Poker players are a superstitious bunch. Some refuse to change their clothes in the middle of a rush. Others believe in lucky starting hands that never seem to lose. More still put their faith in charms, card protectors, and coins. Conspiracists, numerologists, and apocalypse-watchers everywhere today had their eyes on the date-- 09-09-09-- and even here at the WCOOP, the stars managed to align in quite a curious manner.
999 entrants for a major tournament on 9-9-09? Yeah, that spooked us too.
Indeed, Event #18 of the World Championship of Online Poker, a $320 8-Game event, drew 999 runners, missing the $300,000 guarantee by a single player. 144 players earned a share of the prize pool with first place set to earn $50,250.
For those not yet indoctrinated into the Church of 8-Game, it's a mixed-games rotation played in the following sequence: 2-7 triple draw lowball, limit hold'em, Omaha hi/lo, Razz, stud, stud hi/lo, no-limit hold'em, and pot-limit Omaha. In this event, games changed every ten minutes while the betting limits increased every half hour.
Marching under the banner of the mighty red spade in this event were Team PokerStars Pros Barry Greenstein, George Danzer, Ylon Schwartz, Vanessa Rousso, Andre Akkari, Victor Ramdin, Greg Raymer, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Chad Brown, Chris Moneymaker, Katja Thater, Juan Maceiras, Gavin Griffin, and Marcel Luske. Although none of the team pros made the money, several familiar names did, including Chris "Moorman1" Moorman (104th), Scott "BigRiskky" Clements (74th), and Cliff "JohnnyBax" Josephy (72nd), as well as both Raymond "raydavis77" Davis and Jason "JP OSU" Potter, who fought fatigue and cashed in 13th and 12th places respectively less than 24 hours after making the final table of Event #15, $320 Badugi (Davis won the event, Potter finished sixth).
Vicky Coren drew hosting duties for this event, and greeted the final table with hearty congratulations on their accopmlishment as well as a cheeky offer of assistance.
"I hope you all know, the mixed game is the best event to FT in. Sign of the all-rounder, the true poker player...Let me know if you need anything - the maths for a chop, a massage, a milkshake..." quipped Coren.
Here's how our six survivors stacked up as the final table got underway:
Seat 1: Aguskb (427,735 in chips)
Seat 2: JohnSmith (1,336,988 in chips)
Seat 3: The Omaholic (726,426 in chips)
Seat 4: vui-qua-di (419,362 in chips)
Seat 5: johnny1430 (238,454 in chips)
Seat 6: g0lfa (1,846,035 in chips)
On only the third hand of play, the final table claimed its first victim. Playing no-limit hold'em with 6,250-12,500/1,600 blinds, johnny1430 open-shoved for his remaining 233,654 and found a caller in g0lfa. Johnny1430 needed to hit "presto," his 5♥5♠ up against g0lfa's pocket jacks. There was no help for him on the K♣8♠3♠J♥7♣ board and he ended his run in sixth place for an even $9,000.
Only a few minutes later, The Omaholic was the next to depart on a hand of... you guessed it, Omaha. Pot-limit Omaha, to be specific, the action leading off with an under-the-gun raise to 25,000 from The Omaholic. G0lfa three-bet to 93,750 from the button, the blinds folded and The Omaholic called. The flop came down 5♠3♠3♦, The Omaholic checking to g0lfa, who made a pot-sized bet of 206,250. The Omaholic shipped his remaining 382,676 into the middle and g0lfa made the call, turning up 8♠6♥5♦4♦ for an open-ended straight draw to The Omaholic's trip threes with J♣J♥6♣3♥. The turn was the 9♠, the Omaholic retaining his lead, but the 7♥ on the river made g0lfa a nine-high straight, sending The Omaholic to the rail in fifth place. For a long-fought day of poker, he earned $12,870.
Aguskb brought nearly 428,000 in chips with him to the final table and had ground his stack up to 463,000 when he saw nearly three-fourths of those chips evaporate in the space of only a few hands. First, Aguskb played a limit hold'em pot with vui-qua-di, raising to 60,000 pre-flop and his opponent defending his big blind with a call. The flop came down T♥8♠2♠ and vui-qua-di check-raised Aguskb's continuation bet. Aguskb called and they saw the J♠ land on the turn. Both players checked and they went to the river, which fell the 3d. Vui-qua-di led out and Aguskb folded, his stack slipping to 343,785. On the very next deal, Aguskb got involved in another pot with vui-qua-di, each player putting in four bets before the flop. Vui-qua-di checked the A♦3♣2♠ flop over to Aguskb, who led out, Vui-qua-di came in with the check-raise, and this time Aguskb folded, leaving himself with just short of 194,000 chips.
