The chip lead guarantees nothing. Niccc looked to have the tournament in the bag with a sizeable final table lead that he took all the way to three-handed play. But then he lost it, and jakz101 took over. Niccc had previous PokerStars titles, but jakz101 had the heart and drive to earn his first. And it was the latter that won out, giving Eric Crain his first major PokerStars title and WCOOP bracelet.
Every tournament in a series like the World Championship of Online Poker is important. As the series winds down, though, there are fewer chances to win, and players line up for those remaining chances. Enter the last No Limit Hold'em tournament other than the $5,200 Main Event. This one was only $200 + $15 and boasted of a very impressive $1 million guarantee, so it was a no-brainer for some players to buy-in and others to win their seats in satellites. This two-day WCOOP tournament was an important one.
The turnout for Event 63 was jaw-dropping. Of course, everyone was hoping for a big prize pool, but this grew to nearly double the guarantee! The final numbers, after three hours of registration, were:
Prize pool: $1,913,800.00
Paid players: 1,260
The money bubble burst more than a few hours into the day, and Ducu26 became the first player to cash out for $344.48 in 1260th place. From there, it was a bit chaotic for a while, as a flurry of players exited in the money.
The members of Team PokerStars still in the tournament were hoping for big finishes, but some had to leave before that could happen. Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier was the first to cash out in 1213th place ($344.48), and Team Online's Fredy "sirfreddy83" Torres was next in line in 980th place ($401.89).
Play moved on, and about 380 players remained at the nine-hour mark. Eliminations slowed down a bit as the night wore on, and among those who hit the virtual WCOOP rail was Team Online's George "Jorj95" Lind, who took 201st place ($918.62). Team Pro Jason Mercier exited a bit later in 136th place ($1,224.83). The last elimination of the night was genghis42, who took home $1,645.86 for the 107th place finish.
Of the 106 remaining players, the top 10 were stacked as follows:
1. Aku1206 (Finland) - 3,871,014
2. kbza08 (Argentina) - 3,417,826
3. jakz101 (Canada) - 3,295,939
4. jjanna74 (Russia) - 2,153,802
5. Yazid105 (Portugal) - 2,069,560
6. vanja-berkyt (Ukraine) - 2,058,342
7. nandor82 (Romania) - 1,970,628
8. joaombrito (Portugal) - 1,925,356
9. cruizydude (Australia) - 1,659,791
10. card_bird (Norway) - 1,651,390
81. Team PokerStars Pro Joao "jomane" Nunes (Portugal) - 484,642
83. Team PokerStars Pro Marcin "Goral" Horecki (Poland) - 423,344
Play resumed on Day 2 at the start of Level 31, with blinds at 10,000/20,000 and the ante at 2,500.
On one of the very first hands, Team Pro jomane doubled through jjanna74 with pocket kings, and he climbed into the top 40. But that momentum didn't last long. Just into the second hour of play, jomane pushed all-in preflop from the button with 560,809 chips. CcykuH_CblH reraised from the small blind, and the big blind folded. Jomane showed A♥6♦, but CcykuH_CblH had K♠K♣, and the kings held up to the J♣9♥6♠3♣Q♦ board. Team PokerStars Pro Joao "jomane" Nunes left the tournament in 76th place with $2,392.25.
Goral was still hanging in but with a shorter stack than preferred for that stage of the tournament. Goral pushed all-in preflop from the button with A♠K♦, and original raiser betuun called with Q♦Q♠. The board of J♣J♦T♥6♣8♣ contained an interesting flop but nothing on any street that could save Goral. Team PokerStars Pro Marcin "Goral" Horecki" departed in 47th place with $3,253.46.
Meanwhile, many of the day's initial top 10 players were on the rail with the Team Pros. Nandor82, cage_bird, cruizydude, and joaombrito were eliminated within the first two hours of Day 2. Vanja_berkyt exited in 31st place, and there were only three tables remaining before the end of the third hour.
Nearly 4.5 hours after the day began, hand-for-hand play began. The 11th place elimination of moneytrain09 set things into motion, and it took about 15 minutes to find the bubble player. Niccc started the hand with an UTG raise, and Aku1206 reraised. When niccc raised it up again, Aku1206 moved all-in for 11,342,586 chips. Niccc called with A♣K♦, and Aku1206 showed 9♥7♥. The board came 8♥Q♦J♣J♠J♦, and niccc maintained the higher kicker to eliminate Aku1206 in tenth place with $10,143.14.
Niccc seeks second WCOOP title
The final table was set toward the end of Level 43, with blinds of 100,000/200,000 and a 25,000 ante. The players' starting chip stacks were:
Seat 1: kbza08 (7,603,046 in chips)
Seat 2: jakz101 (12,614,748 in chips)
Seat 3: nailuj90 (9,228,815 in chips)
Seat 4: RealFandorin (3,959,736 in chips)
Seat 5: niccc (38,361,194 in chips)
Seat 6: Yazid105 (7,545,125 in chips)
Seat 7: Phemo (6,438,266 in chips)
Seat 8: Brandvold (5,471,938 in chips)
Seat 9: vossiman (4,467,132 in chips)
It would be an understatement to say that niccc had the chip lead. His 38 million chip stack was leaps and bounds above the 12.6 million of second place jakz101. The tournament wasn't over by any means, though, as there were eight other players who had a very good chance of turning the table around.
