WCOOP 2011: Zinger for z_balata, winner of $77,349 in Event 23 ($215 NLHE 4-Max)

Logo - WCOOP.pngLet's state the obvious about 4-max tournaments: It is smack dab in between heads-up play and 6-max poker. Players often specialize in certain types of play, such as the more common aforementioned variations, but 4-max is a different beast and requires a unique strategy for short-handed play. (This writer won't pretend to know or explain said strategy. Just trust that is exists.)

Day 1

When Event 23 began at 11:00 a.m. ET on September 12, the field was smaller than anticipated. It looked as if the $500,000 guarantee was going to be in play, and the first overlay of the 2011 WCOOP was going to happen. Players tweeted about it. "Big overlay!" "Get in on the action!"

And the poker-playing public took that advice and signed up to compete. When the 180-minute registration period ended, dreams of an overlay were squashed, and the field was substantial. The final numbers were as follows:

Players: 2,622
Prize pool: $524,400
Paid players: 340

The list of players sporting the PokerStars logo was also significant, though some of them didn't make it terribly far in the tournament. Christophe "chrisdm" de Meulder was the first Team PokerStars Pro to exit the field, followed by Team Online's Shane "shaniac" Schleger. The bustouts continued with George Danzer, Jose "nachobarbero" Barbero, Lex Veldhuis, Stavros "IDOLLS" Kalfas, Andrew "foucault82" Brokos, Pierre "Zoutechamp" Neuville, Matthias "mattidm" de Meulder, Grzegorz "DaWarsaw" Mikielewicz, Alex "J0hnny_Dr@m@" Zervos, Charlotte "Sjlot" Van Brabander, Georgios "gkap13" Kapalas, Andre "aakkari" Akkari, Vicky Coren, Henrique Pinho, Jorge "Baalim" Limon, Vanessa "LadyMaverick" Rousso, Vadim Markushevski, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Fredy "sirfreddy83" Torres, Tyler "frosty012" Frost, Jan Heitmann, Kevin "WizardOfAhhs" Thurman, Marcin "Goral" Horecki, and Chad Brown.

Hope you caught those names in order, as there may be a quiz later.

The money bubble burst to allow the top 340 players to cash, and it was after that point that a few PokerStars players left with a little extra cash in their virtual pockets. Team Pro Richard Toth left in 247th place, followed immediately by Javier "El_Canonero" Dominguez in 246th. Previous 2011 WCOOP winner and Team Online's Anders "Donald" Berg departed in 203rd place, and newly minted Team Online member Mickey "mement_mori" Petersen (pictured here) finished in 113th place.

Mickey Petersen.jpg

Team PokerStars Pro Jude "j.thaddeus" Ainsworth took 60th place for $1,153.68, and Randy "nanonoko" Lew continued to play as the field thinned to five tables, four, and then three. But he was the shortest stack of the bunch with 12 players remaining, and though he held on for a short while, he finally succumbed in tenth place, exiting with $6,423.90 for the big finish.

Randy Lew.jpg

The tournament wore on, and two tables remained as the 33rd level of the event got underway. It was scheduled to end when Level 34 was reached and resume on September 13, and though there were only seven players remaining at that time, play did stop.

The seven remaining players and their chip counts were:

1. Da3dalus - 3,948,969 chips
2. KingRakker - 3,412,517 chips
3. kekim1 - 1,618,548 chips
4. Loverat - 1,617,550 chips
5. z_balata - 1,220,644 chips
6. BrightStripe - 780,879 chips
7. claypole - 510,893 chips

Day 2

Play resumed at 8:00 a.m. ET, nearly 11.5 hours after the break. And yes, the chip counts were exactly the same as when play ended the day before. Go figure!

Kekim1 was the first to go from action after about 20 minutes of play, when lost ground finally led to an all-in with 7♦6♦ against the pocket nines of Da3dalus. Kekim1 exited in seventh place with $10,488.00.

