WCOOP 2012: mrw8419 makes a little magic in Event 21, $215 NLHE

With 20 previous events already in the books during this latest edition of the PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker, there's been a lot of prize money awarded. But only two of those 20 events had more money for the winner than Event 21, one of which featured a buy-in five times larger than this tournament. The final table of this event was going to make somebody into one of the biggest winners so far during this year's WCOOP.

Just 103 players from a starting field of 8,226 survived the first day to return for a shot at that big money. These 10 players led the way when play resumed at 11:00 a.m. ET:

1. vandir4rek (Russia) 2,149,800 chips
2. LexaLucky666 (Belarus) 2,072,593 chips
3. B_Lindberg (Sweden) 2,063,164 chips
4. ShiFtYFiNGeR (Australia) 1,992,625 chips
5. Kuconi (Serbia) 1,860,457 chips
6. GotURead (Netherlands) 1,779,030 chips
7. mrw8419 (Hungary) 1,672,808 chips
8. utvekklo2 (Sweden) 1,634,866 chips
9. VinceVegaMFR (Brazil) 1,555,199 chips
10. $Kill Game (Canada) 1,506,201 chips

MATTI RIDES AGAIN

Lurking a little further back was Belgian Team PokerStars Pro member Matthias De Meulder, who began the day in 21st place with 1,221,115 chips. He was looking to improve on his 7th-place finish in Event 13 just a few days ago and within 20 minutes of the start of play he had one of the five biggest chip stacks (1,921,692) in the tournament, thanks to picking up K♠ K♥ when romanooo64 had Q♦ Q♠. By the first break of the day he was 10th place with 66 remaining.

ept barcelona_day 1b_matthias de meulder.jpg

Another strong finish for Matthias De Meulder

The young Belgian pro's next hour was up and down - he managed to chip up often, wielding three- and four-bets like deadly weapons, but lost big pots to longdongdave and vandir4rek to stay right around the 2-million-chip mark. That left him in the middle of the pack with 33 players left, but he climbed back into the top five again on Level 37 after picking up a 3.84M-chip pot courtesy of A♠ A♣ against flettl2's Q♦ Q♣.

Things were looking up, but De Meulder sank to near the bottom of the chip counts with only three tables left in play after this big loss to caprizas:

RSS readers, please click through for replay

By the time Level 39 (50K/100K/15K) was drawing to a close, there were only 21 players left and De Meulder was in last place with 1.63M chips. He was looking for a chance to double up, and it wasn't long afterward that he got one. After AKK_Zen opened for 200K in the cutoff, De Meulder shoved from the small blind for 1.486M holding A♠ K♣. AKK_Zen thought for just a few moments before calling with 4♠ 4♥, which was never in danger on the 5♦ 5♣ 3♥ 6♠ 4♣ board. Just like that Matthias De Meulder was out in 20th place, taking home $3,833.31 after another strong WCOOP showing.

TWO (TABLES) TO TANGO

With the last PokerStars pro out of the way, the field was quickly narrowed to the final two tables and a handful of players stood above the rest. The Netherlands' Berndsen12 was the first player to cross both the 10-million-chip mark. Costa Rica's longdongdave had held the chip lead earlier in the dave and cruised along about 2.5M chips back of Berndsen12 with around 8M. And Russia's vandir4rek and Hungary's mrw8419 both sat just above the 6M-chip mark.

All four were still in action when the third break rolled around and there were only 12 players left. Greece's King_geoden, who took 2nd in last year's SCOOP Event 20-M, had replaced Berndsen12 as the chip leader, but mrw8419, vandir4rek, and longdongdave held steady in the 2-3-4 spots. As for Berndsen12, a see-sawing stack had left the Dutch player with just over 3M, or a little under 19 big blinds on Level 42 (80K/160K/20K). A preflop all-in confrontation led to a double through mrw8419 with pocket fours against A♥ T♥ with 11 players left, giving Berndsen12 some much-needed breathing room as the final table bubble approached. But two hands sealed Berndsen12's fate - a crippling loss in an 11.59M-chip pot with A♣ 9♦ against utvekklo2's A♥ T♥, and three hands later the coup de grace with A♠ J♥ against mrw8419's 8♣ 2♣ - and the Dutch player left in 11th place($9,048.60).

With hand-for-hand play in effect on Level 43 (100K/200K/25K), Slovenia's GiveMeDolars was the short stack after an unfortunate swing with pocket aces in a 12.01M-chip pot when th9nip's T♠ T♣ turned a set. But GiveMeDolars managed to hang around and, on Level 44 (125K/250K/31.25K), double back through the9nip with 2♦ 2♠ against Q♥ J♥.

In the end it was longdongdave who would bust on the bubble. After a long, slow, steady decline, the player from Costa Rica ended up getting all-in for 2.11M chips before the flop with 8♣ 8♠, only to run into KongenavU's 9♠ 9♦. No eights on the board meant a 10th place finish and $9,048.60 for longdongdave, and a final table for everyone else.

