TCOOP 2013: Nicoji83 leads, loses lead, then leads again to win Event #36 ($82 NL Hold'em)

If the TCOOP demonstrates one thing it's the capricious nature of a game turned up to full speed. One minute you're three-handed, riding high with a massive chip lead, turning down deals and bullying everyone with a series of big bets, forcing the others to fold. The next minute, or in Event 36's case the next six minutes, you're out, on the rail in third, asking yourself where it all went wrong. The answer to that question is nicoji83, winner of the $82 six-max NL hold'em and a first prize of $35,512.60.

Nicoji83 took honours in a 30-minute final that had at first looked to have slipped away from him. Coming into the final the Portuguese had been in front, battling for the lead with javas cma. But three-handed the pair found that Artem205, reaching his third TCOOP final table of 2013, was pulling away, building a convincing advantage with more than half the chips in play. Then came his collapse like a man tumbling down a flight of stairs hitting the sharp bits on every bounce. Suddenly Artem205 was all-in and out.

Nicoji83 and javas cma, sensing they'd gotten away with something that would ordinarily deserve being caught, immediately chopped the money, an option earlier vetoed by Artem205. Free to play they enjoyed four minutes of frenetic heads-up play, with flops, turns and rivers. They even had time to swap the lead a couple of times. But it was nicoji83 who remained in control, winning a first TCOOP title.

TCOOP 36 - pic.png
The final table of TCOOP Event 36 gets under way

A half hour earlier that was exactly what nicoji83 had in mind.

Seat 1. javas cma (Brazil), 3,236,930
Seat 2. nicoji83 (Portugal), 5,430,339
Seat 3. 1M.BanKroLL (Malta), 2,450,516
Seat 4. kaktusas_ps (Lithuania), 2,023,656
Seat 5. JayPez (United Kingdom), 249,705
Seat 6. Artem205 (Ukraine), 2,481,354

First out had been JayPez, aka British pro Jon Parsons, who reached the final as the short stack by virtue of the surprise elimination of NikolasDLP in seventh place. With a "whoop" he gladly got his big-blind-and-a-half into the middle with jack-eight, running it into the ace-king of Artem205 with predictable results. The final had lost perhaps its most capable player, JayPez having notched up more than $1.4million in online winnings. "big player" said javas to the others. He was unlikely to be the only one feeling relief.

Armed with a still perilous 2 million, and with blinds of 80k/160k with a 20k ante, Artem205 shoved once, then twice, without reply. But his stack was in fine health when compared to that of kaktusas_ps. Quiet up to now, the Lithuanian came to life once, shoving for 900,000 under the gun. Artem205 took a chance, calling with ace-ten against the pocket fours of kaktusas_ps.

Moments later Artem205 would sit with 6.1 million chips, insta-calling the all-in of 1M.BanKroLL, sending the Malta man out in fourth place when his turned full house, nines over deuces, turned 1M.BanKroLL's stack to dust.

Buoyed by his new wealth Artem205 nixed javas cma's suggested of a deal and instead got to work, putting together a series of pre-flop bets that turned 6.1 million into nearly 10 million. Javas cma, with ten big blinds, was against the wall and tried shoving, with no action. Nicoji83 did the same. Same result.

It appeared that Artem205 knew exactly how to continue, applying pressure to the others by raising big and passing when they presented the opportunity to call their all-ins. He wasn't going to do that unless convinced of his invincibility.

The thing is with blinds at the 150k/300k mark with a 37,500 ante, no one is really that invincible, and Artem205's momentum was about to come to a sudden halt.

Javas was in the ascendant but it was still Artem205's to lose. He set about doing just that at once. Javas cma shoved again, this time from under-the-gun. Artem205, whose role throughout the final had been to call such gestures, did so again, showing ace-five. Javas cma turned over ace-six.

Perhaps beginning to feel broken, Artem205 fired by with a shove of his own a minute later. This being TCOOP an all-in is as likely to give you the chip lead as send you to the rail and Artem205 took his chance to grab back the lead. Indeed, things could have gone differently for the Ukrainian. His chips went in with ace-six. Nicoji83 called with king-queen. They both waited...

The subsequent deal allowed the smoke the settle on what had been a collapse on a grand scale. The deal split things in favour of nicoji83, leaving $3,000 and the title to play for. The chat box filled up with "gg's" as Artem205 was forgotten.

The ensuing four minutes of heads-up play were thrilling. They started with nicoji83 leading, 10.2 million to 5.9 million. But again, things aren't always what they seem in turbo events, with blinds so large. Soon the counts were all square. Then this this hand that shifted the balance of power back to nicoji83...

Javas cma then outkicked nicoji83 to double up to gain temporary relief. But the pot that followed, worth 14 million, effectively ended javas cma's hopes.

Javas cma was able to turn 2 million into 4 million a short time later, lumping in on the flop with a set of kings that beat nicoji83's set of eights. He was even ahead on the last hand with ace-three against nicoji83's king four.

But time was up. The four on the turn was enough. Nicoji83 claims the title.

2013 TCOOP Event #36 $82 No Limit Hold'em (6-Max) results:

Players entered: 3,234
Places paid: 420
Prize pool: $242,550

1st. nicoji83 (Portugal), $35,512.60*
2nd. javas cma (Brazil), $30,583.83*
3rd. Artem205 (Ukraine), $20,374.20
4th. 1M.BanKroLL (Malta), $13,218.97
5th. kaktusas_ps (Lithuania), $8,445.59
6th. JayPez (United Kingdom), $4,305.26

* denotes two-way deal

The Turbo Championship of Online Poker continues on towards the main event on Sunday, with a further 14 events still to play. Check the TCOOP page for information and for details of the TCOOP Player of the Series Leader Board.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in TCOOP