WCOOP Event #15 Final Table Report
"You're at the final table of the richest tournament of ANY kind in online history."
--PokerStars Card Room Manager Lee Jones as the WCOOP Main Event final table got underway
It was 3:42am on America's eastern shorelines. The sun was still below the horizon, but the late-night infomercials on television were good enough indicators of the time. It was late. Juan Valdez himself wouldn't start a final table this late. Of course, poker players are nocturnal beasts, and in Europe, it was already breakfast time. So, let the chips fall where they may.
When the final event of PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker crested the $3.5 million mark, the online gaming world felt the paradigm shift. In a matter of just 15 days, WCOOP had done what no other online poker series had done before. It had climbed up to fight with the big boys. Which big boys? The brick and mortar, multi-million dollar poker festivals. By the time the cards were in the virtual air on Event #15, WCOOP had generated an amazing $12,783,900 in prize money, making the 2005 WCOOP not only the biggest ever online poker event, but the third biggest poker series (live or online) in all of 2005. Only the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour Championship Events at Bellagio had been bigger.
Now, the 1494 players in the WCOOP main event, a $2500 affair, had been whittled down to just nine. Tenth through eighteenth place finishers had all earned nearly $30,000 a piece. That in itself is a big prize for most online tournaments. Now, the final nine were about to compete for the remaining $2 million in the pot. Indeed, that's more than $2 million to split between nine people.
With the difference between ninth and first place being more than $800,000, the task ahead for the nine players was not at all insignificant. Here is how they stacked up as the $2 million dance began.
Seat 2: Panella86 (Eddystone, PA) $1,533,144
Seat 3: tralala (Stockholm, Sweden) $1,195,282
Seat 4: Vendetta (Stockholm, Sweden) $909,938
Seat 5: salas777 (Los Angeles CA) $390,482
Seat 6: aaaaaaaa (Saugus, MA) $1,238,006
Seat 7: lollylu (Boca Raton, FL) $509,102
Seat 8: JERRRY (Buffalo Grove, IL) $691,041
Seat 9: Buster Love (Las Vegas, NV) $437,677
The remnants of the bubble were still dripping from the table when the final nine started. Infamous Tony G. (aka wraptduck) had announced himself to the table and was preparing to make his run for the big money when his legs were cut out from under him and he fell in tenth place.
But, he was not the only "name" at the table. Buster Love, who in recent months has made a PokerStars Sunday final table, was there as well. It just so happens that he is Mark Seif, poker pro and two-time 2005 WSOP bracelet winner. Rumors surrounded PICKLED EGG as, well, because Las Vegas was his home city and he announced he was in Atlantic City this week (where the Borgata is hosting a WPT event). However, the EGG wasn't cracking. His identity would remain a secret.
With just two minutes expired on the final table clock, Seif made a huge move from the small blind. The player who called himself "delicious," aaaaaaaa, came in for a standard 3x the BB raise, making it $60,000 to go. Seif came over the top, pushing all-in, making it $411,677 to play. Aaaaaaaa called with pocket nines. Seif showed 4hAh. He turned a flush draw, but didn't improve beyond that. Just like that, Mark "Buster Love" Seif was out in ninth place, cashing for $56,025.
After a break, the levels went up to 15,000/30,000, and the action broke out. Tralala came in for a standard raise, then aaaaaaaa came of the top and made it $300,000 to go. Not to be outdone, lollylu pushed all in for $412,602. Tralala was not messing around and pushed in the rest of his chips, making the total bet $1,274,782. Then and only then did aaaaaaaa give up. It would prove to be bad luck for lollylu. The designer gifts distributor from the American southeast held pocket queens. Tralala, a Swedish poker pro, held pocket aces. Lollylu's queens didn't improve and she busted out in eighth place. Her winnings totaled $85,905.
On the very next hand, tralala against proved to be a player's end. Salas777 pushed all-in pre-flop for $238,482. Tralala called in the big blind with AJ. Salas777's KQo didn't improve and he was out in seventh place, cashing for $123,255.
