WCOOP 2016: leitalopez defeats Ukraine's Robin of Hood of Poker to win the Sunday Million SE (Event #29 $700 NL)

The poker world can be a cutthroat business, but every once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places. The final table for WCOOP Event #29 had a altruistic slant with Ukraine's version of a modern-day Robin Hood. Roman 'RomeOpro' Romanovskyi, a pro from the Ukraine, is currently ensconced in a charity marathon. In a 2+2 thread, Romanovskyi explained his charitable mission in which 50% of his winnings (between August and December 2016) would get donated to charity. Romanovskyi is allocating 50% of his donations to Raise for Effective Giving (REG) and the rest will get donated to "hospices, injured soldiers, and old people in Ukraine." Romanovskyi's avatar on PokerStars is the Raise for Effective Giving (REG) logo.

The Sunday Million Special Edition also doubled as WCOOP Event #29 this week. First place paid out nearly $300K, so if Romanovskyi won his first-ever WCOOP, he would raise a boatload of cash for various charities. Romanovskyi got heads-up with a sizable advantage over Argentina's leitalopez...but the match was not going to be a quickie. Nope. The two engaged in a vicious heads-up bout that was worthy of a championship fight inside the Octagon at MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. During a grueling three-hour match, the two swapped the chip lead so many times that we lost track during the bloody fracas. leitalopez had a wounded Romanovskyi on the ropes on multiple instances, yet failed to deliver the fatal head shot every time. Romanovskyi alligator-blooded his way back into contention, but by the third hour, fatigue plagued both players and blinds were shooting up.

When the marathon heads-up match came to a resolution, leitalopez triumphantly delivered the winning knockout blow to win WCOOP Event #29. It was both a mentally and physically exhausting heads-up bout. Even though Roman 'RomeOpro' Romanovskyi finished in second place, he's probably the real winner in this tournament because he earned a ton of karma points for his personal charity marathon. Romanovskyi won $214,929.95 for a runner-up finish. If he continues his winning ways over the rest of the year, then it's safe to say that a bulk of his WCOOP winnings will be donated to worthy charities including REG and his fellow Ukrainians in need.

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Ukraine's Robin Hood of Poker a.k.a. Roman 'RomeOpro' Romanovskyi

2016 WCOOP Event #29 had a $700 buy-in for this Special Edition of the Sunday Million. This NLHE event attracted 3,109 runners and a prize pool worth $2,067,485. First place in the Sunday Milly SE earned a payday worth $298,927.63 and only the top 368 places paid out.

Day 1 ended with only 245 players and AndriusJan (U.K.) in the lead with 1.06M. Russia's Ti0373 was the only other player with at least 1M in chips. Brazil's Pessagno bagged up 272K, which was good enough for 90th overall. The legendary twin-caracas finished up 34/245. Other notables making day two were tsarrast, g0lfa, BodogAri, djk123, and Moorman1. None of those mentioned would make the final table... twin-caracas went the deepest but he busted in 40th place, Brian Rast's run ended in 58th place, Team Online's Pessagno busted in 82nd, Dan 'djk123' Kelly finished in 113th, Ryan 'g0lfa' D'Angelo went out in 139th, and Chris Moorman was dunzo in 187th place.

With 13 players remaining on the final two tables, four of them were Swedish. The chip leader, mrAndreeew from Sweden, seized the lead with 8.2M. The fourth Swede, JacobLarsson, was the shorty with barely 1M and he'd bow out in 11th place. With action roaring toward the final table, German donkno2 shipped a monsterpotten and rocketed into the lead with nearly 14M. When everything was hand-for-hand with ten remaining, donkno2 held onto the lead with a trio of Swedes right behind: ISILDRooN, mrAndreeew, and Maahone.

During a prolonged final table bubble, donkno2 lost a hefty chunk of the big stack and enough that he slid under 10M. The Swedes were nipping at donkno2's feet. Or hooves. Or whatever fancy word you call "donkey feet." Then it happened. The rumpus. One of the shorties doubled through donkno2, who finally coughed up the lead. mrAndreeew regained the top spot... momentarily.

When the final table bubble passed the 60-min mark, RomeOpro took a turn atop of the leader board with a 12.7M stack. Both mrAnreeew and donk2 were hovering right behind. At that juncture, the final ten were divided in a class war between the haves vs. the have-nots. Half of the field was limited to shortstacks between 2M and 4M, whereas the other wealthier half held stacks between 8M and 13M.

