What do players in the heads-up contest do in between rounds? A match can last anything from a few minutes to a couple of hours. That means if you win fast you’re left waiting, at the mercy of the slow coach having trouble finding hands. Then the process starts again. And if your match was the last to finish there’s no rest before your next tie begins.
In the case of Event #61, the downtime was probably spent either playing or watching the WCOOP Main Event, which began its first day today. Some 2,000 players with an eye on a seven figure payday can be a distraction, like opening the living room curtains to see a stampede of buffalo cantering past your front porch.
But while most of the final 16 who reconvened for the heads-up today are now safely tucked up in the big one, maximum123 will have the biggest smile on their face, the newest WCOOP champion and winner of Event #61, along with the bracelet, after a difficult heads-up campaign.
Just as H.O.R.S.E. presumes the winner to have a particular skill in a variety of disciplines, the heads-up champion is bestowed with similar type of prestige, having stood on their wits, with nowhere to run and hide. Maximum123 tonight topped that list.
But this was not event wrapped up in a few hours this afternoon and evening. It began yesterday, with the first of what would be nine rounds for the winner.
Day 1: 407 to 16
It would be a long day for those reaching the last 16, but there were big names among the first round fallers, the one match winner-takes-all format leaving little room to make up for mistakes. Victor Ramdin and Annette Obrestad were both among them.
In round two, which reduced the field to 128, Raymond Wu, Randal “RandALLin” Flowers, Dmitry “Jovial Gent” Timoshenko, Ana Marquez, Nacho Barbero, Isaac “westmenloAA” Baron, and Jason Mercier would all depart.
Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier
Those busted in the third round were still finishing off the money, the likes of Viktor Blom, Lex Veldhuis, Johnny Lodden and Vanessa Selbst all leaving empty handed.
Only those who reached round four were guaranteed something. Bryan Huang managed a min-cash, picking up $1,082.62 for his 58th place finish, while George Danzer went one round further, busting in 23rd to earn $2,165.24.
And so players returned today with the random draw looking like this:
Alex “Dynoalot” Difelice vs. Ryan “HITTHEPANDA” Franklin
I_Mr_U_Bean vs. maximum123
James “Andy McLeod” Obst vs. Jules “hartwith” Adamson
K0Ku$@iGinK0 vs. vic_xcite
Faith#1Virtu vs. Python817
Luke “LFmagic” Fields vs. Vesselman
Johnny “BabyGrand” Josephy vs. SONGJOY
Sam “KingKobeMVP” Stein vs. visjeatwater
Hartwith made easy work of Obst, done and dusted with a place in the last eight guaranteed within nine minutes of the start. Other matches would take longer. While Franklin steered past Difelice, and maximum123 did the same to I_Mr_U_Bean, Faith#1Virtu and Python817played on.
James “Andy McLeod” Obst
As Fields secured the win against Vesselman, and SONGJOY did the same against Josephy, Faith#1Virtu and Python817played on. Even when visjeatwater saw off Stein, there was no end in sight for Faith#1Virtu and Python817. And so everyone waited.
Just when it seemed over, Python817, who had been the short stack, doubled. But after nearly an hour and a half of play Faith#1Virtu prevailed, the last to arrive into the last eight.
Round of 8
Faith#1Virtu was immediately sent to face Fields, from one lengthy duel into the start of another. But all the hard work was undone in moments when Fields almost eliminated Faith#1Virtu from the go.
The hand had a several effects. First, it lined Fields up for a spot in the semi-finals. Second, it really pissed off Faith#1Virtu. His match in the previous round had been the last to finish. Within moments of this one starting it would be over, and he was, in his own words, “tilted.”
His remedy to this malaise was to demand an immediate rematch, that he and Fields play heads-up PLO right now. “Let’s play” he insisted as he was left with 1,000. He said it again after he called Fields a “fish”. Then again when, on the rail and typing in faint grey rather than bold blue, he demanded satisfaction. Fields brushed off the request, not shying away from the challenge, but pointing out, quite rightly, that on WCOOp main event day there were other distractions. This was not a day for revenge cash heads-up PLO.
In the other matches K0Ku$@iGinK0 had grabbed an early lead and wrapped up his tie within ten minutes against hartwith. No cash rematch was discussed. Things were all-square in the other matches, until maximum123 found himself with a big lead against Franklin.
Minutes later that lead became a win and a place in the last four.
That left visjeatwater against SONGJOY, a tense battle in which the lead switches hands on multiple occasions. After nearly two hours SONGJOY was finally able to drive home his latest advantage.
The last 4
K0Ku$@iGinK0 vs. maximum123
SONGJOY vs. Fields
Maximum123 was first to book a place in the final. He surged into a clear lead after 15 minutes of play, turning over a wheel for an advantage he would never concede. Minutes later a king-high straight would put an end to K0Ku$@iGinK0’s bracelet hopes.
There would be nearly another hour of play before the identity of his final round opponent was known. Fields had worked up a sizeable lead with a full house queens over sevens only for SONGJOY to win a string of smaller, less flashy pots, to sneak back to within sight of the lead. That became even more profound when he won a crucial all-in.
Minutes later SONGJOY was facing off against maximum123.
First thing was first, a deal to take the strain out of this last match. Both players agreed to an equal chop, with $5,000 and the bracelet left to play for.
The heads-up final begins
Maximum123 won the first pot of note, turning over an ace-high straight for a two-to-one advantage. What followed was the best part of an hour of little change in the chip counts. A pattern had formed. SONGJOY would win a hand worth a couple of thousand. Then maximum123 set to work winning the next half dozen pots to make up what he’d originally lost. SONGJOY would then strike again, only to watch whatever recovery he’d made dismantled by five or six non-descript hands going against him.
This went on for as long as SONGJOY could hold the line. Eventually that resistance crumbled. Reduced to less than 4,000 chips, he got them all-in, with maximum123 ready to call.
No more rounds to play, just congratulations all round, particularly to maximum123 on a well-deserved first WCOOP win.
WCOOP 2013: Event #61, $700 PLO
$270,655.00 total prize pool ($150K Guaranteed)
64 places paid
1st place. maximum123 (Norway) — $53,924.45*
2nd place. SONGJOY (South Africa) — $48,924.45*
3rd place. LFmagic (United Kingdom) — $18,945.85
3rd place. K0Ku$@iGinK0 (Honduras) – $18,945.85
5th place. visjeatwater (Netherlands) — $8,660.96
5th place. HITTHEPANDA (Canada) — $8,660.96
5th place. hartwith (United Kingdom) — $8,660.96
5th place. Faith#1Virtu (Canada) — $8,660.96
* denotes two-way deal.
That’s pretty much it for WCOOP 2013, except for the fireworks to follow the Main Event which plays on into the early hours of Tuesday.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.