After dropping one more small pot, Aguskb decided to take a stand, four-betting all in for the rest of his stack on another limit hold'em hand. His nemesis vui-qua-di called, turning over A♠T♣ to Aguskb's K♦J♣. Though Auguskb took the lead on the K♠Q♦6♠ flop and maintained it when the 9♣ hit the turn, vui-qua-di rivered an ace to take down the pot and end Auguskb's WCOOP run in fourth place for a $19,500 score.
JohnSmith's stack saw some serious swings before he ultimately succumbed in third place. Early on, he lost over half his chips on a 2-7 triple draw hand, only to reclaim most of them a short time later in a round of limit hold'em. JohnSmith had worked his stack back up to over 743,000 before he suffered another setback, this time during Razz. Showing a board of 8♥A♥5♣9♥ against vui-qua-di's 7♠5♦A♣K♥ on the river, JohnSmith led out for 80,000 only to be met with a raise to 160,000.
"zomg," he exclaimed in the chat before making a crying call. Vua-qua-di turned over a 7-5-4-3-A low and JohnSmith was left with 375,000 in chips.
JohnSmith's final hand came in the stud round, where he got the rest of his chips in on fifth street against (you guessed it) vui-qua-di. JohnSmith showed a pair of jacks, while vui-qua-di revealed a pair of nines and a gutshot straight draw. Vui-qua-di picked up a flush draw on sixth street and filled in on seventh, ending JohnSmith's tournament with a third place finish for a $28,500 payday.
G0lfa held a nearly 2 to 1 chip lead over vui-qua-di as heads-up play commenced:
Seat 4: vui-qua-di (1,711,032 in chips)
Seat 6: g0lfa (3,283,968 in chips)
Vui-qua-di was able to pull nearly even with g0lfa in the first twenty minutes of their fifty-minute match, before a 1 million chip no-limit hold'em pot set him back on his heels. G0lfa opened for 67,000 from the button, vui-qua-di three-bet to 210,000, and g0lfa came back with a four-bet to 500,000. Vui-qua-di called, but check-folded to g0lfa's 255,000 bet on the 9♣6♠4♥ flop, taking him down to about a 3 to 2 chip deficit. Though vui-qua-di was able to grind his stack back up to where it was before the hand, he lost two key pots--one in triple draw and one in limit hold'em-- to take his stack down to the 1 million mark.
A limit hold'em hand ended up being the game-changer, vui-qua-di opening for 160,000 from the button and g0lfa making the call. G0lfa checked the K♣Q♦J♦ flop over to vui-qua-di, who bet out. G0lfa raised and vui-qua-di called. G0lfa led out when the 3♣ hit the turn and this time vui-qua-di came in with a raise, g0lfa making the call. The river was the A♠ and g0lfa put out another 160,000 bet. Vui-qua-di looked him up, only to learn that g0lfa had rivered a Broadway straight with the T♥8♣ to win the 1.6 million pot.
Vui-qua-di was left with less than two big bets after that hand, and he played his last one of the evening only moments later. Left with 187,000 in chips, he got them in before the flop in a limit hold'em hand holding A♣5♥ against g0lfa's 8♠9♣. Another comeback was not to be, however, g0lfa pairing his eight on the 8♣6♦J♥J♦T♠ board to clinch victory. In addition to the WCOOP champion's bracelet, g0lfa added a juicy $50,250 to his bankroll. Vui-qua-di took home $37,500 for his second place finish.
This marks g0lfa's fourth cash of the 2009 WCOOP and his first bracelet. No stranger to success in PokerStars tournaments, he won the Sunday Second Chance in December 2008 for nearly $49,000 and final tabled the Sunday Million in January 2009, finishing sixth for a $41,340 payday. Runner-up vui-qua-di also has a decorated online poker resume, including a win in the $100 rebuy, a second in the Super Tuesday, and a final table in the Sunday Second Chance.
WCOOP Event #18 ($320 8-Game) Results
1. g0lfa $50,250
2. vui-qua-di $37,500
3. JohnSmith $28,500
4. Aguskb $19,500
5. The Omaholic $12,870
6. johnny1430 $9,000
Sure, g0lfa has four cashes now, but how are the rest of your favorite players doing in this year's WCOOP? Check out the WCOOP page for all the stats you can handle. If it's multimedia goodies you're looking for, head over to PokerStars.tv for intervews, tips from Team PokerStars Pro and more.