After nearly 75 minutes of an anguished bubble, we finally saw a decisive hand... ISILDRooN four-bet shoved for 8,537,905 and short-stacked Mutombooh called all-in and tried to double up with A♠T♠ against ISILDRooN's domineering K♦K♠. Pocket cowboys held up when the board ran out Q♠T♣6♣K♥Q♣. ISILDRooN won the pot with a full house and Mutombooh bubbled off the final table in tenth place.

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WCOOP-29 - Final Table Chip Counts:
Seat 1: Siton11 (2,388,711)
Seat 2: leitalopez (7,631,314)
Seat 3: RomeOpro (12,615,811)
Seat 4: gusmaa (3,992,133)
Seat 5: mrAndreeew (8,199,295)
Seat 6: ISILDRooN (12,215,581)
Seat 7: Maahone (2,794,155)
Seat 8: FeaNoR4eG (3,946,373)
Seat 9: donkno2 (8,396,627)

The final table commenced during Level 41 with blinds at 100K/200K and a 25K ante. ISILDRooN chipped up to 12.2M, which was good enough for second overall behind Ukraine's RomeOpro's big stack of 12.6M. Maahone was the short stack by default with 2.8M. Three players from Sweden made the final table as well as three players from the Ukraine. Germany, Argentina, and Brazil rounded out the other countries (solely) represented. Would this table come down to a battle between the Ukraine and Sweden?

The final table featured Andreas "mrAndreeew" Berggren, a familiar face on the EPT circuit. The Swede also won a SCOOP back in 2014 and also shipped the Super Tuesday last year. Fellow Swede Leo 'ISILDRooN' Nordin final tabled a SCOOP and WCOOP, but had never shipped a COOP before. He binked a PLO turbo side event at the EPT12 Grand Final in Monte Carlo.

Out of the three Ukrainian players, the biggest pedigree belonged to the altruistic Roman 'RomeOpro' Romanovskyi, who final tabled a WCOOP last year but he busted in second place. He also went deep in a trio of SCOOP events with three final table appearances. Fellow Ukrainian FeaNoR4eG final tabled the Sunday Million back in the summer of 2014.

leitalopez from Argentina won over $1.7M in career tournaments on PokerStars. leitalopez final tabled a WCOOP event last year, but was seeking a first WCOOP crown.


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LIVELY UP YOURSELF: gusmaa eliminated in 9th place

At least 35 minutes passed before someone busted at the final table during Level 42. It involved a pair of pocket pairs and the action was all-in preflop. donkno2 min-raised to 480,000, RomeOpro called from the small blind, gusmaa bombed it all-in for 4,837,133 from the big blind, donkno2 folded, and RomeOpro insta-called with T♦T♠. gusmaa trailed with 6♥6♠. Although gusmaa flopped a gutshot draw, it never materialized. The board ran out 5♦3♦2♠Q♦7♦ and RomeOpro actually rivered a four-flush to win the pot. Brazil's gusmaa busted in ninth place, which paid out $21,351.95.

With eight to go, big-stacked RomeOpro led the way with 21.8M and Maahone and FeaNoR4eG were both shorties with approximately 2M.

NO WOMAN, NO CRY: FeaNoR4eG eliminated in 8th place

Two of the Ukrainians went at it and one of them hit the bricks. Classic flip too. RomeOpro opened to 540,000, shorty FeaNoR4eG shoved for 2,216,373 and RomeOpro called. RomeOpro held a slight lead with 4♠4♦ against FeaNoR4eG's A♦J♠. The board ran out T♥7♠2♦K♠6♠. FeaNoR4eG turned a Broadway gutterball draw, but whiffed on the river. RomeOpro dodged that bullet and his pocket fours held up to win. Ukraine's FeaNoR4eG was dunzo in eighth place, which paid out $29,696.32.

THEM BELLY FULL (BUT WE HUNGRY): mrAndreeew eliminated in 7th place

Ukraine won the first skirmish in the ongoing cold war between Sweden and the Ukraine. RomeOpro opened to the standard min-raise to 480,000, mrAndreeew bombed it all-in for 6,130,140 with 5♣5♠, and RomeOpro snap-called with J♣J♥. The board ran out K♥7♦4♣K♣K♠. RomeOpro's pocket Jacks held up and mrAndreeew was busto. For a seventh place finish, Sweden's Andreas 'mrAndreeew' Berggren earned $41,301.73

With six remaining, RomeOpro's lead got even bigger. The Ukrainian sat on a mountain of chips worth nearly 31M. Siton11 was the shorty with 3M.

