WCOOP 2017: Steven "SvZff" van Zadelhoff secures Main Event victory, $1.62M

We've long known about amiable poker pro Steven "SvZff" van Zadelhoff. A frequent face at PokerStars tournaments throughout Europe, we've seen him often while he's been earning some of his career live tournament cashes totaling just over $1.5 million. A sixth-place finish in an EPT Tallinn Main Event stands out in the PokerStars Blog's collective memory, one of several deep runs in events over the years for the usually upbeat and chatty van Zadelhoff.

Well, the Dutchman playing from Malta has got plenty to be upbeat about today. From a predictably huge and challenging 2017 World Championship of Online Poker Main Event field he emerged from three days of poker as champion in the $5,200 buy-in no-limit hold'em tournament, pocketing a cool $1,624,502.27 first prize with no final-table deal made.

That's more even than those considerable career live earnings!


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Steven "SvZff" van Zadelhoff

More than 800 players were seated when the first Main Event hands were dealt Sunday afternoon, and there was still another hour-and-a-half left in late registration when the total number of entries crossed 2,000, meaning the prize pool would be exceeding the event's $10 million guarantee.

Ultimately there were 2,183 entries (1,804 uniques plus 379 re-entries), meaning a $10,915,000 prize pool with the top 278 places paid. That also meant the scheduled $1,624,502.27 first-place prize would be more than the $1.5M that had been guaranteed to go to first.

That topped last year's total number of entries (2,091) and prize pool ($10,052,879.79).

Day 1 ended just three eliminations away from the bubble bursting, with uknowProsky* the one leading the 281 players. Then shortly after play began on Day 2, Pascal "Päffchen" Hartmann -- one of this year's WCOOP winners -- was one of the first three players out to miss the money.

After three-plus hours on Day 2 just 100 players remained, with the leader Harrison "gibler321" Gimbel who took runner-up in the SCOOP Main Event "High" just a few months ago. Among the cashers to that point was Team PokerStars Pro Andre "aakkari" Akkari in 195th ($11,570.99), who at the time was also final-tabling Event #77-H ($1,050 NLHE) where he later would finish seventh.

A couple of hours after that just 50 were left, with uknowProsky* on the rail in 96th ($19,481.09) and kebab-setä having emerged as the new chip leader.

They were close to eight hours into Day 2 when just 18 players remained, seated around the final two tables. By then Harrison "gibler321" Gimbel was out in 46th, and Team PokerStars Pro Igor Kurganov was sent railward a little after that with a 38th-place finish, like Gimbel earning $32,798.48.


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Team PokerStars Pro Igor Kurganov

Meanwhile kebab-setä still had a top five stack, and Steven "Svff" van Zadelhoff had risen to the top of the counts with a huge chip lead, sitting with nearly 22 million when no one else had 12 million.

azn_baller3 (18th) next fell to earn $55,218.98, then Jorryt "TheCleaner11" van Hoof (17th), GadMO (16th), serhiy1989 (15th), and Laze84 (14th) followed, each taking away $71,649.33.

chipcomehere (13th), keba91 (12th), kebab-setä (11th), and NY17PATS14 (10th) then became the ones coming just shy of Tuesday's finale, earning $92,968.51 apiece.

The last nine players were reassembled around the new final table, and after one quick hand play was paused for the night with with Steven "SvZff" van Zadelhoff the big chip leader holding just over a third of the chips in play.


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Seat 1: Bernardo "Machadada RS" Rocha (Brazil) -- 9,874,171
Seat 2: Alexandre "Cavalito" Mantovani (Brazil) -- 10,676,093
Seat 3: Steven "SvZff" van Zadelhoff (Malta) -- 37,957,931
Seat 4: Geokarak (United Kingdom) -- 3,477,018
Seat 5: joshuah333 (Canada) -- 12,695,898
Seat 6: JeremiieLand (Austria) -- 11,255,958
Seat 7: imluckbox (Thailand) -- 6,176,557
Seat 8: Kekkhou (Finland) -- 12,171,449
Seat 9: romanooo64 (Thailand) -- 4,864,925

A few hours before play began on Tuesday, van Zadelhoff tweeted some humorous, mock incredulity regarding the situation to his followers:

Van Zadelhoff was rarin' to go on the very first hand on Tuesday, open-shoving from the small blind to put short stack Geokarak to a decision. The latter ultimately called with K♣7♣ and doubled through as van Zadelhoff had 6♦5♠ and didn't improve on the board, and with a bang they were underway.

