What would you do for a million dollars?
Live on a deserted island with 18 backstabbing strangers and a television crew? Make like Demi Moore in the film Indecent Proposal? Go vegan for a year? Leave Anytown, USA behind for a grind crib in Mexico?
You'd be amazed, especially when it comes to poker players.
The WCOOP Main Event is a game-changer. People will quite literally move house and home to be able to play in it. Its list of champions reads like a who's who of the modern poker world. Tyson Marks. Yevgeniy Timoshenko. Carter King. The WCOOP Main Event made all three instant millionaires and this year, two more players will etch their name on that list. A $5 million prize pool and $1 million to first place was already guaranteed before cards went in the air, but by the time registration closed, 1,627 players had bought in for $5,200 apiece, the prize pool swelling to $8,135,000. Both champion and runner-up are set to earn seven figures, the top prize a staggering $1,464,300 and second at just over a million.
The various PokerStars "Teams" were out in force today, Team Online's Anders "Donald" Berg the first of the red spade army to hit the rail. He was followed out the door by Noah Boeken, Ivan Demidov, Chad Brown, Daniel Negreanu, Ville Wahlbeck, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Marcin Horecki, and Liv Boeree, who all exited during the early going. Four Team Pros, led by Eugene Katchalov, advanced to Day 2 along with Team Online's newest addition, Mickey "mement_mori" Petersen.
Although Katchalov ended the day strong, he was in rough shape by Level 8, down almost 75% of his 20,000 starting stack. Katchalov fell to 6,300 in chips after running his pocket tens into Black88's pocket aces, but luckily picked up Q♣Q♠ two hands later. With the blinds at 125/250, Katchalov opened for 500 and Black88, in the small blind, was the lone caller. Black88 check-called 750 on the J♠9♠6♦ flop, another 1,850 when the 5♥ hit the turn, and 3,183 on the river, Katchalov shoving as the 6♣ fell to pair the board. Black88's J♣T♣ was no good and Katchalov doubled back to 13,000.
By Level 17, Katchalov was sitting on 41,000 when he tripled up to 125,000, snapping off A♦J♦ and K♦K♣ with A♠K♥ on an ace-high board. Later on, he found himself in yet another T♣T♦ vs A♥A♦ showdown, this time on the good end of it for a 160,000 pot. By the end of Day 1, Katchalov was on a very comfortable stack of 273,015, placing him 37th of the 176 players who advanced to Day 2. The Ukranian Team Pro still has some unfinished business to attend to first in Event #61 ($10,300 High Roller 8-Game). Day 1 of that tournament concluded with Katchalov heads-up with Russia's Ostrov for the bracelet and the $210,000 first-place prize. Action resumes in that event at 12:00 EDT, two hours before the Main Event starts back up.
Even if Katchalov wins both remaining WCOOP events, he still can't ascend to the top of the WCOOP Tournament Leader Board. That spot has been occupied for weeks now by Joel Adam "2FLY2TILT" Gordon, who is tied at 295 points with Big_Nemo, but wins the tiebreaker with more overall WCOOP earnings. The WCOOP TLB race isn't just for stat geeks and prop bettors-- it's serious business with serious prizes at stake. First place earns an EPT Season 8 Grand Final package , a 2012 PCA package, and a SCOOP Main Event ticket along with a special edition PokerStars chip set and a champions' trophy. That's more than $40,000 worth of loot.
Big_Nemo jumped into the fray early, trying to rack up some last-minute points, but busted out during Level 10. 2FLY2TILT took advantage of the late registration period and bought in during the fourth hour, but didn't last much longer than his rival, losing 30,000 chips in the span of two hands. In the first, he put 16,440 in the middle preflop with A♥Q♠ after Nastasia1209 four-bet shoved with pocket kings. Two hands later, Flagellator opened for a min-raise to 1,000 and 2FLY2TILT shoved for his remaining 13,807 holding pocket fives. JUVELNEO re-shoved for 21,445 behind him with A♥K♦ and Flagellator ducked out of the way, leaving the board to run out K♥Q♠6♥2♠3♣.
