WCOOP 2014: NikolasDLP aces endurance test for $356K, second bracelet in Event #24, $700 NLHE

Some players who win multiple PokerStars COOP titles do so playing different games. Others do so playing the same variety of poker, only at different maximum table sizes. Event #24 of the 2014 WCOOP saw Russia's NikolasDLP, a past heads-up WCOOP winner, do the double at a full-ring table stacked with other past major tournament champions and final tablists.

The $700 tournament kicked off at 11:30 a.m. ET on Sunday and attracted a field of 3,417 players, building a $2,272,305 prize pool. Play continued for 12 hours, long enough to reduce the field to about six percent of its starting point. The game resumed at 11:30 a.m. on Monday but had a much longer path to its conclusion.

The 30K/60K/7.5K level was in play as the final table arrived at 11:45 p.m. ET. If Day 2 had ended on the same schedule as Day 1, that would have meant returning to play the final table on a third day. Instead it was just the beginning of an endurance test for these nine players:

Seat 1: Johnny "BabyGrand" Josephy (6,247,827 in chips)
Seat 2: Willy "wilmy_x"Arandazi (1,001,868 in chips)
Seat 3: MOR€ PL€A$€ (3,745,417 in chips)
Seat 4: VL-Hannibal (3,536,250 in chips)
Seat 5: Tonaldinho11 (2,812,225 in chips)
Seat 6: biglouzone'n (5,298,734 in chips)
Seat 7: NikolasDLP (5,105,064 in chips)
Seat 8: GadMO (4,314,275 in chips)
Seat 9: Alex "lynskey99" Lynskey (2,108,340 in chips)

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Open season

With a past Sunday Million final tablist, a past Sunday Warm-Up final tablist, a past TCOOP Main Event final tablist, a past MicroMillions champion, a past SCOOP champion, a past Sunday Warm-Up champion, a past Sunday Million champion, and a past WCOOP champion all in the lineup together, playing 30-minute blind levels, the script was always going to call for a display of skill. That it turned out to be just that was testament to the players at the table.

An hour and a half of poker, a stretch that saw the blinds and antes double from their starting point, was played without a single elimination. But within a seven-minute span on the 60K/120K/15K level, four players would find their way to the rail - the first two on a single hand.

wilmy_x opened the fateful hand by moving all-in for 1.26M in early position with T♥ T♦. MOR€ PL€A$€ was next to act and moved all-in as well, for 2.38M, with A♦ K♥. That folded the action along to the cutoff seat, where biglouzone'n held A♥ A♠ and made the final all-in raise that cleared out the rest of the field. The board came down 2♥ 2♦ 4♥ K♣ Q♥ to knock out wilmy_x in 9th place ($18,178.44) and MOR€ PL€A$€ in 8th place ($29,539.96).

The next departure came only three hands later when the action folded around to VL-Hannibal in the small blind and the U.K. player moved all-in for 1.66M. Tonaldinho11 was in the big blind and made the call with A♣ 2♦, which led VL-Hannibal's 9♥ 7♠. The 6♠ 6♣ 2♠ 3♣ 8♠ board brought no help and VL-Hannibal left in 7th place ($52,263.01).

Ten hands later the action folded around to the small blind, where Australia's lynskey99 moved all-in for 1.74M with Q♥ J♥. Johnny "BabyGrand" Josephy called in the big blind with the dominating A♥ Q♠ and won the 3.58M-chip pot after the board fell 9♣ 9♠ 6♥ 5♦ 6♣, eliminating lynskey99 in 6th place ($74,896.06).

