World Cup of Poker VII: The final table


The PokerStars World Cup of Poker is over for another year. Amid jubilant scenes of celebration in the tournament room here at Atlantis the Italian team of Davide Scafati, Litterio Pirrotta, Marco Mancini and Ravel Furfaro, led by Team PokerStars Pro Luca Pagano, prevailed against overwhelming odds in what eventually turned out to be an 11 and a half hour final of solid gold poker.

All right, maybe gold leaf. It wasn't all the fairy tale story we wanted it to be. There were times today when players looked at each other and asked themselves "what's going on here?" as a marathon structure ensured we were here for close to 12 hours as the main event ticked on in the next room and the High Roller event plodded on towards a final table across the crash barrier. But at the end we got what we wanted; a worthy winner, a jubilant winner, an arduous test of resolve, and some good photos.

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Team Italy mob Litterio Pirrotta after the last hand of the World Cup of Poker

Congratulations must also go to Team UK, who battled from being the short stack, as just about everyone did at some point, to finish well, flying back to Blighty $70,000 to the good.

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Waving the flag for Italy

We promised you drama and tension when this all started yesterday, but we didn't quite expect this. Still, we hope you enjoyed it. It remains a uniquely zany event but one also guaranteed to provide some fun. Long may it continue, for you'll be lost and you'll be sorry when it's gone.

All that's left to say is thank you to the players, the staff - some of whom lost about ten pounds today - as well as Photographer Joe Giron. Thanks to Arnaud Mattern and Luca Pagano for their informational and emotional support, and thanks also to Liv Boeree, captain UK, for the offer of a beer.

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World Cup winners Italy

Until the next World Cup of Poker - and this tournament should never be allowed to disappear - it's good night from Atlantis. - SB

1am: Italy win the World Cup of Poker
It's all over. Amid chaotic scenes, the UK, led ably from the start by Liv Boeree, shoved with A♠3♦ only for the Italians to call with Q♦A♥.

The board ran 4♠Q♥K♦8♥3♠ to give Italy their first World Cup of Poker win. Time of death 12.57am.

The Italian team were jubilant and a soccer type atmosphere erupted with songs and clapping. Luca Pagano suggested to Litterio Pirrotta that he grab the flag and lead the team on a lap of honour around the tournament room, but Pirrotta declined.

Team United Kingdom depart in second place after a hard fought match, earning $70,000 ($17,500 per player). Stand by for a short wrap up of an incredible day. - SB

12.55pm: Ukraine fall
Ukraine are out in third place. They got the last of their chips in with A♦9♦ and we're called by the Italian T♦Q♦. The board ran Q♠2♥8♥3♣J♥. Ukraine out in third place earning $50,000 ($12,500 per player).

12.50am: The adventures of Litterio Pirrotta
Litterio Pirrotta is currently the saviour, and darling, of the Italian team. He has his chips stacked weirdly and we love it. Then he begs the others not to move the table and when he falls down he spreads them out and plays with them like that.

He steered the Italian team up to 106,000 in a hand against the UK when his ace-jack beat the UK's king-queen, then the UK doubled up again through the Ukrainians to keep their hopes alive.

Then came a big hand between Italy and the Ukraine. The chips went in with ace-jack from Ukraine, to the pocket fives of Pirrotta and Italy.

The board ran 3♠Q♣7♣Q♥9♠. Italy doubled to 225,000 leaving Ukraine with 40,000. - SB

12.30am: Colour up
A one minute break to colour up and play continues with blinds at 3,000-6,000 with a 500 ante.

Ukraine - 165,000
United Kingdom - 112,000
Italy - 63,000

12.15pm: Time update
We're 15 minutes from 12 hours of coverage. -- SB

12.14am: France depart in fourth place
Down to three in the world Cup of Poker. France are the latest to be eliminated, moving in with 70,000 behind an opening bet by Ukraine. Unfortunately for Arnaud Mattern, who made the shove because he believe the Ukrainian to be at it, Ukraine turned over Q♣Q♠ to his own 8♥6♥.

The board ran K♦5♥9♣K♠K♥, sending the Frnech to the rail in fourth place, earning $30,000 ($7,500 per person). -- SB

12am: Chips, chips

Italy - 112,000
France - 65,000
United Kingdom - 62,000
Ukraine - 60,000

Remarkable. Slovakia, the team that would not die, is finally out after one of the most heroic scraps in World Cup of Poker history. They shoved for 20,000 with A♣4♣ to be called by Italy with A♦[j]h.

