Ned_bg was not the chip leader going into the final table, but close. Every time a player would take over first place, Ned_bg wasn't far behind. It wasn't until the table thinned to the last few players that Ned_bg was seen as a true contender, and despite going into heads-up play with a chip deficit, the desire to win was too strong. A double-up took Ned_bg to the final hand and victory.
Most start times for World Championship of Online Poker tournaments favor the largest audience of players, and that tends to be Europe and the Americas. But for Asia and the Asia-Pacific countries, they await tournaments like Event 54. Though the start time was 6:00 Eastern, it was prime time for Asian players. As Team Pro Celina Lin tweeted from @Celina_Lin, "WCOOP TIME! Much better time slot for those of us playing in Asia :) @PokerStars" Happy players makes PokerStars happy.
Event 54 offered players a $320 buy-in No Limit Hold'em tournament with a $300K guarantee. Of course, as with all WCOOP tournaments thus far, the guarantee was smashed to bits when the prize pool soared over $400K. After the 180-minute registration period, the final tournament numbers were in:
Prize pool: $478,200.00
Paid players: 216
The one-day tournament worked its way into the money many hours after it started, but the last Team PokerStars Pro left before that happened. The last member of the team in the tournament was Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, and he was eliminated in 278th place.
When the money bubble did burst, pikant of Germany took home $526.02 for 216th place, and the payouts continued. By the time Nandinhojah exited in 72nd place, payouts were up to $1,052.04. But there was the beautiful figure of $78,448.71 up top, so first place was the only place the players really wanted.
After the 11-hour mark, only two tables were fighting it out for spots at the final table. The tenth place elimination of olegus_71 nearing the 12-hour mark sparked hand-for-hand action, and it lasted nearly 30 minutes before the wesslan_19 was forced to go all-in with 11,420 chips. VandOgSaltcalled, and nanu mare checked. The 4♦4♥5♣ flop prompts a bet from nanu mare and fold from VandOgSalt. Wesslan_19 showed Q♠2♠, but nanu mare had 5♦2♣. The 9♣ and 2♣ finished it for wesslan_19, who took home $3,777.78 for tenth place.
Nanu mare leads by a few chips
It was in the middle of Level 33 that the final table began, with blinds of 8,000/16,000 and a 2,000 ante. The players began their action with these stacks:
Seat 1: jimbojiff (732,029 in chips)
Seat 2: chiconogue (1,099,631 in chips)
Seat 3: VandOgSalt (416,926 in chips)
Seat 4: Gerritss (1,187,020 in chips)
Seat 5: Gry Dilling (272,279 in chips)
Seat 6: nanu mare (1,514,617 in chips)
Seat 7: nemmad (856,118 in chips)
Seat 8: zwuerbs (445,228 in chips)
Seat 9: Ned_bg (1,446,152 in chips)
Nanu mare started strong and took a pot worth more than one million chips from Ned_bg. A bit later, Gry Dilling doubled through Gerritss.
VandOgSalt made a move from the button, moving all-in for under 300K chips with A♠T♠. But original raiser Ned_bg called with A♣K♦, and that hand only improved on the Q♣4♥6♠K♣8♥ board to a pair of kings. VandOgSalt had to leave in ninth place with $4,782.00.
The rises and falls of Gry Dilling
Jimbojiff doubled through nanu mare to stay alive but moved again a few hands later. Jimbojiff started the hand with a middle position raise, but Gry Dilling raised all-in from the big blind. Jimbojiff called all-in with A♦T♦, but Gry Dilling showed T♠T♥. The flop of 8♠J♠T♣ gave Gry Dilling a set of jacks, and though the 6♥ on the turn was harmless, the J♥ on the river just rubbed it in with the full house. Jimbojiff exited in eighth place with $8,368.50.
Shortly after, nemmad pushed all-in with 8♦8♣, but Gry Dilling called with A♦A♥. Nothing about the 3♣3♠9♠5♠6♠ board cracked those aces, and that left nemmad out in seventh with $13,150.50.
Gry Dilling had taken over the chip lead from nanu mare, and not even the double-through of zwuerbs put a dent in that lead. But then chiconogue doubled through Gry Dilling for a pot of 1.5 million chips, and the latter was relegated to third place of the final seven. Nanu mare climbed back into first.
