WCOOP Event #1 Final Table Report

It seemed a silly thought a few years ago. A $500 tournament with a prize pool of more than $1.5 million? Rubbish. Never happen. Even when PokerStars shined the first light on the World Championship of Online Poker, this day was only a vague twinkle in the eye of the site's creators. But in September 4th's afternoon hours, the rush to the virtual registration cage began. Before it settled down, 3062 players had signed up, plunked down their $500 (or, in many cases, a satellite ticket), and taken a seat in the most pretisgious online poker event on the planet.

I will admit, I watched the whole thing, from beginning to end. And I will admit, that was likely a mistake. By the time the final table rolled around and the 3062 players had been winnowed to a very skilled and fortunate nine players, the crickets were the only thing making noise outside and the sun had sent a telegram announcing its impending arrival.

But, there was no turning back. First place (a place I was abolutely SURE would get chopped) was a whopping $306,000. Players who had started with 2500 in chips were now sitting with more than a million in front of them. They had battled through pros, donkeys, fate's wicked sense of humor, and time to make it this far and they deserved their due.

With that in mind, here's what it looked like at the final table began.

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Seat 1: MrSuperlove (Staten Island, NY) $547,095
Seat 2: fixedset (Nashua, NH) $578,176
Seat 3: ziggy47 (Lewis Center, OH) $348,382
Seat 4: toprose (Las Vegas, NV) 1,873,484
Seat 5: bobcubed (Port Orchard, WA) $559,838
Seat 6: bibb (Carson, CA)$719,936
Seat 7: mrrain (Omaha, NE) $761,596
Seat 8: Snow Leopard (Downey, CA) $1,658,085
Seat 9: majic1111 (Fort Collina, CO) $608,408

This comic strip ain't so funny, folks

It was clear from thee outset that ziggy47 had some work to do. He came to the final table with fewer chips than anyone. With a screen name taken from his 51-pound "beast of a dog," ziggy47, a 28-year-old Ohio native with a bachelors degree in education went to work. With the blinds at 15,000/$30,000, ziggy47 threw in his ante and small blind and almost immediately faced a 3x big blind raise from Snow Leopard. Ziggy47 pushed in the rest of his stack. His AQo was up against Snow Leopard's pair of threes. An ace on the flop had to bring a smile to ziggy47's face. No three came and the man from Ohio doubled through.

Snow Leopard began to show he was not a man with whom to trifled. Shortly after the final table began, Snow Leopard took a nearly half-million pot off majic1111 in a battle of the blinds. On a Qs7hKs flop, Snow Leopard put out a 60,000 bet and majic1111 raised to 180,000. Snow Leopard simply called. Both players checked the ten of hearts on the turn. When the river came as the nine of diamonds, Snow Leopard fired out a 300,000 bet amd majic1111 laid down his hand. Rule #1: Be careful when you're in a hand with the Snow Leopard. Cats are dangerous.

While the cat was dangerous, the brewing battle between ziggy47 and mrrain was the one worth watching. The first shot over the bow was more funny than dangerous. Both players got all-in pre-flop, only to both show each other an innocuous AKo. The next skirmish was not so friendly. Ziggy47 came in for a 3x big blind raise and mrrain called in position. When the flop came out 3sAsJc, ziggy47 put out a pot-sized bet and mrrain called. The turn, a seven of hearts, seemed inconsequential until ziggy47 put out a 120,000 bet and mrrain came over the top and raised to 300,000. But wait...what is ziggy47 doing? Ah, he's pushing all-in. It was too much for mrrain. He laid down his hand and ziggy47 found himself with more than a million in chips.

When the magic fails...

It was inevitable. Somebody had to depart eventually. Majic1111 had been in dire straits for a while. Even though he'd only spent $80 to get into the tournament, he'd been battling like he'd put in his life savings. The money was not inconsequential and he'd been picking his spots well. Unfortunately, Snow Leopard is apparently not a fan of magic tricks.

