All Star Week: Team PokerStars Pro wins in a nail biter
It had the all the drama of a playoff game, the ticking clock of an NCAA Elite Eight match-up, and enough pride on the line to last a team a year. Going into the final five matches of PokerStars All Star Week, Team PokerStars Pro and the All Star Challengers were locked at 15 matches apiece. Day 7's five events would decide it.
It only took four games to crown a champion. After falling back into a deep hole on Day 2, Team PokerStars rallied back to take the lead and the championship in the first-ever PokerStars All-Star Week. The Pros won with a final score of 19 to 16 matches.
Match 31: Vicky Coren vs. VOLCANO360 (NLHE)
The first match of the day could not decide the winner of the whole week, but it would at least give a team one step toward the all-important 18th win. First up was Team PokerStars Pro Victoria Coren vs. VOLCANO360.
Challenger psimalive jumped onto the rail to say, ""Saw it's tied up. Had to show my support. Go, go, go, VOLCANO!"
Coren was nothing if not tenacious. The victim of VOLCANO360's flushes (twice) in the early going of the match, Coren fell below the 2,000 chip mark several times. At one point, she resorted to distraction techniques.
"Isabelle (Mercier) and I take part regularly in mud wrestling spats," she taunted. "Usually it's in Vegas, very hot temperatures, most inconvenient to be fully dressed."
VOLCANO360 must have had his chat turned off, because he didn't blink. More than 320 hands passed before Coren accepted the inevitable.
"How can we still be playing?"' she asked. "I am so doomed not to win this, yet here we still are."
Finally, with fewer than 1,000 chips out of her original 5,000, she found a hand to get it all-in with.
With one game out of five down, the Challengers went up 16-15 and had victory within their grasp.
Match 32: Isabelle Mercier vs. busto_soon (NLHE)
Going into the second match of the day, Isabelle Mercier was under the gun. If she lost, it would mean Team Pro would have to win out to capture the All Star Week victory.
Mercier and busto_soon traded chips for the first 40 hands. Then Mercier came in for a raise to 90. Busto_soon re-raised to 330. Mercier called and they saw a flop of 9♥ 9♠ J♥. Busto_soon bet out 410 and Mercier called. The turn was the J♦. Both players checked. On a river of the 5♥, busto_soon check-called Mercier's 900 bet to see her 9♣ A♦ full house.
Down nearly 3-1 in chips, busto_soon had some work to do if he wanted to come back. To his credit, he had almost drawn even by Hand #149. That's when this hand hit.
With that, Mercier evened the score at 16-17.
Match 33: Lee Nelson Vs 1ofaKind420 (Stud-8)
With all the drama leading up to the moment of victory, it was almost anti-climactic to have a key match play out in Stud-8 game. Almost.
The limit nature of the game offered no huge highlights, save the one that really mattered. That one, the moment Lee Nelson put 1ofaKind420 away for good, came 273 hands and nearly two hours into Match 33.
Nelson's win meant the Challengers had to put up back-to-back wins if they wanted to come out with the first-ever All Star Week Championship.
Match 34: Chad Brown Vs Sumpas (NLHE)
Chad Brown had been on fire during All Star Week. He needed to keep that fire lit for one more match.
Brown spent the first 44 hands simply grinding his way to a 4-1 chip lead. It took just half an hour for things to start looking grim for the Challengers.
VOLCANO360 appeared on the rail with some encouragement. "Rally caps are on, Sumpas," he said.
The rally caps simply weren't enough. Down to 1,000 chips, Sumpas saw a 5♥ A♦ 7♠ flop. It was good enough for him. He held 4♣ 6♣ for the open-ender. Brown called him with 2♣ A♣. Sumpas missed twice, and just like that it was over.
It took less than one hour for Brown stack every one of Sumpas' chips and take his team across the finish line for the All Star Week victory.
Match 35: Greg Raymer Vs kAmIkAdZeEe (NLHE)
The final match was merely a formality. With Team PokerStars Pro ahead 18-16, there was no way for the Challengers to catch up. Raymer lamented he wasn't getting a chance to play the deciding match. He could've easily just rolled over and let kAmIkAdZeEe have it. Instead, the match turned into one of the longest matches of the entire week.
At one point, it looked as if kAmIkAdZeEe might score a moral victory. He had Raymer 3-1 in chips halfway through the first hour. Then Raymer showed down Q♥ Q♣ on a [2s 5c 7s 8c 7d] board. The queens were good for a 3,500 pot and put Raymer right back in the game.
Before long, Ramyer had opened up a nearly 9-1 chip lead on the Challenger. It would not be that easy. After the one hour mark passed, there came a short break, some tough playing by kAmIkAdZeEe to pick up some chips, and then this key hand.
In just the blink of an eye, kAmIkAdZeEe had taken over the chip lead. It took another half hour, but finally we saw the last hand of an amazing week.
It was a sweet moral victory for the Challengers after a long hard week of poker.
Congratulations to the All Star Challengers for a brilliant performance over the last week. The Challengers showed poise when necessary, naked aggression when it counted, and a tenacity no one fully expected. Their close finish is a credit to the deep power of the PokerStars ranks.
Even greater kudos to the elite stable of Team PokerStars Pros who fought back from early struggles and stood firm on the final day of competition. Though every penny they earned will never see their pockets (it all goes to charity) the Pros once again proved their place at the top.
Thanks to all the players for a great show over the past week. For full results of the 35 matches, check out the PokerStars All Star Week results page.