WCOOP 2013: IN_THE_Z0NE locks in on Event #27 title ($215 PLO Turbo 1R1A)

Running well is always desirable in tournament poker. But when the tourney is a pot-limit Omaha turbo event, catching cards is all but essential, especially come final table time. Such was the happy experience of the appropriately-named IN_THE_Z0NE in WCOOP Event #27 tonight, who with a few tables left began building a stack to carry the chip lead to the final nine, rolled through to heads-up versus polina889, then after losing the lead ran well a little bit more to claim the title.

The Swede earned a handsome $80,707.76 payday for the win. Here's the story of IN_THE_Z0NE's triumph.

From 1,196 to 9

Late registration -- and the re-buy period -- lasted for 90 minutes, and before half that time was up the total number of entrants had already topped the 1,000-player mark with nearly half of those players having already used up their one allotted re-buy in the "1R1A" event.

Ultimately 1,196 would join in, and with 819 re-buys and 323 add-ons that added up to a hefty $467,600 prize pool, well over the event's $300K guarantee. By then about half the field had already been eliminated, and after burning through five-minute levels for another hour they were already approaching the money bubble.

When the bubble burst it was Sweden's robinho leading the 153 players who had made the cash. Also among that group was Team PokerStars Pro Richard Toth. The Hungarian would hang on for almost a half-hour more before busting in 68th place after losing an all-in with eitan2134 being the one to claim the last of his stack. Toth earned $1,169 for his finish.

By the three-hour-and-20-minute mark they'd already raced down to just 18 players left, with robinho still there in fourth position behind leader IN_THE_Z0NE, gretko, and Ilari "Fabahaba" Tahkokallio.

Just 10 minutes later nine remained, with orliv (18th), Gavin "gavz101" Cochrane (17th), and MORTIIIIIIII (16th) earning $2,291.24 each; gretko (15th), PEKBIEM19 (14th), and stokesdublin (13th) each taking away $3,226.44; and *$lim* (12th), Jord4n (11th), and eitan2134 (10th) cashing for $4,261.64 apiece.

They'd only played a little over three-and-a-half hours, during which time 1,196 players had become just nine with IN_THE_Z0NE still in first position.


Seat 1: IN_THE_Z0NE (Sweden) -- 2,639,208
Seat 2: danfiu (Hungary) -- 1,432,110
Seat 3: Ilari "Fabahaba" Tahkokallio (Finland) -- 1,233,299
Seat 4: Pthelegend (Canada) -- 1,427,249
Seat 5: akia86 (Germany) -- 2,187,644
Seat 6: polina889 (Russia) -- 515,112
Seat 7: Sykoen (Norway) -- 410,852
Seat 8: elementx8 (New Zealand) -- 1,204,666
Seat 9: robinho (Sweden) -- 639,860

robinho and Pthelegend fall

As the final table began and the short stack Sykoen survived a preflop all-in versus IN_THE_Z0NE, Pthelegend noted the blinds of 125k/250k and asked "u guys want to look at numbers? this tournament is ridiculous."

No one was ready just yet, however, to talk about a deal, and before long Sykoen had won another preflop all-in -- this one against Pthelegend -- to climb back up to an above average stack.

Just a couple of minutes after that robinho was open-shoving for 554,720 from the button and IN_THE_Z0NE reraise-pushed from the small blind to isolate. robinho had K♣K♠J♠6♣ and needed help versus IN_THE_Z0NE's A♦A♣9♠8♣. But the board came 7♣9♦9♥5♠Q♣, and robinho was the first to fall at the final table in ninth.

Soon the blinds were 150k/300k and akia86 was opening for 1.05 million from under the gun. Sykoen then shoved all in from a couple of seats over for 1,823,408. It folded to Pthelegend in the big blind who after posting only had 40,545 left with which to call, then akia86 called as well and the three players showed their cards:

akia86: A♠J♦T♥7♠
Sykoen: A♦A♥9♠2♥
Pthelegend: Q♥Q♠5♣4♣

The flop brought the case ace, coming A♣8♥K♥ to give Sykoen a set and leave the other two players drawing thin. The turn was the 7♦ and river the 4♥, and Sykoen had improved to a flush to collect the pot and send Pthelegend railward in eighth.

IN_THE_Z0NE carves field from seven to three

They'd moved through the four-hour break, then in short order it was IN_THE_Z0NE wiping out four short stacks in rapid succession.

First Ilari "Fabahaba" Tahkokallio opened all in for 783,299 from under the gun and got a single caller in IN_THE_Z0NE from the small blind. Tahkokallio had K♣J♣7♦6♦ and IN_THE_Z0NE A♣A♥5♥2♥, and the 5♦3♦3♥2♠7♥ board meant IN_THE_Z0NE had the better two pair and Fabahaba was out in seventh.

