WCOOP Challenge Series: Tom "hitthehole" Middleton ships the Main Event for $500K

As the WCOOP Challenge Main Event neared the money Sunday evening, a railbird piped up in the chat box to make a prediction.

"Middy will probably win this one. Just like all the others."

He was referring to Tom "hitthehole" Middleton, Middy to his mates, the 2013 EPT Barcelona champion. After banking €942,000 in the €5,300 buy-in Main Event, Middleton remarkably followed it up with an $89k win in the Sunday 500 a week later and a $72k final table finish in WCOOP Event #64 ($215 NLHE 8-Max) two weeks after that. Six months after his September to remember, Middleton was well on his way to ushering in April with another major score.

Middleton ended Day 1 of the WCOOP Challenge Main Event seventh in chips and seized the chip lead early on Day 2 with 65 players remaining. Although he relinquished the lead several times, he was never far from the top of the counts and pulled away at the final table, eliminating four opponents in a row to take a two to one chip lead over second place. Although bboooommmmmm put up quite a fight heads-up, Middleton persevered and emerged with the win, earning half a million dollars and the potential for a million more with a $5,200 entry to this year's WCOOP Main Event.


Another win for Middy!

Following a 14-hour break, action resumed at 3:30 pm ET with 80 players remaining and the blinds up to 4,000/8,000 with a 1,000 ante. Only one Team Pro remained in the field, Mexico's Angel Guillen, who entered Day 2 with 369,207 in chips. Here's a look at the top 10 stacks as Day 2 began:

David "WhooooKidd" Baker (Mexico) 808,006
Cristoff1 (Argentina) 785,581
Bryn "BrynKenney" Kenney (Canada) 783,313
WushuTM (Austria) 659,997
mora7777 (Mexico 659,274
pablito_2121 (Belgium) 657,193
Tom "hitthehole" Middleton (United Kingdom) 641,245
FOO-92 (Germany) 634,258
jbrown8777 (Canada) 621,783
ventox (Norway) 592,774

Big stacks fall, a new chip leader rises

BrynKenney finished Day 1 third in chips with 783,000, but lost over half his stack in the first 15 minutes of play. He flopped a flush holding 4♣5♣ on a A♣9♣7♣ board, only to double up his opponent stato_1, who called all-in on the river and turned up K♣3♣. Three hands later, kaaex's A♠7♣ flopped his kicker vs. BrynKenney's A♥8♥, leaving him on 365,000. Also running into a bit of early trouble was David "WhooooKidd" Baker, who fell out of the lead and slipped to 623,000 in chips.

As the first break approached, hitthehole opened for a min-raise to 20,000 and Rayan "rkruok" Nathan three-bet shoved for 127,384 from the small blind. Hitthehole snap-called, his pocket jacks leading rkruok's pocket fives. Hitthehole flopped a set and turned quad jacks, ending rkruok's run in 65th place as he moved into the chip lead. A short time later, hitthehole became the first player in the tournament to pass a million in chips when his pocket sevens flopped a set and rivered a boat vs. Achilles591's A♥K♦.

At the end of the first hour, 53 players remained and hitthehole held the chip lead with 1,057,048. Mora7777 was close behind him with 1,027,908, and Angel Guillen was short stacked with 183,642. Notable eliminations thus far included Anthony "wwwBTHEREcom" Gregg (77th), Phillipe "takechip" D'Auteuil (73rd), Mick "BIGMICKG" Graydon (72nd), and Rayan "rkruok" Nathan (65th).

Angel Guillen can't fade kings

With the field down to five tables and the blinds up to 8,000/16,000, gusmaa opened for 32,000 from under-the-gun and Angel Guillen called from the big blind. Guillen check-raised all-in for 110,892 on the T♠4♦4♣ flop with J♦T♣, but gusmaa beat him into the pot with K♣K♠. Gusmaa turned kings full when the K♥ fell and eliminated Guillen in 44th place. Our last Red Spade standing picked up $9,419.20 for his efforts.


Team PokerStars Pro Angel Guillen, 44th place

hitthehole pulls away, WhooooKidd and Femmeonfelt double

J.C. "PrtyPsux" Alvarado followed his countryman to the rail in 40th place a short time later, along with Peter "Belabacsi" Traply (37th) and Mads "MadsMP" Petersen (35th). Meanwhile, hitthehole shored up his chip lead, climbing to 1.75 million when his A♠9♣ held up against darrenelias's K♠Q♦. Two hands later, hitthehole passed 2 million in chips and an orbit after that he was up to 2.4 million after betting mora7777 off a 5♣4♣2♦T♥J♥ board with a river shove.

