Event #38 on this year's WCOOP schedule presented a challenging twist -- hold'em with pot-limit betting before the flop and no-limit after. It's a unique format some have argued proves a better test of skill than straight NLHE, given how it tends to force players to see more flops and thus make more decisions per hand.
Looking at the turnout for this one, it appears WCOOPers were plenty intrigued and more than ready to accept the "PNL" challenge, with a whopping 1,273 players signing up for the $215 buy-in event. That meant a $254,600 total prize pool, way over the $100K guarantee. The top 162 places paid, with $43,282 for first place.
From 1,273 to 27
At the five-hour mark the field had shrunk to 250 players, with grigson1955 having pushed out to a large lead with more than 137,000 chips, more than 50,000 better than the nearest challenger.
Nearly an hour-and-a-half later the money bubble burst and they were down to 162 players. Among the unlucky ones just missing the cash were Team Online member Randy "nanonoko" Lew who finished 168th and Event #36 winner Dan "djk123" Kelly who was the bubble boy in 163rd.
By then Rodrigo "seijistar" Seiji had grabbed first position with more than 142,000, with Jeff "jp4est" Forrest, kiaraliam, jnel9, and ciccostar rounding out the top five, all with more than 130,000.
From 27 to 9
About three hours after that just 27 remained gathered around three tables. pippz led then with 515,068, with Griffin "Flush_Entity" Benger (391,626) and RIVERR0BB0 (381,103) next in line.
They were approaching the 12-hour mark by the time the final nine emerged, with 1UP_18 moving up through the counts during the interim to gather more than 1 million chips and claim a sizeable lead.
Along the way, phudds (27th), YYYYURDONE (26th), frizt1 (25th), Benny "toweliestar" Spindler (24th), muffins_de (23rd), T.J. "1BigAceHole" Ulmer (22nd), FannyPacks (21st), chip198018 (20th), and HR_Dub (19th) each earned $1,731.28 for their finishes.
kiaraliam (18th), CuAt69UsdSng (17th), and Griffin "Flush_Entity" Benger (16th) took away $1,222.08 apiece. Erebgil_bg (15th), pokerturo (14th), and chopi7 (13th) picked up $1,731.28. And VernonH (12th), nathkpk (11th), and busstard (10th) saw $2,240.48 added to their PokerStars accounts.
The final table was set.
Seat 1: RIVERR0BB0 (United Kingdom) -- 255,015
Seat 2: smokin27 (Canada) -- 841,652
Seat 3: 1UP_18 (United Kingdom) -- 1,994,708
Seat 4: czlol (Czech Republic) -- 787,512
Seat 5: 00psiedaisy (Costa Rica) -- 104,000
Seat 6: @cey@lone (Germany) -- 684,498
Seat 7: pippz (Sweden) -- 857,254
Seat 8: donut604 (Canada) -- 394,670
Seat 9: galfano79 (Ireland) -- 445,691
The last hand before the final table had seen leader 1UP_18 grab a huge 1.6 million-pot when knocking out busstard in 10th after the pair had gotten all of the latter's chips in on the turn with the board showing 3♣5♠2♣4♦, busstard holding A♠T♣ (five-high straight) and 1UP_18 with A♣6♥ (six-high straight).
The river was the 5♥, knocking busstard out and giving 1UP_18 nearly 2 million chips to start the final table, with pippz the nearest challenger with 857,254.
From 9 to 6
On just the fourth hand of the final table, the blinds were 7,000/14,000 (with a 1,750 ante) when Jeremy "00psiedaisy" Fitzpatrick opened from middle position with a pot-sized raise to 64,750. It folded around to Mark "galfano79" Smyth on the button who reraised to 115,500, forcing folds from the blinds. Fitzpatrick then called with the 32,250 left behind.
The flop came 2♥3♠7♦ to give Smyth a set of sevens, thus leaving Fitzpatrick hoping for runner-runner help to survive. The turn was the 5♥ which did provide a straight draw for Fitzpatrick, but the river was the T♠ and 00psiedaisy was swiftly out in ninth -- a fourth cash (and best finish) this WCOOP for Fitzpatrick.
Almost half an hour later the blinds had moved up to 8,000/16,000 when czlol raised for the minimum to 32,000 from middle position, then pippz reraised to 79,850 from a couple of seats over. It folded back to czlol who pushed it up to 279,550, pippz reraised again to 878,650, and czlol called all in for 485,112 more.
czlol turned over A♣K♥ and was needing to improve against the K♣K♠ of pippz. The community cards offered no such help, however, to czlol, coming 9♣8♥J♥3♥4♦, and they were down to seven.
Another half-hour passed, then 1UP_18 -- still leading with more than 2.43 million at that point -- raised 2x to 50,000 from early position. It folded to Mark "galfano79" Smyth who reraised all in for 157,426 from the small blind, and when the big blind got out 1UP_18 called.
