WCOOP 2011: N4kai becomes first Polish WCOOP winner in Event #18, $320 NLHE (10-minute levels)

wcoop2009-thumb.jpgToday's event featured the most popular game in all of poker, no-limit hold'em, played with a twist: each blind level only lasted 10 minutes. That's not quite a turbo, where the levels go by in five minutes and entire tournaments filled with thousand of poker players can fly by in under four hours, but it still makes for a pretty quick game compared to many of the other more slowly structured events on the WCOOP schedule.

If you're wondering to yourself whether this kind of tournament is popular with PokerStars players, wonder no more: the prize pool had topped the $350K guarantee within one minute of the tournament's start, and nearly doubled that mark to $688,500 by the time late registration ended. With 2,295 entrants, 288 places paying out cash, and $110,160.51 set aside for first place, the action would be as fast as the blind levels.

Strong performances from strong players

Several players in the field today made their mark even without making the final table.

30 WCOOP cashes all-time for James Obst

Australian James "Andy McLEOD" Obst has a record of excellence in the WCOOP dating back to 2007, including a win against a stacked final table in the 2008 $215 PLO with Rebuys event. His 65th-place finish ($1,308.15) in today's tournament was only his second cash of the 2011 WCOOP, but it moved his all-time total up to 30, tied for the sixth-most in the series' history.

Two other players cashed for the fifth time of this WCOOP, tying them with Daniel "KidPoker" Negreanu for the second most of any player. Jonathan "FatalError" Aguiar finished in 171st place ($791.77), but Shyam "G's zee" Srinivasan went even deeper. Srinivasan held the chip lead with 75 players left and continued to hang around the top 10 until the final table was within sight. Eventually he found himself short-stacked after a blind steal gone wrong and shoved with pocket fours, only to run into the pocket sixes of alexlabatyuk. Without help from the board, Srinivasan finished in 17th place ($2,754).

One fast final table

Seven hours and 29 minutes after the tournament started, the final table kicked off on the 30K/60K/7.5K level with these nine players in contention:

WCOOP 2011 Event 18 final table.jpg

Seat 1: N4kai (2,336,582 chips)
Seat 2: alexlabatyuk (2,472,666 chips)
Seat 3: lucasr33 (1,961,788 chips)
Seat 4: lobalaise (295,098 chips)
Seat 5: rockstar2 (1,590,222 chips)
Seat 6: gladius_85 (227,572 chips)
Seat 7: sirtenzoe (1,431,541 chips)
Seat 8: mi777 (394,560 chips)
Seat 9: HelloDeli82 (764,971 chips)

The very first hand of final table action saw an elimination when Brazil's lobalaise picked up pocket tens and moved all-in, only to be called by the pocket queens of N4kai. The 6♠ J♦ A♦ 7♦ K♦ baord brought four diamonds, but unfortunately lobalaise's only red card was a heart. That meant the day ended in 9th place ($6,450.75) for the Brazilian.

Play continued to move along briskly and the blinds jumped to 40K/80K with 12.5K antes. Just 12 minutes after the first exit, the next shortest stack made its way into the middle when mi777 shoved for 79,560 chips holding pocket fives. The Russian player's timing couldn't have been worse, as N4kai picked up pocket aces on the button and made an isolating raise, which worked to leave the two heads-up. No sets, flushes or straights materialized and mi777 was out in 8th place ($11,704.50).

It looked like there might be another elimination two hands later when two of the table chip leaders clashed, but the board had other ideas:

That chopped pot did nothing to slow the action down. Just eight hands later gladius_85 called all-in for 157,824 chips on the big blind after facing a raise from rockstar2 in the small blind. T♣ 3♣ would have needed help against most hands, but rockstar2's pocket jacks presented a particularly tough task for gladius_85. The board never came close to offering any help and the German player was busted in 7th place ($17,212.50).

One, two, three strikes you're out

Talk of a deal came up with blinds now at 50K/100K and antes at 12.5K, but before the players could agree there would be three rapid-fire eliminations. It looked like sirtenzoe would be the first of those after shoving with A♦ 7♣ and running into the A♣ K♥ of lucasr33, but a 7♠ T♠ 7♥ 4♣ 9♦ board crippled lucasr33 to less than one big blind and he was eliminated in 6th place ($24,097.50) two hands later.

Another two hands passed before HelloDeli82 moved all-in for 592,435 chips on the button and got a call from big-stacked N4kai. He held K♣ 9♣ against HelloDeli82's T♠ 7♦, which jumped into the lead on the A♥ 7♥ 6♦ flop. The 5♣ was safe but the river brought the K♦, sending HelloDeli82 out in 5th place ($30,982.50).

The last of the three came two orbits later when the former chip leader clashed with N4kai once again and found himself in a terrible position:

Just like that, alexlabatyuk was gone in 4th place ($42,687) and the field was down to three players.

A deal is made - as is a little history

The tournament then went on its customary hourly five-minute break, and the three remaining players agreed to look at the numbers. As soon as they came in everyone agreed to split up the remaining prize pool, with N4kai getting $100,515.78, rockstar2 taking $74,073.34, sirtenzoe winning $73,156.39 and another $7,000 going to the eventual winner.

Three hands later sirtenzoe bowed out in 3rd place with his share, running A♦ T♣ into N4kai's A♣ K♥ and watching the baord run out 7♦ 8♥ Q♣ 8♠ 6♥. That left rockstar2 with the task of coming back from a 9,378,601-to-2,096,399 chip deficit to grab the bracelet and extra $7,000. Nine hands later, with the blinds whittling away at his stack, rockstar2 took a stand preflop with K♠ 3♥ and got a call from N4kai with A♠ J♠. The Q♥ 3♠ 2♣ flop put rockstar2 in the lead and the T♦ kept him there, but N4kai nailed the J♦ on the river to win the tournament just 8 hours and 5 minutes after it first began.

In the process, N4kai also became the first Polish player to win a WCOOP bracelet in the series' ten-year history. That's quite an accomplishment, especially given the growing popularity of poker in that country over the last few years, and our congratulations go out to N4kai for putting his nation on the WCOOP map so emphatically.

Results for 2011 WCOOP Event #18, $320 No-Limit Hold'em (10-Minute Levels)

1st place: N4kai (Poland) - $107,515.78*
2nd place: rockstar2 (Canada) - $74,073.34*
3rd place: sirtenzoe (United Kingdom) - $73,156.39*
4th place: alexlabatyuk (Russia) - $42,687
5th place: HelloDeli82 (Sweden) - $30,982.50
6th place: lucasr33 (Brazil) - $24,097.50
7th place: gladius_85 (Germany) - $17,212.50
8th place: mi777 (Russia) - $11,704.50
9th place: lobalaise (Brazil) - $6,540.75
* - denotes results of three-way deal

With another 44 events remaining on the schedule, there's still lots more history to be made in this year's WCOOP. Looking to get in on the action yourself? Check out the official WCOOP page. Even if you're a little short on cash there are WCOOP satellites to help you make your way to the table. Who knows? You might even do a little rewriting of the record books yourself.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in WCOOP