WCOOP Event #18: Sensor outwits, outlasts, outplays field to claim victory

A horse is a horse, of course of course. That is, of course, unless that horse is a $215 poker tournament in which five separate variants of poker are rotated every twelve minutes.

Mixed games have become extremely popular over the course of the last year as interest in no-limit hold'em has waned. Some credit the creation of the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament during the 2006 World Series of Poker for that resurgence. That tournament was created because a mixed game format was viewed as more of a true test of poker skill than the $10,000 no-limit hold'em main event, largely because the fields had swelled to such a size that luck had taken on a larger role in predicting main event success. Many players have subscribed to that line of reasoning, and as a result mixed games are on the rise.

It's small surprise, then, that 2,091 players signed up to play WCOOP Event #18 - $215 H.O.R.S.E., a mixed variant of limit poker in which Hold'em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Seven-Card Stud and Seven-Card Stud Eight or Better or rotated in order. They created a pretty hefty $418,200 prize pool for a game format that, just a few years ago, would have been looked upon in disdain by most players.

Once again, the Team PokerStars Pros were out in force. It may be that many of the professional poker players really do look upon H.O.R.S.E. as a great all-around test, or maybe they just thought that they had an edge in all the non-hold'em games over their less-experienced competitors. Whatever the reason, Chad Brown, Dario Minieri, Katja Thater, Barry Greenstein, Gavin Griffin, Lee Nelson, Greg Raymer, Isabelle Mercier, Bill Chen, Victor Ramdin, Luca Pagano, Vanessa Rousso, Tom McEvoy, Marcin Horecki, Bertrand Grospellier, Hevad Khan, Steve Paul-Ambrose and Raymond Rahme all took to the field. What a line-up!

Three of those Team PokerStars Pros would be included in the 304 players that got paid in this event. Humberto Brenes finished in 257th place ($355.47) when his two pair during the Seven-Card Stud round were topped by Pliny, Elder's bigger two pair. Katja Thater fared better, surviving with a few key double-ups all the way to 48th place ($1,212.78), finally going out in the Omaha Hi/Lo round when one of the three opponents to call her preflop all-in bet flopped a Broadway straight.

And then there was Barry Greenstein. "The Bear", as Greenstein is affectionately known, played a very strong game for long stretches of the tournament. During the eighth hour of play, he caught a rush during the Seven-Card Stud round and rocketed to the top of the chip counts. He seemed loose and in a good mood, joking repeatedly with the railbirds that he attracts whenever he plays.

Greenstein remained in the top ten in chips for over four hours, all the way until only nine player remained, one off of the final table. At that point, he was dealt rolled up fours during the Seven-Card Stud round, apparently his first rolled-up hand of the tournament. One of his opponents started with split queens and spiked a third queen on fifth street. That hand crippled Greenstein; he went out a few hands later during the Seven-Card Stud Hi/Lo round when he missed his low and his pair of queens was overtaken on the river by Rabscuttle, who rivered trip sixes. Greenstein earned $3,972.90 in prize money. More importantly for the remaining players, his elimination paved the way to the final table.

The final eight players brought a total of 6,273,000 chips to the final table, dispersed as follows:

Seat 1: Obender (751949 in chips)
Seat 2: Rabscuttle (445390 in chips)
Seat 3: Sensor (1610208 in chips)
Seat 4: troyomac (1028960 in chips)
Seat 5: BabyJeebus99 (1184721 in chips)
Seat 6: BackdoorNutz (426980 in chips)
Seat 7: tennisklause (434720 in chips)
Seat 8: LittleRedElf (390072 in chips)


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When the final table was set at 7:15am, there was one curiosity -- BabyJeebus99, the player in second chip position, had been disconnected for half an hour. He had been disconnected just as 1hugeidiot was eliminated in 11th place, and had the chip lead at the time of his disconnection. Everyone wondered the same thing: would BabyJeebus99 come again?

BabyJeebus99's disconnection also presented another aggravation for the final table players. As per standard PokerStars disconnect rules, BabyJeebus99 was given twenty-five seconds for every decision he had to make. That meant play at the final table moved very, very slowly. It was twenty-five minutes before we had our first elimination. BackdoorNutz was all in preflop during Omaha Hi/Lo with As-2h-Ts-Th. He was called by tennisklause, who showed Kh-Kd-9d-6c. When the flop came 3h-Ks-5d, BackdoorNutz was left praying for a low draw for a chop. Instead he got running deuces to make trips. Those same deuces made a full house for tennisklause, sending BackdoorNutz out of the tournament in ninth place with $4,809.30.

That elimination seemed to open the floodgates. Rabscuttle was next out, in eighth place, again in the Omaha Hi/Lo round. He was in slightly better shape than BackDoorNutz had been, all in on a flop of 5d-6c-Ks holding a pair and the nut low draw against tennisklause's pair of aces. Just like BackdoorNutz, however, Rabscuttle missed everything. $6,063.90 was his mollification.