Hand-for-hand action then ensued, as the final table was to be set with five players per the tournament rules. It took less than 15 minutes to find BrightStripe all-in with Q♦J♣ against the J♦9♦ of claypole preflop. It looked like a double-up opportunity as the 4♦8♣2♥ flop and 2♦ turn were presented. But the 9♣ on the river gave claypole two pair and eliminated BrightStripe in sixth place with $15,732.00.

Da3dalus dominates table of five

The final table was set in Level 35, with blinds of 12,500/25,000 and a 3,125 ante, as well as players' starting chip counts:

Seat 1: claypole (1,398,307 in chips)
Seat 2: KingRakker (4,128,482 in chips)
Seat 3: Da3dalus (5,291,936 in chips)
Seat 4: Loverat (1,203,960 in chips)
Seat 5: z_balata (1,087,315 in chips)


Not only did Da3dalus start the day and the final table with the lead, but took a big pot worth more than 1.5 million chips from KingRakker to extend that lead and climb over 6 million chips.

Loverat, on the other hand, sunk below 800K chips and finally made a move from the big blind. Original raiser Da3dalus in the small blind called with A♠T♣, and Loverat showed 8♣8♦. The race had the pocket pair in the lead as the 9♣4♥K♠ flop was displayed, but the A♥ on the turn gave the advantage to Da3dalus. The 5♣ on the river ended the tournament for Loverat in fifth place with $15,732.00.

The very next hand started with a raise from KingRakker, call from z_balata in the small blind, and all-in reraise from claypole in the big blind. KingRakker folded, but z_balata called with T♦T♠. Claypole was at risk with A♣K♠, and another race ensued. But the 5♣7♥Q♠3♥8♥ board allowed the tens to hold up, and claypole was eliminated in fourth place with $21,657.72.

Ousting KingRakker

During three-handed play, KingRakker's opponents seemed intent upon taking his chips. Z-balata took a pot worth 1,158,125 chips from King Rakker, and and Da3dalus took one worth nearly 880K. KingRakker was chipped down to less than 1.5 million over the course of about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, z_balata was also gunning for the chip lead and took it with one substantial hand against Da3dalus.

KingRakker went into battle again, this time with Da3dalus. A raise and reraise took them to the 6♥7♠Q♦ flop. Da3dalus bet, and KingRakker moved all-in for 1,103,106 chips. Da3dalus called with A♥A♠, and KingRakker's tournament was on the line with 9♠8♠ and the open-ended straight draw. But neither the Q♣ on the turn or the A♣ on the river completed that draw, only a full house for Da3dalus. KingRakker left in third place with $30,153.00.

From short stack to winner

When heads-up began nearly two hours into Day 2, z-balata was the chip leader. The trip from the original start stack of the final table to the dominant position was something to watch. And the final battle began with these counts:

Seat 3: Da3dalus (4,795,005 in chips)
Seat 5: z_balata (8,314,995 in chips)

And z-balata continued the aggression, and the match didn't last long.

The two got involved to see a 6♠4♠2♣ flop. A bet from Da3dalus and check-call from z_balata brought the 3♣ turn, and a bet-call resulted in the 5♠ shown on the river. Z-balata bet 800K, and Da3dalus raised all-in for 2,084,624. Z-balata called with 8♦7♠ for the eight-high straight, which just beat the K♣7♥ and seven-high straight of Da3dalus. That left Da3dalus out in second place with $45,885.00.

Congratulations to z_balata, who turned a short stack into a WCOOP victory and won $77,349.00 for it!

WCOOP Event 23 ($215 NLHE 4-Max) Results:

1st place: z_balata ($77,349.00)
2nd place: Da3dalus ($45,885.00)
3rd place: KingRakker ($30,153.00)
4th place: claypole ($21,657.72)
5th place: Loverat ($15,732.00)

There are many more WCOOP events on the schedule, and satellites are running around the clock. All of the pertinent information can be found on the main WCOOP page, along with the special stats page. And check out the WCOOP Radio shows for daily prizes, special guests, and WCOOP commentary.

Jen Newell
@PokerStars in WCOOP