WCOOP 2016: pappadogg denies apostolis20 a Triple COOP, wins $52K in Event #48 ($215 NLHE, 8-Max, Progressive KO (25%), Player's Choice Event #1)

Winning one PokerStars COOP event is a tough task. Winning one in two different series is an even bigger challenge. And winning one each during TCOOP, SCOOP, and WCOOP is so tough that players who can pull off the feat have their own special designation: Triple COOP winners. A winner of titles during SCOOP 2015 and TCOOP 2013, Apostolis "apostolis20" Bechrakis entered heads-up play in Event #48 today on the verge of joining the Triple COOP club. But taking the lead into heads-up play is never a guaranteed win, and the Czech Republic's pappadogg managed to turn things around and battle for nearly an hour to defeat Bechrakis and emerge as the latest WCOOP champion.

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This first of three Players' Choice events on this year's World Championship of Online Poker Schedule, Event #48 kicked off Saturday at 10am ET. The field for this $215 8-max, Progressive KO (25%) no-limit hold'em event swelled to 2,364 by the close of late registration, cruising past the $400,000 guarantee for a total prize pool of $472,800. A quarter of that was set aside for the bounty prize pool, and the other three-quarters was divided among the top 295 finishers, with $52,265.58 reserved for the winner.

Day 1 ended after 25 levels of play with Zet-King (734,061 chips), SaoJorge2222 (539,225), and yoshdog22 (506,979) leading the way. None of them would progress to the final, but the man sitting just a few spots back in sixth would. Apostolis "apostolis20" Bechrakis had 406,131 chips to start the day and managed to improve on his standing over the next five-plus hours to reach the final table in fourth place.

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Seat 1: AcckiySotona (2,772,769 in chips)
Seat 2: pappadogg (2,493,523 in chips)
Seat 3: NY17PATS14 (4,354,116 in chips)
Seat 4: PayMyLoans11 (4,420,488 in chips)
Seat 5: u3meha (3,513,787 in chips)
Seat 6: Jason "jdtjpoker" Wheeler (1,540,047 in chips)
Seat 7: nord96 (1,483,072 in chips)
Seat 8: Apostolis "apostolis20" Bechrakis (3,062,198 in chips)

With blinds and antes at 30K/60K/7.5K, the final table began at 4:19 p.m. ET. nord96 dropped half a million chips in the first 10 minutes of the final table, all in hands where the SCOOP 2014 runner-up had to fold in the face of aggression from multiple players. Then an opportunity to get those chips back presented itself when nord96 was dealt 9♣ 9♥ in the big blind and the action folded around to the small blind, where past Super Tuesday finalist Jason "jdtjpoker" Wheeler had open-shoved for 1.53M chips. nord96 called all-in for 1M and had a slight edge over Wheeler's K♦ T♦, but the 2♣ T♣ T♥ flop gave Wheeler trip tens and left nord96 with two outs. The 5♥ turn and 4♥ river didn't deliver, and nord96 was out in eighth.

apostolis20 picked up a healthy pot just before the break after defending the big blind with 5♠ 5♥ against SCOOP 2012 finalist PayMyLoans11's cutoff raise to 152K. Both player checked the T♣ J♥ 2♥ flop, and apostolis20 check-called 186K on the T♦ turn to see the 5♦ make him a full house on the river. He check-raised PayMyLoans11 from 367K to 1.45M and got paid, dragging a total of 3.67M chips just before the first break began.

"decent run out," typed PayMyLoans11.

"sure," replied apostolis20.

Russia's AcckiySotona spent most of the first hour of the final table with a stack fairly close to where it had begun, but back-to-back hands on the 40K/80K/10K level just after the break would change that. AcckiySotona was in the big blind for the first of them and called u3meha's raise to 182K, as did apostolis20 in the small blind, to see a K♥ 6♦ 9♠ flop. Both blinds checked and u3meha bet 259K; only AcckiySotona continued to the A♦ turn, where the Russian player check-called another 658K. AcckiySotona finally folded after u3meha bet 3M on the 9♥ river, down a 1.1M chips but still in the game.

AcckiySotona picked up T♣ T♦ in the small blind on the very next hand and, facing an opening raise from u3meha and a re-raise by Jason "jdtjpoker" Wheeler, moved all-in for 1.75M. u3meha folded, but Wheeler called with A♥ K♥ and made a pair of aces on the river of the 3♠ 7♥ 2♦ 2♥ A♠ board to bust AcckiySotona in seventh.

PayMyLoans11 had been mostly quiet at the table since losing that earlier pot to apostolis20, but three orbits after AcckiySotona's exit the player from the U.K. picked up A♠ K♥ under the gun and moved all-in for 1.24M. The only caller was apostolis20, who once again had a pocket pair - this time T♣ T♠. A set on the flop and a dodged straight draw as the board ran out 6♠ T♥ Q♥ 9♣ 6♥ gave apostolis20 the 2.69M-chip pot and sent PayMyLoans11 to the rail in sixth.

2015 Sunday Million finalist & fourth-place finisher in this year's WCOOP Event #8 pappadogg was now the short stack, but not for long. The Czech player raised to 225K in the cutoff with K♥ 7♥, both u3meha and jdtjpoker called in the blinds, and the flop came 7♣ 7♦ 6♦. Both blinds checked, pappadogg bet 243K, and only u3meha came along for the J♦ turn. Both players checked there, and the K♣ hit the river. u3meha led for 795K, then called with K♦ T♦ when pappadogg moved all-in for 2.6M. The diamond flush lost out to sevens full of kings, and pappadogg chipped up to 6.44M.

