WCOOP 2015: 89rhino89 assaults Ante Up field in Event #41 ($320 NLHE Ante Up)

RocknRollax had the world on a string. He carried his overnight chip lead onto the final table, then took out perhaps the tournament's biggest remaining threat, three-time WCOOP champ Mikal "mikal12345" Blomlie in sixth place. Still holding a significant chip lead, he made a five-handed deal, ensuring he would leave the tournament's biggest winner. However, when keeping that lead mattered most, RocknRollax lost focus, opening the door for the scrappy 89rhino89. Ninth of ten in the chip counts to start Day 2, 89rhino89 doubled up early at the final table and busted GX91 in seventh place to put him in contention. When the grind of short-handed play tired his opponents, 89rhino89 found another gear and surged ahead. Heads-up, 89rhino89 came back from a 2 to 1 chip defecit and claimed his first WCOOP bracelet, although RocknRollax came away with the most cash thanks to the deal.

Event #41's NLHE Ante Up format enticed 572 players, their $320 buy-ins combining to create a $171,600 prize pool. 72 places were paid with $32,432.40 set aside for first place.

To give you an idea of the vast amount of play provided in this event, all told, it took more than 10 1/2 hours to reach a final table and another four hours for the final table to play down to a winner, despite reaching a deal five-handed. In the Ante Up format, there is considerably more short-handed play involved when the field reduces from three tables to one. When playing five or six-handed instead of nine-handed, there are fewer antes in the pot to start the action, rather than small and big blinds that constantly whip around the table, gobbling up chips.

Day 1 went on for 27 levels and play was suspended for the evening on the final table bubble, with ten players left. Here's a look at the overnight chip counts:

RocknRollax (United Kingdom) 636,593
mikal12345 (Norway) 554,036
GX91 (Malta) 305,330
vovtroy (Russia) 299,443
edgarbrit1 (Vietnam) 237,459
Bobl124 (Estonia) 231,463
jedi9000 (Canada) 190,594
ramminn (Iceland) 168,601
89rhino89 (Russia) 132,931
dougiedan678 (United Kingdom) 103,550

If several of those names look familiar, you're not alone. Mikal "mikal12345" Blomlie is a three-time WCOOP bracelet winner and earned Player of the Series honors in 2012. Davide "GX91" Marchi was runner-up the Sunday Million earlier this year, banking a cool $135k. 89rhino89 took down the Super Tuesday this March, and vovtroy has made quite a splash in this year's WCOOP, cashing nine times and making three final tables thus far. Going into this event, vovtroy was tied for 11th place in the 2015 WCOOP Player of the Series race.

Action resumed Saturday at 5pm EDT and it only took twenty minutes to set the final table. Short stack dougiedan678 moved all-in for 128,902 and the action folded around to the big blind where GX91 called. Dougiedan678's Q♦J♦ was dominated by GX91's A♠Q♣ and did not improve on the 5♥3♦2♥T♥3♥ board. GX91 raked in the pot and dougiedan678 went out on the final table bubble.

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Final table chip counts

Seat 1: RocknRollax (531,141 in chips)
Seat 2: ramminn (186,739 in chips)
Seat 3: edgarbrit1 (176,996 in chips)
Seat 4: 89rhino89 (242,677 in chips)
Seat 5: jedi9000 (254,549 in chips)
Seat 6: mikal12345 (463,341 in chips)
Seat 7: Bobl124 (254,737 in chips)
Seat 8: GX91 (516,410 in chips)
Seat 9: vovtroy (233,410 in chips)

89rhino89 ended Day 1 as the second-shortest stack, but got a huge boost when his Q♣Q♥ flopped top set against mikal12345's A♠K♠. 89rhino89 doubled to 482,000 while mikal12345 slipped to 221,000. However, mikal12345 rebounded when he three-bet shoved preflop behind jedi9000's 117,284 all-in. This time, mikal12345's A♣K♦ rivered a pair of kings vs. jedi9000's pocket sevens, and he departed the final table in ninth place.

Two hands later, ramminn moved in for 34,315, 89rhino89 called and GX91 put the squeeze on, making it 75,120 to go. 89rhino89 got out of the way and GX91 turned up A♣K♠. Ramminn's A♠6♦ was dominated and he exited in eighth place after getting no help on the board.

The final seven traded pots for more than an hour before another player was eliminated. 89rhino89 picked up A♦J♠ and opened for 23,555 when GX91 shoved for 187,000 from the big blind. 89rhino89 called and was dismayed to see GX91's A♥Q♣. However, 89rhino89 caught running diamonds on the 6♣7♦8♦5♦4♦ board to make an ace-high flush, ending GX91's run in seventh place. Then, on the very next deal, mikal12345 four-bet shoved preflop with A♦Q♠ and three-bettor RocknRollax called with 4♦4♣. RocknRollax's small pair held up on the 9♣6♥3♥2♣2♥ board and mikal12345 was suddenly on the rail in sixth place.

