WCOOP 2010: RaiseOnce raises championship banner in Event 39 ($25,500 NLHE HU)

wcoop2009-thumb.jpgThere's a lot you can do with $25,000. Buy a car. Make a down payment on a house. Download 25,252 MP3s. Fill a kiddie pool with 100,000 quarters and swim through them Scrooge McDuck-style.

Today, if you were feeling especially "balla", $25,000 and a $500 administrative fee got you a seat in WCOOP 2010 Event 39, $25,500 No-Limit Hold'em (High-Roller Heads-Up). Admittedly, the universe of poker players that can afford to drop that kind of change on a single tournament is exceedingly small. Registration for the tournament was capped at 32 players, with PokerStars slapping a $750,000 (30-player) guarantee on the tournament. The final field split the difference and settled at 31 players.

Event 39 was scheduled to pay out prize money to only four players. Each would have to win his or her first three heads-up matches in this single-elimination, bracket-style event in order to reach that point. RunThisTable got the first win free by being the lucky player to draw a first-round bye. The remaining 30 players were paired off and given stacks of 10,000 chips with 30-minute levels and blinds starting at 25 and 50 (bold indicates winner):

Daniel "KidPoker" Negreanu v. MrSweets28
regista8 v. Phil "takechip" D'Auteuil
Barry "barryg1" Greenstein v. Sussie Smith
Adonis112 v. IMALLIN723
Vick is God v. Sorel "zangbezan24" Mizzi
SWEGIN v. Justin " ZeeJustin" Bonomo
GVOZDIKA55 v. lftarii
BrynKenney v. SkaiWalkurrr
grolongo v. Isaac "philivey2694" Haxton
0Human0 v. chapmoney
Dan "djk123" Kelly v. PQuest99
Also11 v. Ashton "theASHMAN103" Griffin
Jason "JasonMercier" Mercier v. w00ki3z.
$tinger 88 v. RaiseOnce
caio_pimenta v. Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier

PokerStars Team Pro Jason Mercier had a quick first round, getting his chips in on the turn in the first ten minutes of the match with a combination straight and flush draw against w00k3z's top pair, top kicker. One of Mercier's draws filled and he was on to the second round along with fellow Team Pro Bertrand Grospellier. Their colleagues on Team PokerStars Pro, Daniel Negreanu and Barry Greenstein, were not so lucky. Both were eliminated in Round 1.

Upon the elimination of Dan Kelly by PQuest99 after a match that took more than two hours, the 15 Round 1 winners (and RunThisTable) began Round 2.

MrSweets28 v. regista8
IMALLIN723 v. Sussie Smith
SWEGIN v. Vick Is God
lftarii v. SkaiWalkurrr
0Human0 v. Isaac "philivey2694" Haxton
Also11 v. PQuest99
JasonMercier v. RaiseOnce
Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier v. RunThisTable

Mercier again had a quick round, but it ended the wrong way for him. He was eliminated by RaiseOnce before 15 minutes had elapsed, leaving Grospellier as the only remaining Team Pro in the field. ElkY advanced to the quarterfinals, and the money bubble, by knocking off RunThisTable.

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No joy for Jason Mercier

Round 3, the quarterfinal round and money bubble, took about two hours to complete. The eight remaining players were one match away from guaranteeing themselves at least $116,250.

IMALLIN723 v. regista8
SkaiWalkurrr v. Vick Is God
0Human0 v. PQuest99
ElkY v. RaiseOnce

IMALLIN723 dispatched regista8 in just four hands; 0Human0 and SkaiWalkurrr were also able to eventually toe-tag their opponents. That left one remaining bubble-round match between Grospellier and RaiseOnce. Grospellier quickly found himself at a massive chip deficit, 18,000 to 2,000. Some players might have given up, but with the blinds low at 30 and 60 Grospellier kept grinding. This was no ordinary bubble: winning the quarterfinal match was the difference between $116,250 and $0. By the time the 50-100 round began, Grospellier had leveled the stacks.

Disaster befell Grospellier in the 50-100 round, however. He flopped two pair, queens and sixes, but was out-turned by RaiseOnce, whose open-ended straight draw improved to the nut straight. RaiseOnce got max value by moving all in on the river and inducing a call from Grospellier. Five hands later, Grospellier moved in with pocket jacks and was called by RaiseOnce with Q♣3♦. A queen on the river made Grospellier the bubble boy.

elky_event39.jpg

The bubble boy, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier

The semifinals pitted SkaiWalkurr against IMALLIN723 and RaiseOnce versus 0Human0.