The board ran J♠4♥7♦J♦4♦.

There were cheers on the flop, more on the turn as Italy romped into the lead. Slovakia depart in fifth place earning $10,000 ($2,500 per player).

There's a big jump to the next payout. Fourth place pays $30,000. - SB

After four and a half hours we have lost a team from the World Cup of Poker. I know, I can't believe it either.

It came after Spain were reduced to just 400 chips when their [a][8] was outdone by the [a][k] of Italy on a board of 9♥8♦2♦9♠A♣. There was no friendliness in this, just sheer delight on the Italian part and bitterness from Spain when Spain celebrated early only to be outdone on the river

Shortly after France saw to it that Spain would depart in sixth place. All in, with captain Juan Manuel Pastor in the driver's seat, turning over A♥5♣ to France's [a]T♠. The board changed nothing, Spain out. They earn $10,000 ($2,500 for each player). -- SB

10.50pm: Helllooooooooo Suriname!The PokerStars Blog gets readers from across the world and granted, I'd be surprised as you are if he was reading this gibberish rather than reading the main event coverage, but
greetings to our one reader in Suriname! You're very welcome. Start getting that Surinamese(?) team together for next year's World Cup. A PokerStars Blog one-time chip is on its way to you. -- SB

10.45pm: And down again
Slovakia just took a big hit, losing a big pot to France when their pocket eights was no match for the French [k][2] on a board of [5][k][j][j][q]. They're down to 55,000 while the French take the lead on 75,000. - SB

10.35pm: Chip counts
Slovakia - 85,000
Italy - 58,000
France - 54,000
Ukraine - 51,000
United Kingdom - 31,000
Spain - 30,000

10.20pm: Behind the wall
Who's winning the main event? -- SB

10.10pm: Hand me another five-hour energy drink
Gatorade bottles, 5-Hour energy drink bottles, water bottles and probably some Cool Aid bottles are just some of the things forming the detritus clogging this final table, nine hours after it started. I for one have undone my collar, my tie hangs loose around my neck, a full ashtray rests beside me as I file these reports. Occasionally I wipe my brow with a handkerchief.

I'm not the only one worried about their emotional health. Tournament Director John has drafted in a new dealer. "I'm not superstitious," he said. "But I thought it was worth a try."

I embraced the man and thanked him for his hard work. But while everyone wants a winner no one's leaving until this one is in the can. So link arms everyone. We shall overcome. Let's get through this together because you'll need all the support you can get when I tell you that the Slovakians, the team that just won't die, have doubled-up again... -- SB

9.55pm: Team Transylvania
Judging from the horrific screams coming form the Slovakian corner I think they may have just double-up again. -- SB

9.50pm: When the going gets weird
This is getting so weird that it's getting fun again. Slovakia just doubled up. Yes, they doubled up. That's the fourth double up now. Dag Palovic is singing "Never-ending Story." It's terrifying.

Slovakia got their chips in with [a][2] against the French [k][t] with a board of [k][j][a][7][a]. They're still on the brink, with 16,000, and blinds of 800-1,600 but they don't seem to mind.

France - 104,000
Ukraine - 70,000
Italy - 55,000
United Kingdom - 50,000
Slovakia - 16,000

9.40pm: The Italians double-up
The Italians just scored a crucial double-up to ensure that I'll now need someone to go get my toothbrush and some clean socks.

Italy moved in for 18,600 leaving Liv Boeree of Team UK with the decision. Eventually she called, turning over A♠8♥ to Italy's K♥3♥. The Brits looked pleased and watched the cards being dealt on the board. First the flop 5♥A♦4♦ then the J♦. As I was about to write down that the Italians were out I heard the screams of joy on the river card. But the accompanying swear words were in Italian, not English. The 2♠ river had completed the straight, doubling up Team Italy.

A dejected Team UK are down to 42,000 now while Italy, their team captain Luca Pagano still giggling, are up to 50,000. - SB

9.30pm: Helpline number
If you or anyone you know has been effected by any of the issues detailed in today's World Cup coverage there is a special helpline you can call. Or use the comments box below. -- SB

9.20pm: Hold off on that last ruling
There's been another ruling*. In a touching moment of how nations can unite for the common good it was agreed that rather than the UK team being blinded off for 20 minutes one of the three qualifiers would instead be allowed to sit in. Six white doves, representing each of the remaining teams, were then released into the rafters. There's mess everywhere. But down at the table everything's all right again.

