WCOOP 2012: Dan "djk123" Kelly wins bracelet #4 in Event #36 ($215+R NLHE)

wcoop.png#GOAT. Greatest of all time. It's the level of praise that was heaped upon Michael Phelps last month when he broke the record for most Olympic medals won in the history of the games. Even his pals in the poker world got in on the meme, folks like Jennifer Harman, Phil Hellmuth, and Antonio Esfandiari expressing their pride on Twitter. The world had high expectations and Phelps exceeded them on an international stage.

Dan Kelly knows all about expectations. A quiet, unassuming young man with a mop of curly hair, he was one of the most talked-about rookies to enter the 2010 WSOP. But even with that pressure on his shoulders, Kelly hit the equivalent of a walk-off home run, taking down his first bracelet in arguably the toughest NLHE event of the series, the $25,000 6-Max. The poker world had high expectations. Kelly left them in the dust.

Now 23 years old, "djk123" has little left to prove in poker. He was already one of only three players to win three WCOOP bracelets and picked up a SCOOP watch to go with them earlier this year. His titles have come in every game in the canon with victories in Razz, H.O.R.S.E., NLHE, and 8-Game. And now, when it comes to the WCOOP, Kelly stands alone at the top. Tonight, he added bracelet #4 to his growing collection, winning Event #36 ($215+R NLHE) after a thrilling heads-up victory that saw him come back from a 4 to 1 chip deficit not once, but twice.

#GOAT indeed.

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Dan "djk123" Kelly, wearing half of his WCOOP bracelet collection

Halfway through the 2012 WCOOP, players continue smashing through event guarantees. Event #36 promised at least $500,000 in the prize pool, but its 1,483 players pushed the kitty up to $826,000 after 1,587 rebuys and 1,060 add-ons. 198 places were paid out with first place set to earn $138,355. Over a dozen members of Team Pro and Team Online joined the action, including Daniel Negreanu, Pius Heinz, Randy "nanonoko" Lew, Nacho Barbero, and Eugene Katchalov. Two Red Spades finished in the money, Mickey "mement_mori" Petersen making his 8th WCOOP cash of 2012 in 128th place, while George Danzer finished in 106th for his tenth cash-- currently the most by any player this year.

Stacks were deep as the final table approached and it took nearly two hours to go from 18 players to 9. With 27 big blinds remaining, T3G3S decided to go with his 9♠9♦, four-bet shoving preflop for 1.35 million. Unfortunately for him, thagrinda444 turned over K♥K♣. The board did T3G3S no favors and he exited in tenth place on the final table bubble.

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Final table chip counts

Seat 1: auercan (4,786,277 in chips)
Seat 2: thagrinda444 (3,825,959 in chips)
Seat 3: Mr_BigQueso (2,003,543 in chips)
Seat 4: tupacmn (2,623,214 in chips)
Seat 5: PSMozak (2,703,499 in chips)
Seat 6: Roothlus (1,773,108 in chips)
Seat 7: Skämmes (1,912,686 in chips)
Seat 8: djk123 (2,804,097 in chips)
Seat 9: snake8484 (867,617 in chips)

Skammes squishes snake8484

It took only three hands to see an elimination. Following a button min-raise to 100,000 from Skammes, snake8484 made his move, three-bet shoving for 849,000 with Q♣T♥ from the big blind. Snake8484 probably didn't want a call there, but got one nevertheless, Skammes revealing A♥K♥. Although snake8484 hit top pair on the T♣7♥2♦ flop, Skammes turned the A♠ and ended snake8484's run in ninth place ($8,507.80).

RIP tupacmn

After seeing his stack reduced to 1.8 million (thanks in most part to paying off Skammes when he turned a king-high straight), djk123 found a double-up when his T♣T♠ held against tupacmn's A♦Q♦. Tupacmn was left with 1.1 million, still plenty to work with at 30,000/60,000 blinds, but decided to make a move on the very next had. Tupacmn three-bet shoved from the big blind with K♠J♣ and auercan looked him up with 4♦4♥. The pocket pair held up and tupacmn was out in eighth place, earning $15,694.00.

"R.I.P. tupac," quipped Roothlus.

Queso goes bad

Mr_BigQueso couldn't get much going at this final table and with T♦T♥ in the hole, he cold four-bet all-in for his last million in chips behind auercan's opening min-raie and thagrinda444's 285,000 three-bet. Auercan reshoved for 1.8 million and thegrinda444 gave it up, auercan turning over Q♦Q♥. Mr_BigQueso couldn't pull out a miracle on the board and departed in seventh place, earning $23,954.00. This was Mr_BigQueso's second WCOOP final table this year.