On the very next hand, the blinds were 200k/400k when IN_THE_Z0NE spied akia86 all in before the deal from the big blind for 399,012 and raised from the button to leave the pair heads-up. IN_THE_Z0NE had Q♥7♦7♠5♦ and akia86 J♣T♦T♥2♣. The A♠7♣6♦ flop gave IN_THE_Z0NE a set of sevens, and after the 6♠ turn and 5♥ river akia86 was done in sixth.

The blinds moved to 250k/500k, and with the big lead and increasing momentum IN_THE_Z0NE opened for 1,488,448 from UTG, once again creating a heads-up situation, this time with elementx8 who was all in from the big blind for 238,448. This time IN_THE_Z0NE's 9♦8♣5♣4♠ outran elementx8's Q♠Q♥J♠4♦ when the community cards came 6♣T♠2♣6♦3♠, giving IN_THE_Z0NE a straight and ending elementx8's run in fifth.

The very next hand went similarly, with IN_THE_Z0NE open-raising from the small blind and danfiu already all in for 114,220 from the big blind. It was IN_THE_Z0NE's K♣Q♣T♣9♠ versus danfiu's 9♥7♦5♦2♠, and after the 6♦3♦T♠T♥3♠ board IN_THE_Z0NE had claimed a fourth straight knockout to eliminate danfiu in fourth.

Sykoen sunk in third

A half-dozen hands later Sykoen opened all in for 1,742,025 from the button, IN_THE_Z0NE reraised the pot from the small blind, then polina889 called all in for 1,682,096 from the big blind.

polina889: A♥J♣9♥7♦
Sykoen: A♦Q♣J♠4♦

The board rolled out 3♦A♠K♠, then 2♣, then 7♠, giving polina889 two pair and the best hand to survive while Sykoen hit the skids in third place.

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IN_THE_Z0NE runs well, collects bracelet

The final two players were nearly even in chips when heads-up play began, with polina889 slightly ahead with 6,106,217 versus IN_THE_Z0NE's 5,583,783. They'd revive the talk of deal-making during their brief heads-up battle, but no agreement was ever reached and the pair ended up playing it out for the scheduled first- and second-place payouts.

IN_THE_Z0NE would win the first four hands to gain the lead, then polina889 won a huge all-in with A♦K♦T♣7♦ versus IN_THE_Z0NE's A♥A♠4♠3♥ when the board brought diamonds and a winning flush for polina889.

As it would turn out, of 10 heads-up hands that would prove the only one to go polina889's way.

IN_THE_Z0NE would take the next two small hands, then a big all-in as well with 7♥6♥5♣5♥ versus polina889's A♣9♦5♠3♣ when the board rolled out 7♣Q♥4♦3♥9♠ to give IN_THE_Z0NE a straight. Then after winning another small one IN_THE_Z0NE had about 8.55 million to polina889's 3.13 million when the final hand took place.

The blinds were 300k/600k, and polina889 began things with a raise to 1.8 million from the button. IN_THE_Z0NE then raised the pot, polina889 called all in with the 1,334,868 left, and the pair showed their hands.

IN_THE_Z0NE: Q♣9♥7♠6♣
polina889: K♠J♠7♥5♥

polina889 had the slight preflop edge, but after the board came 6♣5♦T♦9♦3♥ it was IN_THE_Z0NE's hand that proved best with two pair (nines and sixes) to beat polina889's pair of fives and earn the win.

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Congratulations to IN_THE_Z0NE for outlasting another huge WCOOP field to win the bracelet and $80K-plus first prize!

PokerStars 2013 WCOOP Event #27 ($215 PL Omaha, Turbo, 1R1A) results

Players: 1,196
Re-buys: 819
Add-ons: 323
Total prize pool: $467,600.00
Places paid: 153

1. IN_THE_Z0NE (Sweden) -- $80,707.76
2. polina889 (Russia) -- $58,450.00
3. Sykoen (Norway) -- $44,422.00
4. danfiu (Hungary) -- $32,544.96
5. elemntx8 (New Zealand) -- $23,146.20
6. akia86 (Germany) -- $18,470.20
7. Ilari "Fabahaba" Tahkokallio (Finland) -- $13,794.20
8. Pthelegend (Canada) -- $9,118.20
9. robinho (Sweden) -- $5,143.60

There are still nearly 40 events left in the 2013 World Championship of Online Poker. Check the WCOOP information page for details of the many tournaments that remain.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

Martin Harris
@hardboiledpoker in WCOOP