After the gold rush

With all of those knockouts the field had shrunk by half, and the chips were distributed a little differently:

Seat 1: BabyGrand (8,096,982 in chips)
Seat 5: Tonaldinho11 (5,448,220 in chips)
Seat 6: biglouzone'n (9,971,309 in chips)
Seat 7: NikolasDLP (9,020,557 in chips)
Seat 8: GadMO (1,632,932 in chips)

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The next elimination didn't come for a while, but it wasn't for a lack of action. Israeli player GadMO doubled up twice, first with A♣ T♦ against BabyGrand's 9♣ 9♦, then later on the 70K/140K/17.5K level with A♥ 9♥ against biglouzone'n's 8♣ 8♥. BabyGrand got some of those chips back with a 3.95M-chip pot, won after the Netherlands' Tonaldinho11 called bets in position on the flop and turn but folded on the river of a J♥ K♣ 3♥ 3♣ 9♠. But easily the largest of the five-handed pots went to Russia's NikolasDLP, who opened the hand in question in the small blind. The Russian called a button raise to 280K by biglouzone'n to see a 4♦ 3♣ 6♦ flop heads-up, then check-raised biglouzone'n's 363K-chip bet to 1.12M. biglouzone'n did the raising on the 8♣ turn, bumping NikolasDLP's 1.4M-chip bet to 3.08M. NikolasDLP called and both players checked when the A♥ river, giving the 9.18M chips in the middle to NikolasDLP, who turned over 5♣ 5♥ for an unimproved pair of fives.

NikloasDLP's next showdown came nine hands after that big win and all the action came before the flop. Tonaldinho11 opened for 280K in the cutoff and then moved all-in for 2.27M after NikolasDLP re-raised to 560K in the small blind. The Russian called with K♥ K♠, which led Tonaldinho11's A♣ 5♣ from the start through the river of the T♠ 9♦ 6♥ T♦ 7♠ board, ending Tonaldinho11's tournament in 5th place ($97,709.11).

From four to two

With 13.5M more than any of the other three players left at the table, NikolasDLP opened up a bit and reaped the rewards, at least in the beginning. The Russian player picked up 1.6M in blinds and antes by winning nine out of 11 pots just after four-handed play commenced. On the hand immediately following that stretch, NikolasDLP opened for 280K and then called after BabyGrand re-raised to 700K in the small blind, bringing an A♦ 7♥ J♥ flop. BabyGrand led for 690K and NikolasDLP called, bringing the T♠ on the turn. BabyGrand led for 1.75M this time, then called all-in for 4.04M total after NikolasDLP moved all-in. The Russian player had turned two pair with J♣ T♥, but BabyGrand's A♣ J♦ had hit a better two pair on the flop. The J♠ on the river changed nothing, and BabyGrand had doubled to 11M.

The advance was short-lived, though - just five hands later, BabyGrand's 8♣ 8♥ failed to hold up against biglouzone'n's A♥ K♣ on a 6♣ 3♣ 2♠ K♦ 3♠ board, doubling the Canadian to 10.6M. For a time, the bigger stacks couldn't win a confrontation. NikolasDLP was whittled from 17.4M all the way down to 2.6M after losses to GadMo, BabyGrand, and biglouzone'n. Both of the latter two players chipped up over 11M before falling back under 4M. Only GadMo trended in the right direction through the 100K/200K/25K level, topping out at 13.6M.

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NikolasDLP was down but not out. The Russian player first got all-in for 3.6M, three-betting biglouzone'n's 400K opener in a blind-versus-blind situation and having A♣ 7♦ hold up against A♦ 2♥ on a 9♦ 4♦ 9♠ 3♦ Q♣ board. Two hands later the Russian picked up a 9.4M-chip pot after betting for value with A♦ Q♣ on three consecutive streets, as BabyGrand check-called the entire T♣ A♥ 2♣ 3♥ K♥ board only to muck at showdown.

A full hour after it kicked off, four-handed play finally ended when BabyGrand opened for 400K on the button and biglouzone'n moved in for 1.65M in the small blind. BabyGrand's A♠ K♦ had biglouzone'n's K♠ T♣ dominated, and those kickers came into play after the board fell 4♠ 3♥ 9♦ 2♣ Kh] gave both players a pair of kings. The ace trumped the ten, and biglouzone'n was out in 4th place ($130,657.53).