8,218 DOWN, 8 TO GO

Blinds were at 125K/250K and antes at 31.25K as the final table began with these nine players:

Seat 1: vandir4rek (7,296,779 in chips)
Seat 2: utvekklo2 (10,482,946 in chips)
Seat 3: BarneyBao (10,365,478 in chips)
Seat 4: mrw8419 (12,886,433 in chips)
Seat 5: Mr.Bittar (11,155,895 in chips)
Seat 6: GiveMeDolars (7,624,880 in chips)
Seat 7: King_geoden (4,688,277 in chips)
Seat 8: KongenavU (7,715,860 in chips)
Seat 9: th9nip (10,043,452 in chips)

2012 WCOOP-21 final table.jpg

It took 13 minutes and a jump in blinds and antes (to 150K/300K/37.5K) to get the first bustout of the final table. King_geoden, the one-time chip leader, was down to less than 11 big blinds and opened the betting for 600K from the cutoff holding A♠ Q♠. After a 1.5M-chip three-bet on the button from KongenavU, the Greek moved all-in and KongenvaU called with T♥ T♦. The pair held up through the K♣ 4♣ 7♦ 5♠ 3♥ board, and King_geoden took 9th place for $12,750.30.

Toward the end of the level, KongenavU scored another knockout. Action had folded to the short-stacked GiveMeDolars in the big blind and the Slovenian moved all-in for 4.69M. KongenavU called holding T♠ T♦, which held up against K♣ 8♦ on a board of 2♠ 7♣ 7♥ J♦ 9♥ to send GiveMeDolars out in 8th place ($19,742.40).

There was plenty of aggressive play seven-handed, and most of the pots were won without a showdown. As Level 46 came to a close, only two players - chip leader Mr.Bittar of Brazil with 21.41M, and utvekklo2 of Sweden, winner of this year's WCOOP Event 3, with 15.28M - were above the 11.75M-chip average. With the bottom five clustered so closely together, the blinds and antes continuing to advance, and Mr.Bittar leaning on the entire table, it was only a matter of time before somebody busted. Talk of a deal came up but was quickly squashed by former SCOOP and Sunday Million final tablist th9nip:

BarneyBao: any deals ?
th9nip: naw
BarneyBao: aiite
th9nip: no gambool no future

Shortly after that the blinds and antes went up again, this time to 250K/500K/62.5K. Malyasia's BarneyBao, the lone player at the table from Asia, was crippled after getting in ahead of Russia's vandir4rek with J♣ J♦. The A♠ 3♦ 8♠ had connected with vandir4rek's A♣ J♥, shipping the 16.99M-chip pot over to the Russian player. BarneyBao managed to double up once, but in the end A♥ 7♠ couldn't beat mrw8149's K♦ T♦ on a board of J♣ K♥ 5♠ Q♦ 4♠. That made BarneyBao the 7th-place finisher for $35,371.80.

By the time the blinds and antes were up to 300K/600K/75K, Canada's th9nip was the second shortest stack with 8.5 million. True to the earlier chat, th9nip showed a willingness to gamble it up:

RSS readers, please click through for replay

HALFWAY HOME

th9nip's departure in 5th place ($51,001.20) left five players in the tournament, stacked like so:

Seat 1: vandir4rek (18,026,074 in chips)
Seat 2: utvekklo2 (7,424,422 in chips)
Seat 4: mrw8419 (11,307,924 in chips)
Seat 5: Mr.Bittar (26,176,113 in chips)
Seat 8: KongenavU (19,325,467 in chips)

With 1.275M chips in every pot before a single card was dealt, more action wasn't far behind. It appeared for a moment that mrw8419 would be the 5th-place finisher when the Hungarian player three-bet-shoved for 8.78M from the small blind with 4♠ 4♦ after an opening min-raise from KongenavU, who had pocket aces. The Q♠ 8♣ 2♣ flop was no help, but the 4♥ on the turn was all mrw8419 needed to grab the 18.54M-chip pot. That made KongenavU the new short stack, but two hands later the Norwegian would double up with K♠ J♥ against vandir4rek's 6♥ 6♦.

Preflop min-raises and three-bets to take the pot had become more common as the final table had gone on, but once the blinds and antes went up to Level 49 (400K/800K/100K) they became the rule. Mr.Bittar, trying to leverage the big stack, opened several pots for the minimum and folded to three-bets. So when KongenavU made the same raise in the cutoff, utvekklo2 responded with an all-in move for 8.22M, holding K♦ J♠. But KongenavU broke the pattern, calling with A♠ T♦ and winning the pot after the board came Q♠ 9♦ 4♥ 8♦ 8♣. Utvekklo2 settled for a $67,453.20 payout and 5th place - not a second bracelet of the series, but a healthy payout nonetheless.

