WCOOP 2015: MaPuHo4Ka09 walks the line for $150K in Event #24, $215 NLHE (Sunday Warm-Up SE)

Gamble. Too much of it leaves a poker player's fate to the whims of the deck. Too little, though it can result in an opportunity to climb the pay ladder, does the same. Finding the sweet spot is all about shifting gears as necessary, and while doing so can't guarantee a win, it's the only to get in position for one. Ukraine's MaPuHo4Ka09 had the gamble to make it through thousands of players back in 2013, ultimately taking sixth place in the first event of that year's SCOOP series. Today, two years on, MaPuHo4Ka09 threaded the needle perfectly and wound up with the bracelet and more than $150,000.

Event #24, the second Sunday Warm-Up Special Edition of WCOOP 2015, was even bigger than the first. The 6,190 players represented a 20 percent increase over last week's Event #2 field and built a $1,238,000 prize pool paid out to the top 810 players. They played 30 levels on Sunday, whittling that field down to just 88 players before calling it a night. Among those who collected paychecks before that point were several Red Spades, including Team Pros Eugene Katchalov (195th place, $693.28), Kosei Ichinose (611th, $396.16), and Jason Mercier (726th, $359.02), as well as Team Online's Mickey "mement_mori" Petersen (529th, $420.92) and Grzegorz 'DaWarsaw' Mikielewicz (774th, $346.64).

Day 2 kicked off at 11:00 a.m. ET with 10K/20K/2.5K blinds and antes. The stakes increased tenfold to 100K/200K/25K over the next four and a half hours, and the field shrank to just these nine players:

Seat 1: TrondheimAAA (8,017,663 in chips)
Seat 2: ItourAdAstra (3,344,480 in chips)
Seat 3: ValterBr@nco (3,340,463 in chips)
Seat 4: KillerNorbit (10,387,496 in chips)
Seat 5: MaPuHo4Ka09 (8,118,327 in chips)
Seat 6: nizmo jiz (2,082,861 in chips)
Seat 7: rSMig (5,453,310 in chips)
Seat 8: majster88 (15,433,106 in chips)
Seat 9: Z-ENERGIES (5,722,294 in chips)

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Martin "nizmo jiz" Kozlov has made some strong showings here at PokerStars this year, with final table appearances in the Super Tuesday and SCOOP #37-H before making the final of WCOOP 2015 Event #22 yesterday. He doubled up several times just before the final table and still came in with the shortest stack, so he didn't waste any time putting his few chips into play. He was dealt A♣ T♣ on the second hand and moved all-in for 2M chips in the big blind after TrondheimAAA opened for 400K in middle position. TrondheimAAA, who won the $5,000,000 guaranteed Sunday Million back in January, called with A♠ 7♠ and took the loss on the 4♣ K♠ 4♥ 2♦ 5♦ board.

The pots stayed small, mostly under 10 big blinds, for the rest of the level. Once the blinds and antes rolled over to 125K/250K/31,250, though, ItourAdAstra picked up A♦ T♦ under the gun, raised the minimum, and called all-in when Z-ENERGIES jammed from the big blind. Z-ENERGIES called with J♣ J♥, which held up after the board came 7♠ 2♣ 4♥ 9♦ 4♦ to eliminate ItourAdAstra in 9th place ($9,904).

The small-pot pattern kept up from there and Kozlov picked up a few pots along the way, leveraging the short-stack all-in move to climb from 4M to 5.6M, putting two other players between himself and immediate danger. An exception to the trend came up when TrondheimAAA and rSMig were both dealt huge starting hands and clashed pre-flop. TrondheimAAA opened for 750K under the gun with Q♣ Q♥ and moved all-in for 7.1M when rSMig re-raised to 1.9M in the small blind with A♣ A♥. Had a queen fallen, rSMig would've been left with just three and a half big blinds, but the 2♠ 9♦ J♣ K♣ 3♥ board was safe and TrondheimAAA headed to the rail in 8th place ($15,475).

rSMig had moved into the lead with that 15.1M-chip pot just ahead of majster88, whose stack had only dropped a few big blinds since the beginning of the final table. But any semblance of order was dashed by the volume of confrontations going the short stacks' way. ValterBr@nco was the shortest with 2.3M but doubled up with kings two hands later to pull into a virtual tie with nizmo jiz and MaPuHo4Ka09. The latter player pulled away from the pack first thanks to a bit good fortune, doubling up to 10.3M on a three-outer with A♣ Q♥ after three-betting all-in over the top of Z-ENERGIES's opening raise with A♥ K♣. And then Z-ENERGIES defended the big blind with A♦ T♦ against rSMig's button steal with K♠ 8♦, staying alive with a double to 7.2M to close out the blind level.