Semi-Final #1: IMALLIN723 v. SkaiWalkurrr

IMALLIN723 quickly fell behind in the first semi-final match after tanking on the river for 2 minutes, then calling, on this hand:

RSS readers click through to see replay

IMALLIN723 climbed back into the match, first by rivering two pair with A-8, all in preflop, then by flopping a set of 8s against SkaiWalkurrr's top pair of jacks. Then, just 15 minutes after the match started, it was all over. SkaiWalkurrr opened to 150; IMALLIN723 three-bet to 600. SkaiWalkurrr then jammed, with IMALLIN723 calling off the remaining 7,625 chips. It was a flop, SkaiWalkurrr's pocket 4s against IMALLIN723's A♥Q♣. The board blanked out 9♠3♥9♦T♠8♥ to send SkaiWalkurrr through to the final.

Semi-Final #2: RaiseOnce v. 0Human0

The second semi-final match took much longer to complete, setting up a long wait for SkaiWalkurrr. RaiseOnce jumped out to the early lead by catching running tens with A♥T♦ on a board of 4♠5♦6♥T♠T♣. At the river 0Human0 tried a check-raise to 4,640 after RaiseOnce bet 1,300. RaiseOnce just called with trip tens and collected the pot and a big lead.

0Human0 didn't go gently away. An hour and a half after the match started, the two players were still battling. 0Human0 had closed the gap but was still trailing. In the final hand of the match, RaiseOnce opened to 240 and 0Human0 called. RaiseOnce continued for 320 on a 2♥9♦7♥ flop, then called a check-raise from 0Human0 to 800. On the J♠ turn, 0Human0 had first action and led out for 1,350, half of 0Human0's remaining stack. RaiseOnce moved all in and 0Human0 called. 0Human0 showed a draw, Q♣T♥. RaiseOnce made top pair with J♣8♠ and held on as the river bricked 5♠. 0Human0 was eliminated in 3rd place and finally the title match was set between RaiseOnce and SkaiWalkurrr.

The Final: RaiseOnce v. SkaiWalkurrr

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Small pots dominated the first ten minutes of the final table. The first sizable pot saw the action get three-bet pre-flop by SkaiWalkurrr to 550. SkaiWalkurrr fired 615 on a 4♠T♣Q♠ flop and 1,685 when the turn fell the 5♥. SkaiWalkurr finally slowed down on the 2♣ river and checked. RaiseOnce responded by moving all in for 7,900. SkaiWalkurrr folded and allowed RaiseOnce to open a 13,000-to-7,000 chip lead.

After that one large pot the tiny pots resumed. Final-table host Greg Raymer, noting the extreme small-ball approach the two final-table players were taking, joked, "Hey, if I buy the first round at EPT London, you boys want to start shoving blind every hand?" With $150,000 at stake, the two players didn't even type back a response.

It was also RaiseOnce who won the second large pot of the final table. RaiseOnce opened pre-flop, then bet the flop and the turn. SkaiWalkurrr check-called all bets to the river, where the board showed 9♦Q♥3♠4♠K♦. SkaiWalkurrr checked one more time, then called a bet of 1,400. RaiseOnce showed a monster, K♣K♥, to drag the pot and extend the lead to 16,000-to-4,000.

SkaiWalkurrr restored the deficit to 13,000-to-7,000 by winning a flip, all in pre-flop. SkaiWalkurrr's pocket 9s held against the A♠K♦ of RaiseOnce.

The gap was down to 11,000-to-9,000 a short time later when a series of pre-flop raises put SkaiWalkurrr all in and 18,000 chips up for grabs. SkaiWalkurrr opened to 180; RaiseOnce re-raised to 540. After a short pause, SkaiWalkurrr four-bet to 1,215. RaiseOnce was undeterred and put in the fifth bet with a raise to 3,300. SkaiWalkurrr moved all in for 9,260 with A♦A♠ and was called by RaiseOnce, who showed Q♣Q♥. SkaiWalkurrr's aces would not hold. RaiseOnce flopped a set of queens, Q♦K♥T♠, then held on to duck SkaiWalkurrr's outs as running bricks were delivered, 3♠ and 8♥.

Five heads-up matches. With a triumph over SkaiWalkurrr, five victories and $348,750 in prize money. There's a lot more you can do with $348,750 then there is with $25,000. That's now RaiseOnce's problem. It's a nice problem to have.

WCOOP 2010 Event 39 - $25,500 No-Limit Hold'em (High-Roller Heads-Up) results:

1st: RaiseOnce ($348,750)
2nd: SkaiWalkurrr ($193,750)
3rd: 0Human0 ($116,250)
4th: IMALLIN723 ($116,250)

There's still time to get in on the WCOOP 2010 action. The WCOOP 2010 schedule, the latest news, and up-to-date statistics for the series are all available at the WCOOP homepage. You'll also find the folks at PokerStars TV are doing their usual excellent work during WCOOP 2010.

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in WCOOP