With that pot, RocknRollax moved up to 1.22 million and a few hands later, the final five agreed to pause the action and discuss a potential deal. Here's how they stacked up at the time:

RocknRollax - 1,239,647
Bobl124 - 571,179
89rhino89 - 519,308
edgarbrit1 - 326,290
vovtroy - 203,576

Team Online's George "Jorj95" Lind III was on hand to assist the players and per their request, he provided ICM numbers. This seemingly fatigued group quickly agreed to the shares and with an additional $3,000 still at stake for the winner, cards went back in the air.

Only a few hands in, four players limped in to see a Q♣2♦8♦ flop. Edgarbrit1 checked, 89rhino89 bet 14,440 and vovtroy raised to 45,035. Edgarbrit1 got out of the way and 89rhino89 reraised to 94,035. Vovtroy moved in for 190,000 and 89rhino89 called with Q♦8♣ for top two pair. Vovtroy's A♥Q♠ was roundly outflopped and the 8♠ turn gave 89rhino89 a full house. For fifth place, vovtroy earned $14,105.39 along with another 55 WCOOP leaderboard points. He now sits in fourth place in the Player of the Series race with 250 points behind Aftret, Fresh_oO_D and RuiNF, who are all tied for the lead with 295 points apiece.

The antes were up to 8,000 when edgarbrit1 ran afoul of the poker gods. In a four-way pot limped to a 3♠3♦2♦ flop, edgarbrit1 made trips with 3♥9♦ and led out for 13,333. 89rhino89 folded and Bobl124 raised to 37,967, only to have RocknRollax come over the top for all 1.24 million of his chips. Edgarbrit1 called and RocknRollax crushed his dreams, rolling over J♣3♣. The turn was the 6♥ and the J♦ river made RocknRollax threes full, ending edgarbrit1's run in fourth place.

When three-handed play commenced, RocknRollax was way out in front with 1.8 million, 89rhino89 held 658,000 and Bobl124 was the short stack with 393,000.

89rhino89 surged to 1.27 million in chips off a rush where he won six out of seven pots, but gave most of it back to Bobl124. The money went in on a J♥T♦6♦4♦ board and 89rhino89 turned over 2♦9♦ for a flush. However, the 7♦ river made Bobl124 a higher flush with J♦T♥.

Down to 478,000, 89rhino89 turned Broadway holding J♠7♠ on a T♠Q♥A♠K♥ board vs. RocknRollax, who flopped bottom set with pocket tens. The rest of 89rhino89's money went in on the turn and RocknRollax called, but he did not get the full house he needed when the river fell the 4♣. Then, on the next deal, Bobl124 three-bet shoved for 488,000 from the big blind and button raiser RocknRollax called. Bobl124's A♦7♥ did not improve vs. RocknRollax's pocket nines and Bobl124 went out in third place.

Heads-up chip counts

Seat 1: RocknRollax (1,903,875 in chips)
Seat 4: 89rhino89 (956,125 in chips)

Antes were 12,500 when heads-up play began and RocknRollax passed the 2 million mark in short order. 89rhino89 was down to 553,000, but doubled up when his K♦Q♦ turned a pair of queens and RocknRollax missed his flush draw with J♦3♦. 89rhino89 doubled to 1.1 million and three hands later, check-called RockRollax's flop, turn, and river bets on a 8♥5♦4♣J♥9♥ board. 89rhino89 showed only a pair of fives, but they were good enough to catch RocknRollax's bluff with Q♦3♣. 89rhino89 moved up to 1.87 million, leaving RocknRollax on 984,000.

A few hands later, 89rhino89 opened for 15,555 on the button and RocknRollax three-bet to 57,380. 89rhino89 called and they saw a J♠7♠4♠ flop. RocknRollax led out for 72,380 and 89rhino89 called. The turn brought the 6♣ and RocknRollax fired another 144,760. 89rhino89 called and the river fell the T♥. RocknRolax bet 289,520, 89rhino89 moved all-in for 1.74 million, and RocknRollax called off his remaining 251,000.

RocknRollax showed Q♥T♣ for a pair of tens, but 89rhino89 had flopped a flush with K♠8♠ and locked up the WCOOP title.

Congratulations to 89rhino89 on a stunning come-from-behind win! In addition to his first WCOOP bracelet, 89rhino89 banked $22,038,82. After leading the pack since the end of Day 1, RocknRollax had to settle for second place, but thanks to the five-handed deal, he collected the largest share of the prize pool at $24,002.10.

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Event #41: $320 NLHE Ante up
Entrants:572
Prize pool: $171,600
Places paid: 72

1. 89rhino89 (Russia) $22,038.82*
2. RocknRollax (United Kingdom) $24,002.10*
3. Bobl124 (Estonia) $19,592.68*
4. edgarbrit1 (Vietnam) $16,442.81*
5. vovtroy (Russia) $14,105.39*
6. Mikal "mikal12345" Blomlie (Norway) $7,293.00
7. GX91 (Malta) $5,577.00
8. ramminn (Iceland) $3,861.00
9. jedi9000 (Canada) $2,625.48

*= reflects the results of a five-handed deal that left $3,000 in play for the winner

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in WCOOP