WCOOP Event #19: stevesbets defeats ElkY for bracelet

by Carol Kline and Brad Willis

Look around and the world and count the $25,000 or bigger buy-in poker tournaments. There aren't very many. The World Series has the $50,000 HORSE event. That tournament takes a week to play. The World Poker Tour Championship is $25,000 and it takes several days to complete as well. Apart from a couple of other novelty events, there just weren't many more huge buy-in tournaments out there.

Until today.

The PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker Heads-Up Championship pulled in 64 players who put up a $25,000 buy-in for a chance at both history and a half-million first prize.

Some of the top names in the live and online poker world showed up to compete. From Daniel Negreanu to Greg Raymer to Chris Moneymaker, the field was packed with Team PokerStars Pros. They faced off against such online giants as Hold_emNL, supernova9, and Empire2000. With those kinds of players in the field, there was not a table that wasn't worth watching. While it was fantastic poker from beginning to end, only eight of the 64 players would walk away with money. For a complete look at the full tournament coverage, check out the WCOOP Event #19 Live Blog.

With eight players remaining, we saw the following match-ups.

Table 1: Vanessa "Lady Maverick" Rousso vs. zivziv
Table 2: PAW717 vs. stevesbets
Table 3: Victor Ramdin vs. Gavin Griffin
Table 4: brianm15 vs ElKY

The Round of 8 matches took more than two hours to play and saw tons of amazing poker. When the dust cleared, though, four players had to settle for $100,000.

5. Vanessa "Lady Maverick" Rousso (United States) $100,000
6. Victor Ramdin (United States) $100,000
7. PAW717 (United States) $100,000
8. brianm15 (Unites States) $100,000

The close of those matches brought us to the final four players and even bigger money.

The Final Four

The semifinals of Event #19 went a lot faster than anybody expected.

In the match between Team PokerStars Pros ElkY and Gavin Griffin, ElkY opened an early lead, one he turned into a 3 to 1 lead in short order. It started when Griffin raised to 2,400 and ElkY called. The flop came down Ac-As-Qs. Both players checked and saw the 3c on the turn. ElkY bet out 3,200 and Griffin called. On the 2c river, ElkY bet 8,800 and Griffin called again. Elky showed Ad-8H, good enough to beat whatever Griffin mucked.

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Just minutes later, ElkY finished Griffin off. ElkY raised to 3,200 and Griffin called. The flop came out 2h-5c-9h. Griffin checked, ElkY bet, and Griffin raised to 11,500. ElkY put Griffin all in for 48,530 more and Griffin called. ElkY showed Ac-Ad. Griffin held 8d-9s. Griffin didn't catch on the turn or river and was out in fourth place for $160,000. See the hand below.

The match between Steven "stevesbets" Jacobs and zivziv took considerably longer.

At first, it looked like it might be over pretty quickly. When Jacobs re-raised zivziv pre-flop from 2,400 to 8,000, Jacobs must have been thrilled to get the call. He was holding Kd-Ks. Jacobs elected to check the 8d-9c-Js flop, giving zivziv a free card. After the turn 2s, Jacobs bet 7,800, and zivziv called. The river was the 5d, and Jacobs bet again -- this time 20,800. zivziv made the call and flipped over 2h-2c for the turned set. zivziv took a 2/1 chip advantage after the hand. All Jacobs could say was, "wow."

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Jacobs was down to 48,608 in chips when he decided to min-raise pre-flop to 3,200. Both players must have loved the 2d-6c-8c flop because Jacob's bet of 6,400 was raised to 268,192 by zivziv. Jacobs made the call for his tournament life and tabled Kd-8h for top pair king kicker. zivziv flopped top pair as well, but his kicker was one notch lower -- a queen. The board ran out 7c-Kc, giving Jacobs a much needed double-up. Suddenly, he was back in action.

Shortly thereafter, Jacobs doubled up again when he rivered a straight against zivziv in this hand.

A few hands later, Jacobs re-raised all-in for 147,232 after zivziv re-raised to 11,200 pre-flop. Jacobs took down the pot without seeing a flop and moved to almost even in chips.

With blinds at 1,200/2,400, zivziv had position and raised pre-flop to 4,800. Jacobs made the call. Jacobs check-raised after the 5d-Ad-2s flop from 2,400 to 9,600, but zivziv decided to stay in the hand. Jacobs continued to bet, this time 22,400, when the 8s hit on the turn. That wasn't enough to fold zivziv. The 5s fell on the river, and Jacobs moved all-in for his last 117,098. zivziv, who had him slightly covered, made the call and tabled Ks-5c for trip fives. Jacobs, however, held 2d-2c for a flopped set of deuces and a rivered full house. That hand dropped zivziv to only 12,204 in chips.

