2009 WCOOP: CONOW dominates, RaiNKhAN soars in Day 1 of $530 NLHE

WCOOP 2009 logo.jpgThe two-day events of the WCOOP are highlights of the series. Not only does the structure and starting chip stacks allow for ample play, but the fields are large and the prize pools are staggering. That was the case in Event 11, and the first day's action and participation was a testament to the excitement surrounding this tournament.

For a $500 + $30 buy-in (or much discounted via satellite entries), players were given the chance to participate in a NLHE tournament with a $3 million guarantee. And when registration was complete on Sunday, September 6, registration had jumped to an amazing 6,219 players, which boosted the prize pool up to $3,109,500 with a first prize of $472,954.96 - life-changing money by almost anyone's standards. The entire list of payouts for the eventual final table are:

1st place: $472,954.96
2nd place: $349,818.76
3rd place: $248,760.01
4th place: $171,022.51
5th place: $130,599.01
6th place: $99,504.01
7th place: $68,409.01
8th place: $37,314.01
9th place: $24,098.63

Looking over the vast list of names in the tournament at its start was difficult, but so many names stood out as the top live and online players in the world. Team PokerStars was represented well by more than 35 of its pro players, including Barry Greenstein, Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer, Chad Brown, Vanessa Rousso, Peter Eastgate, Dennis Phillips, Katja Thater, Gavin Griffin, and Victor Ramdin. But those were the names who quickly fell from the list as the first few hours of the event passed. Others who left just before the field was cut directly in half included Tom McEvoy and Jason Mercier.

As the second half of the night progressed, the money bubble neared that would allow the last 900 players to cash out for more than their buy-ins. Team PokerStars Pros who came close but busted before that bubble were Leo Fernandez representing Argentina and Johnny Lodden of the Nordic team. But eventually it was a player named TBird1956 of Toronto who fell from the tournament on that bubble in 901st place, allowing pejcao to be the first to cash in the event with a payout of $808.47.

The field dwindled even further into the night (for U.S. players) and into the morning for the Europeans. The host of the tournament and U.K. Team Pro Vicky Coren was hanging on to a short stack but looking for a spot to double up. And just into the tenth hour of the tournament, as a player commented in the chatbox about Coren's sparkly demeanor at 8am her time, she contemplated the cards she just received and typed, "I'M EXHAUSTED" and then "but this could be bedtime." After an initial raise from hookembaby83, Coren pushed all-in for 33,524 chips with A♠ Q♥, and hookembaby83 called with pocket queens. The hand played out as follows:

RSS readers click through to see replay

Coren's tournament was over, and her response came quickly: "yup, time to sleep." For her 580th place finish, she received $1,026.13, and she will be returning as the tournament hits its final table on Monday to encourage the last players standing and answer any questions as they play for the win.

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Several previous WCOOP Main Event champions were in the field today, though reigning champion Carter "ckingusc" King was ousted in 2068th place. The 2007 winner was making a deep run, but as Level 19 kicked in, ka$ino pushed his short stack and ended up with a 440th place finish.

A Team PokerStars Pro who made a valiant effort but couldn't finish out the night was one of the newest members of the team, Jose "nachobarbero" Ignacio of Argentina. He ended his run in 460th place, but several others were still alive going into Level 20. And Anton "A.Allemann" Allemann of Switzerland was hanging in as well, until he finally woke up with pocket tens and pushed but found that his opponent had pocket kings. Allemann was out in 398th place.

Another short-stacked pro, Joe Hachem, finally pushed his short stack as well, but that 50,265 went in with pocket kings against the A♦ K♦ of Needleking and held up to push Hachem up over the 100K mark. Soon after, Hachem couldn't resist another move when he looked down at pocket aces. But listen closely, and you'll hear the sound of an Aussie's aces being cracked. You can actually see it here:

RSS readers click through to see replay

Hachem finished the tournament in 397th place.

As the final levels of the night played out, there were two Team PokerStars Pros remaining. Veronica "Princesa" Dabul, an Argentine player, was staying alive and gathering chips when necessary, but Hevad "RaiNKhAN" Khan was dominating. From 42nd place on the leader board, he eliminated competitor actioncr to chip up further and jump to 35th place. And on an amazing run, he proceeded to eliminate al38811 to close in on the 500K chip mark and 10th place in the standings.

With Level 22 bringing the night/morning to a close, there was quite a bit of action. On the PokerStars front, Dabul was able to find the opportunity for two much-needed double-ups with only ten minutes to go, and Khan was staying steady in or near the top ten. In the top two spots were CONOW and GypsieChris, the only two players who managed to climb over the 11-million chip mark thus far. But IG0tDibs was hanging tight in the 9-million range and looking to make a run at the top, especially when GypsieChris dropped down to third behind him.

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When it ended just after the 13-hour point in the tournament, the game was paused and set to resume at 5:00pm ET on Monday, September 7, just 11 hours later. Players would start at the beginning of Level 23 with blinds 2,500/5,000 and a 625 ante, with 214 players still in the running.

2009 WCOOP Event 11 Top Ten Chip Counts:

1. CONOW - 1,360,895
2. IG0tDibs - 994,584
3. GypsieChris - 976,548
4. fabstinho - 890,135
5. DaMurdera3 - 753,468
6. Grekzorba - 751,481
7. Brett Favre - 745,543
8. Team PokerStars Pro Hevad "RaiNKhAN" Khan - 715,780
9. TheHoboKing - 713,546
10. MpyreIntl - 698,180

The 2009 WCOOP is well underway, but another two weeks and millions more dollars are available for players. Check the newly launched WCOOP website for all of the information, but don't forget to check the list of tournaments and the satellites that offer entries for as little as $1. And PokerStars.TV will have tips from the pros and exciting developments as the series progresses.

Jen Newell
@PokerStars in WCOOP