2006 WCOOP Event #16 Final Table Report

"HORSE is the new hold'em."
--Instant message from fellow Team Blog member and poker blogger, CJ, during Event #16

The guaranteed prize pool was $100,000, the kind of money that is nothing at which to sneeze, but also, not the kind of thing that gets up the masses' dander. In fact, while Event #16 was the biggest buy-in of any of the eighteen WCOOP events, it had the smallest guaranteed prize pool.

PokerStars seemed to know from the outset that the guaranteed prize pool was not going to be the draw for this event. The attraction would be two-fold. First, the buy-in was an unprecedented $5,000. Second, the game was HORSE, a game the top pros have started using to seperate the single-game players from the best all-around players.

By the time the event kicked off, first prize money was more than two times as big as the original guaranteed prize pool for the whole event. Event #16, $5,000 HORSE, drew many of the top professionals in the game. The opportunity to play a major event--and have a chance of capturing the pride of winning a mixed-game tournament--brought a lot of big names out of the brick and mortar cardrooms. When players reach the final table, the table was stacked with some very well-known players. The two I could safely identify were Isabelle "No Mercy" Mercier and Chad "stelladora" Brown.

Mercier, as a longtime Team PokerStars member, spends a good amount of time playing online. Brown, however, is a major tournament player. It's rare to find him online. In fact's it's rare to find him in a game that doesn't involve tons and tons of money.

"I don't normally play online, but, because of this event, you got me," he said. "I play in only $5,000 and higher tourneys."

It's served him well. He currently sits at the top of the Bluff Magazine tournament leaderboard for 2006.

As for PokerStars, Brown said, "It was HORSE that really made me interested."

His interest paid off, as he and seven other top players made it to the final table. It was an atmosphere that was irresistible for poker fans. Dan Goldman, Barry Greenstein, and Bill Chen called the action on Bluff Radio (all the while, Chen was playing and eventually winning the second chance HORSE tournament). The poker forums were going nuts with speculation about the identities of the players. Simply put, it was like being able to sit in the stands of a major poker event and watch world class play, but being able to do it from your couch.

Here's what the final table looked like when the top-eight assembled:

Click image for full version

Seat 1: youbet (42632 in chips)
Seat 2: DCJ311 (195122 in chips)
Seat 3: NoMercy (77110 in chips)
Seat 4: Sam Grizzle (76142 in chips)
Seat 5: ILuvKittens (136650 in chips)
Seat 6: MyRabbiFoo (276601 in chips)
Seat 7: stelladora (412835 in chips)
Seat 8: Hold_emNL (532908 in chips)

The seven-card stud round would be the scene of the first elimination. Sam Grizzle, who had led most of the way through the middle stages of the tournament, finally found himself very low on chips. Forced to bring it in with 6d6c/3h, went ahead and put in a full bet. After getting raised by Hold_emNL, Sam Grizzle called all in. By sixth street, Hold_emNL had made a pair of queens, but Sam Grizzle never improved. An eighth place finish grossed Sam Grizzle $22,312.50.

Player, youbet, was on the ropes when Sam Grizzle exited and over the course of the next ten minutes, dwindled down to around 10,000 in chips. With only 8,000 after the ante, youbet put in the rest of his chips with 6hQh/Kd. Chad Brown called with Kc3c/Ks. Both players ended up with kings up, but Brown's kings and jacks bested youbet's kings and eights. You bet finished in seventh, pocketing $31,500.00.

Youbet's elimination heralded the beginning of the seven-card stud eight-or-better round. Fan favorite Isabelle "No Mercy" Mercier had been running very well and playing exceptionally tough in the previous twelve hours. However, as the stud-8 round began, Mercier was down to around 80,000 in chips. Mercier brought it in with a Ad7d/2c and then called a raise from Brown. After pulling a four on fourth street, Mercier bet out with a very good low draw. Brown called. Both players picked up a king on fifth street. This time, Mercier bet out and Brown played back, raising Mercier all in. With AK high and needing one card to a low, Mercier called. With all the money in, Mercier was ahead for both the high and low. Then, Brown paired a five on sixth street. Mercier bricked twice, missed her low, couldn't make a pair, and exited in fifth place for $41,125.00.

DCJ311 finished in fifth place after getting all his chips in versus both Brown and Hold_emNL. While played against each other, DCJ311 had to sit back and watched his chances at a higher place disappear. He mucked his hand at the river and went away with his fifth place finish and $55,125.00.

Well-known player, MyRabbiFoo was the next to go. Dealt Ad6h/6c, MyRabbiFoo went to war with Hold_emNL and got all-in. By the river, MyRabbiFoo had not improved, but Hold_emNL had made a set of aces. Fourth place paid MyRabbiFoo $70,875.00.

The next big pot would define the rest of the event. ILuvKittens decided he would go to war with 4d5d/8h. Holdem_NL, showing an eight, and Brown, showing, a six, decided to fight the battle. The betting was capped on third street and by fourth street ILuvKittens was all in. Brown and Hold_emNL continued to fight. By the river, the pot was worth more than half a million chips, and Brown had scooped the entire thing with a jack-high flush. ILuvKittens pocketed a monster $102,812.50 for third place.

It was around this time that Chad Brown text messaged Barry Greenstein and gave Barry permission to use Brown's real name on the radio. It was then that the viewing and listening audience discovered they were watching one of the best brick and mortar players battle against a very well-know high-limit online player (who, by the way, I happen to have met and respect).

In the end, the heads-up battle did not last long enough for Hold_emNL to get a great foothold. Brown went on the attack during the Hold'em round, and, over the course of ten minutes, sent Hold_emNL out in second place. In the final hand, Brown's Q4 rivered Hold_emNL's QT when a four fell. Hold_emNL earned $152,425.00 for his effort.

Brown, a relative online neophyte, proved that brick and mortar skill can translate to online play. "I thought the software was really good, as was the structure of the tourney," Brown said.

Brown, the first event $5,000 WCOOP HORSE bracelet winner says he has found something he enjoys in PokerStars.

"I think PokerStars will get a lot of new players that don't normally play online with these type of buy-ins," he said. "[I'm] looking forward to playing more online here."

A full list of money winners can be found on the PokerStars WCOOP Event #16 results page. Final table results are below.

PokerStars WCOOP Event #16 Final Table Results

1. Chad "stelladora" Brown (United States) $223,125.00
2. Hold_emNL (United States) $152,425.00
3. ILuvKittens (United States) $102,812.50
4. MyRabbiFoo (United States) $70,875.00
5. DCJ311 (United States) $55,125.00
6. NoMercy (Canada) $41,125.00
7. youbet (United States) $31,500.00
8. Sam Grizzle (United States) $22,312.50

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in