Smyth showed A♠9♥ and 1UP_18 Q♥J♥. The flop came J♣4♥4♦, hitting 1UP_18's hand and leaving Smyth looking for an ace. The turn was the 6♥ and river the 7♣, and galfano79 was gone in seventh.
Soon they'd reached the 13-hour break with 1UP_18 up over 2.51 million to lead the final six. pippz was the closest with about 1.57 million, with Jason "smokin27" Inman third with a little more than 963,000.
From 6 to 2
About 15 minutes after they returned, the blinds were 15,000/30,000 when @cey@lone raised to 60,000 from under the gun and got a single caller in 1UP_18 from the big blind. The flop came Q♣5♦9♣. 1UP_18 checked, @cey@lone bet 52,500, 1UP_18 raised to 115,100, @cey@lone reraised all in for 350,539, and 1UP_18 called.
1UP_18 showed 8♣5♣ for bottom pair and a flush draw while @cey@lone turned over Q♠T♠ for top pair of queens. The 4♦ turn meant @cey@lone was still best, but the 3♣ river gave 1UP_18 the club flush and ended @cey@lone's run in sixth.
Just three hands later Jonas "donut604" Mackoff opened with a pot-sized raise to 108,750 from the small blind, then RIVERR0BB0 reraised all in for 177,015 from the big blind and Mackoff called.
donut604 showed A♠5♦ and RIVERR0BB0 K♣3♦. The flop came 2♦3♥Q♥ to pair RIVERR0BB0. But the 4♦ on the turn gave Mackoff a wheel, making the A♣ river no matter and sending RIVERR0BB0 railward in fifth.
A little later pippz opened for 2x from UTG for 80,000, then 1UP_18 raised to 280,000 from the big blind. pippz came back with an all-in push for 728,030, and 1UP_18 called.
pippz showed A♠J♣ and 1UP_18 7♠7♦, and when the board came K♣4♠3♦4♣5♦, pippz had been knocked out in fourth.
With that hand 1UP_18 added still more to the lead, pushing up over 4.27 million. Jason "smokin27" Inman was well behind in second with about 1.23 million and Jonas "donut604" Mackoff last with just over 856,000.
There was a brief bit of deal talk, though it ended quickly.
smokin27: wanna pause and deal?
donut604: i prefer playing sorry
donut604: i like the gamble
donut604's stack began to slide. Soon he'd be all in with A♣4♠ against smokin27's A♠2♦ and would survive with a chop.
The 14-hour break came and went, and soon after donut604 would be raising pot, smokin27 reraised, and donut604 called all in for 579,629 total. Mackoff had K♥4♥ and smokin27 A♥6♥. The board came A♠5♥8♠, then 4♦, then 2♥, smokin27's pair of aces were best, and donut27 was done in third, having scored a fifth cash in the 2012 WCOOP.
1UP_18 and Jason "smokin27" Inman began their heads-up duel by exchanging good luck wishes, with 1UP_18 starting with a better than 5-to-1 advantage with 5,312,153 to smokin27's 1,052,847.
After nearly 30 hands, smokin27 improved the situation somewhat by doubling through with pocket kings versus 1UP_18's pocket sevens, thereby moving up over 2.2 million. Inman would add a few more chips over the next few hands to close the gap further, then suddenly a hand developed in which Event #38 would be decided.
It began with a 3x raise by smokin27 from the button to 150,000 and a call from 1UP_18. Both players checked then 3♣A♠2♣ flop. The turn then brought the 4♦ and a bet of 203,125 from 1UP_18, called by smokin27.
The river was the 5♠, putting a five-high straight on the board. That prompted an all-in push by 1UP_18, and after thinking a beat smokin27 called all in for the 2,194,692.
smokin27 showed K♦5♦. smokin27 had turned the straight but that river meant the best case here would be to chop. Alas for smokin27, 1UP_18 held A♥6♦, having flopped top pair, then rivered a better straight to win.
It was a final hand that resembled the one 1UP_18 had won to knock out busstard in 10th and carry that big chip lead to the final table. And 1UP_18 never let go of that lead, carrying it all of the way to the end.
Congratulations to 1UP_18 for topping a field of 1,273 to win the PNL bracelet and more than $43K!
WCOOP Event #38 ($215 PL Pre-flop, NL Post-flop Hold'em) Results:
1st: 1UP_18 (United Kingdom) -- $43,282
2nd: smokin27 (Canada) -- $31,825
3rd: donut604 (Canada) -- $24,161.54
4th: pippz (Sweden) -- $17,312.80
5th: RIVERR0BB0 (United Kingdom) -- $12,602.70
6th: @cey@lone (Germany) -- $10,056.70
7th: galfano79 (Ireland) -- $7,510.70
8th: czlol (Czech Republic) -- $4,964.70
9th: 00psiedaisy (Costa Rica) -- $2,749.68
Places paid: 162
Still a lot of action left on the WCOOP schedule with more than 25 events yet to play out. Check the WCOOP site for details, and of course listen to WCOOP Radio each day for even more WCOOP news plus other assorted fun.
Martin Harris is a Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.