The 12th event of the 2011 edition of the World Championship of Online Poker was the true mano y mano format, with players squaring off in a series of heads-up matches to narrow the 2,224-player field down to a single champion.
After play on Wednesday, the field was whittled down to 64 players, meaning each player would have to survive six rounds on Thursday to win the $75,616 grand prize and WCOOP champion’s bracelet.
The $444,800 prize pool nearly doubled the guaranteed prize pool of $225,000 by PokerStars.
The heads-up event drew plenty of members of Team PokerStars, but all but one fell by the wayside before the 256-player money line was reached. Participants included Pat Pezzin, Viktor “Isildur1” Blom, Kevin “WizardofAhhs” Thurman, John Duthie, Jan Heitmann, Johnny Lodden, Vicky Coren, Shane “shaniac” Schleger, Toni Judet and Bertrand “ElkY” Gospellier.
Only Martin “AABenjaminAA” Hruby survived the first day of play among the pros of Team PokerStars to shoot for the championship on Day 2.
Each of the first two rounds of the second day took about an hour each, to narrow the field to the Sweet Sixteen. Those knocked out in the round of 64 took home $1,334.40, while those eliminated in the round of 32 each got double that, or $2,668.80. Hruby exited in the round of 16, collecting the $4,002.30 associated with that placement in the tournament.
Bari_86 was crippled when his tens lost a preflop race against ace-king. A few hands later our quarterfinals were set, with the matches as:
BOKPOWER vs. crossybig
FragdenInder vs. jenbizzle
mikki696 vs. wywrotX
Love2Spl00ge vs. rickv17
WywrotX was first to advance. In the key hand, he raised the 60 big blind to 120. Mikki696 responded with a re-raise to 300. WywrotX then made it 795 and mikki696 five bet to 1,335. WywrotX finally stopped messing around and pushed all in for 4,100, which mikki696 called.
Mikki696 held 10♦ 10♣ while wywrotX showed A♣ Q♥. The board ran out Q♣ 3♥ 5♣ 9♥ 9♦ to give wywrotX a 8,200 to 1,800 chip lead. The Canadian finished off his opponent when his AT held against A9.
Crossybig advanced next, after about 40 minutes of play. He won a big pot midway through the match when BOKPOWER called him down for three streets of bets on a 2♠ 6♥ 4♥ 8♣ 2♦ board. After crossybig showed A♥ 8♥. BOKPOWER mucked and crossybig took a 8,800-1,200 lead.
Minutes later, BOKPOWER three-bet shoved for 1,700 in the big blind and was well ahead with A♣ 9♣ vs. A♦ 8♣, but the board ran out K♣ 10♥ 8♦ 3♣ 6♦ to allow crossybig to win the match.
Rickv17 took an early 3-to-1 chip advantage in his match against Love2Spl00ge and wouldn’t let up, as the latter battled with the chip deficit for nearly an hour. Finally, the cooler that guaranteed the match’s end came, as Love2Spl00ge pushed all in on a 2,500 three bet preflop with A♠ J♦ and ran into pocket rockets of the diamond and club variety for rickv17. The harmless board of 9♦ 3♣ 3♠ Q♣ 5♥ advanced rickv17 to the semifinals.
It was a tale of two hands for the last quarterfinal match to finish. FragdenInder held a 3-to-1 chip lead but made an ill-advised shove preflop with J♣ 7♣. Jenbizzle made a gutsy (and perhaps questionable) call with K♥ Q♦. The board ran out 7♦ Q♠ A♣ Q♥ 8♦ to give jenbizzle the slight chip lead.
On the next hand, jenbizzle called on the button and FragdenInder shoved for 4,700 in the big blind. This time the Austrian was in goode shape with A♦ 8♣ vs. jenbizzle’s A♣ 3♣. However, a board of 3♥ 9♦ 4♦ 7♦ J♠ ended FragdenInder’s day.
The last four standing were paired off as:
rickv17 vs. wywrotX
crossybig vs. jenbizzle
The key hand in the jenbizzle/crossybig found jenbizzle on the wrong end of a cooler:
A few hands later, crossybig advanced to the finals when his KQ bested jenbizzle’s A6 on a queen high board.
Rickv17 took advantage of a cooler to gain a strong chip lead against wywrotX. After rickv17 doubled the big blind to 160, wywrotX made it 415 and rickv17 called. On a flop of 10♥ A♣ 6♠, wywrotX bet 435 and rickv17 called. After a turn of 3♥, a bet of 835 was called. Finally, on the river K♥ wywrotX put rickv17 all in but rickv17 quickly called with the nuts A♥ Q♥ while wywrotX showed A♦ Q♠.
Six hands later our final showdown was set when wywrotX got his last 2K all in preflop with A♥ 7♥ vs. A♦ 9♠. The kicker played on a board of K♠ K♣ 8♥ 10♠ 5♠ and rickv17 advanced.
The championship event
Rickv17 wanted to chop $50,000 with crossybig and play for the other 15K left in the prize pool, but the latter declined, citing better heads-up stats. So play moved forward.
After a few minutes of play, crossybig’s decision not to chop looked smart when he gained a big chip lead. After rick17 made it 120 on the button, crossybig called and led on the 4♣ A♠ 2♥ flop for 150. Rickv17 raised to 340 and crossybig called. Both players checked the 9♣ turn. On the 5♥ river, crossybig led for 850 and rickv17 called. Crossybig showed 4♠ 4♦ for trips and rickv17 mucked.
After playing the short stack in a series of small pots for about 15 minutes, rickv17 finally got the spot he wanted. He three-bet shoved for 2,600 over the top of a crossybig raise and held A♠ J♦ against A♣ 6♠. Rickv17 doubled up on a board of 8♦ 9♥ 2♣ 8♠ Q♥ to pull back to even.
Top two pair by rickv17 a few minutes later pulled him to a 3-to-2 chip advantage over crossybig, while a single pair of jacks was enough to take another 2,600 chip pot a few hands later. This put rickv17 on top with about 8,000 chips to 2,000.
He continued to put pressure on crossybig with the stack advantage before taking down the tournament with this dominating holding:
Rickv17 earned $75K and change for the win, along with the WCOOP champion’s wrist accessory.
Finishes and payouts among the top eight:
1st — rickv17 ($75,616)
2nd — crossybig ($40,032)
3rd — wywrotX ($24,464)
3rd — jenbizzle ($24,464)
5th — FragdenInder ($12,232)
5th — Love2Spl00ge ($12,232)
5th — BOKPOWER ($12,232)
5th — mikki696 ($12,232)