The host Antonio came on shortly after to remind everyone the final table would be replayed later with hole cards exposed, to which van Zadelhoff cracked "o damn couldn't you have told me earlier?"


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Steven "SvZff" van Zadelhoff

imluckbox's luck runs out, finishes ninth

About a half-hour into Day 3, the blinds were 150,000/300,000 when imluckbox -- who won a SCOOP event a year ago ($700 NLHE) -- open-raised all in for almost 4.7 million from the button, then Kekkhou reraise-shoved from the small blind to isolate.

imluckbox had picked up an ace with A♦5♠, but Kekkhou -- winner of this year's Event #29-H ($2,100 NLO8, 6-Max) -- also had one and a better kicker with A♥K♥. The board came 2♦2♥8♣T♣9♦, and imluckbox was out in ninth for a little better than $120K.

romanooo64's run ends in eighth

About 20 minutes later romanooo64 -- down to almost 5.8 million -- opened with a min-raise to 700,000 then watched Alexandre "Cavalito" Mantovani call from the small blind. Leader Steven "SvZff" van Zadelhoff was waiting in the BB, though, and he shoved his big stack all in to force both players to decide how much they liked their hands.

romanooo64 decided J♥J♦ was plenty good and called, while Mantovani stepped aside. Van Zadelhoff had A♦K♣ and it was a race, and through the 9♣6♣5♦ flop and T♥ turn romanooo64 was in the lead. But the K♠ spiked on the river, giving van Zadelhoff still more chips and sending romanooo64 away in eighth for almost $167K.

Kekkhou KO'd in seventh

Van Zadelhoff kept adding, and by the first hour-break of Day 3 was up over 50 million. Fifteen minutes after that he touched the 60 million-chip mark briefly (more than half the chips in play) before giving a few back.

joshuah333 would get some, doubling through the leader with kings versus queens. Alexandre "Cavalito" Mantovani also earned a small preflop all-in double-up with ace-six versus van Zadelhoff's king-queen, with Mantovani making quads when three aces flopped.

Meanwhile Kekkhou grew short, in part thanks to doubling up Bernardo "Machadada RS" Rocha when the latter's ace-king held against Kekkhou's ace-queen. Then with the blinds at 200,000/400,000, joshuah333 raised to 900,000 from the cutoff, Kekkhou jammed for almost 6.6 million from the small blind, and joshuah333 called.

Kekkhou had picked up K♥K♣, but alas joshuah333 had A♣A♥, and after a 6♥3♣9♦A♠4♣ runout Kekkhou was out in seventh -- an 18th cash of the series for the Event #29-H winner, this one worth just over $231K.

Geokarak gone in sixth

Just before the next break arrived and with the blinds 250,000/500,000, van Zadelhoff opened the button for 1.36 million. Geokarak was next to act, having just under 500,000 left after posting the small blind, and decided to call all in, and when joshuah333 folded the BB the cards were turned over.

Geokarak: A♠Q♦
SvZff: T♣9♥

Geokarak had the edge, and still did after the K♥8♦7♠ flop and 4♦ turn. But the 6♣ river filled a ten-high straight for the chip leader, knocking Geokarak out in sixth place for a seventh (and by far the biggest) cash of the series of almost $320K.

JeremiieLand lands in fifth

They reached the two-hour mark of Day 3, and with five left van Zadelhoff was still in front with 46.7 million and only joshuah333 within immediate striking distance with 35.8 million and the others all at just over 12 million or less. Then just a couple of minutes into the third hour, joshuah333 won a nice-sized pot off Zadelhoff in a straight-versus-two-pair hand to nudge into the chip lead.

A few minutes after that JeremiieLand, who coming into this event had cashed eight times in the series including a fourth-place in Event #28-H ($215 NLHE), open-shoved from the button for almost 3.9 million (not quite eight BBs), Bernardo "Machadada RS" Rocha reshoved over that from the small blind, and Alexandre "Cavalito" Mantovani folded.

JeremiieLand had Q♦8♦ and two live cards against Rocha's 6♣6♥, but the A♠A♦7♥K♠A♥ board hit neither and JeremiieLand exited in fifth having earned a $442K-plus payday.

