WCOOP Challenge Series: Grayson "gray31" Ramage wins $502k in Main Event, $2,100 NLHE (Re-Entry)

Grayson "gray31" Ramage has come close to some pretty momentous wins here at PokerStars in the past. The biggest was when he finished second in the 10th Anniversary $10,000 High Roller heads-up event back in late 2011, capturing a $289,050 prize. He then made the final table of the 2010 WCOOP Main Event, finishing in eighth place for $183,225, and has compiled fourth- and seventh place finishes in other WCOOP events since then. All of those close calls can now fade into the background, though, thanks to his big win tonight in the WCOOP Challenge Series Main Event.

The series-closing $2,100 no-limit hold'em tournament with up to three re-entries per player kicked off at 3:30 p.m. ET yesterday. It sported a $2,000,000 guaranteed prize pool that topped out at $2,998,000, thanks to the 1,243 entries and 256 re-entries. The top 198 players made the money, with $502,165 awaiting the eventual winner.

Mr. Ramage survived the first day of play without the benefit of a big stack, while others who had that advantage weren't able to translate it to a final table appearance. The Day 2 field was led by Switzerland's Luj0_1989, who amassed a stack of 1,001,469 chips. The Swiss player wouldn't make it through to the final table, finishing in 42nd place ($8,694.20). But four of the other top 10 stacks from Day 1 did find their way across treacherous waters to the safe harbor of pay jumps galore. Together with five others who had started the day in more desperate straits, they kicked off the final table at 7:40 P.M. ET:

Seat 1: Andreas "Hoegh93" Høgh (1,517,613 in chips)
Seat 2: Sebastian "p0cket00" Sikorski (3,276,283 in chips)
Seat 3: Matias "Festivuss" Grebanja (919,047 in chips)
Seat 4: SsicK_OnE (4,588,493 in chips)
Seat 5: Grayson "gray31" Ramage (2,355,297 in chips)
Seat 6: guyguy12 (1,512,649 in chips)
Seat 7: GR8MIND (3,296,919 in chips)
Seat 8: Kyle "weekesy333" Weekes (2,858,269 in chips)
Seat 9: Andreas "daskalos20" Christoforou (2,160,430 in chips)

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No feats of strength for Festivuss

Matias "Festivuss" Grebanja came to the final table as the shortest stack, holding 15 big blinds at the 30K/60K/7.5K level that began on the second hand of play. He was able to double that stack once, picking up 8♥ 8♣ on Hand #11 and seeing it hold against SsicK_OnE's A♠ T♥. Two hands later Festivuss picked up an even better pair, J♠ J♣, and opened in the cutoff for 129K. Then Grayson Ramage re-raised to 345K in the small blind, prompting Grebanja to move all-in for 1.9M. Ramage called with A♠ K♥ and looked like doubling Festivuss up for a second time by the turn, with the board reading 9♠ 3♦ Q♣ 9♦. But the K♦ on the river gave Ramage the pot with a pair of kings, sending Festivuss to the rail in 9th place ($30,879.40).

Eight-ball, side p0cket00

Past Super Tuesday winner Sebastian "p0cket00" Sikorski of Canada had entered the final table in a virtual tie for second place and was mostly quiet until Hand #20, when he was on the button and three-bet a 160K opener by Kyle "weekesy333" Weekes to 394K. The action then folded to Mr. Ramage in the big blind, and after a moment in the time bank he responded with a fourth bet to 765K. That got weekesy333 to fold, but p0cket00 came back with a five-bet to 1.3M. He declined to come along after Ramage moved all-in, though, and was left with 2.33M chips, all without having seen so much as a flop.

Sikorski stayed quiet again until he picked up Q♦ Q♥ in the small blind on Hand #35. He called Hoegh93's 938K all-in bet from the button and was racing with the Danish player's A♥ K♠. But the 5♥ 5♦ A♠ J♦ A♣ board was unfriendly to the queens, giving Hoegh93 a double-up to 2M and dropping p0cket00's stack to last place with 1.25M.

It took another 14 hands and the blinds and antes rising to 50K/100K/12.5K, but p0cket00 finally picked up another big pair, this time J♦ J♣ under the gun. He opened the betting by moving in for 1.16M. Israel's guyguy12 was the lone caller and showed A♥ K♠, the exact hand that had sunk Sikorski's queens earlier. Big Slick was trouble once again as the board came down 4♠ 9♥ 8♣ 4♦ A♣, giving guyguy12 the 2.6M-chip pot and knocking p0cket00 out in 8th place ($56,962).

