crowns World Cup of Poker champions

Costa Rica wins second title at World Cup of Poker

Team Costa Rica
Costa Rica's team members had spoken of the curse before. The semi-finals proved to be grueling. Though the defending champions moved out to an early 2-0 lead in the semis, Team Scotland had battled back to force a fifth and final match. It was only through the heart and skill of teammate Manrique Quesada (and a very fortunate flop on his final hand) did Costa Rica advance into the finals.

With the curse of Costa Rica seemingly behind the team, the first two matches in the finals seemed to point to a sweep by the Central American team. In the first day of finals play, the Costa Ricans rolled over Team Norway and looked to take the championship in a 3-0 crushing.

And so as the final day of play began, Costa Rica was confident. It had two of its best players in matches three and four and were sure to clinch the title. Perhaps an angry Norwegian summoned the curse again, because in matches three and four the Norwegians stormed out with clever, aggressive play that was perfect against the card-dead Costa Rican players.

Two consecutive losses by the Costa Rican team meant that one fifth and final match would determine who would walk away with the championship.

Jose Rosenkrantz faces Allan Dyrstad

Like all the matches, the fifth match was taped on a closed television studio set. So, the non-playing members of the competing teams assembled in the bar. Team Norway grabbed a table near the front, many of the members requisitioning glasses of lager from the bar. Team Costa Rica sat close behind, a steady stream of cigarette smoke forming a small cloud over their table.

The bar area settled in for what figured to be a long match. Jose Rosenkrantz and Allan Dyrstad were both solid players who many assumed would grind out gains until they had a solid advantage over their opponent.

The first few hands were remarkable only in that the players were playing with no hands, but making big plays against each other. Rosenkrantz jumped out to an early lead by calling down with only queen-high against a Dyrstad bluff. Then, Dyrstad stormed back by victoriously pushing a bluff against Rosenkrantz's best hand.

The first big hand came at Dyrstad's peril. He came into the hand with AK and looked to play it to a win. But Rosenkrantz who came in with a mere 7T flopped a straight and milked a 2-1 chip lead before Dyrstad got away from the hand.

Then, just seven hands into the match, The Hand arrived.

Norway's Dyrstad found pocket queens and made the decision to play them slow. Rosenkrantz had 9T and got into the hand fairly cheaply. In retrospect, most people agreed that Rosenkrantz likely would've stayed in the hand for a raise anyway. Still, that doesn't necessarily soften what happened in the minutes to come.

The flop came nine high and Rosenkrantz put every one of his chips in the middle. What he didn't and likely couldn't know is that Dyrstad had the pair of nines dominated. Still, Dyrstad had quite a decision to make. On the line was the championship. Had Rosenkrantz miraculously flopped a set or two pair, Norway's hopes of winning the championship would be over.

Dyrstad went into the tank. In the bar, the Costa Rican team sensed the end was nigh. They clutched each other, begging for Dyrstad to be scared away. Dyrstad thought and thought. Finally, he said out loud that, after thinking, he believed if Rosenkrantz had a big hand he would not have pushed all-in. And because of that, "I call." It was the perfect read.

Team Norway's Age Spets celebrates after Dyrstad makes the call

In the bar, Team Costa Rica was crestfallen. They knew their man only had five outs. Two nines and three tens remained in the deck. The chances were slim. If they didn't come, Rosenkrantz would fall way behind and have to fight back against a very strong opponent.

Alex Brenes, under the weight of nearly sure loss, screams for one of three remaining tens

Surely, surely it would not come. The miracles, though in attendance, had been few and far between in the previous days. Surely the entire World Cup of Poker championship would not come down to a miracle.

Surely, it would.

The dealer pulled off the turn card and laid down a ten. And the room exploded.

Team Costa Rica celebrates

With a Costa Rican flag flying, the country's team exploded into their "Oh yay, oh yay, oh yay, oh yay, Tico, Tico!" soccer chant. If the room had been sitting on a balance of emotion, it would've sat evenly, as Norway couldn't believe what they saw.

Age Spets reacts to the miracle ten

With the weight of the curse lifted straight off their shoulders, Team Costa Rica could not be contained and sprang into uncontrolled cheers as their winner, Jose Rosenkrantz made his way back to the bar.


Jose Rosenkrantz, a country's pride

Left in the wake, the proud and now well-respected team from Norway. The teams wished each other well, and good sportsmanship ruled the day.

Runners up, Team Norway wishes Team Costa Rica hearty congratulations for its second straight world title and thanks all the teams for an exicting World Cup of Poker.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Cup of Poker