WCOOP 2010: nilsef delivers final knockout blow of Event 10

wcoop2009-thumb.jpgMany years ago, I walked into one of the L.A. card barns and picked up a pamphlet for a tournament series. The series included an event called "Headhunter Hold'em". I corralled a staff member who explained that each player in that event had a bounty on their head. Anyone could collect the bounty by eliminating the player.

I'm not sure anyone calls them "headhunter" tournaments anymore - not even in the rough-and-tumble L.A. poker rooms. PokerStars calls them knockout tournaments, and this year included four knockout tournaments on the WCOOP schedule for the first time. Event #10, $265 Pot-Limit Omaha (Knockout), was the first up in the rotation. The format seems to be popular with players, as 1,493 registered for Event #10. 198 of them would split the main prize pool of $298,600. The knockout pool of $74,650 would be carved up $50 at a time, going to the bounty hunters fortunate enough to knock out other players.

27 members of Team PokerStars Pro and Team PokerStars Online channeled their inner Boba Fett and registered for this unique format. Only four hit pay dirt. Team Pro Martin "AABenjaminAA" Hruby and Team Online player Steven "stevejpa" Paul both went out in the bottom half of the money. Fellow Team Online player Jorge Arias significantly improved on Paul's finish, making it all the way to the final two tables before bowing out in 17th place.

Then there was Team Pro Jason Mercier, a man who happens to have won a WSOP gold bracelet in PLO. He stayed in the top 20 counts for most of Event #10 and was one of the nine players that assembled on the final table:

Event 10 FT final.JPG

Seat 1: JasonMercier (569060 in chips)
Seat 2: PieniFisu (390377 in chips)
Seat 3: tirre_66 (975498 in chips)
Seat 4: zenman (831236 in chips)
Seat 5: IamBuddhaa (833771 in chips)
Seat 6: Surrey Rock (589643 in chips)
Seat 7: nilsef (1573939 in chips)
Seat 8: F.Briatore (970116 in chips)
Seat 9: Pylusha (731360 in chips)

The first final-table elimination occurred on the third hand of play. F.Briatore's opening raise to 33,900 was three-bet by the short stack, PieniFisu, from the big blind. F.Briatore called to a flop of T♣2♣5♥, where the rest of the chips went in. PieniFisu showed aces and a wheel draw, A♠A♦J♣4♥. PieniFisu need that to hold against F.Briatore's 9♣8♣5♠3♠, a pair and a flush draw. The turn T♠ took away a few of F.Briatore's outs, giving PieniFisu two pair aces and tens. It didn't matter; the river 5♦ made trip fives for F.Briatore to snatch a pot worth more than 1 million in chips and a $50 bounty. PieniFisu was gone in ninth place.

Mercier was the new short stack but doubled through Surrey Rock to give himself space to work. Surrey Rock went out a few hands later in by "bink"ing the turn and getting bonked by the river:

RSS readers click through to see replay

The rest of the players treaded water until F.Briatore and Pylusha went to war. Each flopped a pair and a straight draw on a 8♦6♠8♣ flop, Pylusha with A♣9♠7♣7♠ and F.Briatore with A♦5♦6♥7♥. This round went to F.Briatore when the turn blanked and the river came the 4♣. Pylusha exited in 7th place, while F.Briatore took over the chip lead and picked up a second final-table bounty.

"I really wish my rail was allowed to type," said Mercier when play moved to six-handed. He called out several friends by screen name who were sweating the action but unable to type anything into the chat box.

Through a series of small pots, the medium stacks of IamBuddhaa, zenman and tirre_66 evened out at about 800,000. F.Briatore's 2.5 million was in the pole position, with nilsef sitting second behind 1.8 million. That put Mercier in the position of short stack again, with about 650,000. He didn't seem concerned; he spent a solid 15 minutes typing the lyrics of "Bed Intruder Song", the latest viral video sensation, into the chat box.


He gon find you, he gon find you...

The players were still six-handed when the next scheduled fifteen-minute break arrived. Upon the resumption of play, the eliminations came rapid fire. tirre_66 got things rolling by taking the worst of it with double-suited aces against double-suited aces:

RSS readers click through to see replay

A few hands later, nilsef put an end to "Bed Intruder Song" - and to Mercier - when the two engaged in a series of pre-flop raises that left Mercier all in. He showed Q♥J♥9♦8♥ against nilsef's aces, A♦A♠6♥2♥. Mercier flopped an inside straight draw, 3♣5♠7♦, and turned a pair and another inside straight draw with the J♦. But he couldn't bink the river, a 3♦ that secured the pot for nilsef. Mercier exited in fifth place, collecting $14,631.40.

Exactly seven hands after Mercier's elimination, zenman flopped top two pair against F.Briatore's bottom set. It didn't end well for zenman, who was unable to spike his four-outer or any running draws to overtake F.Briatore. Fourth place was worth $20,304.80 for zenman and left three players in the running: F. Briatore with 4 million, nilsef with 2.7 million and IamBuddhaa with 650,000.

F.Briatore found himself on the other end of the same situation a few hands later, flopping top and bottom pair with A♦K♥Q♣3♣ against nilsef's top set, Q♥Q♦T♥9♣, on a Q♠4♦3♥ board. The chips were all in the middle and all slid to nilsef after the 6♣ turn and 5♥ river, launching nilsef to 5.4 million.

F.Briatore was still alive but cut down to 1.25 million. His stack rapidly dwindled from there, first by doubling up IamBuddhaa and then through a series of small losses. He found himself all again against IamBuddhaa once, rivering a queen to stay alive. But shortly thereafter he moved in his last ten big blinds on a flop of T♣8♣3♦ with a pair of eights, 5♦J♠8♠6♥. nilsef flopped two pair, 8♥T♥J♦Q♣ and took the pot when the board came running aces.

Despite having a 6-to-1 chip lead, as soon as the tournament was heads-up nilsef offered to deal with IamBuddhaa.

"You serious?" IamBuddhaa replied. "What are you offering?"

nilsef suggested a chip-count chop, but the chip-chop numbers would only give IamBuddhaa an extra $1,500. IamBuddhaa quickly declined and play resumed.

With 22 big blinds and no antes, IamBuddhaa could be patient, as had been the case throughout most of the final table, and pick good spots. Taking a flop of 8♣9♥9♦ holding 5♠7♣8♥8♠ must have seemed like a great spot, especially when nilsef was only too eager to get the chips in. But it turned out to be the worst kind of cooler as nilsef showed down 9♠8♦7♥3♥ to leave IamBuddhaa drawing stone dead on the flop (something that's exceedingly difficult to do in PLO). After perfunctory turn and river cards, nilsef delivered the final knockout, collected one last $50 bounty, and was declared champion of WCOOP 2010 Event 10.

WCOOP 2010 Event 10: $265 Pot-Limit Omaha (Knockout) results:

1st place: nilsef ($50,015.50)
2nd place: IamBuddhaa ($36,578.50)
3rd place: F.Briatore ($27,620.50)
4th place: zenman ($20,304.80)
5th place: Jason Mercier ($14,631.40)
6th place: tirre_66 ($11,645.40)
7th place: Pylusha ($8,659.40)
8th place: Surrey Rock ($5,673.40)
9th place: PieniFisu ($3,075.58)

Ten events have been completed at the 2010 WCOOP, but there are still more than 50 to be played. Get the schedule and all the up-to-date WCOOP statistics at the WCOOP home page. Also be sure to check out PokerStars.tv for more reports on all of the action.

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in WCOOP