WCOOP 2015: juswhackit's late surge wins Event #2, 215 NLHE (Sunday Warm-Up SE)

The Sunday majors have gone on a temporary break, but of the best kind: to make way for the 2015 World Championship of Online Poker. Big money on the line means big opportunities for rising to the occasion, and that's exactly what Ecuador's juswhackit did in the second event, slipping away with the win after waiting in the wings

This week's Sunday Warm-Up was replaced by Event #2, a two-day, 6-max special edition of the old $215 favorite with a $1 million guaranteed prize pool. That brought out the masses, with 5,135 players bumping the prize pool up to $1,027,000 and setting up a first-place prize worth more than $156,000. The journey to get there on Day 2 would provide a perfect example of how a chip lead, though everyone wants it, guarantees nothing in a no-limit hold'em tournament.

Day 2 overture

Just 57 players were left when Day 1 ended at the end of the 10K/20K/2.5K level, led by NickSen88 of Denmark, who had amassed a stack worth 3,755,484 chips. Among those still in the hunt at the close of Day 1 was Team Pro's Marcin "Goral" Horecki, who sat in 38th place with 563,474 chips. Unfortunately for him, he bowed out shortly after play resumed in 50th place ($2,105.35).

NickSen88 made it considerably further, but the last two tables found the player from Denmark in survival mode. A crucial double-up with A-Q against J-T moved NickSen88 back up to 20 big blinds to stay alive. A combination of encroaching blinds and antes and consistent aggression from the rest of the players at the table whittled that stack down to less than 10 big blinds by the time there were just eight players remaining, but then pocket queens came along and NickSen88 was back over 15 big blinds again as the last break before the final table began.

Things went downhill on the 80K/160K/20K level, though, as NickSen88 was forced to wait for a hand while the chip leader, past Sunday Million champ TY4Stacks2 of Sweden, ran the three-handed table. NickSen88 had only 572K by the time A♣ 5♣ showed up in the small blind, an easy call for ElarnToPaly in the big blind, even with 8♥ 4♦. NickSen88 looked good to go on the A♠ 9♠ 6♦ flop, but the 7♦ turn and T♠ river made a straight for ElarnToPaly, knocking NickSen88 out in 7th place ($10,783.50).

Final table time

That set up this final table:

Seat 1: juswhackit (9,812,976 in chips)
Seat 2: Robi.gool (5,932,670 in chips)
Seat 3: avibin (8,692,962 in chips)
Seat 4: ElarnToPaly (5,323,660 in chips)
Seat 5: TY4Stacks2 (17,784,885 in chips) Sunday Million champ in 2011
Seat 6: ervinbet (3,802,847 in chips)

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The short stack in the wake of NickSen88's departure was Romania's ervinbet, who despite that disadvantage at least was sitting to the left of TY4Stacks2. That paid off a few hands in when TY4Stacks2 opened on the button with A♣ 7♦ and ervinbet was able to come over the top with A♦ J♥, doubling to 6.5M chips with an unnecessary but welcome Broadway straight after TY4Stacks2 called the re-raise.

What was a crucial pot for ervinbet was a cheap stab at eliminating an opponent for Sweden's TY4Stacks2. The past Sunday Million champion was on cruise control with 84 big blinds and the room to stretch out and play poker afforded by the 20-minute blind levels. With enough ammunition to keep firing shots anytime an opponent didn't seem willing to hang on but comfortably back off when they stepped up, TY4Stacks2's stack slowly grew as the first hour of the final table went by.

ervinbet's stack moved in the opposite direction over that same period, reaching critical territory with just 2.7M on the 125K/250K/31,250 level before a blind-versus-blind showdown with the big stack. TY4Stacks2 stuck to the playbook and shoved all-in from the small blind with Q♦ 8♣, putting ervinbet in great position after calling with Q♠ J♥. The 4♠ 3♥ 8♠ flop and A♠ turn put ervinbet on the ropes with slim hope of hitting a flush, and the K♦ on the river knocked the Romanian player out in 6th place ($16,432).

After all that time, the next hand of the final table (the 70th) was the first of just four to play out five-handed. avibin opened all-in for 4.1M on the button, holding A♣ 8♣, while TY4Stacks2 was holding J♥ J♣. Calling and losing would have kept the chip leader well ahead, but the jacks held up for the 8.5M-chip pot on the 9♣ Q♥ 5♠ 6♠ 9♦ board to eliminate avibin in 5th place ($30,810).

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That moved TY4Stacks2's chip count over 25.6M just as the blinds and antes advanced to 1250K/300K. That put even more pressure on the other three players, all of whose stacks were worth between 24 and 35 big blinds. ElarnToPaly ended up being the first to fall after playing a pot in the blinds out of position to TY4Stacks2. The Finnish player limped in the small blind and then called TY4Stacks2' raise to 900K, seeing an A♥ 3♣ 8♦ flop. ElarnToPaly went for a small check-raise to 1.5M but gave up after TY4Stacks2 called and then bet when checked to on the 2♦ turn.

