WCOOP Event #28: Marathon tournament ends with Big10 on top

There are times when poker is a test of cunning, times when it's a test of aggression or a test of patience. And then there are times when poker is a battle of attrition, a real slog through knee-deep mud where only the players with the most stamina (and a pinch of luck) will see things through to the end. That's often the case in split-pot poker tournaments. Not surprisingly, Event #28 - $530 Limit Omaha Hi/Lo, was one of those tests of endurance.

The $530 price tag on Event #28 was not a problem for 829 people who signed up to play. Their combined buy-ins easily surpassed the $400,000 guarantee on the tournament and ensured that top prize would be a hefty $76,268. It wasn't going to be easy to get there though.

The structure of the tournament, with starting stacks of 5,000 chips, long levels and slow limit increases, was extremely player-friendly. The only "problem", if it can be called such, is that the split-pot nature of the game meant that players were looking at a marathon to determine who would take him the WCOOP bracelet. The tournament started at 16:30pm EST on Thursday, but the winner wasn't determined until close to 10am EST on Friday, more than seventeen hours later.

As they have been throughout the WCOOP, Team PokerStars Pro were out in force. Twenty-two of them joined the ranks of players looking to take down a big score and a WCOOP bracelet, including Greg Raymer, Gavin Griffin, Vanessa Rousso and Steve Paul-Ambrose. A surprising early elimination was Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, who has been having a banner WCOOP. But not even ElkY can win them all, especially not when he goes out in 789th place.

Only 126 players would get paid, and the law of averages dictated that most of the Team PokerStars Pros would not be in that segment of the field. Katja Thater went the deepest of the non-money finishers, going out just a few spots of the money with Ah-Kh-Qh-3d when one of the two players that tried to take her out, kidpoker406 and JCastle, turned a club flush. That left Thater with only outs to a low, which didn't come in on the river.

Three Team PokerStars Pros did make the money after Thater was eliminated. Luca Pagano finished in 83rd place, losing out to Rex5578's full house. The Shark, Humberto Brenes, followed quickly thereafter in 71st place, losing out to plumnelli's double-suited aces which rivered two pair. Lee Nelson made it the deepest of any Team PokerStars Pro, finally giving up the ghost in 52nd place.

Nelson was eliminated from the tournament just shy of 2am EST. It was another three-and-a-half hours from there before the final table participants were determined. They were:

Seat 1: cpfactor (651745 in chips)
Seat 2: DrParkinson (172637 in chips)
Seat 3: hazardous88 (430596 in chips)
Seat 4: flk&nit (226969 in chips)
Seat 5: porcelet (323411 in chips)
Seat 6: Big10 (475854 in chips)
Seat 7: fabsoul (350071 in chips)
Seat 8: Bonitaines (1060357 in chips)
Seat 9: lolovitch (453360 in chips)

WCOOP Event 28 Final Table.jpg

(Click image for larger version.)

Bonitaines came into the final table as the clear chip leader, but he was very quickly joined by Big10 after Big10 showed down Ac-2s-3d-6s on a board of 3s-2h-Jh-8s-5c to make two pair, threes and deuces, and a six-five for low. That was a scooper against lolovitch in a quarter-million chip pot, and combined with a few other small scoops, Big10 quickly had amassed over 900,000 chips. He would sit behind that chip stack and in that favorable chip position for the whole rest of his time at the final table.

Double WCOOP-final-tablist porcelet was the first person eliminated from the final table. He had the nut flush draw on the 2c-Th-9h flop and an uncounterfeitable low draw with an open-ended straight draw on the 5c turn. porcelet most likely was hoping to improve upon the seventh place finish he recorded earlier in the night in Event #27 - No-Limit Hold'em Triple Shootout, but it wasn't meant to be. Three players were in against him and checked down to the river, easily beating his pair of fives for high after porcelet bricked on the river. porcelet took ninth in this event, recording a cash of $5,803. Two WCOOP final tables in a single night is nothing to be ashamed of.

porcelet's bust-out marked the start of a long, quiet period at the final table. Chips were traded around the table, but nobody was really making any headway on increasing their stack size or eliminating any opponents. Players would lose chips, then win them right back. At one point Bonitaines took two big hits in a row to drop almost 300,000 in chips, then got them all back within another three hands. That was the way it seemed to be going for everybody.

Finally DrParkinson, a player that came into the final table as one of the short stacks, got short enough that he was in deep trouble, given the limits. He was all in three times, rivering chops each time, before lolovitch finally sent him to the rail almost a full hour after porcelet went out. DrParkinson had no choice but to move in with 3h-Ac-Kc-Qc on a board of 2c-3d-2h. He was up against lolovitch's Js-6c-Jc-3s and never improved. For all of his short-stack scrappiness, he took home $9,326.25.

fabsoul was the next player to slowly chip down into the danger zone. He too was eliminated when he was forced to press a pair of flopped deuces against hazardous88. hazardous88 had only flopped a pair of tens, but when the turn and river bricked out for both players and no low was possible, a pair of tens was the winning hand. fabsoul was out in 7th place, $13,471.25 richer for the experience.