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Team UK captain Liv Boeree

While all this was going on there was some poker being played, albeit slowly. The latest chip counts are as follows:

France - 90,000
United Kingdom - 80,000
Ukraine - 76,000
Spain - 30,000
Slovakia - 24,000
Italy - 13,000

* I did warn you about the rules yesterday. -- SB

8.55pm: Today's Advil Moment
Okay, the ruling about the four person rotation was wrong. It wasn't passed. Instead a new ruling has been given, stating that the UK team will have to sit out for the 20 minute session that Priyan de Mel should have played. As you'd imagine, this didn't go down very well.

One of the many conferences taking place in the Atlantis conference center today

Then there is the issue of the structure. Right now it's on the slow side. We've been playing eight hours of 40 minute levels and we've only lost three players. Liv Boeree, captain UK, suggested to other team captains that levels should be cut to 20 minutes. A conference was called, with Alex Kravchenko striding forwards: "I will be just translating," he said with a grin. "Don't be afraid."

Boeree explained the situation and presented the idea that finishing before midnight might be a good idea. This didn't go down too well with the short stacks, or the Ukrainians, so that was vetoed as well. We play on. -- SB

8.20pm: Controversy in the World Cup of Poker!
Well kind of. Basically one of the UK players, Priyan de Mel, has a flight to catch and is now on his way to the airport. This of course leaves a gap in the UK rotation and De Mel was one of the UK's stronger players. Crisis.

Tournament Director John snapped into action and will declare a four-player rotation at the end of this level, rather than allow the UK team to fill in in De Mel's absence, which could present the Brits with an advantage. John has to get it passed all the other teams yet. Good luck John. - SB

7.55pm: Slovakia back in the game
Slovakia has doubled up, much to the delight of the Slovakians. When they moved in for 14,000 France woke up with A♥Q♣ and called, the Slovakians showing 8♥8♠ for a classic race situation. The board ran 2♠T♠7♥9♦9♥ to move them up to around 30,000. - SB

7.35pm: We go on
Spain have added to their chip total, taking a pot from the UK with [j][t] which made two pairs on the board. They're up to 35,000 now while the UK slip just a bit to 65,000.

Ukraine - 85,000
France - 82,000
United Kingdom - 65,000
Spain - 34,000
Italy - 16,000
Slovakia - 12,000

7.10pm: Break time
Players are all taking a ten minute break as the chips are coloured up.

7pm: Chips, chips
Here are the latest scores with blinds still at 300-600 with a 75 ante.

Ukraine - 93,000
France - 65,000
United Kingdom - 53,000
Spain - 33,000
Italy - 24,000
Slovakia - 23,000

6.55pm: Down to six
And there go Argentina, eliminated by the Ukraine. Jose Barbero was at the controls for Argentina who opened for 1,500, were raised to 4,500 and then called for a flop of 4♥4♠6♥. Ukraine then bet 6,000 which Argentina raised to 17,000 before the Ukraine team had a time out. They were led away for a supervised meeting while everyone else got together for a good chat.

When their man returned he moved all-in which Argentina, committed, called. They had A♥Q♥ while Ukraine turned over K♣K♠. A king on the turn saw an end to Argentina, departing in seventh place for $10,000 ($2,500 for each player). -- SB

6.45pm: Team USA sent to the rail
It's all over for the United States as their day ends in an [a][9] shove against pocket aces which made a flush on the turn. They depart in eighth spot, earning $5,000 ($1,250 for each player). - SB

6.40pm: Bad turn leaves USA on the ropes
Despite the very slow pace to this final table there are still flashes of excitement, like this hand, between the USA and Ukraine.

On a flop of 8♠2♣5♠ the Ukrainian player bet 4,500 which was called by Vanessa Selbst for the Americans. Then a K♣ on the turn. USA checked before Ukraine bet 10,000. It was a card Selbst did not want to see and irritated, she had to pass, leaving her team with less than 10,000 chips.

"Nice turn for you," she said to the Ukrainian, who said nothing. - SB

6.20pm: Chips
The UK now have around 56,000 having eliminated the Philippines and also by virtue of a pot against Team USA a few moments before.

6.15pm: Philippines eliminated in ninth place, earning $5,000
That's more like it. An all-in with aces and kings, albeit nearly five hours since we started. At stake, the tournament survival for the Philippines, with the aces; against a rampant UK with kings.

