WCOOP 2011: RiskStar manages a win for Norway in Event #20, $215 FL Hold'em

wcoop2009-thumb.jpgNo-limit hold'em is the biggest game in town these days, and it has been for years now, but there was a time when limit hold'em was the king of poker. If you started playing in the 80s or 90s and didn't learn to play stud first, you almost assuredly cut your teeth at the limit hold'em tables. Even into the early boom years limit was the main game in poker, at least until television helped to fuel a demand for the faster action of its no-limit cousin.

Time have changed, of course, and the popularity of limit hold'em has declined, but the similarities between it and no-limit are similar enough that it still draws its fair share of players. That was the case in today's $215 limit WCOOP event, which attracted 979 players to the virtual felt by the time late registration closed. Together they built a $195,800 prize pool, nearly doubling the $100K guarantee and setting up a first prize of $35,244.

A number of Team PokerStars and Team Online pros took a crack at it, including a few, like Chad Brown and Daniel Negreanu, whose experience with limit hold'em goes back to the old days. Others like ElkY, Martin "AABenjaminAA" Hruby, George Danzer, Richard "tzen1" Veenman, Stavros "IDOLLS" Kalfas, Andre Akkari, John Duthie and Marcin "Goral" Horecki also turned out to play hold'em one bet at a time. But none of them were able to join their teammates Johnny Lodden (69th place, $509.08), Georgio "gkap13" Kapalas (49th, $606.98) and Brazilian race car driver and Team PokerStars member Gualter Salles (39th, $685.30) in the money.

After 9 hours and 15 minutes of play the final table was set with the stakes at 12K/24K. These nine players were all looking for their first WCOOP bracelet:

WCOOP 2011 Event 20 final table.jpg

Seat 1: RiskStar (410,671 chips)
Seat 2: PokerArtChee (534,177 chips)
Seat 3: lennie1987 (848,033 chips)
Seat 4: ImaLucSac (439,163 chips)
Seat 5: Kwiq (113,927 chips)
Seat 6: PycV (177,056 chips)
Seat 7: gbeyond (882,158 chips)
Seat 8: NeoNH5 (288,813 chips)
Seat 9: Stjerneskud (1,201,002 chips)

Kwiq stopped

Of all the remaining players Germany's Kwiq had the biggest task ahead as the final table began, holding a stack worth just four and a half big bets. Kwiq did manage to notch one win, hitting a full house K♣ J♣ for a 174,000-chip pot against PycV, but a later pot when the stakes had risen to 16K/32K saw Kwiq's stack dip back down to roughly where it had been before. Finally, on the 27th hand of the final table, the German opened under the gun with A♠ T♥ and got one call from lennie1987 in the big blind. The two checked the 6♥ 4♣ 7♥ flop, but Kwiq's remaining 75K went in the middle when the turn came down the 2♠. Lennie1987 showed A♣ 6♣ for a pair of sixes, and the river brought the 6♦ the give lennie1987 the pot and send Kwiq out in 9th place ($2,349.60).

Double trouble

ImaLucSac and PycV were the two shortest stacks after Kwiq's departure, both holding just a handful of big bets in their stacks. As it turned out, they would both be eliminated on the same hand. The action started with PokerArtChee raising to 40K on the button, and ImaLucSac made it three bets from the small blind. Then PycV put in the fourth and final preflop bet from the big blind, all but guaranteeing that he and ImaLucSac - who had 8K and 42K left, respectively - would get their chips in the middle on the flop. PokerArtChee came along for the ride, and those chips did get in play on the J♦ T♥ 6♦ flop. PokerArtChee had flopped top pair and a backdoor flush draw with A♦ J♣, while PycV's A♠ Q♥ and ImaLucSac's K♦ Q♣ still had draws that could come home. The J♠ on the turn gave PokerArtChee trips and eliminated some of PycV's out, and the 5♦ sealed the deal. ImaLucSac started the hand with the smaller stack and finished in 8th place ($3,916), while PycV took 7th ($5,874).

NeoNH5 takes the blue pill

NeoNH5 of Russia had come in toward the back of the pack and, with the exception of one 320K pot won against gbeyond with 7♠ 6♣ for a lowly pair of sevens, was mostly unable to win consequential pots outright. Still, that was enough to stack up to 379K by the time this unfortunate hand, where NeoNH5 appeared to be holding something pretty big, rolled around:

Left with under two big bets, NeoNH5 had a steep climb ahead to get back into contention. The next hand saw a double-up for the Russian player with Q♦ T♠ against Stjerneskud's 7♥ 4♠ in the big blind, and A♥ J♦ on the button on the very next hand was good enough to get four bets in against lennie1987's early position raise before the flop. The last two bets went in on the T♠ 4♠ J♠ flop, but the pair of jacks was behind lennie1987's K♣ K♦. The Q♥ turn and 4♣ river were no help and NeoNH5 was out in 6th place ($7,832).

