What have you done with the last two hours and 18 minutes of your life? Some of you might have been sleeping, in which case you didn't even notice the time go by. Maybe some of you were eating a meal or spending time with friends or family. You definitely noticed the passage of time, but you probably weren't paying super close attention. But if you're a Romanian online poker player who goes by the handle SorinRF, you know exactly how long two hours and 18 minutes can be. You spent that time sweating every second until, in the blink of an eye, you found yourself nearly $60,000 richer than when you sat down in front of your computer.
With a $300,000 guaranteed prize pool and three-minute levels, the hyper-turbo madness of TCOOP Event #15 was designed to draw a crowd, give them a rollicking good time, and then send them on their way. After late registration closed thirty minutes in, the field totaled 5,701 players to break the guarantee and build a prize pool of $458,360.40. Another thirty minutes later - at the one-hour mark of the tournament - the starting field had been reduced to just 420 players. And by the time 30 more minutes had passed, taking the tournament to its second break, only 53 players were left.
After just 1 hour and 59 minutes the tournament reached its final table. The blinds were 150K/300K, the antes were 60K, and these six players had managed to dodge the minefield:
Seat 1: cberbel (2,840,590 in chips)
Seat 2: mikash2726 (1,189,949 in chips)
Seat 3: idvalentina (4,610,024 in chips)
Seat 4: Fjellbakk (3,417,687 in chips)
Seat 5: charoki (7,757,719 in chips)
Seat 6: SorinRF (8,689,031 in chips)
A second chance
SorinRF was making a second TCOOP final table appearance after taking 9th place in Event #4. The Romanian player got in ahead there with A♣T♥ but busted when Jonathan "MONSTER_DONG" Karamilikis' K♦ Q♦ turned a flush. This time around things went better from the start, as SorinRF began with the chip lead instead of being at risk.
After a few raise-and-take-it hands, the blinds jumped to 200K/400K on just the fifth hand of the final table. That was the same hand that saw short-stacked mikash2726 of Belarus move all-in from second position for just a little more than the big blind. Fjellbakk of Norway shoved for 2.64M on the button to isolate and showed A♥ T♦ after the blinds folded. That had mikash2726's K♥ T♣ dominated, though the 8♦ 7♠ 6♥ flop gave mikash2726 a few more outs. The Q♣ turn and 6♦ river proved to be no help, and mikash2726 left in 6th place ($6,875.40).
Another 12 hands would go by, along with a blind level, before the next pot was taken down with anything other than a preflop raise. That was when the action folded to cberbel, who had just 1.42M left after paying the 250K small blind. The Brazilian player was more than happy to move all-in with A♠ Q♣, and idvalentina of Romania was equally pleased to call with T♠ T♦. The T♣ 8♥ 6♦ flop left cberbel in need of a runner-runner miracle, but it didn't appear on the A♦ turn or A♣ river and the Brazilian exited in 5th place ($12,994.51). It was the second big prize of January for cberbel after an $18K score in a $109 rebuy tourney earlier in the month.
That win moved idvalentina from the back of the pack to a contender's spot. Winning another pot with a bet on the 7♥ 2♠ 8♦ flop five hands later, after the blinds had risen to 300K/600K, was enough to move into the chip lead. And two hands after that, the Romanian player would claim the next knockout. That was when charoki of the Netherlands moved all-in for 4.47M on the button, a pure blind steal holding just T♥ 6♣. K♣ Q♦ was good enough for idvalentina to make the call, and a board of J♣ 2♦ 4♠ 8♣ 8♦ made charoki the 4th-place finisher ($21,772.11).
Now down to three, the field was stacked like so:
Seat 3: idvalentina (15,288,333 in chips)
Seat 4: Fjellbakk (5,707,636 in chips)
Seat 6: SorinRF (7,509,031 in chips)
With so little room for anyone to maneuver, play before the flop was restricted to raise-and-take-it or shove-and-call. The short-stacked Norwegian, Fjellbakk, managed to survive an all-in confrontation with Q♦ 6♣ against SorinRF's A♠ 7♠ after flopping a six, taking SorinRF's stack down to just four big blinds. But the Romanian doubled up twice in a row to get back into the thick of it, including this dodging act:
After winning the next hand with A♠ 5♥ against idvalentina's Q♠ 5♠, SorinRF was back in second place by less than one big blind. As it turned out that was all that was needed to make it to the heads-up match. idvalentina opened the next hand with a min-raise from the small blind and called immediately with A♠ J♠ after Fjellbakk three-bet all-in for 7.07M with K♣ 6♦. Both player hit pairs on the 2♠ A♦ K♥ flop, but the aces held up through the 7♥ turn and T♦ river to send Fjellbakk to the rail in 3rd place ($35,522.93).
All Romania, all the time
That left just two players from Romania to fight it out over the top prize of $69K:
Seat 3: idvalentina (20,819,420 in chips)
Seat 6: SorinRF (7,685,580 in chips)
They decided immediately to strike a deal, though, chopping up the remaining money by proportionally. SorinRF got $53,341.48, idvalentina took $59,835.95, and the last $6,000 was left on the table for the winner.
If you'd bet on a quick and dirty heads-up match, you would've been playing the numbers - and in this case, you would've lost. Instead of coming and going in the blink of an eye, the match lasted two full blind levels and 28 hands, with five lead changes along the way.
First SorinRF doubled up with 9♦ 9♠ against idvalentina's K♦ 9♥ to grab the lead, expanding it further with flop bets on the next two consecutive hands. Then idvalentina doubled with a pair, too, 4♣ 4♦ holding up against A♠ 3♥ to shift the initiative back to idvalentina. Only three hands later the blind were up to 500K/1M when A♥ 8♣ flopped top pair and turned trips to move SorinRF back into the lead once more, but that lead only lasted two hands as idvalentina's K♦ T♠ held up against SorinRF's K♠ 8♠ for yet another change.
The two danced back and forth around each other, trading preflop blind steals, until SorinRF once again made a stand with a pocket pair. This time it was 2♥ 2♠, which won the coin flip against idvalentina's Q♠ 5♣. That gave SorinRF the lead once again with 18.88M chips to idvalentina's 9.61M. And as it turned out, that was the final lead change of the match. Two hands later things would come to an end in this hand:
With that, idvalentina was eliminated in 2nd place. The $59,835.95 share of the deal was a career-best win for the Romanian player, who enjoyed two $30K+ scores during 2012.
As for SorinRF, the extra $6,000 for winning the event moved the total winner's prize to $59,341.48. That easily beat the Romanian's $3K take from Event #4, making this a pretty good series already for SorinRF. Along with the glory of entering the annals of TCOOP champions, SorinRF also earned a career-best PokerStars tournament cash, so double congratulations are in order. And for the moment, at least, the Romanian player is on top of the TCOOP leaderboard. What a day!
TCOOP 2013 Event #15: $82 NL Hold'em (6-max)
$300,000 guaranteed prize pool
720 places paid
$458,360.40 total prize pool
1st place: SorinRF (Romania) $59,341.48*
2nd place: idvalentina (Romania) $59,835.95*
3rd place: Fjellbakk (Norway) $35,522.93
4th place: charoki (Netherlands) $21,772.11
5th place: cberbel (Brazil) $12,994.51
6th place: mikash2726 (Belarus) $6,875.40
* - denotes results of a two-way deal
TCOOP is in full swing now but there's still plenty of time to play. With a full array of satellites and tournaments, there's a game for everyone. Why not get in on the action today?