The first card on the flop was the king. K♦T♥4♣. David Tierney, on his shift in the UK seat, shouted his relief, a tirade of relief, joy and plain, honest to goodness swearing. He did it again on the K♥ turn card.

The Philippines were gracious, their team captain Geoffrey Pamatian apologetic to his team mates who had performed so well. They depart in ninth place with $5,000 ($1,250 each). -- SB

5.45pm: Timeout!
Amazing scenes in the World Cup of Poker as the event comes to life over a hand involving the French and Philippines teams.

France bet 4,500 on a flop of Q♠6♣K♦ which the Philippines raised. France called for a 9♦ turn card. The Philippines bet 7,500. at which point the confusion arrived. The French player said "call", or did he say "raise"? Eventually, by a committee of everyone, it was agreed it was a raise, one that effectively put France all-in.

The Philippines captain Geoffrey Pamatian immediately called a time out to confer with his team mate, at which point everyone else had a good chat about things. When they returned the Philippines folded, much to the delight of the French team who now move up to 63,000, and with blinds about to go up to 200-400 with a 50 ante that's good for about another three days. - SB

5.20pm: So this bloke walks into a bar
Still slow here but some slight chip movement since we last did a count. France are still in the lead while the USA are starting to improve.

France - 55,000
Philippines - 44,000
Ukraine - 38,000
Argentina - 34,000
Spain - 32,000
Italy - 30,000
United States - 29,000
Slovakia - 27,000
United Kingdom - 22,000

5.10pm: France take pot from the UK
No substitutions have been made yet, nor time outs neither, although I begged them to. But then some action in the form of a pot between France and the UK.

On a flop of 9♣8♥5♠ France opened for 550 which the UK called on the button for a Q♠ turn card. Both checked, trying not to move very much, for a 5♣ river. At this point France bet 1,200 which the UK called wasting no time.

A♣9♦ for France, now up to 53,000; ace-something for the UK who slip down to 21,000. - SB

4.55pm: We're all getting older
With the blinds still at 100-200, with a 25 ante, it's easy to believe that time is actually standing still. This is normal. The reason is that while everyone played with the same blind level during their first stint at the table, levels are also 40 minutes long. Players changes take place every twenty minutes giving the illusion of the end of a level and the hope of progress. - SB

4.30pm: Over-egging the pudding
All right, fine. This final table hasn't exactly set the place on fire. I tried to dress things up a bit but I can't anymore. I know it, the players know it. Something's got to give. So I was hoping Jose Barbero might have the answer.

Five players saw a flop of 6♦T♠4♠. Surely this meant something? Then the action was checked through Ukraine, Spain and Italy, all the way to Argentina where team captain Barbero bet 1,500. The action was then passed by the USA, Ukraine, Spain and Italy. Stand down everyone. - SB

4pm: At the break
With players getting 20 minutes on and then more than an hour off, they're well rested when their next turn comes around. Not so the tournament staff who get no break. So, in order to allow staff time for a comfort break players are also taking a ten minute pause.
That gives us time to report chip counts, at this, the 100-200 level.

France - 48,000
Philippines - 43,000
Argentina - 38,000
Ukraine - 41,000
Italy - 33,000
Spain - 37,000
Slovakia - 28,000
United Kingdom - 29,000
United States - 23,000

3.50pm: What was that noise?
That noise was the first rumble of some action, with bets now being made in anger. Argentina just won a sizeable pot against the Philippines, a pocket kings vs. pocket sixes situation on a blank board. It's no game changer, but it got a few players out of their seats to peer over their team mates' shoulders. -- SB

3.30pm: Last of the chips
Right, after a sedate first hour or so the last of the chips are in play, as are the last of the players, including UK captain Liv Boeree. Here's how the stacks are looking right now.

France - 47,000
Philippines - 46,000
Argentina - 39,000
Ukraine - 38,000
Italy - 33,000
Spain - 31,000
Slovakia - 28,000
United Kingdom - 24,500
United States - 23,000

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Liv Boeree in action

3.10pm: That makes five
We're into the last stages of the opening section of play, with all players now having spent some time at the table. We expected a slow start and that's what we got, no team member wanting to make any mistakes that might cost their team mates chips, and ultimately prize money.

In fact, it's that fear of putting a foot wrong that makes the World Cup so gripping. Vicky Coren once spoke about how the concern for your team mates affects your decision making, and you need only look to the German team of 2010 for how it can rattle a player, such as in during much debated moment, "accidentally" used the time-out to slow roll with aces.