Off to the infirmary for SsicK_OnE

One hour into the play, the table had just become seven-handed. It would remain that way for another half-hour as short-stacked players, including Canada's GR8MIND and weekesy333, won every pot they contested with their tournament lives on the line. Germany's SsicK_OnE had come in with the chip lead but one early loss with 8♥ 8♠ against p0cket00's Q♣ T♣ had sent the German player down the road to short-stack status - and by Hand #86, with the blinds and antes up to 120K/240K/15K, SsicK_OnE was looking for one of those double-ups to get back in the game.

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The German player was dealt A♥ Q♥ in the small blind on that hand and moved all-in for 1.33M after guyguy12 opened for 240K under the gun. guyguy12 dipped into the time bank and eventually called with A♣ J♣, which was behind only until the T♣ J♠ 6♥ flop. Any king or queen would have turned things around for SsicK_OnE, but the 7♦ turn and 8♠ river were no help, ending the former chip leader's tournament in 7th place ($86,942).

GR8MIND goes down

That knockout pot gave guyguy12 5.61M chips, good for second place just a few big blinds back from Grayson "gray31" Ramage's 6.16M. Meanwhile, GR8MIND and Cyprus' daskalos20 were just two big blinds apart at the bottom of the leaderboard, with weekesy333 and Hoegh93 about eight big blinds apart in the middle of the pack. By Hand #119, with the bulk of the big pots and plenty of the small ones having made it to gray31's stack, the leader had crossed the 10M-chip mark. guyguy12 was still in second with 4.77M and the other four players were hanging on with less than 2.5M apiece, a tough task with blinds and antes at 70K/140K/17.5K.

weekesy333 managed to double through guyguy12 on Hand #126 when T♦ T♥ held up against K♠ Q♠, muddling the picture even further as both players moved to within one big blind of each other at 3.2M-3.3M. Five hands later he was on the other side of the coin, looking for the knockout with A♣ J♥, after having moved all-in over the top of GR8MIND's 969K three-bet shove on the button. Original raiser guyguy12 folded and left weekesy333 up against GR8MIND's K♣ Q♠. The Q♦ 3♦ A♦ flop paired both players, and with neither holding diamonds, GR8MIND had just five outs for the win. The 8♦ on the turn raised the specter of a chop if the river made a flush on the board, but the 2♥ came instead and GR8MIND was gone in 6th place ($116,922).

daskalos20's decline

Andreas "daskalos20" Christoforou was the lone player to make the final table who had used all three re-entries on Day 1. That instinct for living on the edge continued to be on display throughout the final table, especially with just five players left as he held on with 1.5M chips at 80K/160K/20K blinds and antes. He managed a double-up to 2.3M on Hand #139, two hands after Hoegh93 doubled through weekesy333, when A♣ Q♦ outran gray31's 9♦ 9♠ on a 5♣ Q♥ K♦ J♠ 2♠ board.

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That gave daskalos20 2.3M chips, just enough to pip ahead of guyguy12's 2.2M-chip last-place stack. So when gugyuy12 moved all-in on the button two hands later with J♠ T♠ and daskalos20 called with A♦ 5♥, the Cypriot had 188K left behind - a good thing, since the 8♠ J♦ 8♣ J♥ 4♥ board gave guyguy12 jacks full of eights and the 4.34M-chip pot.

Mr. Christoforou managed to double up twice more in the next 10 hands but eventually ended up moving all-in for 972K in the big blind on Hand #151, coming over the top of Grayson Ramage's minimum raise to 320K in the cutoff. Ramage called with A♠ 8♣, which was already ahead of daskalos20's K♦ 4♦ but moved into a more comfortable lead on the 3♦ 3♣ A♥ flop. Running kings, running fours, and running diamonds were all the deck could deliver to keep the player from Cyprus in the game, but the turn and river came T♥ 2♣ and daskalos20's tournament came to an end in 5th place ($146,902).

weekesy333's walk-off

With just four players left, Grayson "gray31" Ramage continued to lead with 9.4M chips to Hoegh93's 6.68M, guyguy12's 3.84M, and Kyle "weekesy333" Weekes' 2.55M. A loss to guyguy12 on the flop of the first hand of four-handed play bled 1.2M from the leader's stack, but he got it all back and then some on Hand #155.

