WCOOP 2016: kawachi1984 endures for the win, Lrslzk 3rd in Event #44 ($320 NLHE, Ante Up, Progressive KO)

Four years ago, Russia's kawachi1984 entered the annals of PokerStars winners with a victory in MicroMillions II. The $11K the Russian player won that day in 2012 came in a tournament with a $4 buy-in and nearly 16,000 entrants. Tonight, after being denied a bigger win at SCOOP final tables in 2014 and earlier this year, kawachi1984 overcame some tough competition on one of online poker's biggest stages to earn a first career WCOOP title.

Day 1 of Event #44, a $320 no-limit hold'em tournament with an Ante Up structure and Progressive KO payout scale drew 871 players, good for a $261,300 prize pool. A third of that was set aside for bounties that started at $50 a head. Play ended for the day after 25 levels with just 65 players still remaining. Germany's gangst3rn1 led the way with 627,412 chips, with limitless666 (508,843) and past SCOOP & WCOOP winner Sami "Lrslzk" Kelopuro (388,020) in second and third.

Three members of Team PokerStars Pro were also among the players who came back for a second day of poker in Event #44. Jason Mercier started the day in sixth position with 267,553 chips, double the 130K average. Jason "jcarverpoker" Somerville started in 17th with 169,285 chips, and Chen-An Lin was hanging on in 51st with 51,495.

Play resumed at 1:00 p.m. ET with antes at 1,200 and the blinds, as always in an Ante Up tournament, at 5/5. An hour of play had all three Red Spades still alive, but Lin became the first to depart 10 minutes after the first break. Moving all-in with 8♣ 8♥ over the top of AssDuive's opening raise, he was called by crazzyhorses with 9♦ 9♥. With no help from the board, Lin left in 47th place.

Good run gone bad for Mercier

Jason Mercier had a good run shot down in its prime

Mercier had dropped a few chips over the first 90 minutes of Day 2 but was still in fine shape with 235K when he caught a bit of bad luck. Holding A♠ Q♠, he called a 5,177-chip raise from AssDuive and caught top pair on the 2♦ T♥ Q♣ flop. Mercier raised AssDuive's bet there, bet again when checked to on the 4♣ turn, and called when AssDuive check-raised all-in for 140K. He was a 77.3-percent favorite to win against AssDuive's K♦ J♥, but the A♥ on the river made a Broadway straight to give AssDuive the pot.

Left with 70K, Mercier dropped further to 51K after raising under the gun, betting out on the J♦ 5♠ 6♣ flop, and folding to Elwood_fi's raise. A few more cheap flops and folds had him down to 17K before A♣ K♠ gave him a double-up against bounty-hunting CUCULET's Q♦ 9♥, and then A♦ K♦ rivered a pair of aces for him to beat AssDuive's flopped top pair of jacks with J♠ 5♣. Then Mercier picked up pocket fours in the cutoff and moved all-in, losing out to Keep3r's A♠ 9♠ when the board came A♦ 6♥ 6♦ A♣ Q♠. Mercier collected more in bounties ($1,384.37) than he did for 43rd place ($831.19).

That left only Twitch favorite Jason Somerville to represent Team PokerStars Pro. He held on with a short stack as he had done throughout much of the tournament, whittled down 4,000 chips a hand, until he limped with T♠ 8♦ into a family pot that nobody ended up raising and caught top pair on the 7♥ 4♣ T♥ flop. He raised all-in for 67K after crazzyhorses led for 32K, only to find that crazzyhorses had him outkicked with J♠ T♣. The J♣ turn and A♣ river gave crazzyhorses two pair, jacks and tens, and sent Somerville out in 24th place.

