WCOOP Event #4: playitsafe claims triple draw bracelet for Norway

It's a guilty pleasure for many a poker player and a high-variance specialty for others, but deuce-to-seven triple draw never inspired lukewarm feelings in anyone. A true gambler's game where position and deception rule the day and there are no exposed cards, poker players either love or loathe triple draw... and most can claim the former. Whether they got rich or got broke off the game, players keep coming back in droves because this game gives them not one, but three chances to do what they wish they could do more often in their stud or hold'em games.

Draw. Peel one off. Peel three off if that's your style. Hold your breath as that card comes down. Feel that flutter as it makes you the nuts. Stand pat on a marginal hand and induce a fold. Missed? Well, you can try all over again.

Of course, like anything in poker, it's not nearly as simple as it sounds. However that didn't stop 734 players from $0.25/$0.50 grinders to WSOP bracelet winners from coming out to take a shot at a WCOOP title. The event's $100,000 guarantee was easily surpassed with the prize pool topping out at $146,800. 108 players cashed with first place set at $24,809.20.

Team PokerStars Pro was out en masse for this tournament--Andre Aakkari, Vicky Coren, Victor Ramdin, Dario Minieri, Gavin Girffin, Elky, Tom McEvoy, Luca Pagano, Bill Chen and Alexandre Gomes all put up the $215 buy-in, but finished outside the money while Chad Brown (74th), Steve Paul-Ambrose (59th), Isabelle Mercier (37th), Marcin "Goral" Horecki (36th), Vanessa Rousso (34th), Alex Kravchenko (33rd) and John Duthie (32nd) all cashed.

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Seat 1: Mills23 (Netherlands) 467,760 in chips
Seat 2: mardene (United States) 227,923 in chips
Seat 3: playitsafe (Norway) 527,152 in chips
Seat 4: jordan999 (United States) 331,468 in chips
Seat 5: thevoice72 (Germany) 167,375 in chips
Seat 6: gudfaren (Norway) 480,322 in chips

After just over 12 hours of play, the final six were reached at 5 a.m. ET with playitsafe leading the pack. Four countries in all were represented at the final table--Norway, Germany, The Netherlands and the United States. Apparently Oslo is a breeding ground for triple draw players, as three of the Norwegian capital's residents finished inside the top 15.

After over an hour of play without an elimination, gudfaren became the final table's first casualty. Down to 53,000 in chips and with the action folded to him in the small blind, gudfaren put in a raise and Mills23 made the call. After drawing one while Mills23 drew two, gudfaren led out and Mills23 called. On the second draw, gudfaren stood pat, leaving Mills23 to take another card. His remaining 17,000 chips sailed into the pot and Mills23 called. Both players stood pat on the third draw. Mills23 showed down 7-6-4-3-2, besting gudfaren's 9-7-5-4-3 and sending him back to Oslo with $5,505.00 for his sixth place finish.

Pulling away from the pack, playitsafe claimed the tournament life of Mills23. After playitsafe raised pre-draw for the umpteenth time, Mills23 decided to defend his big blind. Each player drew one card and Mills23 called playitsafe's lead bet. Mills 23 took another card on the second draw while playitsafe stood pat and led out again. Mills23 flat-called, but was left with less than a big blind behind. His last 17,452 went in after he made 9-7-5-4-3 on the third draw, but playitsafe had him beat with 8-6-5-4-3 and took down the pot. For fifth place, Mills23 earned $8,074.00.

playitsafe continued to roll, crippling jordan999 with a wheel and sending his stack over the 1 million mark. jordan999 succumbed in 4th place only a few hands later, earning $11,010.00 after his ace-high fell to mardene's 8-7-6-5-3.

Down to three-handed play and the blinds at 16,000/32,000, playitsafe took total command of the table and began to pull away, chipping up to over 1.4 million while the stacks of his two opponents both hovered around the 400,000 mark. Frankfurt's thevoice72 was the next to depart. The last of his chips went in vs. mardene, who hit an 8-7-6-4-3 low. Thevoice72 had 7-6-4-3 as well, but caught a king on the third draw and exited in third place, collecting $13,579.00.

Heads-up play began with playitsafe holding 1,359,136 chips to mardene's 842,864. After trading small pots back and forth for most of a level, their chip counts evened up at about 1.1 million apiece. Surprisingly, no talk of a deal ever broke out between them.

playitsafe made his move and went on the attack, at one point winning 15 consecutive pots from mardene to increase his stack from 887,000 to 1,351,000. mardene was only able to take down one small pot before playitsafe went on another tear, winning five more consecutive hands for a total of 19 out of 20 pots. The two went to the first break of heads-up play with playitsafe holding 1,751,136 to mardene's 450,864.

On the first hand back from that break mardene took a 200,000 chip hit. After raising the button, playitsafe three-bet and mardene made the call. playitsafe rapped pat and bet from position the whole way, mardene calling him down. It ended up being a winning proposition for playitsafe, as mardene missed and playitsafe's 9-8 low held up to send mardene down to 240,000. Within three hands, that 240,000 had shrunk to 130,000 and playitsafe prepared to deliver the final blow. It took a few hands, but the aggressive Norwegian succeeded.

mardene opened from the button for a raise and playitsafe called, drawing three cards to mardene's two. playitsafe led out and mardene called. playitsafe took only one on the second draw, while mardene took another two and called playitsafe's bet. Each player took one on the third draw, playitsafe leading out a third time and mardene electing to save his remaining 30,864 in chips despite the size of the pot rather than make the call. On the next deal, mardene had 2/3 of his stack in the 20,000 chip big blind, but chose to fold, and on the following hand, all but 864 of his chips were all in from the small blind. mardene made a J-9-7-6-3 low, but playitsafe had the winner with 8-6-5-4-3 and claimed the WCOOP title and $24,809.20. mardene earned $18,555.52 for second place.

2008 WCOOP Event #4 Final Table Results
1. playitsafe $24,809.20
2. mardene $18,555.52
3. thevoice72 $13,570.00
4. jordan999 $11,010.00
5. Mills23 $8,074.00
6. gudfaren $5,505.00

Congratulations to the newest WCOOP champion, playitsafe! For more information on how it all went down, go to the WCOOP Event #4 live blog.

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in WCOOP