2006 WCOOP: Event #1 Final Table Report

Even Nabokov--the Vladimir varietal--frowned on his own creation. He didn't mask his distaste for his most famous accomplishment. Of his most important character, Nabokov said, he's a "vain and cruel wretch" and "a hateful person."

If Vladimir Nabokov had met his poker namesake, a young American poker player from the States, the author might have learned a new form of disgust. He might have found something more distasteful than Humbert Humbert. Vladimir might have found a game we like to call Razz.

For the first time ever, PokerStars added a Razz event to the World Championship of Online Poker. It's the type of game that is rarely played and even more rarely enjoyed. In an age when we are all told to do our best, Razz tells us to be the best of the worst. The worst possible hand (A-5 aka the wheel) is the nuts in Razz. It's a counterintuitive game where a player actually curses getting rolled up kings. And yet, because we are a society of masochists, we play this game. We add it to our mixed games and we look for it in tournament schedules. After years of winning with aces full of kings, we get some sick pleasure out of taking down a pot with 8-5-4-3-2.

Who knew, except the self-loathers among us, that Razz would be such a draw. With the smallest guaranteed prize pool in all of WCOOP, Razz could've drawn 500 people and been considered a success. After all, the 2006 World Series of Poker Razz event drew just more than 400 people. With that in mind, consider this: Nearly 1,300 people signed up to play in the first event of the 2006 World Championship of Online Poker. Eight of them played for nearly 13 hours.

Yeah, they played Razz for almost 13 hours.

Here were the fortunate masochists who made the first final table of the 2006 WCOOP.

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Seat 1: respekmestak (286507 in chips)
Seat 2: FellKnight (134356 in chips)
Seat 3: BadgerDawg (99776 in chips)
Seat 4: debrisfish (101128 in chips)
Seat 5: 2badd4u (387993 in chips)
Seat 6: Nabokov (1123208 in chips)
Seat 7: TS Long (553433 in chips)
Seat 8: solody (556099 in chips)

By the time the players reached the final table, they were looking at at 20,000/40,000 level. That meant the shortstacks didn't have enough chips to make it through a big hand without being all-in. That further meant the final table lost two players in the first few minutes. BadgerDawg found a good enough hand to move his chips toward the middle, but his 8-6 low couldn't beat FellKnight's 7-4. BadgerDawg finished in eighth place and earned $5,706.80. Less than a minute later, debrisfish got the rest of his 100,000 in chips all-in against respekmestak. Unfortunately for debrisfish, his 8d3h/4c started behind respekmestak's 4sAc/8c and never caught up. Debrisfish finished in seventh place for $8,560.20.

At one point in the game, TS Long would claim he'd never played Razz before and even spent time on the Internet reading up on the rules of the game before he played. Perhaps he was protesting a bit much, as he managed to make the wheel against Nabokov at a critical point in the game for a half-million chip pot. It would not be the last time we heard from the self-professed Razz neophyte.

First, though, we had to hear from a man who could've been declared a bit of a suck-up. At some point prior to the game, Solody created a player icon that was an homage to PokerStars poker room manager Lee Jones. While Jones has no control over the cards, Solody was intent on kissing up with his "I Love Leeeeeeeee" icon. Even if it had no effect on the cards, it served him well. He picked up a pot worth 400,000 with a 6-4 low and crippled respekmestak. Within a few minutes, fellow short-stack 2badd4u finished off respekmestak and sent the Ali G lover to the rail in sixth place with $11,154.20.

RGP-favorite FellKnight would be the next to depart. After losing a key hand to Solody's wheel, FellKnight found himself in a dire position. Though he was able to double through Nabokov once, he never fully recovered. His 4h6d/7s bricked out on him and ended up falling to Solody's 8-7 low. FellKnight won $13,748.20 for his fifth place finish.

Solody's rush seemed to refuse to die. For the next several minutes, Solody ran over the four-handed table and ran his stack up over 1.8 million chips. However, it would be Nabokov who finally took out the ever-lasting shortstack 2badd4u. After surviving on low ammo for more than an hour, 2badd4u gave up the ghost in fourth place, collecting $16,861.00.

Three-handed, play went on forever. The players had reached the peak of the blind level escalation and traded chips for a long while. However, as the game progressed, Nabokov couldn't seem to lose. Aggression and a run of luck helped him take over the chip lead. He would never give it up. His 8-7 low knocked off Solody's 9-6 and sent the kiss-up to bed with a third place finish and $22,827.20.

With Solody on the rail, Nabokov had but one opponent left and he made quick work of him. He pulled TS Long down a trail toward disaster, two times taking huge pots after forcing TS Long to fold on the river. After dealing the near-death blow on a hand in which we never saw a showdown, Nabokov finally knocked off TS Long with an 8-6 vs a 9-6. TS Long won $35,019.00 for second place.

And that left Nabokov sitting at the table alone. What the young man had wrought was something most poker players don't get to experience. He had won more than $58,000 for making a worse hand than all of his opponents.

An earlier Nabokov once wrote about a man who lived in a wretched world and who lived a life in the shadows of his own imagination and sick fantasy [1]. PokerStars' Nabokov wrote a far different tale. It's dark and deals with the worst possible hands in poker. That is to say, it may not be pretty, but it's worth $58,000.

And that can't be all bad.

Here are the final table results. Full results can be found by clicking the WCOOP Razz results page.

PokerStars WCOOP Event #1: $215 Razz Final Table Results

1. Nabokov (United States) $58,365.00
2. TS Long (United States) $35,019.00
3. solody (France) $22,827.20
4. 2badd4u (United States) $16,861.00
5. FellKnight (Canada) $13,748.20
6. respekmestak (Canada) $11,154.20
7. debrisfish (Italy) $8,560.20
8. BadgerDawg (United States) $5,706.80

[1] If all the Vladimir Nabokov references are lost on you, I'll loan you my library card. It's worth your time.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in