With seven players still in the hunt, the value of the 8.8M-chip average stack dipped to 29 big blinds as the 200K/400K/50K blinds and antes began. But with MaPuHo4Ka09 gobbling up orphaned pots on a climb to north of 19M chips, most of the remaining players' stacks were considerably smaller. rSMig was down to just 2.2M and moved in on a steal with Q♦ 9♦, running into majster88's A♥ J♠ to end the day in 7th place ($27,855).

No gamble, no future

Talk of a deal came up and a few players were willing to discuss their options, but Martin Kozlov flatly refused, so no negotiations took place. He cited an Australian saying: "no gamble, no future." Then he promptly three-bet-shoved with 3♦ 3♠ and survived a race against majster88's A♣ Q♥ to double to 11M chips. "nizmo have u ever lost an all in pre in your life? wow," typed KillerNorbit, who three hands later would be the beneficiary of some good fortune after three-betting all-in from the big blind with A♣ Q♥. Original raiser MaPuHo4Ka09 called with Q♣ Q♠, only to lose the 14M-chip pot when the J♣ 3♦ K♠ 6♥ T♥ board gave KillerNorbit a Broadway straight.

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A cascade of big pots followed in the next few hands as ValterBr@nco doubled to 13M with 8♦ 8♣ against nizmo jiz's A♦ J♦; Z-ENERGIES's T♣ T♠ held up against ValterBr@nco's A♥ K♠ for a double to 13.8M; and nizmo jiz's A♥ K♣ cracked KillerNorbit's Q♦ Q♥ to double the Aussie to 11.3M.

It was clear that everyone at the table had the gamble, but KillerNorbit's future turned to past before the others. The New Zealander three-bet all-in with T♦ T♥ from the big blind after majster88 opened the pot for a minimum raise in the cutoff, only to run up against Q♦ Q♥ when majster88 called. A ten would have given KillerNorbit the 16.5M-chip pot and left majster88 with just 220K, but a set on the 5♦ 8♥ Q♣ flop was all it took to eliminate KillerNorbit in 6th place ($40,235).

13 hands passed with just one flop before Martin Kozlov reinforced his opponents' image of him by surviving another pre-flop all-in confrontation. This time the opening raiser he three-bet, ValterBr@nco, held K♦ K♥ for a 69 percent chance to beat Kozlov's A♥ K♣, but Kozlov had made a Broadway straight by the turn to double to 13.2M. He opened the next hand with a raise to 1M, then four-bet all-in after majster88 re-raised to 2.7M on the button. That left him heads-up with ValterBr@nco, who was all-in for 1M with 6♥ 2♠ in the big blind. Kozlov's 8♦ 8♠ held up and ValterBr@nco bowed out in 5th place ($52,615).

A time to settle

All that action left the chips distributed like this:

Seat 5: MaPuHo4Ka09 (9,272,323 in chips)
Seat 6: nizmo jiz (17,480,532 in chips)
Seat 8: majster88 (16,717,907 in chips)
Seat 9: Z-ENERGIES (18,429,238 in chips)

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MaPuHo4Ka09 was working with about 15 big blinds and went on the offensive, picking up a few steals before flopping a Broadway straight against Z-ENERGIES with A♦ J♦ to climb to 17.1M. Deal talk cropped up once again and Martin Kozlov initially preferred to stick to his gambling ways, but after some prodding by the others he relented and had a look at the numbers. They were willing to take the ICM values, but Kozlov held out for $10,000 more. He would eventually end up leveraging his image for $7,000 more than ICM, and with his agreement play resumed for a WCOOP bracelet and the remaining $20,000.

