WCOOP 2011: Pandochat claims another bracelet for the UK in Event 13, $215 6-max PL Omaha/8 (1R1A)
Of all the poker variants be played in this year's World Championship of online poker, few owe their popularity to the online game as much as Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo. The game was rarely if ever spread before the advent of online poker, but now it has become enough of a fixture that it's scheduled in some of the world's biggest land-based poker tournament series.
The 6-max variant is relatively new even for PLO/8, with it having made the WCOOP schedule only once before. That was last year's Event 13, won by professional player Andrey "Kroko-dill" Zaichenko of Russia. This year's event drew somewhat smaller numbers than the 2010 running, but the 558 entries, 298 rebuys and 260 add-ons still combined for a guarantee-busting $223,200 prize pool. The long day ahead would end in cashes for 72 players and a $42,408 scheduled payday for first place.
As usual, the field drew a bevy of players from Team PokerStars and Team Online. Some of them, like Andre "acoimbra" Coimbra, Humberto Brenes and Jorge "twin-caracas" Arias, busted without so much as sniffing the money. Others like Daniel Negreanu, Marcin "Goral" Horecki, Anders "Donald" Berg and George Danzer, thrived in the early going only to fall victim to the vicissitudes of variance. By the time the money bubble popped, only one of them had survived: the United Kingdom's Dale "Daleroxxu" Philip, who busted immediately in 72nd place ($714.24) to leave the rest of the cashing to the ranks of the unsponsored.
Making a play for the UK
With 14 players left half of the remaining field was from the United Kingdom, raising the specter of an all-UK final table. Had that come to pass, that country's players would have opened up their lead over Russia and Canada by $130,460.40, the total amount of cash that was up for grabs among the final six players. UK players also would have tied Russia's for the most final table appearances, making up the gap of six in a single tournament, and guaranteed their dominance in the category of most events won by country.
There was no final table sweep for the UK, though, as plplaya (14th place), aaa1 (13th), exit4afilm2 (10th) and Giffordonian (7th) bowed out before the last round of play. That still left three players representing the UK when, 12 long hours after the tournament first began, the final table was reached with blinds at 15K/30K. The last six competitors were greeted by their final table host, Team Online pro Adrienne "talonchick" Rowsome, who proclaimed herself "wickedly jealous" of their accomplishment:
Seat 1: jjsbryan (1,374,814 chips)
Seat 2: madalain (647,738 chips)
Seat 3: Pandochat (823,469 chips)
Seat 4: Tumppi82 (401,790 chips)
Seat 5: Tlick777 (1,235,285 chips)
Seat 6: Amke (1,096,904 chips)
Leading the way among the UK players was the chip leader, jjsbryan. Unfortunately that lead would evaporate after a few confrontations with Amke and madalain before this game-changing pot went to Tlick777:
It wasn't an automatic death sentence for jjsbryan, but coming back from a devastating hand like that one is even tougher in a split-pot game like PLO/8 than it is in most other forms of poker. After two chops and one scoop that got the British pro back over the 360K mark, a blind-versus-blind confrontation with Russia's Amke would see the incoming chip leader become the first casualty of the final table.
Amke came in for a raise to 120K from the small blind and jjsbryan immediately reraised pot to 360K, enough to effectively move all-in. With the last 1,762 chips going in on the final bet, the two showed down their hands: 3♥ 7♠ 5♠ A♠ for Amke and 4♣ 7♦ A♣ J♦ for jjsbryan. The British player was 57 percent to win, but the 8♣ 3♣ 3♦ turned things completely upside down. The J♥ on the turn brought some hope, but the river came the meaningless 9♠. Just like that jjsbryan was out in 6th place ($7,142.40) and everyone else was guaranteed a five-figure payday.