We've all heard the adage, "a chip and a chair," so the final table wasn't completely out of reach for zivziv. Blinds were still at 1,200/2,400 when zivziv decided to make a run for it with Qh-5c. He was all-in pre-flop for a total of 13,404. Jacobs held Kd-3d. The 2h-Qs-Jd flop hit zivziv in a good way, giving him top pair. The turn was another queen, but it was the queen of diamonds. That's right -- the card that gave zivziv trips gave Jacobs a flush draw. The river 8d sealed zivziv's fate, sending home with $160,000 for his third-place finish.

The Finals

With the final table set, both players started with 320,000 in chips at 320/640 blinds. The amount of money in play was no joke. The runner was looking at $320,000. The winner would get paid $560,000.

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Jacobs had already guaranteed himself a higher finish than his 3rd-place showing in the 2004 WCOOP Heads-Up tournament.

ElkY, obviously was no slouch either. He finished 9th in Event #13 Pot-Limit Hold'em during the 2007 WCOOP, 13th in the $5,200 buy-in HORSE event during the 2006 WCOOP and 8th in the $1,050 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em event during the 2005 WCOOP. That's not even mentioning his 2008 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure championship for $2 million.

The first 75 hands of heads-up play, the stacks were in the same place they were at the start of play. After a lot of back and forth play, we saw one of the first big hands when top-pair top-kicker met a turned two-pair.

ElkY took over the lead after turning two pair against Jacobs' top pair. ElkY was up to 392,560 in chips to Jacobs' 247,440. While he would eventually work his way up to more than 420,000 chips, Elky's early lead was short-lived.

With blinds at 1,600/3,200, Jacobs raised from the button to 9,600. ElkY re-raised to 25,600. Both players checked the Kc-Ah-Qh flop, and ElkY checked the 4d turn. Jacobs decided to fire 16,000, eliciting a call from ElkY. ElkY check-called another 23,200 after the river 8h, only to find that he was up against Jacobs' As-8s -- top pair on the flop and two pair on the river.

It was about this time we realized the speed at which the two were playing. In poker terms, playing fast generally means a rather loose game aimed at a sometimes reckless accumulation of chips. In this case, fast just meant...fast. ElkY and stevesbets were playing so quickly, it looked as if we were watching a computer replay of the tournament on fast forward. It seemed as if the decisions were made before the cards were event dealt.

Jacobs continued to put the pressure on ElkY. Jacobs min-raised from the button to 9,600 and fired another 9,600 after ElkY checked the Qh-6c-7c flop. ElkY raised to 24,000 and Jacobs called. The turn 6d resulted in a paired board, but that didn't stop Jacobs from firing another 24,000. ElkY called and checked after the 6h came on the river. This time, when Jacobs bet 67,200, ElkY folded. Jacobs' chip count soared to 490,240 after the hand, giving him a more than 3/1 advantage.

Within minutes, ElkY min-raised from the button to 9,600, but Jacobs decided to apply maximum pressure with an almost 5/1 chip lead -- he re-raised all-in to 521,440. ElkY called all-in for less (108,960) and tabled Td-Ts. His had was best pre-flop, as Jacobs showed 5c-5d. The board ran out 9d-3h-Ac-Jh-7h, improving neither player. And just like that, ElkY doubled up.

Now back to almost even in chips, Jacobs and ElkY got into a huge confrontation for a 389,600-chip pot. Jacobs had the button and, as has been typical of heads-up play, min-raised pre-flop to 12,800. ElkY check-called each of Jacobs' bets on the flop (19,200), turn (46,400) and river (116,400). At showdown, the board read Ts-3s-5h-Qh-Td. Jacobs showed Qc-Tc for a full house, and ElkY mucked. ElkY fell to 133,120 in chips.

In all the battle took somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 hands, all played in just about an hour and half. ElkY managed to battle his way back up over the 240,000 mark, but it would not be enough. Jacobs beat him back down. It had to end sometime.

At the start of the final hand, Jacobs had 398,080 chips to ElkY's 241,920. With blinds only at 3,200/6,400, that didn't stop the players from getting all of the chips into the middle pre-flop. Jacobs opened with a raise to 19,200, followed by a re-raise by ElkY to 236,800 (leaving himself only 5,120 behind). Jacobs then re-raised all-in to put ElkY at risk of elimination. Both players held a pocket pair, but ElkY's 3h-3c was well behind Jacobs' 8s-8d. The board ran out Kh-5c-2c-7s-6s, improving neither player and giving Jacobs the Event #19 title, $560,000 and the WCOOP bracelet. ElkY collected $320,000 for his second-place finish.


WCOOP $25,000 Heads-Up Results

1. stevesbets (United States) $560,000
2. Betrand "ElkY" Grospellier (France) $320,000
3. zivziv (Israel) $160,000
4. Gavin Griffin (United States) $160,000
5. Vanessa "Lady Maverick" Rousso (United States) $100,000
6. Victor Ramdin (United States) $100,000
7. PAW717 (United States) $100,000
8. brianm15 (Unites States) $100,000

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in WCOOP