Panella86 would take over tralala's grim reaper role. JERRRY came in for a 4x the BB raise, Panella86 came over the top and raised enough to put JERRRY all-in. JERRRY called with pocket sevens. Panella86 held jacks. The jacks held up and JERRRY was out in sixth place. His efforts were worth $160,605.
With five players remaining, PICKLED EGG started to make a run, chipping up with calculated aggression and getting near one million in chips. Eventually, the five remaining were nearly even in chips. It was 5:02am ET and the game showed no signs of ending soon.
Then the chips started to move. Players took some big pots without showdown and Panella 86 opened up a sizable chip lead. Aaaaaaaa looked like he was on the edge of busting when he caught the perfect match-up: his aces versus PICKLED EGG's pocket kings. The hand was enough to give aaaaaaaa a playable stack again. Then aaaaaaaa, who had refused a five-way deal earlier, decided to make a move at the wrong time. Facing a raise and a call before him, aaaaaaaa pushed all in with 8d3d for more than 711,000. Vendetta made the call with AJ. Aaaaaaaa never improved and he was out in fifth place for $197,955.
With four players remaining and PICKLED EGG thinking about the WPT tournament starting in a few hours, the players discussed a deal. EGG was unhappy with the percentage-based formula, as many shortstacks have been throughout WCOOP. He asked for a premium. Panella86 said, "Egg, I don't want to give you what your getting, let alone more."
At 5:42am, the deal was off and the cards were back in the air. Twenty minutes later, PICKLED EGG had a little more than a million in chips. His opponents all had around two million. Then Panella86 fell back some and Vendetta moved up into the chip lead.
PICKLED EGG was still looking to double up and he thought he might have a chance. Panella86 limped in under the gun. PICKLED EGG found AJ in the big blind and pushed all in. The timing was bad. Panella86 held KK. PICKLED EGG couldn't improve and he was out in fourth place, cashing for $242,775.
With three players remaining, the stacks were relatively even, though you might not have known it by listening to Panella86. He told his opponents, "I rate my 2.2 million like seven million versus you guys."
But when the two Swedes would not give in to his request for more money, Panella86 conceded the deal. The deal gave each player more than half a million dollars in cash and left $50,000 and the WCOOP bracelet for first place.
It would not be long before the hand of the tournament. Tralala came in for a standard raise and Panella86 called in the big blind. The flop came down 2cTh6c. Panella86 checked, tralala bet out about 2/3 of the pot, and Panella called. The turn was the five of hearts. Panella86 checked, tralala bet out, and Panella86 raised all-in. Tralala called, showing a pair of kings. Panella86, who would've been crippled if he lost, showed A3 suited in hearts. He need a heart, an ace, or a four on the river. The heart fell and tralala was out in third place, cashing for $540,877.
Panella86 had more than six million in chips to Vendetta's 1.27 million. He would use them fast. Eventually he would put Vendetta all in. Vendetta called with top pair top kicker on a 5h6s4s flop. Panella86 only had two overs, a jack and a ten. But a ten on the turn ended the contest.
It started fifteen days before. Nearly $12.8 million later, the biggest event in online poker history was over and had crowned its champion.
Thanks to the thousands of people who played for making it a memorable event.
WCOOP Event #15 Championship Results
1. Panella86 (Eddystone, PA) $577,342.00
2. Vendetta (Stockholm, Sweden) $573,735.00
3. tralala (Stockholm, Sweden) $540,877.00
4. PICKLED EGG (Las Vegas, NV) $242,775.00
5. aaaaaaaa (Saugus, MA) $197,955.00
6. JERRRY (Buffalo Grove, IL) $160,605.00
7. salas777 (Los Angeles CA) $123,255.00
8. lollylu (Boca Raton, FL) $85,905.00
9. Buster Love (Las Vegas, NV) $56,025.00
Click here for a list of all cash winners.