As anyone who keeps up with the wide world of land-based poker tournament tours sponsored by PokerStars can tell you, the Latin American poker market has really taken off in the last few years. That success has bled over into online tournaments, including here in WCOOP where past events have been won by players from Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil. Today Panama joined the ranks of those nations with a WCOOP win by one of its own.
After a night's rest to recharge their poker-playing batteries, the 22 players who survived Day 1 of this $320 No-Limit Hold'em re-entry event came back to play more poker at 2 p.m. ET today. Play resumed at the beginning of Level 31(6K/12K/1.5K) with no extreme short stacks - everybody was working with at least 18 big blinds, including Puropoker123, who was in the middle of the pack with 581K in chips.
By the first break 16 players remained, led by the day's incoming chip leader, the Czech Republic's dsnka (1.77M). With nobody desperately short-stacked, there was plenty of post-flop play and a corresponding amount of movement by the players up and down the leaderboard. All that back-and-forth saw another five players leave in the second hours of play, taking the field down to just 11 at the second break. With blinds up to 15K/30K, Portugal's Poeira4 led the way with 2.56M.
Halfway into the third hour of play, this heartbreaker of a hand sent former Team Online member Andrew "foucault82" Brokos out on the final table bubble:
LET THE GAMES BEGIN
With just a few minutes left on the 15K/30K/3.75K level, the final table began with these nine players:
Seat 1: Puropoker123 (1,284,644 in chips)
Seat 2: Armand2011 (1,157,878 in chips)
Seat 3: jenbizzle (1,574,001 in chips)
Seat 4: Festivuss (613,234 in chips)
Seat 5: Kora Fett (1,076,616 in chips)
Seat 6: dsnka (1,724,186 in chips)
Seat 7: Poeira4 (2,602,654 in chips)
Seat 8: StigR (2,443,349 in chips)
Seat 9: samuraiUA (2,013,438 in chips)
It looked like the short-stacked Festivuss would be the first player eliminated from the final table after a preflop shove with A♥ Q♦ was met with a re-shove from dsnka with K♥ K♦. But the board came Q♥ Q♣ 8♦ 9♠ 4♣, pulling the Argentinian player back into the thick of things. As for dsnka, the dip in chips was short-lived; minutes later a double-up came with A♥ K♦ against Armand2011's A♠ Q♣ to jump back over 1.5M chips. Then, after the blinds went up to 20K/40K with a 5K ante, came a huge double through StigR to seize the chip lead.
The hand started with dsnka opening for the minimum of 80K with 1.12M chips behind and calling a three-bet to 187K from StigR in the small blind. StigR led out for 164K into the 460K pot when the flop came 8♥ Q♣ 3♠, and after a few seconds' thought dsnka shoved all-in. StigR didn't waste any time calling with A♠ A♦, which was well ahead of dsnka's 8♦ 7♦. But that all changed when the turn brought the 7♥ to give dsnka two pair. The river was the T♦ and dsnka grabbed a 2.71M-chip pot - and a slim chip lead.
The lead was short-lived, though, as Poeira4 jumped out ahead of everyone after grabbing a 2.14M-chip pot in this battle with jenbizzle:
One orbit later the ice finally broke after two of the shorter stacks at the table collided. Puropoker123 opened for the minimum in the hijack and Armand2011 moved all-in for 272K. Everyone else cleared out and Puropoker123 called, showing T♦ T♣; that was ahead of Armand2011's A♥ 9♣, and it stayed there through the K♥ 6♠ J♠ T♥ A♣ board, making Armand2011 the 9th-place finisher ($8,259.30).
Four hands later Puropoker123 seized a momentary chip lead after making a huge call with the tournament on the line. Facing a K♦ 5♥ K♣ 9♣ 4♠ board and an opponent who had three-bet in position preflop and subsequently fired three barrels, including an 880K bet on the river, Puropoker123 opted to call all-in with J♠ J♦. The jacks were good for the 2.95M-chip pot, as Poeira4 had been bluffing all along with J♥ 7♥.
That took the eight remaining players to their second break of the day. Upon returning to play with 25K/50K blinds and 6.25K antes, Festivuss once again doubled up to avoid elimination when 6♦ 6♣ held up against dsnka's A♥ T♣. Kora Fett then repeated the feat a few hands later, doubling up to 1.28M chips by cracking StigR's K♣ K♥ with A♦ K♠. After all that was done, StigR, who had entered the final second in chips, was the short stack with 505K - but moments later the Norwegian had cracked dsnka's K♣ K♠ with A♠ 6♥ to get back up to 1.06M.
The run-good streak for short stacks came to an end after Festivuss three-bet shoved for 834K in the small blind. Poeira4, who had opened for the minimum of 100K under the gun, called with A♥ Q♠ and promptly hit top pair on the Q♦ 4♠ 8♥ flop. That stayed ahead of Festivuss' 7♥ 7♦ through the T♥ turn and 9♣ river, making Festivuss the 8th-place finisher ($14,779.80).
StigR's wild ride continued two orbits later. Again at risk as an all-in short stack, StigR managed to get in ahead with A♣ K♠ against dsnka's A♠ T♥. Big Slick and the Norwegian once again crossed the 2-million-chip threshold just before the blinds went up to 30K/60K with a 7.5K ante.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO HOME, BUT YOU CAN'T STAY HERE
As Level 40 began the remaining players were stacked like this:
Seat 1: Puropoker123 (3,280,651 in chips)
Seat 3: jenbizzle (1,538,434 in chips)
Seat 5: Kora Fett (1,006,626 in chips)
Seat 6: dsnka (1,003,725 in chips)
Seat 7: Poeira4 (2,663,723 in chips)
Seat 8: StigR (2,139,878 in chips)
Seat 9: samuraiUA (2,856,963 in chips)
After a wild run throughout Day 2, dsnka's tournament finally came to an end after the Czech player three-bet all-in from the big blind with T♥ T♠ and got a call from Kora Fett with 8♣ 8♥. The 9♦ J♠ 8♦ flop gave Kora Fett the lead but still dangled hope for dsnka in the form of outs to a straight. But the 3♦ turn and 4♠ river were no help, sending dsnka out in 7th place ($21,735).
