WCOOP 2015: RcknTheSbrbs rules Event #1 ($109 NLHE); John Duthie runner-up

Event #1 of this year's World Championship of Online Poker -- the first of 70 events (!) on the three week-long schedule -- was something unique. For the first time in WCOOP's 14-year history, an event would require players to play on three different days -- an initial "Phase 1," then a two-day "Phase 2" -- to make the final table and have a shot at the first WCOOP bracelet of the series.

The winner of this historic event -- a $109 buy-in no-limit hold'em affair with re-entry opportunities -- was Costa Rica's RcknTheSbrbs, no stranger to deep runs in big events on PokerStars including previously winning a Super Tuesday. RcknTheSbrbs earned a cool $200,352.48 first prize to go along with the bracelet.


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Seventy of these will be claimed over the next three weeks

And right there at the end to present RcknTheSbrbs with one final challenge was none other than the man who founded the European Poker Tour, John "Blessed" Duthie, who also earned a handsome prize of $145,605 for finishing runner-up.


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John "Blessed" Duthie

Before telling how RcknTheSbrbs and Duthie managed to battle all of the way to the tournament's final hand, let's quickly sort out the tournament's unique format.

Way back on August 30 the first of the "Phase 1" flights were played out, each lasting 14 fifteen-minute levels with the survivors all earning spots in Sunday's "Phase 2." Those flights continued to be staged twice per day throughout the week, with five more on Saturday and another one Sunday morning to total 18 of them. Players who played and busted a Phase 1 could come back to try a subsequent one until getting through to Sunday's second phase.

Ultimately there were 17,130 entries in those "Phase 1" flights, which added up to a total prize pool of $1,713,000 (besting the event's $1.5 million guarantee). 2,502 players survived to Sunday's Phase 2, but since only the top 2,250 spots paid the bubble hadn't quite burst yet. jbrown8777 of Canada enjoyed the chip lead at that point and would start play on Sunday in first position.

Phase 2 began with 15 twenty-minute levels played on Sunday, during which time the field was whittled down to just 151 players, with jbrown8777 falling along the way in 302nd for a $685.20 score. The survivors then took another break, coming back on Monday to finish out Phase 2. Here's how the top of the counts looked when play resumed earlier today:

1. pokermeplezz (Australia) -- 1,971,623
2. Adam "Adamyid" Owen (United Kingdom) -- 1,918,051
3. gregor7878 (Poland) -- 1,759,450
4. Stultitia99 (Belgium) -- 1,686,465
5. RcknTheSbrbs (Costa Rica) -- 1,546,469
6. pluis679 (Netherlands) -- 1,531,590
7. 00SKIP (Canada) -- 1,389,174
8. RovoDice (Latvia) -- 1,269,806
9. Apotheosis92 (Canada) -- 1,119,915
10. stralucescu (Belgium) -- 1,103,015

Once play began on the final day, it took almost four hours for the 151 returners to play down to just 18. At that point start-of-day leader pokermeplezz had recently hit the rail in 22nd for a $3,169.05 cash, while fellow Aussie jstclkdabtn had ascended to the top of the counts with more than 9.2 million.

It took a little over 90 minutes more for nine more to fall. Stultitia99 (18th), KennethKenny (17th), and PIPI tapis! (16th) were the next out, each earning $3,511.65 for their finishes. dadaking001 (15th), jstclkdabtn (14th), and 4ceJON (13th) followed, picking up $5,139 apiece. Then Matthew101 (12th), Singontiko (11th), and Ahhh Is It? (10th) successively fell, with each cashing for $6,852 for not quite making the final table.

With Howié the new chip leader with a stack of just over 20 million, the final table was underway.


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Seat 1: josh12000 (Switzerland) -- 4,987,553
Seat 2: pccp1 (Denmark) -- 11,027,215
Seat 3: John "Blessed" Duthie (United Kingdom) -- 5,109,106
Seat 4: RcknTheSbrbs (Costa Rica) -- 12,241,560
Seat 5: dan1lych (Ukraine) -- 15,106,426
Seat 6: Adam "Adamyid" Owen (United Kingdom) -- 7,916,662
Seat 7: 00SKIP (Canada) -- 4,341,929
Seat 8: Howié (Belgium) -- 20,003,554
Seat 9: Raphael "tiarc" Wimmer (Austria) -- 4,915,995

It would take nearly an hour for the first final table knockout to occur, with a couple of the short stacks surviving all-ins during the interim. Finally it was Adam "Adamyid" Owen opening with A♦Q♣, 00SKIP reraising all-in for just over four big blinds with K♦Q♠, and Owen calling. The board ran out ten-high, and 00SKIP was out in ninth.

