WCOOP 2016: Cameron "ishter11" Couch is poker's Marathon Man with Event #3 win ($1,050 NL Hold'em [Marathon Event])

When the astronauts of Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, they did so after completing the 220,000-kilometer trip in three days, three hours, and 49 minutes. Even allowing for the additional six hours Neil Armstrong waited before opening the door and climbing down the ladder, this tournament still took more time to complete. Let that sink in for a minute. An online poker tournament took longer than it did for man to travel from the Earth to the Moon.

We've seen three-day online events before, but for the first time ever, PokerStars added a FOUR-day tournament to the WCOOP schedule. Aptly named the Marathon Event, it tested the patience and endurance of even the most experienced online players with a structure that rivaled the slowest, deepest-stacked live events on the international circuit. True to the long structure, the cream most definitely rose to the top, producing a final nine decorated with major online and live titles.

Francisco "Tomatee" Benitez held the chip lead for most of the final day. A tournament fixture with five 'COOP final tables on his resume, he was hoping to improve upon those finishes and finally notch a win. However, he gave up the lead to cash game grinder Cameron "ishter11" Couch during seven-handed play and was unable to regain it. Ishter11 eliminated the seventh, sixth, and fifth-place finishers, took Tomatee out in fourth, and went into three-handed play with a dominating chip lead. Charlie "Epiphany77" Carrel, who famously turned a $15 deposit into a $500,000 bankroll, hung on to finish third, while Slovakia's irache 87 got heads-up with ishter11, albeit at a significant chip deficit. It didn't take long for ishter11 to capture the rest of the chips on the table and he emerged $222k richer and a WCOOP champion.

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Cameron "ishter11" Couch, pictured at the 2016 Aussie Millions

1,166 players signed up for a potential four days on the virtual felt. They made 286 re-entries, boosting the prize pool to $1,452,000.00. 161 spots were paid with $222,989.75 set aside for the champion.

Let's rewind for a moment to Sunday, which marked Day 1 of this marathon event. Levels were 20 minutes long to start and increased to 30 minutes at Level 7. Following 19 levels of play, the action was paused for the night and cards went back in the air at 12:30 ET on Monday. Day 2 levels were 45 minutes long and play continued for eight more hours. During the latter half of Day 2, the money bubble burst and 111 players advanced to Day 3.

The first half of Day 3 saw the field rapidly shrink from 111 players to 39 but the pace slowed dramatically thereafter, with the level lengths increasing to 60 minutes. Only 15 more players busted out on Day 3, to leave 24 in the field to start the final day.

Notable Day 2 and 3 cashes included: Sebastian "p0cket00" Sikorski (159th), Doug "WCG|Rider" Polk (152nd), Mike "goleafsgoeh" Leah (133rd), Joep "Pappe_Ruk" van de Bijgaart (125th), Faraz "The-Toilet 0" Jaka (120th), Ryan "PROTENTIALmn" LaPlante (119th), Simon "ministerborg" Ravnsbaek (116th), Mike "munchenHB" Telker (95th), Naoya "nkeyno" Kihara (83rd), Event #2 winner pablotenisis (79th), Luke "LFmagic" Fields (70th), Rui "RuiNF" Ferreira (38th), and Tom "hitthehole" Middleton (36th).

Going into Day 4, Francisco "Tomatee" Benitez of Uruguay held the overnight chip lead with 7,994,746 and maintained it for most of the day. Irache 87, however, snagged the top spot when his A♠Q♥ flopped an ace to snap off jknack10's pocket jacks and send him to the rail in 20th place. WCOOP champ Nico "PKaiser" Fierro already made one final table this series, finishing fifth in Event #6, but he fell short of his second today. PKaiser's A♣Q♥ flopped a pair of queens, but Andrey "Kroko-dill" Zaichenko's 9♥T♥ rivered a ten-high straight, ending the Chilean's run in 17th place.

Like his fellow countryman Kroko-dill, Russia's Artem "veeea" Vezhenkov is one of only four players that hold WCOOP, SCOOP, and Sunday Million titles. Plus, he's won the Super Tuesday an astonishing three times. However, his quest for a second WCOOP came to a close in 13th place when he ran pocket kings into Charlie "Epiphany77" Carrel's pocket aces. 2011 EPT San Remo champion Andrey "ThePateychuk" Pateychuk followed him to the rail in 12th, his pocket eights falling to Kroko-dill's A♠Q♣. And at the very same time on the other table, Guilherme "teruliro" Beavis had his A♣A♥ cracked when Tomatee's 4♠5♠ turned a flush, sending him home in 11th place.

Tomatee had a substantial chip lead on the final table bubble with 20 miillion in chips, roughly twice what second-place irache 87 held. Kroko-dill was the short stack, but he scored a clutch double-up through PatKlebs when his K♣K♦ held up against A♦Q♣. Kroko-dill moved up to 5.2 million and PatKlebs was left with 1.22 million, but he got a lucky reprieve two hands later and doubled to 2.58 million when his Q♥J♠ flopped a jack against ishter11's A♥Q♦.