Ramage opened that hand with a raise to 400K under the gun, a bet which guyguy12 called on the button before weekesy333 shoved for 2.58M in the small blind. Ramage thought the situation over and re-raised to 4.76M, enough to put guyguy12 all-in, and the Israeli player folded to leave Ramage's T♣ T♠ heads-up with weekesy333's A♥ K♠. The J♥ Q♥ 7♠ flop was no direct help to Weekes, but it did give him 10 outs twice while leaving Ramage in the odd spot of not wanting to hit a set, since it would give Weekes a Broadway straight. The 4♦ turn and 4♣ river changed nothing, though, and weekesy333 left in 4th place ($203,864).

Closing up shop

As three-handed play began, Grayson Ramage was in control with 11.9M chips, more than both his opponents combined. He would put that advantage to work, winning nine of the final 13 pots of the tournament.

The others won only one significant pot between them, that one on Hand #160 when all three players saw an A♣ 3♥ 2♣ flop. guyguy12 led for 200K there from the small blind and both opponents called, bringing the 4♦ on the turn. guyguy12 checked this time, Hoegh93 bet 600K, and gray31 called on the button - and then guyguy12 check-raised to 1.8M. That got Hoegh93 to fold, and after some thought Ramage did the same, telling guyguy12 in chat to "show the bluff." guyguy12 never did, stacking up to 6.47M in silence.

The two players clashed again four hands later when guyguy12 opened for 400K on the button and Ramage re-raised to 1.01M in the big blind. guyguy12 called there and then again when Ramage bet 654K on the 7♦ 6♦ 3♣ flop. Ramage checked on the 7♥ turn and then called guyguy12's 666K-chip bet, bringing the 2♥ river. Both players checked this time, and Ramage took down the 4.84M-chip pot with 9♣ 9♠.

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Hand #166 saw the final confrontation between guyguy12 and gray31, and all the betting came before the flop. Ramage opened for 400K on the button, guyguy12 re-raised to 897K in the small blind, and Ramage jammed for 14.6M. guyguy12 called for 3.86M with A♥ 6♥ and the tournament on the line against Ramge's Q♣ 5♣. Both players paired on the A♦ 4♣ Q♦ flop and guyguy12 was looking good for a double-up with two cards left to come. But the Q♠ on the turn changed everything, giving Ramage trip queens and guyguy12 just two outs heading to the river. The T♦ was not one of them, and guyguy12 was eliminated in 3rd place ($277,315).

That pot gave Ramage an 18.7M-to-3.7M advantage going into heads-up play against Hoegh93, and within two hands the Dane had moved all-in over the top of Ramage's button raise with K♦ T♠. Hoegh93 was ahead with A♠ J♠ and remained so after the flop came 6♠ 7♣ 8♦, but Ramage made a ten-high straight on the 9♦ turn. Any of the last three tens in the deck would have given Hoegh93 a higher straight and a shot at trying to come back, but the 7♠ arrived on the river instead and the tournament came to a close.

A heads-up comeback might not have been in the cards for Andreas "Hoegh93" Høgh, but the runner-up prize of $367,255 topped his previous best score, a win in the Sunday 500, by more than $318,000. As for Grayson "gray31" Ramage, the $502,165 prize for winning the WCOOP Challenge Series represented a big breakthrough after several close calls in the past. Congratulations to both players on their fine performances against a stacked field!

WCOOP Challenge Series Main Event, $2,100 No-Limit Hold'em [Re-Entry]
1,243 entries, 256 re-entries
$2,998,000 prize pool
198 places paid

1st place: Grayson "gray31" Ramage (Canada) $502,165
2nd place: Andreas "Hoegh93" Høgh (Denmark) $367,255
3rd place: guyguy12 (Israel) $277,315
4th place: Kyle "weekesy333" Weekes (Canada) $203,864
5th place: Andreas "daskalos20" Christoforou (Cyprus) $146,902
6th place: GR8MIND (Canada) $116,922
7th place: SsicK_OnE (Germany) $86,942
8th place: Sebastian "p0cket00" Sikorski (Canada) $56,962
9th place: Matias "Festivuss" Grebanja (Mexico) $30,879.40

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in WCOOP