Out in 24th

Jason Somerville, the last Team Pro standing, gone in 24th

Despite projections of a much earlier final table, the pace of play was deliberate enough that it took another two hours and 15 minutes after Jason Somerville's departure before the final lineup was set. The 10K-chip antes left these nine players with plenty of room to pick the spots of their choosing with a $29,443.63 top prize on the line:

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Seat 1: Sami "Lrslzk" Kelopuro (1,366,994 in chips)
Seat 2: limitless666 (1,340,651 in chips)
Seat 3: Jerry "Perrymejsen" Ödeen (596,679 in chips)
Seat 4: pseftis (608,831 in chips)
Seat 5: dinos622 (852,709 in chips)
Seat 6: Keep3r (511,102 in chips)
Seat 7: Nlzkm9 (926,013 in chips)
Seat 8: AssDuive (1,297,065 in chips)
Seat 9: kawachi1984 (1,209,956 in chips)

It didn't take long for the first player to bust out. Keep3r, who earned a SCOOP title earlier this year by beating Pascal "Päffchen" Hartmann heads-up, opened the betting seven minutes in with a raise to 56K in the cutoff. Nlzkm9 called on the button, bringing a 5♠ 6♥ 9♠ flop, and then bet 63K into the 220K-chip pot when Keep3r checked. Nlzkm9 called quickly after Keep3r check-raised all-in for 392K, showing K♣ K♦. Keep3r's A♣ 9♣ didn't catch up on the J♥ turn or T♦ river, and the Austrian player was out in ninth.

That quick knockout was one of the only ones to come easily at what would end up being a three-and-a-half-hour final table. Jerry "Perrymejsen" Ödeen, winner of the Super Tuesday back in late April of this year, would be the next short stack to bust - but he had to become a short stack first. He had that status thrust upon him after raising all-in from the big blind with 6♣ 6♥ and having original raiser pseftis call with J♠ J♦. Both players made full houses, giving pseftis the 1.5M-chip pot and leaving Perrymejsen with 74K.

Two hands later, Perrymejsen was able to flop two pair and turn a full house with A♣ 6♠ on the next hand, chipping back to 220K through bounty-hunting kawachi1984's 7♦ 3♥. Then he called pseftis's pre-flop raise with 7♥ 6♥, caught a pair on the T♠ 6♣ 2♠ flop, and moved all-in. pseftis called with A♣ 8♠ but couldn't catch up, giving Perrymejsen the double to 489K.

About a third of those chips bled off while three other players doubled up, leaving 323K for him eventually to move in with an opening raise under the gun with Q♥ J♣. kawachi1984 successfully raised all-in to isolate with A♦ J♠ and made top pair on the 6♠ K♠ 3♥ A♥ Q♣, ending Perrymejsen's run in eighth.

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nzlkm9 was in strong command of the table at that point, especially after picking up a pot uncontested with a check-raise on the turn of a 4♥ 2♦ 6♣ A♦ board to chip up to 2.3M. But after picking up T♣ T♥ and re-raising limitless666's opening bet a few orbits later, nzlkm9 made a call that changed the course of the tournament for the past WCOOP and TCOOP winner. limitless666 held K♣ K♥ and won the hand with a set thanks to the K♠ on the turn, good for a 2M-chip pot that left nzlkm9 as the second-shortest stack with 900K.

The next orbit saw a few small losses and a costly 291K-chip river bluff in a pot against kawachi1984 chip Nlzkm9's stack down to just 393K. Three hands later he opened all-in with A♦ 6♣, got a call from AssDuive with A♠ K♦, and when the board brought no help bowed out in seventh.

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AssDuive was mostly quiet over the next hour as the six remaining players jockeyed for position. That stretch ended in one big coin flip against kawachi1984, whose T♥ T♠ got the best of AssDuive's A♣ K♠ on a K♣ K♥ T♦ Q♦ 5♣ board and left the past Sunday Warm-Up finalist with only 80K - just over three antes.

AssDuive ended up all-in before the flop on the next hand, the final of three callers of kawachi1984's 67K-chip opener. There was no action after kawachi1984 bet on the 9♠ 5♦ J♥ flop and pseftis called on the button, and pseftis won the pot on the river with Q♣ 5♣ for a pair of fives. AssDuive couldn't beat that and departed in sixth.

kawachi1984 scored the next knockout as well. The Russian player re-raised to 215K on the button with J♦ J♠ after dinos622 opened for 88K, then caught top set on the J♥ 2♠ 4♦ flop after dinos622 called. A check-call of 158K from dinos 622 brought the T♦ on the turn, and kawachi1984 snap-called after the player from Ireland moved all-in for 534K. Holding K♦ T♥ for a pair of tens, dinos622 was drawing dead and exited in fifth.