Gerritss had been chipped down to little more than 220K chips and risked it all with Q♠J♥. Gry Dilling called with T♠T♣, and the board of A♣4♣A♥8♥3♦ only gave Gry Dilling two pair. Gerritss had to leave in sixth place, which was worth a payday of $17,932.50.
Ned_bg doubled through nanu mare, which left the latter in second place and Gry Dilling back in first. But then chiconogue doubled through Gry Dilling in a huge hand. Soon after, Zwuerbs doubled through chiconogue ... twice. Again, everything changed with zwuerbs in the driver's seat. That second double-up is shown here:
Chiconogue moved all-in soon after that with Q♥Q♦, and Ned_bg was along with 5♣5♦. But the board came 4♠8♣J♣7♣6♥ to deliver the straight for Ned_bg. Chiconogue took the tough beat and left in fifth place with $22,714.00.
Four-handed play went on for quite a while, but then nanu mare got involved with Ned_bg and Gry Dilling to see a flop of 5♣2♣7♣. Nanu mare was the first to bet, and Ned_bg check-called while Gry Dilling folded out of the way. The J♥ on the turn prompted a bet from Ned_bg and call from nanu mare. The 7♥ on the river inspired an all-in bet from Ned_bg. Nanu mare called all-in with K♣8♣ for the king-high flush, but Ned_bg showed A♣T♣ for the ace-high flush. Nanu mare was eliminated in fourth place with $32,039.40.
Final three agree
The last three players decided to pause the tournament to discuss a deal, and as soon as the chip-chop numbers were provided, all of the players agreed. They would take the following payouts and play on for the title, bracelet, and additional $6,000:
Seat 5: Gry Dilling (2,246,392 in chips) = $55,371.09
Seat 8: zwuerbs (2,551,418 in chips) = $57,045.74
Seat 9: Ned_bg (3,172,190 in chips) = $60,453.88
Play resumed and nothing much happened until after the hour break, at which pointGry Dilling doubled through zwuerbs.
Zwuerbs had a tough time gaining any ground. When a hand started with a Gry Dilling raise, zwuerbs raised it up. Gry Dilling then moved all-in, and zwuerbs called all-in for 28,004 more chips. Zwuerbs was on the line with T♦T♣, and Gry Dilling showed A♦J♦. The flop of K♦5♣7♥ was innocent enough, but the J♠ came on the turn to give Gry Dilling the better pair. The A♣ on river made that two pair, and zwuerbs was eliminated in third place with $57,045.74.
Anything can happen in heads-up
The two final players started their battle with these stacks:
Seat 5: Gry Dilling (4,528,310 in chips)
Seat 9: Ned_bg (3,441,690 in chips)
Ned_bg was losing ground until this hand:
Fourteen hands later, the two players saw a raised flop of 3♥7♥3♠. Ned_bg bet, and Gry Dilling check-raised. Ned_bg responded by moving all-in, and Gry Dilling called all-in with 2♥4♥ for the heart draw. Ned_bg showed T♠T♦, and neither the J♠ nor the 9♠ made that flush. That left Gry Dilling out in second place with $55,371.09.
Ned_bg captured the WCOOP title and $66,453.88 in cash. Congrats!
WCOOP 2012 Event 54 ($320 NLHE) Results (reflects three-way deal):
1st place: Ned_bg (Bulgaria) - $66,453.88*
2nd place: Gry Dilling (Denmark) - $55,371.09*
3rd place: zwuerbs (Germany) - $57,045.74*
4th place: nanu mare (Romania) - $32,039.40
5th place: chiconogue (Brazil) - $22,714.50
6th place: Gerritss (Netherlands) - $17,932.50
7th place: nemmad (Netherlands) - $13,150.50
8th place: jimbojiff (UK) - $8,368.50
9th place: VandOgSalt (Denmark) - $4,782.00
Three players agreed to payouts with $6,000 set aside for the winner.
Paid players: 216
WCOOP runs through September 24 with a total of 65 tournaments, so there's plenty of time left to get in on the action. For all sorts of information, check out the WCOOP home page. And don't forget to tune in to WCOOP Radio for daily shows at 15:00 ET.
Jennifer Newell is a PokerStars freelance contributor.