Singapore sling

PokerArtChee had enjoyed some good fortune in the hand that eliminated ImaLucSac and PycV, moving up as high as 860K, but lost pots against Stjerneskud, gbeyond and lennie1987 had whittled that total down to 257K with stakes at 25K/50K. Then came a crippling hand that saw the action fold to RiskStar, who completed from the small blind. PokerArtChee raised to 50K in the big blind and RiskStar called to see the J♣ 6♠ K♥ flop. RiskStar got in a check-raise, which PokerArtChee called, and then made bets on both the 7♦ turn and 2♠ river. RiskStar showed J♥ 6♥ for two pair on the flop, and Singapore's only representative at the final table mucked with just 57K chips remaining. Those went in the middle with J♥ 8♥ on the next hand, but Stjerneskud's pocket queens were too much to handle and PokerArtChee was gone in 5th place ($9,868.32).

Stjerneskud hits the skids

The entire 30K/60K stakes level would pass without an elimination, but there was no lack of action. Unfortunately for Stjerneskud, who had entered the final table with a significant chip lead, most of it would favor the other three players at the table. There were a few upticks for the Dane, but two pots lost to gbeyond - including one worth 585K where gbeyond's two black jacks held up on a board of 3♦ 9♦ 4♣ 5♣ T♦ - left the former leader with just 206K, or a little more than three big bets. A double-up on the last hand of the level helped a bit, but the 40K/80K level meant higher blinds and no way out of danger but to win hands. Stjerneskud's last 238K would go in the middle with A♦ 5♥ via four bets before the flop and two more on the 8♠ 8♥ Q♦ flop, but RiskStar's 7♠ 7♥ held up through the river to bust Stjernskud in 4th place ($14,195.50).

gbeyond passes on

The 40K/80K level saw more action than probably any other of the final table, and Canada's gbeyond was in the thick of almost all of it - no surprise there, since the Canadian held the chip lead with 2.15 million as the three-handed play began. Things started to go downhill almost immediately, though, and within eight hands that stack had been reduced to just 396K, or just under five bets. The Canadian never gave up despite dipping as low as 196K, eventually rising as high as 1.35 million thanks to aggressive play and good timing on hands like this one:

Eventually, what appeared to be a few missed draws took their toll on the Canadian player. With just 87K left at the 50K/100K level, gbeyond committed to Q♠ J♣ and was up against RiskStar's A♠ 4♣. The 3♦ J♠ 8♠ looked like it would be enough to get gbeyond started on another comeback, but the 4♠ turn and T♠ river gave RiskStar the nut flush and gbeyond was out in 3rd place ($18,992.60)

Heads-up for the bracelet

As heads-up play began with stakes of 50K/100K, RiskStar held a solid lead of 3,491,138 chips to lennie1987's 1,403,862. A pocket pair of aces for a 900K pot on the sixth hand helped lennie1987 to narrow that lead some, but RiskStar took it all back with a king-high flush on the very next hand. The two traded small pots back and forth again until the 20th hand, when RiskStar's pocket tens held up on a J♠ 2♠ K♥ 5♥ 8♠ board to drop lennie1987 down to 978K. Despite winning a few more pots, including one with pocket kings, lennie1987 would only rise above the 1-million-chip mark one more time thanks to RiskStar's aggressive play. Finally, on the 44th hand, lennie1987 got three bets (150K) in before the flop with Q♣ T♥ and then the remaining 61K when the flop fell 5♥ K♥ 7♥. RiskStar held A♠ 6♠, which was ahead but had no hearts for a flush blocker. But the board ran out 4♦-A♣, giving RiskStar a pair of aces and ending the two-hour-and-19-minute final table.

RiskStar's win was more than just a big comeback after starting the final table in the bottom half of the standings. It was also the second win for Norway in this series, following up on yesterday's record-tying third career WCOOP victory by Team Online's Anders "Donald" Berg. That's mighty fine company for RiskStar to be in - maybe some of that good fortune will carry over to another victory before the month is through.

Results for 2011 WCOOP Event #20, $215 Fixed-Limit Hold'em

1st place: RiskStar (Norway) - $35,244
2nd place: lennie1987 (Netherlands) - $25,454
3rd place: gbeyond (Canada) - $18,992.60
4th place: Stjerneskud (Denmark) - $14,195.50
5th place: PokerArtChee (Singapore) - $9,868.32
6th place: NeoNH5 (Russia) - $7,832
7th place: PycV (Latvia) - $5,874
8th place: ImaLucSac (Canada) - $3,916
9th place: Kwiq (Germany) - $2,349.60

The victory for Norway in this event makes it just the fourth country whose players have at least two event wins. Check out the WCOOP stats page for the full rundown of who's winning the most, both by nation and individually. And for all your radio needs, check out the PokerStars Radio - WCOOP show with Joe Stapleton and Nick Wealthall.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in WCOOP