WhooooKidd also regained some ground, doubling to 1.2 million when he cracked A♣A♦ with A♥T♠:

Maria "Femmeonfelt" Ho, a recent Sunday 500 winner, had been fighting on the short stack for most of the first two hours, but doubled to a more comfortable 491,668 when her A♦K♥ held up against wytan's 8♠9♠. As the field was whittled down to three tables, Femmeonfelt chipped up to just over a million before going to war with guyguy12 on a 3♥6♦Q♦7♠ board. Guyguy12 checked, Femmeonfelt bet 143,558 and guyguy12 raised to 387,777. Femmeonfelt moved all-in for 923,509 and it was enough to get a fold from guyguy12. With that pot, Femmeonfelt moved up to 1.6 million, good for 4th in chips with 25 players remaining.

Kenney's comeback

Patience paid off for BrynKenney. After losing half his stack almost straight away, BrynKenney ground back up to 695k before getting his stack in with A♥K♣ vs. marricecil's A♠J♣. BrynKenney's dominating hand held up and he moved up to 1.05 million. Then, on the next deal, BrynKenney picked up A♥T♦ in the small blind and called press's 346k shove from the cutoff. Prebz turned over K♠K♥, but BrynKenney caught an ace on the flop to eliminate him in 23rd place and move up to 1.64 million in chips.

Maria "Femmeonfelt" Ho eliminated in 15th place

18 players remained at the end of the third hour, BrynKenney having taken over the chip lead from hitthehole. Femmeonfelt was still going strong with a top five chip count, but had her stack halved when she made a big fold on the river. After opening for 105,000 from UTG and firing both the flop and turn from position, Femmeonfelt bet 375,220 on a 3♣3♠7♦K♥J♦ board. Somnium89 shoved for 1.41 million and Femmeonfelt elected to save her remaining 811,000.

A few hands later, Femmeonfelt open-shoved for 806,705 with pocket nines and got two callers-- micro-xtreme and somnium89. Both her opponents revealed ace-king. Although Femmeonfelt kept the lead on the J♦8♥6♠ flop, the K♠ turned, sending her to the rail in 15th place.

micro-xtreme bubbles the final table

Blinds were up to 40,000/80,000 on the final table bubble. With the action folded to somnium89 in the small blind, he shoved for 2.11 million and micro-xtreme called all-in for 727.146 from the big. Although somnium89's 4♣9♦ trailed micro-xtreme's A♣K♦ preflop, somnium89 hit running cards to make a six-high straight on the 8♣3♠6♣5♥2♣ board. Micro-xtreme was eliminated in tenth place ($25,659.20) and the final table was set.


Final table chip counts

Seat 1: hitthehole (4,716,851 in chips)
Seat 2: bboooommmmmm (1,511,609 in chips)
Seat 3: BrynKenney (3,300,660 in chips)
Seat 4: ventox (4,669,529 in chips)
Seat 5: somnium89 (2,974,463 in chips)
Seat 6: ShankingYou (618,470 in chips)
Seat 7: Stella948 (3,007,067 in chips)
Seat 8: jbrown8777 (876,958 in chips)
Seat 9: WhooooKidd (2,684,393 in chips)

BrynKenney busts in ninth

ShankingYou doubled up on the first hand of the final table when his A♣4♥ caught running clubs on the J♥J♣Q♣5♣T♣ board to make a flush vs. WhooooKidd's A♦5♦. Bboooommmmmm also picked up chips early, doubling through BrynKenney with K♣K♠ vs. T♠T♦. BrynKenney was left with 1,579,000 after the hand.

With the blinds up to 50,000/100,000, the action folded around to BrynKenney in the small blind. He moved all-in for 1,234,051 with K♠Q♣, but ventox was lying in wait with A♥5♠ in the big blind. BrynKenney did not improve and exited in ninth place, earning $32,480.00.

hitthehole sacks jbrown8777 in eighth

Moments later, ventox opened for 200,000, somnium89 flat-called and jbrown8777 put the squeeze on with a 904,458 shove on the button. Hitthehole reshoved for 4.6 million from the big blind, folding out both ventox and somnium89. Hitthehole's A♣A♠ held up against J♣J♥ and jbrown8777 hit the rail in eighth place $56,840.00).

ShankingYou gutted in seventh

On the very next deal, ShankingYou open-shoved for 794,440 with 6♦6♥ and bboooommmmmm called from the big blind with A♥9♥. ShankingYou hit quads on the 6♣6♠3♠ flop and doubled to 1.72 million. However, he didn't hang onto those chips for long. Holding A♥Q♣, ShankingYou opened for 252,000 from middle position and hitthehole shoved for 5.48 million from the small blind. ShankingYou called and hitthehole turned over K♦J♦. ShankingYou made top pair on the A♠5♥3♦ flop, but hitthehole caught running diamonds on the turn and river, the 4♦ and the 8♦ falling to make him a king-high flush. ShankingYou was suddenly on the rail in seventh place, collecting $89,320.00.