Cavalito cut down in fourth

With four left former TCOOP winner Alexandre "Cavalito" Mantovani became the short stack, slipping to less than 5.2 million or not quite nine BBs. Then a hand arose in which Steven "SvZff" van Zadelhoff opened for 1.26 million from under the gun and both joshuah333 (button) and Mantovani (big blind) called.

The flop came 2♠9♦6♥ and Mantovani led with an all-in bet of just over 3.8 million. Only joshuah333 called, showing Q♥Q♣, well ahead of Mantovani's Q♠6♦ for sixes. The turn was the 3♥ and river the 8♣, and Mantovani was out with a 16th cash of the series -- this one for more than $612K.

Machadada RS meets end in third

Van Zadelhoff was able to wrestle the lead back from joshuah333, but by the next break (coming at the day's four-hour mark), joshuah333 had a slight lead again with almost 45.7 million to van Zadelhoff's almost 42.1 million, with Bernardo "Machadada RS" Rocha third with just under 21.4 million.

When play resumed Rocha asked the other two "wanna see numbers guys?"

"We can make it winner take all?" replied van Zadelhoff.

That earned some grins from those of us watching, though signaled to those playing that no deal would be happening (probably) as long as van Zadelhoff was around.

About a half-hour after that Rocha found a hand and from the small blind open-shoved a stack of just over 14.6 million (a little more than 18 BBs), and van Zadelhoff was there to call from the big.

Rocha had A♠4♣ but had run into van Zadelhoff's A♦K♠. The other two aces showed up to bookend the community cards -- A♥2♥6♦8♦A♣ -- but with the lesser kicker Rocha was knocked out in third to earn a handsome $848K for his 12th cash of the series.

SvZff swiftly stacks joshuah333, wins Main Event

Van Zadelhoff had the lead back before that knockout and that pot boosted it even further, giving him 75,936,059 to start heads-up play versus joshuah333's 33,213,941.

That represented about a 95-to-42 big blind advantage for the Dutchman, and given the depth of both the chips and of those first- and second-place stacks of cash still to be won, some of us watching settled in for what looked to be a lengthy heads-up duel.

Scratch that idea. It would only take a few minutes more for a winner to be found, meaning the final table as a whole only took a bit more that three-and-a-half hours to complete.

The pair played seven hands, during which van Zadelhoff chopped joshuah333's roughly in half to about 13.8 million. Then on the eighth joshuah333 open-pushed from the button, van Zadelhoff called in a flash, and cards went on their backs:

SvZff: A♥J♣
joshuah333: A♣2♣

A bigger ace for van Zadelhoff, and the edge grew even bigger after the J♦5♥7♣ flop paired his kicker. By the K♠ turn it was over, with joshuah333 offering a final "gg" in the chatbox as the meaningless 8♠ completed the board. It was over -- van Zadelhoff had done it!

Congratulations to Steven "SvZff" van Zadelhoff, 2017 World Championship of Online Poker Main Event champion and winner of more than $1.62 million! And kudos also to all of those making deep runs to the final table to secure huge six- and seven-figure scores as well.


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That's one sweet score, SvZff

WCOOP-79-H: $5,200 NLHE (Main Event)
Entries: 2,183 (1,804 entries, 379 re-entries)
Prize pool: $10,915,000
Places paid: 278

1. Steven "SvZff" van Zadelhoff (Malta) $1,624,502.27
2. joshuah333 (Canada) $1,173,712.87
3. Bernardo "Machadada RS" Rocha (Brazil) $848,015.82
4. Alexandre "Cavalito" Mantovani (Brazil) $612,697.15
5. JeremiieLand (Austria) $442,677.47
6. Geokarak (United Kingdom) $319,837.87
7. Kekkhou (Finland) $231,084.73
8. romanooo64 (Thailand) $166,961.29
9. imluckbox (Thailand) $120,630.39

Thanks for following our 2017 WCOOP reporting on the PokerStars Blog. Find recaps and more from throughout the series among our WCOOP coverage here, and for results, Player of the Series info, and more check the WCOOP homepage.


You can qualify for the WCOOP on PokerStars for as little as a few cents. What's stopping you? Start your campaign by opening a PokerStars account.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

Martin Harris
@hardboiledpoker in WCOOP