With that, 2FLY2TILT's 2011 WCOOP came to an end, after one win, four final tables, and 10 cashes. Only one man stands between 2FLY2TILT and the TLB win-- Steve "gboro780" Gross, who advanced to Day 2 with 201,117. Currently sitting in sixth place with 230 points, Gross can only pass 2FLY2TILT if he finishes second or better in the Main Event.
While the always-volatile Johnny Lodden is known to build and punt off a monster stack faster than I can type "six-bet Scandi," the Norwegian Team Pro made one of the gutsiest calls we witnessed all night. In a hand against Event #17 winner Brryann, Lodden was put in a tough spot on the river with top pair and a weak kicker on a coordinated board, but correctly picked off Brryann's all-in bluff to win a 141,000 pot. He advanced to Day 2 with an above-average stack of 231,518.
If you've ever railed Humberto Brenes in a live tournament, you've no doubt heard him bellow "Humberto no bluff!" Although Brenes was true to his word in this hand, the result wasn't exactly what he'd planned. The Costa Rican "Chark" was cruising along with about 16,000 in chips when he picked up A♣A♦ and decided to play it a little coy, smooth-calling jgorcampanha's 1,875 opening raise, KKremate called as well and they went three-handed to a K♠T♦5♥ flop. The action checked to Brenes, who bet 3,662. KKremate was the only caller. The turn brought the 8♣ and KKremate checked to Brenes, who moved all-in for 10,180. KKremate insta-called, turning up T♠T♥ for middle set. The K♥ on the river boated up KKremate, and sent Brenes' pocket rockets up in flames, sending him to the rail in 596th place.
With only four minutes left to play on Day 1, the Main Event reached the money bubble with 190 players remaining. It was well-known circuit regular Bryn Kenney who burst it, calling akia66's three-bet shove with pocket tens, only to run into pocket kings. The surviving 189 players were all in the money, guaranteed at least $13,422.75 for their 12+ hours on the grind, while Kenney left empty-handed. As the final minutes of Day 1 ticked away, more than a dozen players were eliminated, leaving 176 to return Monday to continue their quest for WCOOP gold.
The 2011 WCOOP Main Event will recommence at 14:00 EDT on Monday and play down to a winner. Blinds are at 2,500/5,000 with a 625 ante and the average stack is 184,886 (37 big blinds). Here's a look at the top stacks, the surviving Team Pros, and other familiar faces who advanced to Day 2. Less than 24 hours from now, two of them will be millionaires.
Place your bets...
2011 WCOOP Event #62 ($5,200 NLHE Main Event), Day 1 top ten chip counts
1. NUTZBOT (Russia) 649,769
2. dan82mur (Romania) 600,527
3. zivziv (Israel) 587,440
4. tonkaaaa (Canada) 494,260
5. lb6121 (United Kingdom) 465,817
6. ThePateychuk (Russia) 460,641
7. SantaZzz (Ukraine) 458,036
8. Big Huni (Costa Rica) 438,229
9. sexygee (United Kingdom) 424,339
10. TheLipoFund (Mexico) 417,848
Team PokerStars Pro/Team Online* chip counts
Eugene Katchalov (Ukraine) 273,015
Matthias De Muelder (Belgium) 254,278
Johnny Lodden (Norway) 231,518
Mickey "mement_mori" Petersen* (Denmark) 177,253
Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier (United Kingdom) 42,426
Other notables advancing to Day 2
Terrence "Unassigned" Chan (Canada) 332,029
Tom "kingsofcards" Marchese (Canada) 293,915
Jared "harrington10" Bleznick (Mexico) 288,784
David "Gunslinger3" Bach (Panama) 226,848
Shawn "buck21" Buchanan (Canada) 214,943
Steve "gboro780" Gross (Canada) 201,117
Alexander "Assassinato" Fitzgerald (Costa Rica) 185,406
Joep "Pappe_Ruk" Van Den Bijgaart (Netherlands) 133,434
Mike "goleafsgoeh" Leah (Canada) 85,923
Don't miss the final episode of WCOOP Radio tomorrow, streaming live at 15:30 EDT and tune in on Tuesday for a complete WCOOP wrap-up on the Inside WCOOP webshow, featuring hosts Joe Stapleton and Nick Wealthall. They're enough to make even the most jaded grinders crack a smile.