WCOOP Event #15: Huxfluxen comes out ahead and wins the $320 NLHE Heads-Up title!

Just the two of us... No, that old R&B song has no relevance here with the exception of the words alone, as there is no love between heads-up opponents. Two players, face-to-face (or avatar to avatar), competing for top honors is what the game of poker is all about. Every tournament, no matter the number of entrants, always comes down to a battle of two.

One of the latest trends in tournament poker is heads-up tournaments. Immensely popular with tournament players, it weeds through the multiple-player tables and gets them directly to a singular opponent. Every hand is playable based on one's assessment of the other, and it becomes a solid test of skill and tenacity. And where better to display those skills than on PokerStars...and in the WCOOP, the premiere online tournament series in the online poker world.

The $320 buy-in No-Limit Hold'Em Heads-Up tournament drew 2,048 players, which translated into a $614,400 prize pool for those who made it to the fourth round of the event. The final 256 players would receive nearly double their buy-in back in prize money, and each round thereafter would be at least doubly rewarding. And the first place finisher was set to receive a remarkable $104,448.

The event began at 2:30pm ET with a field chock-full of Team PokerStars Pros. That list included Andre Akkari, Alexandre Gomes, Barry Greenstein, Bill Chen, Dario Minieri, Bertrand Grospellier, Noah Boeken, Greg Raymer, Gavin Griffin, Marcin Joerecki, John Duthie, Alex Kravchenko, Katja Thater, Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Rousso, Lee Nelson, Luca Pagano, Chris Moneymaker, Hevad Khan, Raymond Rahme, Steve Paul-Ambrose, Tom McEvoy, Vicky Coren, and Victor Ramdin. Whew! Now that is an impressive slate.

By the time the chips were done flying through the first frantic round of play, many of the above-named pros were lost in the carnage. Moving on to Round 2 were Negreanu, McEvoy, Grospellier, Minieri, Greenstein, Akkari, and Nelson. During that session, oddly enough, Greenstein and Grospellier were matched up, and it was ElkY who came out alive. By the end of Round 3, however, the only Team PokerStars Pros left in the race were Negreanu and Nelson, the latter of whom found his demise in Round 4. And by the time everyone hit that particular round, they were in the money and would receive at least $614.40 for their performances.

Negreanu was left to represent PokerStars as the tournament progressed, and he knocked out his fourth round opponent, supameng, with top pair. As the field thinned to only 128 starting Round 5, Negreanu was paired with MPK_ReaVer, who simply got the best of him during the match. In the end, KidPoker was forced out in 105th place for a $1,228.80 piece of the prize pool.

Nine hours into the tournament, Round 6 ensued, but only 32 would emerge from the battles. Moving down the homestretch, one of the standout players was lennart, who was the 2002 WCOOP Limit Hold'em Heads-Up champion looking for his second WCOOP heads-up tournament victory. But as the cards would have it, lennart was eliminated in 15th place during Round 8, though he was awarded $5,529.60 for it.

The quarter-final round began with the final eight looking to step into big-money territory. Players finishing in that round, from 8th place down to 5th place, received $16,896, more than fifty times their buy-ins.

Soon after Round 9 began, evilly had fallen in chips and had only a bit over 500,000 left. evilly was all-in pre-flop with Ah-7c but was dominated by Benba's pocket sevens. The board fell out Th-8d-Jh-Qc-3s, and evilly was out in 8th place.

Huxfluxen was strong in the heads-up match against sqmpork and controlled most of the action. Finally, sqmpork went in to see a flop with pocket jacks, and Huxfluxen was allowed to come along cheap with Kh-8d, so they saw the Kc-6h-7c. But it was after the 4s on the turn that sqmpork put the remainder of his chips in the pot. The river brought a 7h, and the pocket jacks went away with sqmpork in 7th place.

As the round continued, pokerjamers and pandaCHAN12 exchanged some semi-taunting words in the chat box, and quite possibly, that propelled the latter to take it down. In the last hand, with the community cards of 3s-7c-5s-Ah-3c, pandaCHAN12's big slick was enough to win it and advance to the semi-finals, while pokerjamers was sent to the virtual rail in 6th place.

And in the final match of the quarter-finals, iFiNishfish was able to knock out Lucarelli after a hard-fought game. Lucarelli finally gave in and pushed pre-flop with Ad-Jc and looked good against the Qd-Th of iFiNishfish, but the board ran out 7h-Qc-5h-3d-Js, and the queens had it. Lucarelli was the 5th place finisher.

The semifinals would determine the final heads-up match of the tournament, and in a relatively short amount of time, the first finalist solidified his place at that table. Only eleven hands into the round, Huxfluxen had taken his dominance all the way to the last hand. iFiNishfish was all-in pre-flop, trying desperately to double-up with pocket sevens against the Jh-3h of Huxfluxen. But the board came 5d-Jd-Kc-4h-Th for the middle pair that would beat those sevens. iFiNishfish was out in 4th place with $33,792 to show for the strong finish.

The Round 10 dual between pandaCHAN12 and Benba took longer to decide, as the chip lead was exchanged and no one wanted to leave the table without a fight. Eventually, it had to happen. Benba started raising with Ad-Tc but was reraised by pandaCHAN12 with Qh-4h, and Benba called. The virtual dealer gave them a 4s-Kh-4c flop, which prompted Benba to move all-in. The 6h on the turn and Tc on the river didn't help against the trip fours of pandaCHAN12, and Benba had to settle for 3rd place and a $33,792 payday.

When heads-up play began at the final table, the two were ready for battle...

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And Huxfluxen and pandaCHAN12 were also ready for deal talks. After a chat with the administrator, they quickly agreed that they would each take $70,000 and play on for the remaining $19,744 and the WCOOP bracelet.

The two played it out for nearly thirty minutes, exchanging the chip lead several times to get to the final hand. At that point, Huxfluxen had a 3/1 chip lead over pandaCHAN12, and after some pre-flop betting and the first three cards of 6s-Td-5s hitting the table, more betting ensued. Huxfluxen bet 122,880, pandaCHAN12 check-raised to 368,000, Huxfluxen moved all-in with Qs3s, and pandaCHAN12 called all-in with Kd-10c. The Ts on the turn gave Huxfluxen the flush, and the Ah on the river cinched it.

pandaCHAN12 received the agreed-upon $70,000 for second place, and Huxfluxen won $89,744 and the silver WCOOP bracelet for the victory. Congratulations!

For all of the action as it happened during Event #15, read through the $320 NLHE Heads-Up Live Blog.

Jen Newell
@PokerStars in WCOOP