WCOOP Event #16: Andy McLEOD blows away the field

No-limit hold'em is the first type of poker that many of today's younger players ever played. They saw Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker parlay $39 into $2,500,000 by winning first place in the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event after winning his entry via a PokerStars satellite tournament. That sparked the poker interest in many of them, who wanted thereafter only to play no-limit hold'em. But no-limit hold'em was a gateway drug for the most hardcore of the action junkies that were liberally interspersed in this new generation of poker players. The true action addicts and the most fearless poker players in the bunch quickly gravitated to pot-limit omaha. With interest in playing "all no-limit hold'em all the time" having plateaued over the last year, even more players are turning to PLO, as it's known.

That may explain why 1,223 players turned up to play in WCOOP Event #16 - $215 Pot Limit Omaha. This event was a re-buy event, with each player allowed a single $200 re-buy and a single $200 add-on. Of the players who entered the event, 756 took their re-buy and 751 took their add-on, creating a whopping prize pool of $546,000 and a first place prize of $98,280. 180 players would be paid. Team PokerStars Pros Barry Greenstein, Isabelle Mercier, Victor Ramdin Dario Minieri, Greg Raymer, Humberto Brenes and Chris Moneymaker all took their places in a wild and wooly field that saw thirty eliminations in the first ten minutes, while late registration was still open. Greenstein would exit in 131st place, pocketing $819 along the way, but by the end of the day this tournament's story was shaped most by Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker. He took his place at the final table along with eight stalwart competitors after grabskia was eliminated on the first hand of hand-for-hand play approaching the final table bubble.

Seat 1: Moorman1 (968,178 chips)
Seat 2: nolimitsuckz (199,841 chips)
Seat 3: Ravinesh (82,385 chips)
Seat 4: Isaac "westmenloAA" Baron (576,492 chips)
Seat 5: Bounatirou (501,136 chips)
Seat 6: Andy McLEOD (2,035,662 chips)
Seat 7: Svend svaerd (776,699 chips)
Seat 8: Team PokerStars Pro Chris "Money800" Moneymaker (1,244,705 chips)
Seat 9: cuthbertt (561,902 chips)

WCOOP Event 16 Final Table.jpg

(Click image for full version.)

At least three members of the final nine had previous WCOOP cashes. Andy McLEOD finished 15th in Event #21 $5,200 HORSE during the 2007 WCOOP for a $14,602.50 cash. Isaac Baron finished in 19th place for $10,543.75 in 2007 WCOOP Event #5 $530 No-Limit Hold'em. Not to be outdone, Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker final-tabled Event #5 $10,300 High-Roller No-Limit Hold'em during this year's WCOOP, finishing in 6th place for a $139,635 cash. No doubt that Moneymaker was hoping to improve upon that finish and take down the title in Event #16.

With blinds at 5,000 and 10,000 entering the final table, Ravinesh and nolimitsuckz were both short-stacked. nolimitsuckz bowed out first, when chip leader Andy McLEOD and Bounatirou ganged up on him by both trying to take him down after nolimitsuckz called all in preflop for his last 124,841. Andy McLEOD hit the flop in a big way, a theme that would become dominant during his final table run; holding Ah-9c-Kh-5c, he made trip fives on the 5h-5d-Jh board. He never improved by the river, but neither could Bounatirou (who folded on the turn) or nolimitsuckz, who flopped two pair jacks and fives and turned a gutterball straight draw that never filled. nolimitsuckz was the 9th place finisher, pocketing $7,644.

As we mentioned at the top of this piece, PLO seems to attract action junkies and gamblers, players that are willing to shove all of their chips in the middle and let the cards fall where they may. That was certainly true at the final table; players weren't the slightest bit shy about flinging chips around, a fact that short-stacked Ravinesh must have surely noticed. He stayed patiently on the sidelines while the player who came into the final table in seventh chip position, Bounatirou, decided to take on Andy McLEOD, getting all in preflop for a shade more than 300,000 chips. Bounatirou had the better hand preflop, showing Kc-Js-Jd-4c against Andy McLEOD's Ts-9h-8c-7h. But the cards were on Andy McLEOD's side once again, as the board ran out 6h-2c-6s-5h-Th to make a heart flush and eliminate Bounatirou in 8th place. Bounatirou collected $12,285 as a result.

With Ravinesh sneaking up to 7th in chips merely by virtue of the elimination of two of his opponents, he must have watched amazed as Andy McLEOD next took his tournament wrecking ball to Moorman1. The two players each put in 462,000 chips before the flop even came down. Once a flop of 5s-Ks-Td showed up on the virtual felt, Moorman1 moved his remaining 580,256 chips into the middle. Andy McLEOD, with chips to burn after the eliminations of nolimitsuckz and Bounatirou, called and attempted to eliminate his third player of the final table. Even though Moorman1 had an overpair and the nut flush draw against Andy McLeod's pair of tens and ten-high flush draw, he was eliminated in 7th place when Andy McLEOD rivered two pair. $17,745 went to Moorman1, more than three million chips total went to Andy McLEOD's stack, and Ravinesh sidled into sixth chip position.

Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker was not idle during this time. He made good on his own run of cards, mixing aggression well with good fortune. He took on the shorter-stacked cuthbertt in a preflop raising war that ended with cuthbertt all in. Both players had pocket aces as two of their hole cards, and each one had one other suited card that matched the ace. It was Moneymaker's Ad-5d that matched best with a board of 7d-9h-6d-8d-4s to make a diamond flush and eliminate cuthbertt in sixth place, where he collected $23,205.

"Finally!" Andy McLEOD must have thought. "Someone else is shouldering some of the load!"

"Excellent!" Ravinesh must have thought, sitting at his keyboard. "If they keep this up, I'll be heads-up for the title without doing a thing!"

Throughout the final table to that point, Isaac "westmenloAA" Baron had been relatively quiet. He finally gained some traction and some ground in the chip counts when he doubled through Andy McLEOD, the chip leader who was throwing chips around like Imelda Marcos on a shoe-shopping spree. The hand played out as follows:

With Baron's double-up, all hell broke loose at the final table. Moneymaker took the chip lead away from Andy McLEOD by chasing Baron and Andy McLEOD out of the pot on a 3s-Ah-7h board after the two had contributed 240,000 preflop and McLEOD added another 300,000 after the flop. His chip lead, however, was short-lived. Within a span of fifteen minutes, Moneymaker doubled up Baron once and Svend svaerd twice by missing draws. He was hemorrhaging chips at an alarming rate, and finally made a stand with 800,000 chips against, who else, Andy McLEOD. This time Andy McLEOD didn't need to outdraw anyone. He had a pair of kings and a king-high flush draw on the flop. Moneymaker had bottom pair of threes and an ace-high flush draw but couldn't improve on either. He went out in fifth place, one spot better than his showing in Event #5, and earned $28,665.

With only four players remaining after Moneymaker's elimination, there was nowhere left for Ravinesh to hide. He had scraped, struggled and survived after starting the final table with less than ten big blinds, jumping from a guaranteed $7,644 for ninth place to a guaranteed $40,950 for fourth place. That's exactly what he earned when he got all in preflop with Ks-Kh-4d-5c against none other than Andy McLEOD, the player responsible for almost every single elimination at the final table. It was a flush draw against for Andy McLEOD, whose Jh-7s-Jc-2c filled a club flush on the river.

At 7am, after fourteen hours of play, 1,220 players had been eliminated. The only three remaining were Svend saerd, Isaac "westmenloAA" Baron and Andy McLEOD. Svend saerd was the one who brought up the idea of a chop.

"May as well play it out," said Andy McLEOD.

Baron agreed. "We been playing this long. May as well gamble now."

"Thats the spirit," replied Andy McLEOD.

And so they played on. The players traded pots back and forth, drawing closer to each other then moving away. The chip counts had tightened to 2.0 million for Baron, 2.1 million for Svend saerd and 2.7 million for Andy McLEOD when this happened, a hand that shaped the end of the tournament for each of the three remaining players:

It was a soul-crushing ending for Svend saerd, who played his heart out to make it that far. He took his beat with grace and dignity, offering a "good game" to each of his competitors and wishing them the best of luck. His third place finish meant he received $54,600 and meant that the Unstoppable Force, Andy McLEOD, would be heads up with Isaac "westmenloAA" Baron for the Event #16 title.

The two played heads-up for half an hour. Although Andy McLEOD started with almost a three-to-one chip lead, the chip lead passed between the two combatants several times. The largest lead Baron was able to open was about two-to-one after rivering a flush, but he quickly gave it back over a series of hands that went the other way. It seemed at first that Baron was trying to keep pots small, but that strategy wasn't paying any dividends. After he missed a draw to once again fall behind over three-to-one in chips, Baron may have channeled his inner action junkie. He certainly went for the home run.

For the first time in heads-up play, Baron three-bet preflop, to 675,000. Andy McLEOD made the call. All of the rest of the chips wound up in the middle of the most raggedy board we'd seen all night, 7c-3c-2d. Baron had completely whiffed, tabling Ah-Kc-Jh-Ts. Andy McLEOD hadn't done much better, but he had at least connected with bottom pair, Ad-Qs-Jd-2s. Andy McLEOD made two pair on the turn with the Qc, completing his utter domination and annihilation of the final table. He sent Baron home in second place, a distinction that carried with it $70,980.

But as he had all night, Andy McLEOD could beat that -- he walked away with first place, $98,280 and a WCOOP bracelet.

A full live blog of Event #16 can be found at the $215 Pot-Limit Omaha (with Rebuy) Live Blog. Any other WCOOP-related news you might like to read is at the WCOOP homepage.

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in WCOOP