Five players, five figures
Eighteen hands later, with the blinds now up to 25K/50K, Finland's Tumppi82 got all-in before the flop as a 2-to-1 favorite with A♥ A♦ Q♦ 2♣ against Amke's A♠ 2♠ 3♠ 7♣. It looked like Tumppi82 was in great shape to take three-quarters of the pot when the board read 5♥ 8♣ T♥ 6♦ through the turn. But the river came the 4♥, shipping the high half of the pot to Amke's three-to-seven straight and splitting the low half between the two players' ace-deuce combinations. The field would narrow to four players when Tumppi82, left with just 130,110 chips, got all-in before the flop on the next hand with A♠ T♣ T♦ 9♣ but couldn't outrun the 5♥ 8♣ 3♣ 4♣ of madalain. The Finn left with $11,160 for 5th place.
Shortly afterward the four remaining players agreed to talk about a deal, so play was paused while talonchick ran the numbers. When they came back madalain wasn't happy, so the discussions continued. Amke, whose avatar is a screen grab from the Guitar Hero games, talked GH with talonchick while the rest of the players hashed out their differences over the payouts a deal would give them. He also warned his competition, "im so sleepy, im gonna 3bet you with air whether we deal it or not just to go to bed asap." Finally they arrived at a deal that gave Tlick777 $32,000, Amke $25,886, madalain $26,086 and Pandochat $25,686, with $2,500 left over for the winner.
Once the action had restarted, Amke promised not to fold any draws - and then stayed true to that promise. Amke's stack went in the middle just three minutes later holding A♥ K♠ J♦ 4♠ on a T♠ 9♦ 2♥ flop, and after some thought madalain finally called with A♦ K♥ T♣ 4♥. The pair of tens would hold up through the 9♠ turn and 7♥ river, sending the sleepy Russian to bed in 4th place with the previously agreed amount ($25,886).
Getting the better of confrontations became de rigueur for madalain after Amke's departure, with the Romanian player's stack moving as high as 3.08 million chips at one point. Then, with the blinds at 30K/60K, came a big one with Tlick777. A min-raise from madalain drew a pot reraise from Tlick777, and two more pot reraises got Tlick777 all-in for a total of 1.62 million. When the cards were turned up it was A♣ K♠ 6♥ 3♥ for Tlick777 and A♥ Q♥ 9♣ 5♣ for madalain. The Q♠ J♦ J♠ put madalain in the lead but left Tlick777 some hope for a straight to scoop the pot. But once the turn came the 4♣ and the river the A♠, it was a 3rd-place finish for Tlick777, who took home $32,000 from the previous deal.
With 4,362,019 chips in hand, madalain held an advantage of better than 3-to-1 over Pandochat as heads-up play began. The match progressed quickly, with most pots being shipped to the player who made a preflop raise, but Pandochat began to chip away by claiming several contested pots with big bets after the flop and turn. After 83 hands, one of those pots - worth 1.6 million chips - saw the British player jump into the lead after making a pot raise over a leading bet from madalain on a flop of A♠ K♣ T♦.
There were a few more big confrontations that only led to small pots, but the 129th hand of the heads-up match would finally see some real fireworks in a classic pot-limit Omaha matchup:
With that hand the 13th event of this year's WCOOP finally drew to a close, 14 hours and 20 minutes after it first began. It was a roller-coaster ride from start to finish, as anyone who has ever played PLO/8 would have expected, and the final table was filled with fine play from everyone at the table.
Results for 2011 WCOOP Event #13, $215 6-max Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo (1R1A)
1st place: Pandochat (United Kingdom) - $28,186*
2nd place: madalain (Romania) - $26,086*
3rd place: Tlick777 (United Kingdom) - $32,000*
4th place: Amke (Russia) - $25,886*
5th place: Tumppi82 (Finland) - $11,160
6th place: jjsbryan (United Kingdom) - $7,142.40
* - denotes results of a four-way deal
Pandochat's victory gave the United Kingdom its third bracelet of the series, moving it ahead of Australia on the list for the most wins so far. You can check out all the stats on this year's series on the official WCOOP stats page. And don't forget to check in with Joe Stapleton and Nick Wealthall on the PokerStars Radio - WCOOP show to catch up on all the other goings-on from the world's biggest online poker tournament series.