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Andreas 'mrAndreeew' Berggren - 7th place

REBEL MUSIC: donkno2 eliminated in 6th place

Maahone open-shoved for 5,163,310 with A♠9♣ and donkno2 called all-in for 4,39,2477 with J♦J♣. Brutal flop for pocket Jacks. Even more brutal of a turn too. The board finished up A♥9♦6♦9♥5♠ and Maahone won the pot with a full house. Germany's donkno2 was knocked out in sixth place, which paid out $57,442.58.

With five to go, RomeOpro held 37M, followed by Maahone (10M), leitalopez (9.9M), ISILDRooN (3.6M), and Siton11 (1.6M).

SO JAH SEH: Siton11 eliminated in 5th place

A couple of hands later, another shorty busted during a nasty skirmish between Ukraine and Sweden. This time, Sweden was the victor. Siton11 opened to 1,400,000, Maahone popped it up to 2,520,000, and Siton11 called all-in for 147,422 more. Maahone led with A♦K♣ against Siton11's K♠6♠. The board ran out A♥6♦5♥9♣T♣ and the Ace on the flop sealed Siton11's fate. Maahone won the pot with a pair of Aces, and Ukraine's Siton11 was dunzo in fifth place, which paid out $79,891.34.

With four remaining in the hunt for the WCOOP title, RomeOpro retained the leader position but he was the sole player from Ukraine remaining. Two other Swedish players -- Maahone and ISILDRooN -- were still alive, but ISILDRooN was the new shorty.

NATTY DREAD: ISILDRooN eliminated in 4th place

Another shorty hit the road. RomeOpro min-raised to 560,000, ISILDRooN didn't waste any time and shoved for 1,996,370, leitalopez re-shoved for 7,795,034, and everyone else bailed. Heads-up. Classic race. ISILDRooN took 9♣9♠ into battle against leitalopez's A♦K♠. Alas, Big Slick prevailed when the board finished up 6♣5♠3♣A♣T♠. For a fourth-place finish, Sweden's ISILDRooN took home $111,113.25.

With three to go, RomeOpro's lead improved to 40M, followed by Maahone's 11.5M and leitalopez's 10.6M. It was down to one Swede, one Ukrainian, and the Argentine, who somehow snuck into the final three.

TALKIN' BLUES: Maahon eliminated in 3rd place

The third and final Swede bid goodbye. RomeOpro min-raised to 640,000, Maahone shoved for 5,813,227, leitalopez also bombed it all-in for 5,988,228, RomeOpro ducked out of the hand. Heads-up. Maahone was in trouble with A♣2♥ against leitalopez's A♠J♣. The board finished up K♥8♥5♦Q♦A♦. Maahone rivered an Ace, but lost to leitalopez's Jack-kicker. For a third place finish, Sweden's Maahone took home $15,4536.64.

HEADS-UP: leitalopez (Argentina) vs. RomeOpro (Ukraine)
Seat 2: leitalopez (12,561,455)
Seat 3: RomeOpro (49,618,545)

With two remaining, RomeOpro held a 4-1 edge. Could RomeOpro finish off leitalopez and win nearly $150K for charity?

THE FIRST HOUR

Nothing much happened during the first 30 minutes of heads-up. RomeOpro tried to extend the lead, but leitalopez hung tough. Forty minutes into heads-up and at the start of Level 45 (200K/400K blinds and 50K ante), leitalopez embarked on a rush and won four consecutive pots including a 12.7M pot with a flush against trips. leitalopez chipped up to 26M and narrowed the deficit to just 10M. leitalopez eventually seized the lead when A♠A♣ held up in a pot worth 7.3M. leitalopez held the slimmest of slim margins at 31.47M to 30.7M.

RomeOpro launched a swift counterattack and dragged a 18.2M pot by bluffing on the river with Jack-high and a busted flush and busted Broadway straight draw. RomeOpro was monetarily back in the lead 38.4M to 23.7M.

Two hands later, leitalopez and RomeOpro got involved in the largest pot of the tournament worth 43.3M when leitalopez five-bet shoved for 21,600,417 with A♦Q♠ and RomeOpro called with T♣T♥. The board ran out 3♦6♣2♦3♣Q♣. leitalopez spiked the Queens of clubs on the river to double up and stave off elimination. RomeOpro replied "OMFG!" after losing that face-numbing 43.3M pot. RomeOpro's stack was chopped down to 18.8M.