Roothlus people

After finishing off Mr_BigQueson, auercan seized the chip lead with 8.2 million while Roothlus rode the short stack with 1.1 million. Roothlus looked down at K♥J♥ on the button and open-shoved, djk123 giving him action with K♠T♥ in the big blind. Djk123's dominated hand never improved and Roothlus doubled to 2.35 million. Four hands later, djk123 and auercan got their chips in on a J♣7♦3♣ flop, djk123's A♠J♦ leading auercan's T♣T♠ through the 6♥ on the turn. Auercan, however, found gold on the river, spiking his two-outer to make a set. Auercan moved up to 10.6 million in chips while djk123's stack was reduced to 1.3 milliion... but not for long. Djk123 picked up K♠K♦ on the next deal and the cowboys held against PSMozak's pocket fives to take him back up to 2.7 million.

djk123's double KO

PSMozak was left with 1.5 big blinds and tossed in the last of his chips three hands later. Skammes attempted to isolate him with a 250,000 three-bet from the button, but djk123 ended that notion when he shoved from the small blind. Skammes called, turning over pocket nines, while djk123 revealed K♦Q♦ and PSMozak tabled A♠5♦. Djk123 caught a king on the flop and made fours full of kings by the river, eliminating PSMozak in sixth place ($32,214.00) while Skammes settled for fifth ($40,474.00).

Roothlus runs into aces, signature hand fails thagrinda444

Roothlus' stack had dwindled to 1.6 million by the time the blinds moved up to 50,000/100,000. Holding K♠9♠ in the small blind, Roothlus three-bet shoved over auercan's cutoff min-raise, but auercan beat him into the pot with A♣A♥. Roothlus caught a king on the flop but did not improve any further, exiting with $56,168 for his fourth-place finish.

Going into three-handed play, auercan was the runaway chip leader with 17.1 million while djk123 and thagrinda444 held 3.5 million and 2.65 million respectively. Although thegrinda444 managed to double through auercan when his A♠8♠ held up against A♣2♣, he was on the rail three hands later. Thagrinda444 took pocket fours up against auercan's pocket nines, but couldn't find the third four he needed to improve. For third place, thagrinda444 picked up $76,405.

Heads-up chip counts

Seat 1: auercan (18,853,286 in chips)
Seat 8: djk123 (4,446,714 in chips)

"U want to play? No any deal?'" auercan asked, as their first heads-up hole cards fluttered across the screen. Despite being outchipped more than 4 to 1, djk123 had only two words for his opponent.

"Let's play."

Djk123 won that first heads-up hand, his K♥J♣ flopping second pair and turning trip kings. Auercan did the same with K♠3♥, but was in kicker trouble on the A♣T♣K♣K♦5♥ board. The pot took djk123 up to 6.8 million and he ground that stack up to 9 million, thanks in most part to the pair of aces he picked up here:


Djk123 continued to roll, winning 11 of the next 12 pots to even the score. Now holding a slight chip lead on auercan, he opened for a min-raise to 280,000 with K♥T♥, the called auercan's 560,000 three-bet. Djk123 called 577,700 from auercan on the J♦6♥3♦ flop, then hit second pair on the turn with the T♣. Auercan check-called 945,000, then check-called another 3.24 million on the river, only to turn over A♥Q♥ - ace high. Djk123 raked in the 10.7 million pot and took a commanding lead with 17.7 million to auercan's 5.5 million.

Auercan set about rebuilding and with one fell swoop, undid all of djk123's progress. Both players rivered flushes, but auercan's was ace-high:


Now it was djk123's turn to rebuild and with 4.6 million remaining at 70,000/140,000 blinds, he had time enough to remain patient. After flopping trip jacks and rivering quads against auercan's aces full, djk123 doubled to 9 million, then evened the chip counts once again when he won a raising war with a four-bet on a 9♦6♣4♥ flop. Not to be deterred, auercan struck back by winning the next seven pots in a row, chipping back up to 16.7 million.

Dealt pocket fours on the button, djk123 four-bet shoved for 8 million and auercan called with A♦Q♦, setting up a 15.9 million chip coinflip. Djk123's fours hung on through the turn and rivered a set for good measure, reducing auercan's stack to 7.4 million.

Djk123 whittled auercan down to 5.6 million before closing out this final table. It's rare that pocket aces wins the whole shebang, but fittingly enough, they did here, djk123's rockets holding up against J♣T♣ to lock up the win:


Congratulations to Dan "djk123" Kelly on a remarkable come-from-behind victory. In addition to his record-setting fourth WCOOP bracelet, he earned $138,355, while runner0up auercan banked $101,185.

PokerStars 2012 WCOOP Event #36 results:

1. Dan "djk123" Kelly (Australia) $138,355.00
2. auercan (Turkey) $101,185.00
3. thagrinda444 (Canada) $76,405.00
4. Adam "Roothlus" Levy (Canada) $56,168.00
5. Skammes (Sweden) $40,474.00
6. PSMozak (Bulgaria) $32,214.00
7. Jim "Mr_BigQueso" Collopy (Australia) $23,954.00
8. tupacmn (Germany) $15,694.00
9. snake8484 (Canada) $8,507.80

Don't forget to tune in to WCOOP Radio, every night at 21:00 CET through September 25. Hosts Joe Stapleton and Nick Wealthall are giving away prizes during every episode, including tournament tickets, step tickets, and goodies from the PokerStars VIP store. Click over to PokerStars Radio to listen live or download the shows you've missed.

Kristin Bihr is a Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in WCOOP