After two hours and 46 minutes of hand-for-hand play, the blinds were up to 50,000/100,000 and LrdofDonkTwn had bled down to his last 5BB. He opened for 400,000, newguy89 three-bet to 700,000, and LrdofDonkTwn called off his remaining 98,201. Although LrdofDonkTwn's K♦T♦ had mewguy89's K♣7♥ dominated, a seven hit the flop and LrdofDonkTwn went out one spot shy of the final table.

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Final table chip counts

Seat 1: irache 87 (8,925,034 in chips)
Seat 2: blackaces93 (3,863,546 in chips)
Seat 3: madsamot (5,406,080 in chips)
Seat 4: PatKlebs (3,660,100 in chips)
Seat 5: Epiphany77 (11,104,517 in chips)
Seat 6: Tomatee (21,753,476 in chips)
Seat 7: newguy89 (10,152,326 in chips)
Seat 8: ishter11 (5,112,727 in chips)
Seat 9: Kroko-dill (2,622,194 in chips)

It may have taken the length of a Martin Scorsese film to burst the final table bubble, but only 14 minutes later our ninth-place finisher departed in a hand he'll likely never forget. With the blinds up to 60,000/120,000, ishter11 opened for 250,000, blackaces93 three-bet to 580,000 from the cutoff and ishter11 four-bet shoved. Blackaces93 called all-in for less, his A♠A♥ up against A♦K♣. However, the Q♦J♥T♥ flop was absolutely devastating for him, as ishter11 flopped a Broadway straight. Blackaces93 got nothing from the 4♥ turn or the J♦ river and exited with an $18,582.55 payday while ishter11 moved up to 9.11 million, good for third in chips.

Ishter11 moved from third in chips to second later in the same level. He found K♠K♣ and opened for 250,000, only to have Kroko-dill move all-in for 2,719,994 right behind him. Ishter11 snap-called, his kings up against Q♣Q♠. The cooler claimed Kroko-dill's tournament life in eighth place as the board ran out J♠8♥2♠7♦J♣.

kroko-dill_pcaHR.jpgAndrey "Kroko-dill" Zaichenko, eighth place

During the nearly two hours our players were deadlocked seven-handed, Tomatee gave up the chip lead for the first time at the final table. The action folded to Tomatee on the button and he opened for a min-raise to 400,000. Both blinds called and the flop fell 8♣4♥2♠. Small blind newguy89 and big blind ishter11 both passed to Tomatee, who bet 563,750. Newguy89 folded, but ishter11 called. The turn brought the J♥ and ishter11 checked again. Tomatee made it 1,026,025 to go and ishter11 called. However, when the 8♥ landed on the river, ishter11 turned around and led out for 1,694,092. Tomatee raised to 13.2 million and ishter11 called all-in for 6.87 million. Tomatee turned over A♥3♠ -- a bluff with only ace-high-- while ishter11 doubled to 21.7 million with K♥5♥ for a king-high flush. Ishter11 moved into the chip lead while Tomatee fell to 15.1 million.

Seven-handed play continued for another twenty minutes before PatKlebs opened T♣T♠ for 440,000 and Epiphany77 moved al-in for 4.25 million. PatKlebs called, only to watch in horror as Epiphany77 rolled over Q♥Q♣. Epiphany77's queens held up on the J♣9♠6♠8♥4♦ board and PatKlebs was left with 148,000 in chips-- less than one big blind. PatKlebs moved all-in on the next hand, but could not beat ishter11's ace-high flush and went out in seventh place.

With the field down to six players, Tomatee was the first to broach the subject of a deal, but his opponents weren't interested at this juncture.

Tomatee: we can look the numers if every one want...
Tomatee: guys?
ishter11: maybe later
Tomatee: why no look bro?
Epiphany77: I'm running way too good to look right now

With the blinds still at 100,000/200,000 the pace of play picked up a bit. The action folded to madsamot, who limped in. Tomatee raised to 725,300 on the button, ishter11 called from the big blind and madsamot reraised all-in for 5,226,400. Tomatee gave up his hand, but ishter11 called. Madsamot's 7♣7♥ were racing with A♥Q♥ and stayed safe through the turn, but a queen spiked on the river to pair up ishter11 and send madsamot to the rail in sixth place.

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Mads "madsamot" Amot, sixth place

Moments later, another cooler led to another departure. After Tomatee opened for 400,000, newguy89 moved in for 4,552,090 with Q♠Q♣ and ishter11 called with K♥K♠. Ishter11 hit a king on the flop and made kings full on the river, the board running out K♣J♠2♦9♦J♦ to eliminate newguy89 in fifth place.

When four-handed play commenced, ishter11 still held the chip lead with 33.9 million, Tomatee was second with 19.2 million, Epiphany77 was third with 12.8 million, and irache 87 was the short stack with 6.65 million.