The shortest gap between knockouts at this lengthy final spanned the six hands before pseftis hit the rail. Most of the Canadian player's stack went away on the river of a limped pot that had led to a 8♠ 8♥ A♣ J♣ K♣ board, after betting 261K and then folding to kawachi1984's all-in raise. pseftis folded with just 86K left behind and got it all in on the next hand with K♣ T♥ against Sami Kelopuro's A♣ Q♠. An ace on the flop was all it took to eliminate pseftis in fourth.

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Three-handed play began with the antes at 35K and the stacks ranging from Sami Kelopuro's 3.2M to limitless666's 2.5M. Kelopuro jumped ahead after winning a pot where both he and kawachi1984 called limitless666's 90K pre-flop raise and 290K bet on the 3♣ Q♠ 2♥ flop; after they all checked the J♣ turn, he took the 1.26M-chip pot with a 200K bet on the 6♥ river. That moved his stack over 4M, and he managed to pick up another 650K before running 9♣ 9♠ into kawachi1984's Q♦ Q♥, serving as enough of a buffer to be left in second place with 2.2M instead of last after the board failed to deliver a third nine to crack the queens.

Now empowered by a 4.7M-chip stack, kawachi1984 began to lean heavily on the other two players and won 13 pots out of the next 17. That included another 1.8M-chip pot at the hands of Lrslzk, whose queens were cracked by kawachi1984's Q♥ T♠, which caught top pair on the 4♣ 8♠ T♦ flop and turned three of a kind with the T♥ to boost kawachi1984's stack to 5.7M - more than twice the combined stacks of Lrslzk and limitless666.

The final hand before the 9:55 p.m. ET break would be Kelopuro's last of the tournament. In the big blind with 8♥ 6♥, he called kawachi1984's small-blind raise to 75K and then another 129K on the T♣ K♥ K♦ flop. He bet 187K when kawachi1984 checked the 9♦ turn, and then jammed for 529K on the 5♦ river after kawachi1984 called and checked one final time. kawachi1984 snap-called with K♠ 5♠ for three of a kind, taking the pot as Kelopuro left in third.

Started and ended in 3rd

Sami "Lrslzk" Kelopuro started - and ended - the day in third place

The four-minute break lasted longer than the rest of the tournament. After winning the next two pots uncontested, kawachi1984 open-shoved with A♣ 9♦ and limitless666 called with A♦ 3♠. The 7♦ T♥ 6♥ T♣ J♥ board left the kickers in play, kawachi1984's nine was good, and limitless666 was out in second.

Nine hours of Day 2 poker ended with kawachi1984 earning a first career WCOOP title, the largest bounty in the tournament thanks to four knockouts at the final table, and nearly $35,000 in winnings after including all those bounties. Congratulations to kawachi1984 for adding a COOP title to that MicroMillions II victory!

WCOOP 2016: Event #44, $320 NL Hold'em (Progressive KO (33%), Ante Up)
Entrants: 871
Prize pool: $261,300 ($174,200 regular prize pool, $87,100 prize pool)
Places paid: 98

1. kawachi1984 (Russia) $29,443.63 + $5,356.17 in bounties
2. limitless666 (United Kingdom) $21,581.77 + $2,840.62 in bounties
3. Sami "Lrslzk" Kelopuro (Finland) $15,819.38 + $1,999.89 in bounties
4. pseftis (Canada) $11,595.57 + $2,043.54 in bounties
5. dinos622 (Ireland) $8,499.51 + $2,546.87 in bounties
6. AssDuive (Germany) $6,230.12 + $2,082.41 in bounties
7. Nzlkm9 (Hungary) $4,566.67 + $2,564.33 in bounties
8. Jerry "Perrymejsen" Ödeen (Sweden) $3,347.35 + $687.49 in bounties
9. Keep3r (Austria) $2,453.60 + $1,684.36 in bounties

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Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in WCOOP