At the time it seemed the player's decision to call for a time-out instead of calling an all-in with aces, was the ultimate in bad poker etiquette, so bad it actually oozed style. But in fact turned out to be simply a moment of worry from an inexperienced player who simply didn't want to cost his team mates money.

We should see the first signs of this phenomena in the next few levels. - SB

2.50pm: The captains table
No eliminations, not crisis to talk of but more of the team captains are in action now with Selbst, Barbero and Mattern at the table together. Italian captain Luca Pagano has done his shift and is back with his team on the rail.

A member of staff walked up to see how things were going, asked for a run down on how things worked, an immediately regretted it. He's now having a lie down. But one thing's for sure - things should pick up in tempo once each players has done their turn and the substitutions and time outs becoming part of the game. - SB

2.25pm: Early stages
Reports from the rail suggest it was an uneventful first 20 minutes with little change in terms of chips. So far the most eager captain is Vanessa Selbst, at the helm of Team USA, who stands behind her player eyeing every hand.

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Team USA captain Vanessa Selbst

Lots of fresh faces both at the table and on the rail, revitalised after a few soft drinks at the PokerStars party last night held on the Royal Deck at Atlantis. I dare say a few can still hear the junkanoo band in their heads, banging and clanging along. - SB

1.55pm: Cards in the air
We're off and running in the World Cup of Poker final. Remember, each player gets 20 minutes with their share of the stack before the next player steps in, adding their chips to their team's lot. Here's how they line up...

Seat 1 - United States - Alex Fitzgerald
Seat 2 - Ukraine - Leonid Bilokur
Seat 3 - Spain - Joan Carcela
Seat 4 - Philippines - Ed Garcia
Seat 5 - France - Alexandra Petitjean
Seat 6 - Italy - Davide Scafeti
Seat 7 - Daniel Chaulet - Argentina
Seat 8 - United Kingdom - Gary Billington
Seat 9 - Slovakia - Ladislav Varkoly

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World Cup final table

1.35pm: Delayed delayed start
The photos are done but we're still waiting for a few players to drift back in. -- SB

1pm: Delayed start
We were due to start at noon, we're likely to be a little late as team photos are taken. We should be under way shortly. -- SB

12.30pm: Final table day in the World Cup of Poker
Welcome back to the final day of the PokerStars World Cup of Poker, normally one of the most exciting days at the PCA thanks to its unique blend of fun, frolic and large measure of Monty Python. At the very least it is usually good for a few surprises.

If you were with us yesterday you'll know that France topped the overall standings after the nine and five handed sit and gos. Then the Philippines emerged as next best after the heads-up scores were totalled. The rest of the bunch will line up in the following order...

1st ~ 50,000 chips - France
2nd ~ 45,000 chips - Philippines
T3rd ~ 41,000 chips - Ukraine
T3rd ~ 37,000 chips - Argentina
5th ~ 34,000 chips - Spain
6th ~ 31,000 chips - Italy
7th ~ 29,000 chips - Slovakia
8th ~ 27,000 chips - United Kingdom
9th ~ 25,000 chips - United States

We can't put it off any longer; we have to discuss the rules. Come back. I'll make it quick, but bear with me while I translate it from the original Greek.

The first thing to remember is that it's a tag-team final. Team captains agree an order for their players who will each take a 20 minute shift at the table, each taking with them their share of the starting stack listed above.

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Action on day one of the World Cup of Poker

If any player loses their stack before the entire team is in play the next player in the rotation enters the fray. Then there are the substitutions, each team having two of them to use after the fifth level of play and a single "time out" which can be called at the end of a hand by the team captain or the player at the table

At stake is a prize pool of $290,000, dignity and credibility; the former divided up as follows:

1st - $100,000 ($25,000 per person)
2nd - $70,000 ($17,500 per person)
3rd - $50,000 ($12,500 per person)
4th - $30,000 ($7,500 per person)
5th - $10,000 ($2,500 per person)
6th - $10,000 ($2,500 per person)
7th - $10,000 ($2,500 per person)
8th - $5,000 ($1,250 per person)
9th - $5,000 ($1,250 per person)

I don't know about you but I'm exhausted already; a perfect time to start.

PokerStars Blog reporting team in the Bahamas (in order of arrival this morning):Stephen Bartley.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in World Cup of Poker