David "WhooooKidd" Baker eliminated in sixth place

Hitthehole moved up to 7.6 million with that hand, but relinquished a bit to bboooommmmmm when he ran A♥T♥ into A♦A♠ and doubled him up to 2.52 million. That left WhooooKidd as the short stack, and when the action folded to him in the small blind, he shoved for 1,910,928 with A♥2♥. Hitthehole woke up with 7♥7♣ in the big blind, his pair holding up on the J♦T♥5♥4♣2♣ board. David "WhooooKidd" Baker's run came to an end in sixth place, $121,800.00 his reward.

Hitthehole makes it four KOs in a row as ventox finishes fifth

With five players remaining, ventox was up to 8.09 million and had edged hitthehole out of the chip lead. However, ventox was unlucky enough to run Q♣Q♥ into bboooommmmmm's A♠A♦ in a pre flop all-in. Bboooommmmmm's aces survived and he doubled to 6.95 million, leaving ventox on 4.6 million.

Over the next level, ventox slipped to 3 million before he picked up A♠Q♣ and three-bet shoved from the small blind. Only, initial raiser hitthehole called and revealed K♣K♠. Hitthehole flopped a set of kings and left ventox drawing dead on the turn, the board running out K♥4♥7♦6♠A♣ to send him home in fifth place ($154,280.00).

somnium89 silenced in fourth, Stella948 takes third

As four-handed play commenced, hitthehole was the runaway chip leader with 12.17 million, his closest competition bboooommmmmm with 5.85 million.

Down to 2.7 million, somnium89 picked up pocket sevens and three-bet shoved from UTG+1. However, initial raiser bboooommmmmm snap-called with Q♣Q♠. Bboooommmmmm's queens held up on the J♥9♦2♥5♥A♦ board and somnium89 departed in fourth place, $217,616.00 richer.

With the blinds up to 70,000/140,000, Stella948 was the short stack with only 2.3 million. Holding A♠8♣ in the small blind, he moved all-in and once again, hitthehole found a pair in the big blind. Hitthehole turned up 4♥4♠ and promptly hit a set on the 9♠7♥4♣ flop. The 9♣ turn made him fours full and Stella948 was out in third place, earning $292,320.00 for his finish.

Heads-up chip counts

Seat 1: hitthehole (14,211,425 in chips)
Seat 2: bboooommmmmm (10,148,575 in chips)

Only a few hands after heads-up play began, hitthehole and bboooommmmmm agreed to pause the action and discuss a potential deal. Final table host Randy "nanonoko" Lew presented them with chip count chop numbers that left $40,000 to play for, along with the $5,200 WCOOP Main Event ticket and the customized money clip.

HostJuanR (Administrator): hitthehole:$449,966.81
HostJuanR (Administrator): bboooommmmmm:$432,627.59
HostJuanR (Administrator): Left To Play for place 1: $40,000.00

Hitthehole told bboooommmmmm that he would make the deal if he could lock up $460,000. Although bboooommmmmm tried to negotiate that number down a bit, hitthehole held firm and was willing to walk away. Bboooommmmmm finally relented and gave up just over $10,000 from his share to close the deal.

When action resumed, bboooommmmmm hit a rush, winning three pots in a row to go from 110.3 million in chips to 17.4 million. However, hitthehole battled back and evened up the counts. With both players sitting on just over 12 million apiece, the pivotal hand of the match unfolded. Bboooommmmmm three-bet his A♦T♦ pre, but missed the J♦8♠3♥ flop completely. Nevertheless, bboooommmmmm bet/3-bet the flop and shoved the turn, only to run into hitthehole's flopped top pair:

Bboooommmmmm was left with only 142,150 after the hand and put the rest of his chips in on the next deal with 3♥9♥. Hitthehole's 2♥5♠ flopped a pair of deuces and after two long days of poker, he closed out the win.

Congratulations to Tom "hitthehole" Middleton on adding another title to his poker C.V.-- WCOOP Challenge champion! In addition to winning a $5,200 entry to the 2014 WCOOP Main Event and a customized money clip, Middleton banked $500,000 for the win, while runner-up bboooommmmmm earned $422,594.40.

PokerStars WCOOP Challenge Series Event #9, ($2,100 NLHE Main Event) results

Players: 1,624
Prizepool: $3,248,000
Places paid: 216

1. Tom "hitthehole" Middleton (United Kingdom) $500,000*
2. bboooommmmmm (Israel) $422,594*
3. Stella948 (Australia) $292,320
4. somnium89 (Ukraine) $217,616
5. ventox (Norway) $154,280
6. David "WhooooKidd" Baker (Mexico) $121,800
7. Ben "ShankingYou" Palmer (Costa Rica) $89,320
8. jbrown8777 (Canada) $56,840
9. Bryn "BrynKenney" Kenney (Canada) $32,480

*= reflects the result of a heads-up deal that left $40,000 in play for the winner.

Kristin Bihr is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in WCOOP