That left ElarnToPaly with 4.8M, with was cut in half within just a few hands after a small loss to Robi.gool. The Finn got in with Q♣ J♣ but split the pot when Robi.gool also showed Q♦ J♥. The next hand saw ElarnToPaly in the small blind with K♠ 7♥, which prompted a shove, and TY4Stacks2 called with A♠ 4♥. Those hands turned into ace-kickerversus-king-kicker when the board came 2♦ 2♠ J♥ 3♠ J♦, and ElarnToPaly left the tournament in 4th place ($52,017.55).

The worm turns

With the three-handed chip counts skewed heavily toward TY4Stacks2, it looked like the proceedings might come to an end in short order:

Seat 1: juswhackit (5,213,721 in chips)
Seat 2: Robi.gool (12,088,666 in chips)
Seat 5: TY4Stacks2 (34,047,613 in chips)

juswhackit suggested looking at numbers for a possible deal, but TY4Stacks2 understandably wanted to play. Then juswhackit promptly doubled to 11.3M, raising small on the button with A♥ K♥ and snap-calling when TY4Stacks2 shoved with Q♦ T♦. TY4Stacks2 was still comfortably in the lead with 28.4M, but things weren't going to be quite as simple as they might have appeared.

The Swede stayed aggressive and soon had a stack sized about the same as when three-handed play had begun. Then came a blind-versus-blind hand where TY4Stacks2 opened for 855K in the small blind with 9♦ 8♦, then jammed when juswhackit re-raised to 1.9M with 8.9M behind. juswhackit called and showed Q♣ Q♦, which held up on the 4♥ J♣ 5♠ 2♣ 3♦ board to bring the player from Ecuador to within a single big blind of the lead at 21.7M.

TY4Stacks2 didn't change course and soon enough was well ahead of both opponents again, holding 34.2M while both of them were under 13M. Robi.gool was whittled down as low as 3.8M before doubling twice, first with A♣ J♠ to juswhackit's A♦ 7♦, and then again with K♣ 9♦ against TY4Stacks2's A♣ 7♦ thanks to a king on the turn. It was a small loss, but it turned out to be the first of a series that drove TY4Stacks2 to the rail.

juswhackit struck the next major blow 14 hands later, jamming for 6.7M on the button when TY4Stacks2 raised the minimum to 1.2M on the button. The Swede opted to call with A♠ 6♣ and lost out to T♣ T♥, dropping to second place with 17M, just five big blinds ahead of juswhackit and five behind Brazil's Robi.gool. Four hands later juswhackit was the one raising on the button and calling when TY4Stacks2 jammed in the big blind over the top of Robi.gool's 2.9M-chip three-bet in the small blind. Robi.gool folded and juswhackit showed T♣ T♠ again, good for the 27.4M-chip pot when A♦ T♥ failed to improve on the 5♦ J♣ K♦ 2♠ 6♠ board.

Reeling from the string of losses and holding just 11 big blinds, TY4Stacks2 moved all-in from the small blind on the next hand with J♥ T♣. juswhackit called with K♠ 8♦ in the big blind, neither hand improved on the 2♣ 4♥ 9♦ 6♦ 3♠ board, and with that TY4Stacks2's run ended in 3rd place ($82,160).

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After that sequence, juswhackit held 34.1M chips and a lead of almost exactly 2-to-1 as heads-up play began. Despite that, the two players looked at the numbers for a deal. After have the moderator present the numbers, juswhackit agreed, but Robi.gool wanted to negotiate a slightly larger prize. The two good-naturedly agreed to play it out instead, and within five hands they would accomplish their mission.

The hand opened innocently enough, with juswhackit limping for 600K on the button with 6♠ 5♥ and Robi.gool checking in the big blind with 7♥ 5♦. Then the flop came 5♠ 7♣ 8♣. After a bet, a check-raise, an all-in move, and a call, Robi.gool was all in with two pair as a 70.5-percent favorite to win the hand. The Q♦ on the turn bumped that percentage up by 11 points and had Robi.gool on the verge of doubling up into the chip lead, but the 4♣ on the river completed juswhackit's straight draw and the tournament was over.

Robi.gool took $112,970 as the runner-up, a new personal best by almost $50,000 over a Sunday Million final table back in 2010. Meanwhile the $156,617.50 win was a major score for juswhackit, topping the player from Ecuador's previous best by more than $150,000. Congratulations to both players on kicking off WCOOP 2015 by making a splash in the spotlight!

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WCOOP 2015: Event #2, $215 No-Limit Hold'em (6-Max, Sunday Warm-Up SE)
Entrants: 5,135
Prize pool: $1,027,000
Places paid: 660
1. juswhackit (Ecuador) $156,617.50
2. Robi.gool (Brazil) $112,970
3. TY4Stacks2 (Sweden) $82,160
4. ElarnToPaly (Finland) $52,017.55
5. avibin (Israel) $30,810
6. ervinbet (Romania) $16,432

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in WCOOP