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There was plenty of action for the next half hour, but nobody faced elimination and the tournament reached the next break still five-handed. After they returned, apostolis20 set the course toward more knockouts by playing small-ball in position and catching two draws along the way. Unfortunately for Jason "jdtjpoker" Wheeler, he was out of position for both of them.

In the first hand, jdtjpoker limped from the small blind and apostolis20 checked with 8♠ 6♠ to bring a 7♥ 4♣ K♣ flop. jdtjpoker bet the minimum of 120K, apostolis20 called, and jdtjpoker checked the T♣ turn. apostolis20 bet 283K there, and then another 713K after jdtjpoker called and checked the 5♥ river. That got another call, but jdtjpoker mucked when apostolis60 showed the eight-high straight to win 2.54M chips.

The next orbit saw apostolis20 raise to 264K under the gun with K♥ 8♥ and jdtjpoker call in the big blind. jdtjpoker check-called 238K on the 5♣ 2♥ 5♠ flop, and then both players checked the A♥ turn to bring the J♥ on the river. jdtjpoker check-called another 850K, only to muck when apostolis20 showed the nut flush for the 2.83M-chip pot.

Down to 1.83M chips, jdtjpoker bled off a bit more through blinds and antes before moving all-in before the flop a few orbits later with A♦ 3♠. NY17PATS14 called in the big blind with A♠ Q♦, the board ran out 6♠ 5♠ K♦ J♥ K♥, and Jason "jdtjpoker" Wheeler left the tournament in fifth.

Six hands later, apostolis20 claimed his second bounty of the final table after calling from the big blind with Q♣ J♥ when u3meha, a Sunday Warm-Up finalist in 2015, shoved from the small blind with K♦ 7♣. u3meha flopped top pair, but apostolis20 made Broadway by the time the board ran out T♣ K♠ 8♥ A♣ 9♥. With that, apostolis20 picked up another 3.99M-chip pot and u3meha left in fourth.

As quick as that departure had come along, the next appeared even more quickly. NY17PATS14 picked up K♣ K♥ on the button and opened for 310K, then called all-in for less when pappadogg shoved for 4.19M. A 71.7-percent favorite before the flop but covered by 333K in chips, NY17PATS14 lost out to pappadogg's A♥ 9♣ on the 2♠ 4♣ Q♦ A♣ 8♣ board and exited in third.

After two hours of poker that resulted in just three eliminations, the heads-up match had been set thanks to three KOs in as many minutes and apostolis20, seeking a third career COOP title, had the edge:

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Seat 2: pappadogg (8,186,598 in chips)
Seat 8: apostolis20 (15,453,402 in chips)

Any thoughts of a fourth quick knockout went out the window when pappadogg got all-in on the second hand with A♣ K♥ and doubled through apostolis20's A♦ J♦, dodging a flopped flush draw to win unimproved on an eight-high board. The 51-minute heads-up match that ensued tested both players' resolve and endurance.

pappadogg's first stretch with a significant lead lasted 10 minutes, until apostolis20 flopped an open-ended straight draw and turned the straight with the same card that made two pair for pappadogg. pappadogg reopened that lead and held it for another 20 minutes until apostolis20 took away a 7.44M-chip pot by firing bets out of position before the flop and after it, on the turn, and finally on the river with the board reading 2♦ J♦ Q♥ 7♣ T♠. Soon enough, though, pappadogg moved back in front and proved reluctant to give up the lead. apostolis20 won more pots, but they were mostly small. pappadogg won the big ones that really counted and managed to hover right around 15M chips for most of the rest of the match.

The Czech player's stack was only slightly higher at 16.6M when apostolis20 raised to 440K on the button, and pappadogg called with 9♠ 5♥ to catch two pair on the 5♠ 9♥ 2♣ flop. pappadogg check-raised apostolis20's 390K-chip bet to 999K, and led again for 1.32M on the J♥ turn after apostolis20 called. This time apostolis20 moved all-in for 5.73M, and pappadogg called with the two pair, nines and fives. apostolis20 had 8♦ 7♥ for a double gutshot straight draw and 18.2 percent equity in the pot, but the A♥ on the river sent apostolis20 to the rail in second.

Apostolis Bechrakis might have come up just short of a Triple COOP win, but he still took home more than $40,000 for finishing second with his bounties included. Congratulations to pappadogg for overcoming him in a hard-fought final table and heads-up match to become a WCOOP champion!

WCOOP 2016: Event #48, $215 NL Hold'em (8-Max, Progressive KO (25%), Players' Choice Event #1)
Entrants: 2,364
Prize pool: $472,800 ($354,600 regular prize pool, $118,200 prize pool)
Places paid: 295

1. pappadogg (Czech Republic) $52,265.58 + $4,176.81 in bounties
2. Apostolis "apostolis20" Bechrakis (Cyprus) $37,255.76 + $3,431.37 in bounties
3. NY17PAYS14 (Canada) $26,557.19 + $3,424.63 in bounties
4. u3meha (Ukraine) $18,930.85 + $1,958.94 in bounties
5. Jason "jdtjpoker" Wheeler (Mexico) $13,494.55 + $2,801.31 in bounties
6. PayMyLoans11 (United Kingdom) $9,619.37 + $2,293.88 in bounties
7. AcckiySotona (Russia) $6,857 + $726.55 in bounties
8. nord96 (Romania) $4,887.91 + $1,649.57 in bounties

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Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in WCOOP