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World Cup: Final fantasy

Hello again and welcome back to Barcelona for the final of the PokerStars.com World Cup of Poker.

It's been a fascinating three days, pitting five representatives from each of the eight qualifying countries in five single-table sit and goes to determine who returns here today. And after leaving Mexico, Ireland, Portugal and Germany on the beach, the top four from the heats -- Iceland, Romania, Canada and the United States -- have one more match to play to determine who will be crowned World Champions.

Rules for this final showdown are simple, and they are complicated.

The simple stuff: The game is no limit Texas hold 'em. Players start with 25,000 in chips and will play 30 minute levels, starting at 50-100.

There's serious money at stake:

1st: $100,000 ($20,000 per person)
2nd: $60,000 ($12,000 per person)
3rd: $40,000 ($8,000 per person)
4th: $20,000 ($4,000 per person)

Now the tricky stuff.

The final table is a tag-team event, with team captains able to substitute players during proceedings. In fact, they MUST make substitutions. Although only one player from each team can be at the table at any one time, at least three players from each team must have played at least two levels by the end of level eight (unless the country has been eliminated).

That means that at least four of the country's five representatives will play (again assuming that the country is not eliminated). After level eight, a final substitution can be made and that player - the "closer" - can play until the end.

There are two very famous names in the line-ups today. Daniel Negreanu takes his place as the star of Team Canada, while Greg Raymer lines up for Team USA. Captains will deploy these stars as and when they seem fit.

But neither of these players won their heats, proving once again the strength in depth among PokerStars players. And it's highly likely that one of these players will have the final say:

Iceland (topped heats with 45 points)
Friorik Jorgensson
Halldor Sverrisson
Einar Sveinsson
Andri Arnthorsson
Magnus Johannesson


Team Iceland
(and the captain's brother Sigtryggur on the right)



Romania (44 points)
Razvan Bengulescu
Florin Constantin
Rajala Cristian Mihai
Cristian Tardea
Cristian Dragomir


Team Romania


Canada (40 points)
Michael Watson
Otto Byrne
Daniel Negreanu
Jody Thompson
Ed Byrne


Team Canada


United States (37 points)
Greg Raymer
John Kenlan
Randy Principe
Tyler Netter
Shaun Deeb


Team USA


Cards are in the air. Follow all the action here.

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