Bibb had come in for a standard raise and Snow Leopard simply called. Majic111 looked down to find AQo and decided there was no better time than the present. He pushed. Bibb backed down, but Snow Leopard, with seemingly an endless supply of chips, called and showed KQ.

Wanna see a trick? How about a king on the flop? The three-outer hit and sent majic1111 out in ninth place and an impressive $16,534.

What about Bob?

Well, bobcubed had been holding onto a shortstack for a while. Simply lasting one more place was worth and extra $11,000. Is that right? $11,000 extra for lasting one more spot? Indeed.

Finally, bobcubed decided to make a stand in a battle of the blinds. Bobcubed limped in form the small blind and bibb fired out a raise. Holding KQ, bobcubed called and saw a flop of Jd7d2s. With two overcards and a back door flush draw, bobcubed put out a feeler bet and bibb came over the top Shortstacked, bobcubed decided it was his time. He called and didn't improve against bibb's J8s.

Bobcubed took eighth place and $27,558.

Where's the love?

Until shortstacked mrrain won boat over boat against bibb and doubled up, MrSuperLove was not the shortstack at the table. After years of waiting for a big payday, the 28-year-old had finally made a huge final table. What's more, he was on a complete freeroll. He'd won a PokerStars Frequent Player Point qualifier and got into Event #1 for absolutely nothing. Everything was profit.

With a screen name taken from a song by his favorite band, the Afghan Whigs, MrSuperLove rode the love all the way to the final table. Sitting at home in Staten Island, MrSuperLove, now on the shortest stack fell in love with his hand, A9. Facing a min-raise from toprose, MrSuperLove pushed all-in from the small blind, only to find he was behind. Toprose held a pair of tens, flopped a set, and sent MrSuperLove to the rail in seventh place and a massive $39,806 payday.

The fix is in

With six players left, the final tabble took on a new texture. With as many chips as there were in play, the players were able to play a little bit without being forced to move all in on every hand. Of course, some did. Snow Leopard doubled up bibb on an AQ vs. 77 match up. Mrrain's stack bounced up and down for several hands. Snow Leopard made ziggy47 lay down a hand in a big pot on a Qs4h5s9c8s board.

Among three players all with around a half million in chips was fixedset, a former worker in the software industry who went pro in January. He'd made the final table without expecting to, and as he saw it, there was a good reason for that. As he told me, "You never really know you'll get there until you do. If you play as if you expect to get to the final table, you are not playing optimally."

Not content to go gently into the good night, fixedset found a hand to play, got involved in a family pot, and took 800,000 chips on a 2dAsKcAd board. Methinks he was holding an ace, but we'll never know, because the man of the fixed set never showed.

Mrrain was the unforunate loser in that hand and needed to double up quickly, which he did, pushing in his remaining 250,000 chips and doubling up with A3 against toprose's Q9.

Toprose, who had been running over the entire tournament, was apparently due for a little comemuppence. Bibb thought so, too.

In a battle of the blinds, toprose came in for a min-raise and bibb smooth called. When the flop came out 7c6hJd , toprose check-raised bibb all-in. Holding QJ, it might've seemed a safe bet, until toprose saw bibb held KK. Thee board didn't improve toprose's hand and bibb got a timely double-up.

Raining on ziggy's parade

You know, I've read a lot of Ziggy cartoons in my day and it always seems the poor guy is catching more than his share of bad luck. I won't suggest ziggy47 was dealing with a litlle self-fulfilling prophecy, but the next hand might suggest it for me.

Mrrain came in for a raise under the gun and Snow Leopard called. Ziggy47, in late position, re-raised from 150,000 to 350,000. Holding AA, he couldn't have been happier to see mrrain push all in and Snow Leopard fold. Ziggy47 insta-called and saw mrrain's two red queens.

But, oh, no. Three hearts on the flop. Then mrrain called for it. In the chat box popped the appeal, "Heart." And there it was on the turn.