By the time 7am rolled around, six players still remained at the final table. Their chip counts showed not much had changed in an hour and a half of final-table play:

1. Bonitaines 1,154,428
2. Big10 1,069,854
3. lolovitch 663,337
4. hazardous88 622,667
5. flk&nit 419,969
6. cpfactor 214,745

The big difference was that cpfactor, who came into the final table third in chips with more than 600,000, was the new short stack. Limits were about to increase to 30,000 and 60,000, giving cpfactor the rough equivalent of one hand to the river. He held on for half an hour, while flk&nit moved up the counts to over a million in chips courtesy of pots won off of hazardous88 and Bonitaines, but then cpfactor tried to take on Big10 and paid the price. He was crippled to 44,000 chips when Big10 turned a medium flush and rivered a six-low, then went out a few hands later after moving all in preflop with Ad-3s-5c-7c. The sense of humor of the poker gods being what it is, Big10 called and the flop of Th-9s-6h gave cpfactor very little hope. He had no hope after a river 9d and turn Tc. At least cpfactor can cry all the way to the bank -- 6th place was worth $17,616.25.

Big10 wasn't the only player poised to make a move. lolovitch decided to take a lesson from Big10. Not two minutes after cpfactor was eliminated, lolovitch put the hurting on hazardous88. He and Bonitaines teamed up, putting in three bets before the flop and two on the flop. hazardous88 called all in on the turn, but still both of his opponents came along for the river. hazardous88 went into the turn of a 6d-7h-Kc-8c board holding Ac-Jd-9s-2d, which was good for the nut low, but an ace on the river gave him an 8-7 low. That was no match against lolovitch.He held 5s-Kh-4s-Tc for an eight-high straight and a 7-6 low, scooping the whole thing. hazardous88 took down $21,761.25 for his fifth-place finish.

It was a reversal for Bonitaines, who had been atop the final table counts for almost two hours. He gave more back over the next ten minutes, losing several hands to Big10. But despite a lucky rivered full house against flk&nit, it seemed Bonitaines' days were numbered. He was losing chips at an alarming rate, unable to make hands when they mattered in the big pots. He finally went out with unimproved aces after lolovitch and Big10 both came along preflop. It turned out that Big10 flopped a small flush, and with no low on the board it was a scoop. Bonitaines collected $31,087.50 for fourth place.

Since Big10 had almost single-handedly relieved Bonitaines of all of his former chips, Big10 came into three-handed play with 2,751,676 in chips, almost three times as many as lolovitch and almost seven times as many as flk&nit, who had mostly been quietly lurking at the final table, inching his way up the pay ladder. With nowhere left to hide, Big10 and lolovitch set their sights firmly on flk&nit's short stack. flk&nit managed to river a nut-nut scoop against Big10 to move back over one million in chips, but lolovitch and Big10 relentlessly picked away at him.

flk&nit managed to stick around long enough for limits to go up to 50,000 and 100,000. That was expensive for all three player, but especially flk&nit. Down to 379,120, he committed himself to a hand with a three-bet from the big blind. Sensing blood, both Big10 and lolovitch called. The hand went all the way to the river for all three players, where flk&nit pushed his last chips into the middle. He had a pair of queens in his hand to go with a pair of nines on the board, but Big10 showed 4d-3d-4h-8h for a rivered diamond flush. flk&nit could hold his head up high at a third-place finish worth $41,450.

That left just two gladiators in the ring -- Big10, with just more than 3.0 million chips, and lolovitch, with about 1.1 million chips. Big swings were certainly possible given the limits, and within five minutes lolovitch had scooped three large pots off of Big10 to even out the chip counts. As soon as he drew level, lolovitch proposed a straight 50-50 chop to Big10. Big10 quickly agreed, with the number showing that each would be guaranteed $61,801.87 no matter how the tournament ended. Who would take home the remaining $8,000.01 and the WCOOP bracelet was the last thing to be determined.

As if it would be that simple.

Big10 and lolovitch engaged in what can only be described as an epic heads-up match. It lasted for almost an hour and a half. The chip lead changed hands numerous times, but neither player could take the tournament all the way home. Chopped pots were legion, and pots that weren't chopped seemed to alternate back and forth. After sixty minutes of play, the chip counts had reset themselves to what they were at the start of heads-up play, but even with his three-to-one advantage restored, Big10 couldn't put away the pesky lolovitch. Neither player was giving up an inch, but neither seemed to be gaining an inch either.

Finally, a break-through occured. Big10 managed to river a wheel with 3h-4d-5s-Jd after the flop had come down Qh-2c-Ah. It was a 1.5-million-chip win that seemed to deflate lolovitch's sails.
A few hands later, with just less than 700,000 chips in his stack, betting on a 3c-Qh-6c flop was capped after lolovitch had raised the preflop action. lolovitch led out again when the Qc hit the turn. Big10 quickly raised, and finally all of lolovitch's chips were at risk when he called all in.

lolovitch: Ac-Td-4d-5c
Big10: 6s-6h-Jh-8c

It was the big hand both players had been waiting for, but lolovitch was in trouble. He had made the nut flush, but Big10 flopped a set and turned a full house. lolovitch needed a low to hit the board on the river, but that didn't happen. The river was the 9d, ensuring that Big10 would be crowned the champion of Event #28 and the tournament would finally come to an end.

Since the players agreed on an even chop of the prize money near the start of heads-up play, Big10's reward was an extra $8,000.01 and a WCOOP bracelet. Both players played admirably, but even in a marathon only one person can win. That person was Big10.

WCOOP Event #28 - $530 Omaha Hi/Lo Order of Finish
(based on two-way deal)
1. Big10 $69,801.88
2. lolovitch $61,801.87
3. flk&nit $41,450.00
4. Bonitaines $31,087.50
5. hazardous88 $21,761.25
6. cpfactor $17,616.25
7. fabsoul $13,471.25
8. DrParkinson $9,326.25
9. porcelet $5,803.00

A complete blow-by-blow recounting of the action in Event #28 can be found at the Event #28 live blog. All the other WCOOP-related news a body can handle is available at the WCOOP homepage.

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in WCOOP