When heads up reached the one-hour mark, leitalopez jumped out to a 4-1 chip lead and chipped up to 50M after dragging an uncontested 16.4M pot. RomeOpro's stack shrunk to 12M.

THE SECOND HOUR

During the second hour of heads-up, we saw oodles of fireworks and fisticuffs. RomeOpro went on a mini-heater and won 8 out of 11 hands. During that stretch, leitalopez lost a vital pot worth 27.4M that cost him a chance to pick off RomeOpro. leitalopez had RomeOpro on the ropes, but could not deliver the crushing knockout blow. RomeOpro had four-bet shoved with A♥3♠ against leitalopez's A♣Q♥, but RomeOpro hit the flop and won the pot with a full house (fours over treys) when leitalopez's Ace-queen failed to improve. Couple hands after that wicked beat, RomeOpro reseized the lead.

Once again, leitalopez launched a counterattack and won two big pots. The first one was uncontested and topped 22M. The second was worth 13.5M when leitalopez rivered a better two pair. Those consecutive hands thrust leitalopez back on top 49M to 13.1M.

leitalopez apologized for another river beat: "I hited (sic) again bro."

"NP, I'm used to," replied RomeOpro.

Shortly after, leitalopez missed another opportunity to put away RomeOpro, but the bulletproof RomeOpro doubled up to 22M when his 8♦7♣ upended K♣6♣. RomeOpro rivered a straight to beat out leitalopez's two pair. RomeOpro went on another mini-rush to snatch up the lead once again. RomeOpro's overall rush included 11 out of 12 winning hands as he jumped back into the lead again with 40M to 22M.

THE THIRD HOUR

Once heads-up passed the two-hour mark, it was evident that the Ukrainian Robin Hood had alligator blood pumping through his veins! Just when it appeared as though RomeOpro might land a knockout, leitalopez doubled up with A♠K♥ against RomeOpro's Q♥T♥ in a 31M pot.

A few hands later, leitalopez regained a commanding lead with pocket rockets. The board read T♥7♠3♠J♣6♣. With 18M in the pot, leitalopez shoved for 14,952,132 and RomeOpro tank-called with K♥T♠ and just a pair of tens. However, leitalopez tabled A♦A♥ and won the pot worth nearly 48M.

Approximately 2.5 hours into the heads up marathon, the rollercoaster ride continued. RomeOpro was back on top after dragging a 42.5M pot with K♣8♠ vs. leitalopez's Q♦J♣. RomeOpro flopped trip eights, which held on to win against leitalopez's gutshot draw.

Level 49 began and blinds increased to 500K/1M and a 125K ante. It was leitalopez's turn to go on a rush and avoid a knockout. leitalopez turned the tides once again to rally to even. leitalopez jumped back out to a 2-1 lead with some sheer aggression.

REVOLUTION: Roman 'RomeOpro' Romanovskyi eliminated in 2nd place; leitalopez wins WCOOP Event #29!

Just as the heads-up match was ending its third hour, we caught the coup de grace. Going into the final hand, leitalopez led 51.6M to 10.5M.

RomeOpro bombed it all-in for 10,424,630 with 8♥7♦ and leitalopez called with J♥9♦. Neither player improved when the board ran out T♣4♠3♥T♠T♦, but leitalopez won the pot with trip tens and a Jack-kicker.

For a gutsy runner-up performance, Roman 'RomeOpro' Romanovskyi won $214,929.95. Hopefully, Romanovskyi will have a positive run the rest of the year, so a good chunk of his winnings will be donated to charities like REG and to other Ukrainians in need.

Congrats to Argentina's leitalopez for winning the Sunday Million SE, which is also WCOOP Event #29. First place paid out $298,927.63.

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WCOOP-29 ($700 NL [Sunday Million SE]) results
Total entries: 3,109
Prize pool: $2,067,485
Places paid: 368

1. leitalopez (Argentina) $298,927.63
2. Roman 'RomeOpro' Romanovskyi (Ukraine) $214,929.95
3. Maahone (Sweden) $154,536.64
4. ISILDRooN (Sweden) $111,113.25
5. Siton11 (Ukraine) $79,891.34
6. donkno2 (Germany) $57,442.58
7. Andreas 'mrAndreeew' Berggren (Sweden) $41,301.73
8. FeaNoR4eG (Ukraine) $29,696.31
9. gusmaa (Brazil) $21,351.95

Visit the WCOOP home page for a schedule of remaining events, plus find out who is leading for Player of the Series.


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Pauly McGuire is the author of Lost Vegas and a freelance contributor to PokerStars.

Pauly McGuire
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