The action picked up immediately. majster88 was the first to go all-in, doubling to 22.3M with A♦ A♥ against Z-ENERGIES's 9♣ 9♥. Kozlov was next and he, too, doubled, flopping a pair of nines with A♥ 9♥ to stay ahead of MaPuHo4Ka09's A♣ 7♣. Two hands later he caught a nine-high straight on the 5♣ 8♦ 7♦ flop in the big blind with 9♥ 6♠ after calling a small raise from Z-ENERGIES. Kozlov slow-played and checked, and Z-ENERGIES chcked behind with A♦ 4♦ for the nut flush draw. The Q♦ brought the draw home and Z-ENERGIES flat-called 2.4M, coaxing Kozlov into moving all-in on the 5♠ river. Z-ENERGIES called and took the 23.7M-chip pot with the flush, leaving Kozlov with 6.3M.

His efforts to get the extra $7K in the deal paid off on the next hand when he shoved all-in from the small blind with A♥ 7♥. majster88 called in the big with K♥ 9♥ and caught his card on the river of the 3♥ 3♠ T♣ T♦ 9♠ board, the pair of nines sinking Martin "nizmo jiz" Kozlov in 4th place ($125,631.40).

That pot pushed majster88's stack to 31.4M, and a four-bet shove over the top of Z-ENERGIES's re-steal on the next hand was good for another 7M chips. That left Z-ENERGIES with 17.5M, and MaPuHo4Ka09 lurking in both players' shadows with a lonely 5.8M. But within four hands the Ukrainian player would be heading on to heads-up play while Z-ENERGIES collected a payout.

First, MaPuHo4Ka09 called in the big blind and won with A♦ 2♣ after Z-ENERGIES shoved with Q♥ J♦. Z-ENERGIES then opened the next hand all-in from the button with 6♥ 6♠, and MaPuHo4Ka09 called with A♠ 7♦. The 7♥ T♦ Q♣ 3♥ T♥ board gave MaPuHo4Ka09 a pair of sevens for the 20.4M-chip pot, and Z-ENERGIES bowed out in 3rd place ($118,585.92).

majster88 held the lead with 37.5M chips to MaPuHo4Ka09's 24.3M, but the latter moved slightly ahead five hands later after three-betting before the flop, leading out when it came 3♠ A♦ 8♥, and betting small when the A♥ came on the turn. Four hands after that MaPuHo4Ka09 called small bets out of position on the flop and turn before making the nut flush with A♣ 9♣ and getting paid on the river.

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That left majster88 reeling. Down nearly 2-to-1, the Polish player fell further to 13.2M over the next five hands and finally jammed with K♣ 5♠ on the button. MaPuHo4Ka09 called with 6♥ 6♠, which held up on the 8♠ 8♦ 7♣ J♥ A♣ board to bring the tournament to its conclusion.

As runner-up, majster88 collected $115,190.50 from the four-way deal, topping a previous career best of $3,810. MaPuHo4Ka09 earned the champion's bracelet and the extra $20,000 after the deal, for a total prize of $150,338.68. That's also a new high point for MaPuHo4Ka09, topping a previous best of more than $16,000 from a final table appearance in the final table of the low-tier first event of SCOOP 2013. Congratulations to both players, and to the others who shared in the deal, on their big days at the WCOOP tables.

WCOOP 2015: Event #24, $215 No-Limit Hold'em (Sunday Warm-Up SE)
Entrants: 6,190
Prize pool: $1,238,000
Places paid: 810
1. MaPuHo4Ka09 (Ukraine) $150,338.68*
2. majster88 (Poland) $115,190.50*
3. Z-ENERGIES (United Kingdom) $118,585.92*
4. Martin "nizmo jiz" Kozlov (Australia) $125,631.40*
5. ValterBr@nco (Brazil) $52,615
6. KillerNorbit (New Zealand) $40,235
7. rSMig (Canada) $27,855
8. TrondheimAAA (Norway) $15,475
9. ItourAdAStra (Hungary) $9,904
* - denotes results of a four-way deal

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in WCOOP