Irache 87 slipped to 4.6 million before he moved in with A♦7♦ on the button. Tomatee called from the big blind with A♣T♥ and had irache 87 dominated, but irache 87 picked up a flush draw on the Q♦J♠6♦ flop. The 3♠ turn didn't help him, but the 3♦ river completed the ace-high flush and irache 87 doubled to 9.43 million. Then, with the blinds still at 120,000/240,000, ishter11 opened for 500,000 from the cutoff and both Epiphany77 and Tomatee called from the blinds. The flop fell 9♠8♠8♦ and all three players checked. The turn came the Q♦ and Epiphany77 checked to Tomatee, who bet 960,000. Both players called. The river was the 8♥ and the action checked to ishter11, who bet 1,075,000. Epiphany77 raised to 7.44 million, Tomatee folded, and ishter11 moved all-in for 35.9 million. Epiphany77 agonized for quite a while before deciding to fold and save his last 2.7 million, while ishter11 moved up to 47.87 million.

Epiphany77 was in dire shape, but won five of the next nine pots to move back up to 6 million in chips. Then, with the blinds up to 140,000/280,000, irache 87 opened for 602,000 from the cutoff and Tomatee three-bet to 1,666,666 from the small blind. Ishter11 moved all-in for 47.8 million and Tomatee called off his remaining 9.83 million. It was a classic race, Tomatee's A♦K♦ up against ishter11's J♦J♥. The Q♠T♥2♥ flop kept ishter11's jacks in the lead while Tomatee picked up a gutshot straight draw to go with his overcards. However, Tomatee didn't improve on the 9♣ turn or the 7♠ river and the man who held the chip lead for most of Day 4 saw his run come to an end in fourth place.

Francisco_Tomatee_Benitez.jpgFrancisco "Tomatee" Benitez, pictured at the LAPT8 Uruguay

Ishter11 had a massive chip lead three-handed, with 60 million in chips compared to Epiphany77's 7.7 million and irache 87's 4.8 million. As play paused for what would be the final break of the tournament, Epiphany77 asked ishter11 about the earlier hand where he lost most of his stack... and got something of an answer.

Epiphany77: Bro
Epiphany77: Please
Epiphany77: What did you have
Epiphany77: On 988q8
ishter11: you think i show anything but quads there?
Epiphany77: *shrugs*
ishter11: you fold 999?
Epiphany77: QJ

Immediately after the break, irache 87 scored a crucial double-up when ishter11 made a button shove with 4♠6♦. Irache 87 called with K♥T♥ and hit a ten on the flop to double to 5.94 million. Five hands later, Epiphany77 open-shoved for 6.28 million on the button and irache 87 snap-called from the big blind. Irache 87's K♣K♦ held up against 9♠T♠ on the J♦T♥6♦6♥A♦ board, and Epiphany77 was left with only 134,718 in chips. Epiphany77 moved in on the next hand and both irache87 and ishter11 checked down the K♥T♥2♦6♦Q♦ board. Irache 87 turned over K♣Q♥ for top two pair and Epiphany77 was out in third place.

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The colorful Charlie "Epiphany77" Carrel, playing EPT11 Malta

Heads-up chip counts

Seat 1: irache 87 (13,000,214 in chips)
Seat 8: ishter11 (59,599,786 in chips)

"Wanna see numbers?" asked irache 87.

"Not now. Maybe if you double," ishter11 replied.

Who could blame him? Ishter11 held a 4.6 to 1 chip lead when heads-up play commenced and he whittled irache 87's stack down to 8 million within the first 15 hands. Over the next ten minutes, ishter11 kept the pressure on and won all but three pots, as irache 87 slipped to only 2.72 million. Although irache 87 was able to double up one more time when his K♦5♠ made a pair of fives vs. Q♠9♣, it was all over three hands later.

Ishter11 moved all-in on the button and irache 87 called off his last 4.14 million from the big blind.

ishter11 A♥7♥
irache 87 Q♥9♥

It was nearly a done deal as the flop came down A♦7♠T♥, making ishter11 aces and sevens. The T♠ turn improved ishter11 to aces and tens and the 4♠ river sealed the win.

Congratulations to Cameron "ishter11" Couch on taking down the first-ever WCOOP Marathon Event! His four days on the felt earned him $222,989.75 while runner-up irache 87 banked $163,450.18.

WCOOP-03: $1,050 NLHE [Marathon Event] results
Total entries: 1,452 (1,166 players, 286 re-entries)
Prize pool: $1,452,000.00
Places paid: 161

1. Cameron "ishter11" Couch (Australia) $222,989.75
2. irache 87 (Slovakia) $163,450.18
3. Charlie "Epiphany77" Carrel (United Kingdom) $119,808.58
4. Francisco "Tomatee" Benitez (Uruguay) $87,819.42
5. Ryan "newguy89" McEathron (Canada) $64,371,37
6. Mads "madsamot" Amot (Norway) $47,184.04
7. PatKlebs (United Kingdom) $34,585.91
8. Andrey "Kroko-dill" Zaichenko (Russia) $25,351.33
9. blackaces93 (Poland) $18,582.55

Ready to take your shot at a WCOOP title? Sign up for PokerStars today!

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in WCOOP