Soon the blinds were raised to 40K/80K with a 10K ante. There was plenty of action from there, but it would be another three orbits before another major confrontation where neither player opted to back down. StigR, at the center of so much of the action during Day 2, was again involved. Poeira4 opened the action on the button for the minimum of 160K, and StigR responded with a three-bet to 254K in the small blind. Poeira4 opted to jam for 1.89M, and pretty quickly StigR called. The Norwegian showed A♥ J♥, which was coin-flipping with Poeira4's 8♥ 8♣. This time it was Poeira4 whose tournament life was on the line - and it was taken away after the board came 6♦ K♠ 9♦ A♦ T♦, making Poeira4 the 6th-place finisher ($30,429).
That pot left StigR with 4.62M, nearly 900K ahead of Puropoker123 and more than 2M ahead of the rest of the field. But as had so often happened already, the lead would quickly shift. First jenbizzle shoved for 1.76M under the gun with K♥ Q♥ and got a call from Puropoker123, holding A♠ K♠. The board fell 6♠ 3♠ J♥ A♥ 2♦, sending the 3.7M-chip pot to Puropoker123 and eliminating jenbizzle in 5th place ($39,123).
On the very next hand, StigR opened for the minimum on the button with 7♠ 7♣ and called after samuraiUA shoved from the small blind for 2.17M with A♣ 9♦. The board came 4♣ 5♥ 2♠ T♣ K♠, StigR took the 4.46M-chip pot and the chip lead, and samuraiUA left in 4th place ($53,902.80).
That left three players, stacked like so as the tournament went to its fourth and final break of the day with just a few minutes left at 40K/80K/10K:
Seat 1: Puropoker123 (6,165,131 in chips)
Seat 5: Kora Fett (2,112,661 in chips)
Seat 8: StigR (6,212,208 in chips)
Puropoker123 managed to come out ahead in two confrontations against StigR and another against Kora Fett before the blinds went up to 50K/100K with a 12.5K ante, enough to open up a 30-big-blind lead over StigR. That big stack paid off a few hands later when StigR folded the button and Puropoker123, holding K♠ 8♥, bet enough to put Kora Fett all-in and the short-stacked Canadian player called with A♣ 4♦. The gamble paid off for Puropoker123 when the board came 3♥ T♥ 8♠ 3♣ K♥, eliminating Kora Fett in 3rd place ($78,246).
ONE LAST THING
It was Panama versus Norway in the final:
Seat 1: Puropoker123 (9,360,892 in chips)
Seat 8: StigR (5,129,108 in chips)
For StigR, it was the third opportunity in three years to finish off a big PokerStars tournament. Two previous chances had ended in second place - a Sunday 500 back in August of 2010 and Event 1-M of SCOOP 2011- and there had also been a third-place finish in last year's SCOOP-High Main Event. The Norwegian had an uphill climb ahead to reverse that trend and a tough opponent to overcome in the process.
Puropoker123 went on the attack immediately, and by the third hand of heads-up play StigR ended up all-in only to have the pot chopped when both players played sevens full of queens on the board. Three hands after that, StigR survived another all-in situation by flopping a set with pocket deuces, but Puropoker123 would soon bring the two players back close to even in this pot:
From there it was a tug-of-war for the chip lead, with neither player willing to let the other have anything easily. Though both had been willing to go for broke early on, the action soon settled into a steady back-and-forth affair. Things were so even, the two even ended up getting all their chips in the middle in one pot on the 60K/120K/15K level with the same pair - Puropoker123 with T♣ T♦, and StigR with T♥ T♠.
But all things come to an end, especially entertaining heads-up poker matches. The hand that tipped the scales was a perfect microcosm of the way all of Day 2 had progressed up to that point:
Left with not quite five big blinds, StigR called all-in on the next hand with 5♣ 4♥ but couldn't overcome Puropoker123's Q♦ T♣. It was another runner-up spot for StigR, but with $104,328 to help ease the pain. As for Puropoker123, the honor of being the first WCOOP win ever by a player from Panama came with the added bonus of a bankroll-boosting prize of $134,104.
WCOOP Event #46: $320 NL Hold'em [2X Chance]
$500,000 guaranteed prize pool
2,218 entrants, 680 re-buys, 288 places paid
$869,400 total prize pool
1st place: Puropoker123 (Panama) $139,104
2nd place: StigR (Norway) $104,328
3rd place: Kora Fett (Canada) $78,246
4th place: samuraiUA (Ukraine) $53,902.80
5th place: jenbizzle (United Kingdom) $39,123
6th place: Poeira4 (Portugal) $30,429
7th place: dsnka (Czech Republic) $21,735
8th place: Festivuss (Argentina) $14,779.80
9th place: Armando2011 (United Kingdom) $8,259.30
Puropoker123 has become the first player from Panama ever to win a WCOOP event. Check up on what other nations have produced winners, as well as all the other stats from this year's WCOOP and WCOOPs past, in their fully sortable glory over at the WCOOP stats page. And don't forget to clean your ears out with WCOOP Radio daily at 15:00 ET.
Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.