RealFandorin wasn't going out without a fight and doubled through nailuj90 with pocket tens over A-9. But a bit later, nailuj90 doubled through RealFandorin when A-J beat pocket queens.
After about 45 minutes of action, niccc was still in charge, though jakz101 had climbed to 25 million chips. But niccc was ready for action. The hand started with an UTG all-in raise from Brandvold for 737,963. Kbza08 called, but nailuj90 reraised all-in for 6,307,266. Niccc came over the top all-in, which prompted a fold from kbza08. The hands were:
The board delivered 6♦5♦7♥4♠4♥, just avoiding a chop and giving niccc all of the chips. Brandvold left in ninth place with $14,831.95, and nailuk90 followed in eighth place with $21,051.80.
Kbza08 was the next to challenge niccc. The latter raised from UTG+1, and kbza08 reraised all-in for nearly 6 million chips. Niccc called with Q♥J♥, and kbza08 showed A♣K♠. The flop of 5♥7♠5♣ didn't change anything, but the 3♥ on the turn gave niccc the flush draw. And the 8♥ on the river made that flush for niccc, leaving kbza08 out in seventh place for $38,276.00.
A few hands later, RealFandorin made a push from middle position. Phemo called 1.3 million more from the big blind with K♦3♦, which was the underdog against the A♣8♦ of RealFandorin. But the flop of 3♠K♠8♣ gave Phemo two pair, and the 6♣ and 9♣ completed the board to give Phemo the pot. RealFandorin left in sixth place with $57,414.00.
Vossiman doubled through Yazid105 to stay alive. With new life, vossiman got involved with jakz101 to see a raised flop of 8♥K♠Q♣. Jakz101 bet, and vossiman check-called all-in for 2.6 million with K♦2♣ for top pair. Jakz101 showed Q♥T♦ for middle pair, but the T♠ on the turn made that into two pair, and the T♣ on the river equaled a full house. Vossiman was gone in fifth place with $76,552.00.
On the very next hand, Phemo made the all-in move with A♥Q♠, and original raiser Yazid105 called with J♥J♣. The board came 5♥9♣4♠J♦9♥ to deliver a full house to Yazid105. Phemo had no choice but to accept fourth place and $95,690.00 in cash.
Niccc still leading three-handed
The last three players started with these stacks:
Seat 2: jakz101 (31,761,766 in chips)
Seat 5: niccc (45,784,249 in chips)
Seat 6: Yazid105 (18,143,985 in chips)
Yazid105 came on strong and began to chip up, and the three players decided to pause the tournament to discuss a deal. They received some numbers for review, and they rather quickly decided that they would rather play on. So, they did. And Jakz101 was aggressive enough to overtake niccc for the chip lead. With hands like this, jakz101 extended that lead:
Jakz101 is better known to friends and family as Eric Crain, and he tweeted from @EricCrain at the six-hour break:
TY to all railing/new followers/old followers. I'm having a blast. Time to bring this home now. Lets go. #jakzmode
Upon the return from break, Yazid105 took this big pot to put all three players nearly even in chips:
And then, this confirmed the surprising turn of events during three-handed play. Niccc raised preflop, which was met by a reraised from jakz101. Niccc pushed all-in with A♥Q♥, and jakz101 called with 8♦8♠. The board produced 7♣9♦T♥T♦3♥ to give jakz101 two pair. Niccc typed in the chat box:
Heads-up for the bracelet/title/cash
The last two players took their seats with these chip counts:
Seat 2: jakz101 (60,659,878 in chips)
Seat 6: Yazid105 (35,030,122 in chips)
Every time Yazid105 made progress and chipped up, jakz101 took those chips back and then some. Yazid105 doubled up once, but it was this second double that gave Yazid105 the lead for the first time:
The two continued to battle, and at the half-hour mark of their match, jakz101 was back in the lead as a result of a series of decent pots. Finally, Yazid105 was relegated to a stack of less than 30 million chips again.
Yazid105 raised the final hand, and jakz101 reraised. Yazid105 called all-in with T♥T♠, and jakz101 showed A♣2♥. The flop of 7♦6♦K♣ changed nothing, nor did the 7♥ on the turn. But the A♠ hit hard on the river, leaving Yazid105 out of second chances, having to accept second place and $205,733.50.
Eric "jakz101" Crain won the tournament, which means a WCOOP title, bracelet, and that little matter of $281,524.39 in cash. Congrats!
WCOOP 2012 Event 63 ($215 NLHE 2-Day) Results:
1st place: Eric "jakz101" Crain (Canada) - $281,524.39
2nd place: Yazid105 (Portugal) - $205,733.50
3rd place: niccc (Lebanon) - $143,535.00
4th place: Phemo (Germany) - $95,690.00
5th place: vossiman (Germany) - $76,552.00
6th place: RealFandorin (Russia) - $57,414.00
7th place: kbza08 (Argentina) - $38,276.00
8th place: nailju90 (Germany) - $21,051.80
9th place: Brandvold (Norway) - $14,831.95
Paid players: 1,260
For WCOOP information, check out the WCOOP home page.
Jennifer Newell is a PokerStars freelance contributor.