cards to pairDboard21’s one. The American had made a set, showing three Jacks, but they were beaten well by the Spaniard’s three Kings. Sixth place for pairDboard21, worth $3,685.10.
American efforts for first honours were put to bed when BadgerPro was eliminated. A few minutes after his countryman was gone BadgerPro, an administrator on the popular Two plus Two forum, took a hit after he missed his straight draw against a set of Tens. By then the writing was on the wall when he tangled with peseudos in a race to get their chips into the middle. Both swapped two cards, and had a set to show for it. But it was Jacks for peseudos, sevens for BadgerPro.
It left four European players who - perhaps in the optimistic spirit of a new dawn on the Eastern side of the Atlantic - opted to chop along chip count lines. Boro83 had the smaller share and would take what he had earned for a night’s work soon after. The Irishman exited in fourth place and $17,609 after a period of calm that seemed out of place following the deal that should have removed the shackles. The forecast of sweeping all-in moves and bold betting failed to materialise. A second wind was called for. Or was it the fourth of fifth wind by now?
It was peseudos who secured the Irishman’s demise, betting big which Boro83 called all-in after changing three cards. It was telling that peseudos only needed one, turning over a straight. Check-raising with Aces up may have given boro83 some hope but it was not to be – fourth place for the man from Wexford.
Looking back to the deal it was chip leader Peseudos who came out of it best, reward perhaps for an amazing comeback from the brink earlier in the tournament after careful play with what had become signature small bets. But he was unable to continue in the same fashion. The man from Madrid fell victim to what could best be described as ‘free-fall fatigue’, carefully increasing his stack to a peak of 1.4 million before spending it like a sailor on shore leave, crashing out on his way to bed.
How? First he lost the lead, then aggressive play began to backfire and in one pot, by his own admission, he lost several hundred thousand in a ‘donk’ play against spielraum.at. From the blinds both began a raising war - like prize-fighters they seemed to match each other punch for punch until one was unable to keep his guard up any longer.
Peseudos called spielraum.at’s all-in and would pay the price. He had discarded one for Aces up, but spielraum.at switched two for a set of Kings. It was a pot measuring over 1.6million chips and probably moved the needle on the Richter scale too. It would mark the end of the Spaniard’s bracelet hopes and he was gone shortly afterwards – third place and $26,912. When making the deal earlier he’d said that he didn’t want to take a chance, perhaps realising stamina would be a defining factor. He was right.
It left spielraum.at heads-up with jaygee1984 from Hamburg, Germany who, whilst not featuring in the defining pots so far had played a careful game to leave himself every chance of glory. A German and an Austrian and both still had a mountain to climb, especially jaygee1984 who trailed his opponent almost three to one in chips.
He showed ability and endurance to hang on for the last battle, looking to get back onto level terms with both players skipping breaks to get this one finished. It would be a long drawn out finale that at one point saw jaygee1984 back to within a double up of the lead before he slipped back further and further.
spielraum.at took the vital pots he needed to stay ahead, extending his lead before forcing his opponent into risks and staking claim to the bracelet and soon it was ‘gg’ all round. ‘Spielraum’ roughly translates as games room in German, and as the sun came up after a long night of poker, spielraum.at proved that today this was his place, becoming our first winner at the 2007 World Championship of Online Poker.
PokerStars WCOOP Event # 2: $215 Five Card Draw Final Table Results
1. spielraum.at (Austria) $42,850.00 ($26,265 after chop) [Event #2 Winner Interview]
2. jaygee1984 (Germany) $23,996 ($20,654 after chop)
3. peseudos (Spain) $14,997.50 ($26,912 after chop)
4. boro83 (Ireland) $9,598.40 ($17,609 after chop)
5. BadgerPro (United States) $5,827.60
6. pairDboard21 (United States) $3,685.10
Full 2007 WCOOP Event #2 Results