The first two hands of three-handed play weren't kind to NikolasDLP, dropping the Russian player's stack to 8.45M, but the sixth hand was much friendlier. NikolasDLP ended up all-in on that hand after limping in the small blind with A♠ K♠, re-raising GadMo's 600K raise in the big blind to 1.6M, and then calling GadMo's shove. The Israeli player had J♥ J♦ but couldn't win the race when the board came K♦ 8♦ 9♥ Q♠ 5♦, giving NikolasDLP a pair of kings and the 16.5M-chip pot.

That moment as chip leader lasted 15 hands, until NikolasDLP flopped top pair and GadMo middle set. The Israeli ended up all-in on the river and took down the 15.3M-chip pot with T♠ T♥ on the T♣ 8♦ A♠ 6♥ A♣ board. NikolasDLP reclaimed the lead a few hands later

Finally GadMo opened for 500K on the button with A♠ Q♥ and called after BabyGrand jammed for 4.98M with K♣ 9♦ in the big blind. Neither player improved on the 3♦ 2♦ 4♠ 2♠ 7♠ board, giving GadMo the 10.3M chips in the middle and busting BabyGrand in 3rd place ($188,646.76).

On the verge of a second bracelet

NikolasDLP had gone from the verge of elimination a few minutes earlier to a significant chip lead as heads-up play began:

Seat 7: NikolasDLP (22,217,454 in chips)
Seat 8: GadMO (11,952,546 in chips)

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The match lasted 14 minutes and 29 hands, all of them on the 125K/250K/31.25K level. NikolasDLP stayed on the offensive in the early hands and wore GadMo down. Then the Israeli managed to double up, turning top pair with K♣ 7♠ to move ahead of NikolasDLP's second pair with Q♥ J♦, then holding up through the river of the J♠ 9♣ 6♥ K♦ 4♣ board to win a 14.2M-chip pot. With more ammunition to work with, GadMo actually moved into the chip lead over the next seven hands. Then NikolasDLP jumped back in front after three-betting to 1.5M before the flop with T♣ 8♣ and catching three of a kind on the flop. GadMo called increasingly large bets on the flop, turn, and river of the 8♦ 8♥ K♣ 4♥ 5♣ board, but a pair of kings with K♦ T♥ was no good at showdown.

That hand moved NikolasDLP up to 28.3M chips, firmly in command against GadMo's 5.86M. Nine hands later GadMo was down to 4.27M and moved it all in before the flop with A♦ 6♣. NikolasDLP called with K♠ 9♠ and immediately took the lead on the 4♠ 4♦ 9♥ flop. The J♣ on the turn was no help, and the K♦ sealed up the pot for NikolasDLP with two pair, bringing the tournament to a close.

GadMO didn't manage to pick up the bracelet but did earn a hefty $265,859.68 for finishing as the runner-up. As for NikolasDLP, who earned a second career WCOOP bracelet, the $356,754.09 winner's purse was close to six times as much as the Russian player earned for the first bracelet win back in 2013. Congratulations to both players for making it to the end of a very tough tournament!

WCOOP 2014: Event #24, $700 No-Limit Hold'em
3,417 entrants
$2,272,305 prize pool
432 places paid

1st place: NikolasDLP (Russia) $356,754.09
2nd place: GadMO (Israel) $265,859.68
3rd place: Johnny "BabyGrand" Josephy (Canada) $188,646.76
4th place: biglouzone'n (Canada) $130,657.53
5th place: Tonaldinho11 (Netherlands) $97,709.11
6th place: Alex "lynskey99" Lynskey (Australia) $74,896.06
7th place: VL-Hannibal (United Kingdom) $52,263.01
8th place: MOR€ PL€A$€ (Finland) $29,539.96
9th place: Willy "wilmy_x" Arandazi (Portugal) $18,178.44

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in WCOOP