Ziggy47 only had one word for it: "Unreal"

Following the theme of names working against people, fixedset soon suffered a crushing defeat. Toprose camme in for a min-raise in early position and fixed set re-raised from the big blind. Toprose called. The flop came down K52. Fixed set then made a move he will likely be thinking about for a while. He checked. Toprose checked behind and both players saw the turn, a five.

Fixedset bet out and toprose smooth called. The river was a four. Fixed set bet out again and toprose pushed in the rest of his chips. Fixed set called and proudly showed his AK. Toprose...had A5. Fixedset was crushed.

Both he and ziggy47 were very shortstacked. Fixedset ended up taking the rest of ziggy47's chips when his A2 held up against ziggy47's KT. Ziggy47 finished in sixth place and won $53,585.

Next to go was bibb, who was shortstacked after losing half his stack in a hand we never saw to conclusion. He got all his chips in in a battle of the blinds. He held Q9s to mrrain's JJ. The jacks held up and bibb left in fifth place a monster $68,895.

After being nearly crushed into the ground by toprose, fixed set managed to hold on for twow more spots. That meant an extra $35,000 in real money. In the end, he got all his money in with the best hand, AT to Snow Leopard's KQ. But an ace on the flop was no help, as two kings came on board and sent fixedset out in fourth place and $88,798.

Singing in the rain

For a great while, it seemed as though mrrain and Snow Leopard would chip away at toprose and send him out in third. But toprose battled and battled to hold on. Finally, sitting third in chips, mrrain decidee to put the rest of his tournament on the line with KQ. He got all his chips in the middle against toprose's 33. The board improved neither hand and mrrain sang his way to third place and an impressive $114,825.

And then there were two

Even. Dead even. Even-freakin'-steven. That's how Snow Leopard and toprose went into heads up play. Both players hand $3.8 million in chips. It seemed logical, even a foregone conclusion, that the players would chip right then and there. More than $100,000 seperated first and second place.

Snow Leopard issued the first and only offer. "Deal?" he typed.

No answer. And so heads up play began.

Toprose stuck the first major blow. He raised pre-flop and called a re-raise from Snow Leopard. The flop came out KT3 with two spades. Snow Leopard bet out 900,000 in chips and toprose came over the top all in. Snow Leopard laid down his hand and handed the 2-1 lead over to toprose. Toprose opened up his lead further after flopping a straight and letting his Snow Leopard catch an over pair.

But toprose coudn't seal the deal right there. He decided to make AJ an all-in hand when facing a raise from Snow Leopard. This time, Snow Leopard put his tournament on the line with TT. It held up and handed the lead over to the cat.

It would not last for long. Luck smiled on toprose. He'd raised preflop with J7 and had been called by Snow Leopard who held Q8. When the flop came down 9sTsJd and gave Snow Leopard the straight and toprose top pair, many would think it would be over. When a jack fell on the turn, it seemed inevitable. All the chips went in the middle. Then a nine fell on the river to give toprose the runner-runner full house and even the stacks.

Snow Leopard got his revenge however. The chips got all in on an ensuing queen-high flop. Snow Leopard held AQ to toprose's QJ and took a 5-1 chip lead. The game ended a few minutes later when toprose flopped bottom pair and got all his chips in. Snow Leopard called with ace-high but caught a bigger pair for the win.

It was, folks, a match for the ages.

Here are the final table results. Click here for a list of all winners.

1. Snow Leopard (Downey, CA) $306,200.00
2. toprose (Las Vegas, CA) $183,720.00
3. mrrain (Omaha, NE) $114,825.00
4. fixedset (Nashua, NH) $88,798.00
5. bibb (Carson, CA) $68,895.00
6. ziggy47 (Lewis Center,OH) $53,585.00
7. MrSuperlove (Staten Island, NY)$39,806.00
8. bobcubed (Port Orchard, WA) $27,558.00
9. majic1111 (Fort Collins, CO) $16,534.00

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in WCOOP