BabyJeebus99 continued to be blinded and anted off. When Rabscuttle was eliminated, BabyJeebus99 had been disconnected for over an hour.

It was during the razz round that the chip leader, Sensor, made a strong move to separate himself from the rest of the pack. By the time the razz round was over, Sensor had over three million in chips, about half of the chips in play. None of his six opponents even had one million.

Throughout the tournament, the stud rounds were where the tournament and the action slowed down considerably. That wasn't the case at the final table, with the stud rounds producing just as much action as the flop-game rounds. Another two players went out in quick succession during Seven-Card Stud. tennisklause couldn't make three starting spades turn into anything useful, and was instead eliminated by the Sensor's single pair of aces. A few hands later, Sensor struck again, starting with three hearts and taking out Obender with just a pair of sevens after Obender missed everything and finished with high-card king. tennisklause earned $7,318.50 in prize money for his sixth place finish; Obender took down $8,573.10 for fifth.

Those eliminations left Sensor as the clear chip leader with only four players remaining. More importantly, one of those players, BabyJeebus99, was still disconnected, an hour-and-a-half after he first dropped his link to the tournament. It seemed clear he wasn't coming back, and as the limits relentlessly increased, his stack rapidly diminished.

The other two remaining players, LittleRedElf and troyomac, took turns with Sensor in picking on BabyJeebus99's blinds and bring-ins. Each had enough chips at that point to comfortably wait things out. It helped that during the Seven-Card Stud Eight or Better round, all three got involved in a pot that was ultimately worth 1.3 million in chips. troyomac took the whole thing down with three aces when chip-leader Sensor could only make a pair of fives and missed his low draw. That spread the chips around in a more equitable fashion.

BabyJeebus99 finally bowed out in the hold'em round, almost two full hours after he lost his connection. He wound up all in for about 16,000 chips with jack-three and was taken out by Sensor's king-ten when a king hit the board. It was certainly a strange end to the tournament for a player that seemed poised to possibly win it all. Fourth place money was $16,728, which BabyJeebus99 should be delighted to see if and when he ever gets his connection back.

That elimination left just three players: troyomac, LittleRedElf and Sensor. troyomac had the misfortune to run into Sensor's pocket queens during the hold'em round, a hand that cost him most of his stack after Sensor slow-played his hand to perfection. Left with 186,920 chips by the time Omaha Hi/Lo came around, all the chips went in with 3h-As-9s-5h. Once again, the elimination task fell to Sensor, who called with 7h-2h-2s-7s. When the board ran out Qh Ks Jh 3s Jc, Sensor had eliminated another opponent. troyomac collected $25,928.40 for third place.

It took a few hands after that for LittleRedElf and Sensor to open deal negotiations. They looked at chopping the tournament based on chip equity, setting aside $6,000 and the WCOOP bracelet to play for. Once a PokerStars host ran the numbers and reported that the chop would pay $51,421.66 to Sensor and $47,797.46 to LittleRedElf, both players quickly agreed. It seemed to make more sense to lock in those paydays then risk walking away with "only" second-place prize money ($37,888.92) given the large limits and relatively short stacks at that point in the tournament.

With the deal in place, both player opened up their playing styles and became more freewheeling. Still, the chip counts seemed to be moving in a band between 2,000,000 and 4,000,000 for both players. Neither could deliver the knock-out punch. Then, in a heartbeat, it was over.

Sensor had re-opened a 2-to-1 chip lead as we entered the Seven-Card Stud round. Both players started with an ace door-card. Betting was capped on third street, on fourth street and on fifth street. By sixth street, LittleRedElf was all in. He opened Ad-6h-Ac-8c-Td-4d, having started with split aces. Improbably enough, Sensor also had split aces! He showed As-Qd-Ah-Th-9c-3c and was in the lead. Sensor caught the Ts on the river to make two pair and cinch the hand. LittleRedElf was eliminated in second place. His post-deal prize money totalled $47797.46.

Sensor was the last player standing after a grueling seventeen hours of poker. He played a strong final table and deservedly is the champion of Event #18, earning $57,421.66 and a WCOOP bracelet. Congratulations, Sensor!

WCOOP Event #18 - $215 H.O.R.S.E. Order of Finish
(based on two-way deal)
1. Sensor $57,421,66
2. LittleRedElf $47,797.46
3. troyomac $25,928.40
4. BabyJeebus99 $16,728.00
5. Obender $8,573.10
6. tennisklause $7,318.50
7. Rabscuttle $6,063.90
8. BackdoorNutz $4,809.30

For more information about WCOOP Event #18, see the live blog. More WCOOP-related news is available at the WCOOP homepage.

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in WCOOP