Shortly after it was Raphael "tiarc" Wimmer pushing for a tad over four BBs and getting called by both pccp1 and John "Blessed" Duthie. The latter two checked the Q♥4♦8♣ flop, then a bet from pccp1 after the K♦ turn chased Duthie. pccp1 had 8♦8♥ for a set while Wimmer was drawing live with A♦J♦, but after the 2♠ river Wimmer was out and they were down to seven.

The next knockout was a big one, starting with a mid-position min-raise by pccp1 to 1.2 million, an all-in by dan1lych reraise to just over 10.1 million from the small blind, and a call from pccp1. It was A♠T♠ for dan1lych and 8♠8♦ for pccp1, and after the 5♠9♥Q♣6♥4♥ board the eights had held and dan1lych was done in seventh.

Next it was Howié open-shoving from early position for about 5.16 million (about six-and-a-half BBs) and getting one caller in RckntheSbrbs in the big blind. Howié had K♣Q♥ and needed help against RcknTheSbrbs's A♠J♥, but the eight-high board didn't provide it and Howié's run was over in sixth.

During that same level, Adam "Adamyid" Owen opened from under the gun with a raise for just over 1.72 million (a little more than 2x BB), then watched josh12000 make it almost 4.7 million to go from a seat over -- leaving just 10 chips behind. It folded back to Owen who called the raise, and after the two saw a flop come 6♦6♠Q♣, Owen led and josh12000 called with those last few chips.

josh12000 had A♠Q♦ for queens and sixes, but Owen had flopped trips with J♣6♥. The turn was the 3♠ and river the 4♦, and josh12000 was done in fifth.

A little later Owen -- who we recently saw mixing it up at EPT Barcelona -- was the one pushing all in, open-raising for just over 13 million (about 13 BBs) from UTG and getting called by his fellow countryman Duthie in the small blind. Owen had 7♣7♥ while Duthie showed K♠Q♦. The board rolled out J♦9♣8♣Q♠3♣, the turn queen giving Duthie the big pot and sending Owen railward in fourth.


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Adam "Adamyid" Owen

As three-handed play continued RcknTheSbrbs built a big lead with over 65 million while the other two -- John "Blessed" Duthie and pccp1 -- hovered around 10 million. Then came a hand in which pccp1 open-raised for about 9.75 million from the button with A♠Q♠ and RcknTheSbrbs called from the big blind with A♣8♠. An eight came on the flop -- the cards coming T♠8♥6♥ -- and after the 2♣ turn and T♦ river, pccp1's run was over in third.

RcknTheSbrbs began heads-up with a big lead with about 75.8 million to Duthie's just over 9.8 million. The latter battled gamely, though couldn't make much headway. Then, just over eight hours into this third day of poker for the two, the final hand arrived.

It began with an all-in button push by RcknTheSbrbs, with Duthie calling with the almost 12.9 million left (just over 10 BBs) after posting the big blind. RcknTheSbrbs had 6♥6♣ while Duthie had two live cards with Q♦T♥. The community cards came 9♥5♥4♣, then A♣, then 4♠, and it was over -- RcknTheSbrbs was the Event #1 champion.

Congratulations to RcknTheSbrbs, who showed remarkable consistency over the three days of this event. In the Phase 1 flight chosen by RcknTheSbrbs, the player led all survivors from that group, then after the first day of Phase 2 had a top 10 stack before taking the event down today for a nice $200K-plus score.

And kudos as well to John "Blessed" Duthie, the man who created the EPT from whole cloth and went a long way toward making it what's become today, and who successfully negotiated his way through the phases of this event to come just one spot shy of the win.

WCOOP-01: $109 NL Hold'em (WCOOP Kickoff)
Entries: 17,130

Prize pool: $1,713,000

Places paid: 2,250

1. RcknTheSbrbs (Costa Rica) $200,352.48
2. John "Blessed" Duthie (United Kingdom) $145,605.00
3. pccp1 (Denmark) $111,345.00
4. Adam "Adamyid" Owen (United Kingdom) $77,085.00
5. josh12000 (Switzerland) $59,955.00
6. Howié (Belgium) $42,825.00
7. dan1lych (Ukraine) $29,121.00
8. Raphael "tiarc" Wimmer (Austria) $15,417.00
9. 00SKIP (Canada) $10,278.00

Take a look at the the WCOOP page for all the details about the 70-event series, most of which is still to come!

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

Martin Harris
@hardboiledpoker in WCOOP