2012 WCOOP-21 four-handed deal talk.jpg

With the only WCOOP bracelet winner at the final table now on the rail, it didn't take long for the remaining players to have the clock paused so they could talk about a potential deal. Everyone was ready to chop up by chip count other than Mr.Bittar, who wanted a premium for having the big stack. The others agreed shortly afterward to give Mr.Bittar $4K apiece, leaving $20,000 on the table for the winner and locking these numbers in place:

Mr.Bittar $190,091.16
KongenavU $162,938.24
mrw8419 $144,619.33
vandir4rek $129,527.77

The very first hand after the break saw a big confrontation between mrw8419 and Mr.Bittar in the blinds, after mrw8149 raised to 2M with Q♥ Q♠ and Mr.Bittar moved all-in with A♦ 9♦. The 8♦ 9♣ 5♦ was all sorts of trouble for mrw8149, but the queens held up as the turn came the J♠ and the river the 3♥. Only five hands later, Mr.Bittar was involved in another big all-in confrontation before the flop after shoving from the small blind with A♣ 5♣. KongenavU called with A♦ 7♦ and promptly fell behind on the A♠ Q♣ 5♥ flop; the turn was the Q♠, though, and the 4♣ sent Mr.Bittar out in 4th place. Still, the Brazilian was guaranteed more money than everyone else thanks to that bit of dealmaking beforehand - not a bad way to go out in 4th.

It would take another big clash to narrow the field to the final two players, this time between vandir4rek and mrw8149:

RSS readers, please click through for replay

That unfortunate turn card left vandir4rek the 3rd-place finisher ($129,527.77), and the final competitors stacked like this:

Seat 4: mrw8419 (54,586,813 in chips)
Seat 8: KongenavU (27,673,187 in chips)

KongenavU had previously made two final tables in WCOOP play, both in 2010 and both 6th place finishes. With another chance to claim a bracelet so close at hand, the Norwegian didn't let a 2-to-1 deficit get in the way. Instead KongenavU chipped up to even things with mrw8149 over the course of the first 30 hands of heads-up play. But mrw8419 clawed back in front on Hand #49, grabbing a 71.61M-to-10.64M-chip lead after getting two streets of value from a turned king-high flush.

The beauty of no-limit hold'em - or the ugly side of the game, if you end up running afoul of it - is that things can change in an instant. Five hands after seemingly being up against the wall KongenavU had again seized the chip lead, first doubling up with K♣ J♣ against K♥ 9♣ and then turning top pair to win with J♦ 7♦ against mrw8149's 6♥ 4♣ on a board of 5♦ 3♥ 6♣ J♥ 8♣. By Hand #65, KongenavU was a 3-to-1 chip favorite; on Hand #66, mrw8149's 5♥ 5♦ doubled through KongenavU's A♥ 4♠ to bring things nearly even once again.

With blinds climbing to 600K/1.2K as the two fought for every pot, the tournament was coming down to a matter of which player was either going to be able to win two big ones in a row or avoid going card-dead. KongenavU had the misfortune of losing a pot to fall just a bit short of mrw8419 and then having to fold bad cards for a few dozen hands. Finally, on Hand #131, the Norwegian found a chance to get back in the game, moving all-in with A♠ 7♠ and getting called by mrw8419 with A♥ 3♥. The 4♠ K♥ 2♦ flop gave a hint of trouble, and the Q♥ turn was double; when the 5♦ arrived on the river, mrw8419 had a straight and the tournament was complete.

The third time at a WCOOP final table wasn't the charm for KongenavU, but $162,938.24 will buy a lot of WCOOP entries so another chance will probably be waiting down the line. As for mrw8419, who had cashed in just one previous WCOOP event, it's an unprecedented score of $164,619.33 and the glory of joining the ranks of WCOOP winners - not a bad way to start the week!

WCOOP Event #21: $215 NL Hold'em
$1,000,000 guaranteed prize pool
8,226 entrants, 1,080 places paid
$1,645,200 total prize pool

1st place: mrw8419 (Hungary) $164,619.33*
2nd place: KongenavU (Norway) $162,938.24*
3rd place: vandir4rek (Russia) $129,527.77*
4th place: Mr.Bittar (Brazil) $190,091.16*
5th place: utvekklo2 (Sweden) $67,453.20
6th place: th9nip (Canada) $51,001.20
7th place: BarneyBao (Malaysia) $35,371.80
8th place: GiveMeDolars (Slovenia) $19,742.40
9th place: King_geoden (Greece) $12,750.30
* - denotes results of a four-way deal

Find out who else is winning by tuning into WCOOP Radio with Joe Stapleton, Nick Wealthall, and Matt Broughton at 15:00 ET every day.

Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in WCOOP