WCOOP Event #23: ddrufnek bullies his way to NLHE re-buy victory

They all came out for this one. With a structure (no-limit hold'em with a $530 entry fee, one re-buy, one add-on) that received high praise and a prize pool that stretched to $1.46 million, WCOOP Event #23 was an attractive option for players.

That was evident by the 1,159 entrees. And then there were the 807 re-buys and 954 add-ons to boost the prize pool for ddrufnek, the eventual winner who pocketed $194,902 after two final-table deals. That's right, two final-table deals. He dealt this way straight to a bracelet.

So many quality players would have loved to make those two final-table deals, including a cadre of Team PokerStars Pros. Even Daniel "KidPoker" was among a star-studded field that also included Humberto Brenes, Chad Brown, Barry Greenstein, Katja Thater and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier to name a few. ElkY, who finished second in a WCOOP heads-up event already this year, finished 15th in this tournament.

But this event belonged to ddrufnek, who had control of the final table pretty much from the start. It wasn't that easy, however, throughout the tournament. ddrufnek admitted he was stalling just to get into the money. Hours later, there was no need to stall, he had all the chips.

It took quite a while to get to the final table. Part of the reason was the disconnection of ILAN17 during hand-for-hand play. ILAN17, the eventual fourth-place finisher, had a healthy chips stack and was given 15 seconds every hand as the other agitated players waited for the clock to expire. When the final table was finally seated, ILAN17's Internet problems were resolved. He was back in time for the first hand of the final table.

The chip count at the start of the final table:

Seat 1: luckyuli (2415421 in chips)
Seat 2: 1bigbluffer1 (1041489 in chips)
Seat 3: imeasy2read (1052446 in chips)
Seat 4: MaxHam (772475 in chips)
Seat 5: MT456 (755921 in chips)
Seat 6: dinkel (2374395 in chips)
Seat 7: MPetes (2209210 in chips)
Seat 8: ddrufnek (3121506 in chips)
Seat 9: ILAN17 (1753137 in chips)


ILAN17 was back just in time for some frantic action. Rather quickly, players started busting. And ddrufnek was the one picking all them off.

The first victim was the shortstack MT456. With 7h-6s, MT456 got it all-in pre-flop only to be met with resistance by ddrufnek's pocket tens. The tens held up and ddrufnek added to his chip lead.

ddrufnek then used AKo to dispose of 1bigbluffer1, who had those same pocket tens that worked for ddrufnek moments earlier. ddrufnek hit a king on the flop and added another 829,489 chips.

But ddrufnek didn't collect all the chips, at least not yet. imeasy2read took out shortstack MaxHan in seventh place when his KQo beat pocket sixes. The very first card flopped was a king, ending MaxHan's tournament.

The early knockouts left ddrufnek and imeasy2read in the lead. But that's when luckyuli started to make his move. The next two knockouts, dinkel and MPetes, both came at the hands of luckyuli. And they came just minutes apart.

dinkel's A-T was dominated by luckyuli's A-K. MPetes' A-K was then dominated by luckyuli's pocket aces. luckyuli got good cards and was able to get his money in the middle pre-flop in both cases with the distinct advantage.

MPetes had over two million chips when he ran into a hand bigger than his AK. luckyuli had aces on this hand to take MPetes' 2,051,211 chips.

The two knockouts propelled luckyuli up the leaderboard and placed him just behind ddrufnek. That's when the talk of a first deal began. Eventually, after much deliberation, an agreement was struck. The details were this:

1st place: $210,000 and the WCOOP bracelet
2nd-4th place: $169,804.00.

Content with the deal, it didn't take long when they returned for ILAN17 to get all-in. And exit in fourth place.

ILAN17 risked his remaining chips with KQo. ddrufnek called with Js-9s and hit two nines on the board. The trip nines dominated ILAN17's king-high. Soon enough, there would be only two players left when luckyuli knocked out imeasy2read with AKo. imeasy2read had a pair of fives that didn't hold when the board produced two higher pairs. luckyuli's ace kicker was good to make it heads-up play.

So the final two players, luckyuli and ddrufnek began to battle for the bracelet and extra money. They played, and played and played ... until they decided to make a second deal The second deal called for:

1st place: $194,902 and WCOOP bracelet
2nd place: $184,902

At this point, the players were pretty much even with chips. Soon enough though, luckyuli had a commanding chip lead. It was the first time ddrufnek was not at or near the lead at the final table. But it didn't last long. ddrufnek reclaimed control and then put luckyuli away.

On the tournament's final hand, with a significant chip lead, ddrufnek's A-7 beat luckyuli's K-J. The ace on the turn made ddrufnek a WCOOP champion. Not many players can say that.

WCOOP Event #23: $530 No-Limit Hold 'Em:

1. ddrufnek $194,902
2. luckyuli $184,902
3. imeasy2read $169,804
4. ILAN17 $169,804
5. Mpetes $76,650
6. dinkel $62,050
7. MaxHam $47,450
8. 1bigbluffer1 $32,850
9. MT456 $20,440

If you missed any of Event #23's action check out the live blog, which takes you from the first hand to the final bustout. For full final table analysis go to PokerStars.tv. Any additional information go to the WCOOP homepage.

Jordan Raanan
@PokerStars in WCOOP