TCOOP: 88Xin88 prospers in Event 1, $22 NLHE [6-max]

13996-TCOOP-thumb.pngIn some cultures particular numbers are considered luckier than others. In China, one of the luckiest numbers is eight, the word for which has a similar sound to the word for "prosper" or "wealth." If you're the kind of person who believes in luck, you could do a lot worse than putting a lot of eights in your screen name. After today's run by one Canadian poker player with an eight-heavy moniker, new PokerStars players' screen names might be heavy on one particular digit. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

Turn out, tune in and...play some poker

Not so strange was the turnout for this $22 and $200,000 guaranteed shorthanded no-limit Hold'em tournament. It was a pretty solid bet that a lot of people were going to show up for what would surly prove to be a short day's work, and the numbers didn't disappoint. More than three hours before play began there were already more than 21,000 players registered; by the time the play clock started ticking at 12 p.m. ET there were 33,800, and when registration closed at 1 p.m. ET a total of 44,787 players had ponied up for a shot at the first-ever TCOOP title. That built a prize pool worth $895,740 - nearly four and a half times the original guarantee - and barring any deals had the eventual winner set up for a $75,174.59 windfall. That's not a bad return on a pittance of a buy-in and six hours' work.

So what did all of them have waiting on them when they arrived at their tables? A starting stack of 5,000 chips, a tried-and-true PokerStars tournament structure, and blind levels of five minutes apiece. Even with the gargantuan field size that was quick enough to work down to the 6,000 players who earned a payout in just about two hours, and only 1,000 by the end of the third hour.

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Pat Pezzin outperformed his fellow PokerStars Pros in TCOOP-01

If there were any doubt of how tough a tournament this was, the only Team PokerStars Pro to come close to making the third hour was Pat Pezzin, who finished in 1,768th place for $98.53. His fellow Team Pros Martin "AABenjaminAA" Hruby (2,869th, $71.65) and George Danzer (3,366th, $62.70) also made the money, as did Team Online's Fredy "sirfreddy83" Torres (5,997th, $35.82). Other than those four, everyone who got a payout in this event fell under the "unsponsored" banner.

The rich stay rich, everyone else falls to the side

Once the fourth break rolled around there were just 124 players remaining. The blinds were at a dizzying 60K/120K with antes of 15K. Mexico's oncommand, a 2009 WCOOP final tablist, led the way with nearly 7 million chips, followed by Canada's 88Xin88 at 6.3 million and Romania's BastianX at 4.08 million. oncommand's lead was still intact with 46 players left after this coin flip that turned out more dramatic than most:

Minutes later, with blinds at 125K/250K and antes of 62.5K, oncommand would surge past the others at the top of the leaderboard with 25.9 million chips. The player from Mexico found a pair of jacks at the perfect time, as Sweden's stoffe1985, the only player at the table with as sizable a stack as oncommand, had picked up a pair of nines and opened for 1 million under the gun. A re-raise to 2.5 million coaxed the Swede into shoving for 10.9 million, and oncommand quickly called; the T♦ 7♥ 6♦ gave a scare, but running aces on the turn and river were good enough to take the overall lead once again with 31 players left.

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88Xin88 led with 15 players remaining


By the time the fifth break arrived the blinds were up to 600K/1.2M with a 150K ante. oncommand was down to third place, having been replaced at the top by Canada's 88Xin88. The Canadian won a key 36-million-chip pot after moving all-in with pocket sevens over the top of a raise from FightClub07, who held A♣5♠. Just behind oncommand in third place was AcidCrawler of Sweden, who had been climbing even before hitting this little gem:

The turbo nature of the tournament, not to mention guaranteed pay jumps of $1,400 and the chance at more than $76K for first, meant there was little room for either mistakes or a badly timed card on the board. It didn't take long to move from 15 down to a final table of 6. Much of the movement was from oncommand, 88Xin88 and AcidCrawler, although mostly in the wrong direction. That allowed kopi3 of Austria, MalkierKing of Bulgaria and Team Sexy14 of Canada to be poised for success on the final table bubble, which popped when 88Xin88's 3♦ 2♥ won against AcidCrawler's 6♦ 4♥ in a battle of the blinds to send the Swede home in 7th place ($4,926.57).

Five hours down, one to go

Just five hours and 21 minutes after the start of the tournament, the final table began with the stacks arranged like so:

Seat 1 - oakley177 (Netherlands) 20,029,260 chips
Seat 2 - oncommand (Mexico) 22,106,281 chips
Seat 3 - Team Sexy14 (Canada) 70,165,948 chips
Seat 4 - MalkierKing (Bulgaria) 36,280,670 chips
Seat 5 - 88Xin88 (Canada) 33,094,230 chips
Seat 6 - kopi3 (Austria) 42,258,611 chips

88Xin88 went on the attack immediately, shoving all-in to take the first three pots with a fight and move up to 57 million chips. After paying the blinds the Canadian again attacked, this time from the cutoff with 7♥ 5♠, only to get an instant call from kopi3 on the button with pocket tens. But a A♥ 5♦ 6♣ 3♣ 7♠ board gave 88Xin88 two pair and sent kopi3 out as the first final-table finisher of TCOOP, good for $6,270.18.

The blinds were now up to 1.5M/3M with 375K antes. Low on chips, oncommand quickly followed kopi3 to the rail after shoving with K♠ 8♦ and getting a call from MalkierKing in the big blind with A♦ T♣. An eight hit the board, but so did two tens. Just like that oncommand was gone in 5th place ($8.957.40). Now the four remaining players - 88Xin88 (90.5 million chips), Team Sexy14 (53.68 million), MalkierKing (53.07 million) and oakley177 (26.68 million) - paused to make a deal. After a few minutes of negotiations 88Xin88 leveraged the chip lead into a few thousand dollars more than the ICM numbers called for and the game, with an extra $4,000 and a TCOOP bracelet for the winner, was back on.

As you might expect, since this was a turbo final table with a deal already in place, a resolution wasn't long in coming. Within just a few hands of play resuming oakley177 got into a coin flip with A♥ T♦ against 88Xin88's pocket fours. A four on the flop was all it took to send oakley177 out in 4th place. Five hands later MalkierKing shoved on the button with Q♣ 3♠ only to get a call from 88Xin88, who held A♠ 5♣. A five on the flop and another on the river meant a 3rd-place finish for MalkierKing. Then, on the very next hand, 88Xin88 shoved from the button with J♣ T♠ and Team Sexy14 called with A♥ 8♣. The 8♥ 2♣ 5♦ was good news for Team Sexy14, but the 9♣ on the turn gave 88Xin88 lots of outs. One of them - the T♣ - fell on the river and the game was all done.

Just six hours after starting, the first event of the Turbo Championship of Online Poker had its champion. For defeating a field of nearly 45,000 players, Canada's 88Xin88 got a phenomenal return on a $22 investment and the honor of being TCOOP's very first winner.

TCOOP Event 1, $22 No-Limit Hold'em [6-max]
44,787 entries, $895,740 prize pool

1st place - 88Xin88 (Canada) $67,903.56*
2nd place - Team Sexy14 (Canada) $41,025.65*
3rd place - MalkierKing (Bulgaria) $40,747.39*
4th place - oakley177 (Netherlands) $28,648.17*
5th place - oncommand (Mexico) $8,957.40
6th place - kopi3 (Austria) $6,270.18

* - denotes result of a 4-way deal

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in TCOOP