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The big guns turned out for WCOOP Event #33. The $1000 + $50 tournament was one of the higher buy-in No Limit Hold ‘em events on the calendar and pokers brightest stars were keen to demonstrate their prowess. In the end, it didn’t quite happen that way. Among the long list of pros who failed to make the money were: Barry Greenstein, Dennis Phillips, Bertrand “ElkY” Gospellier, Greg Raymer, Ivan Demidov, Joe Hachem, Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Rousso, Chris Moneymaker, and Ylon Schwartz.

A few members of Team PokerStars Pro had a little more success. The ever reliable Humberto Brenes finished in 144th for $1,860, the same amount received by Johannes Steindl in 139th. The 1,240 strong field that put up such strong opposition were all competing for a slice of the $1,240,000 prize pool. This was way ahead of the $500,000 PokerStars had guaranteed for the event, one of the very few occasions so far this WCOOP when PokerStars have been way off with their estimates.

After 10 hours of top level combat, the nine remaining players convened for the final table:

Seat 1: REDDYBABY902 (581,233 in chips)
Seat 2: nicelife (1,627,985 in chips)
Seat 3: shengy (1,759,378 in chips)
Seat 4: BrynKenney (802,863 in chips)
Seat 5: 011PokerDr (672,710 in chips)
Seat 6: df1986 (948,831 in chips)
Seat 7: scarface_79 (3,268,082 in chips)
Seat 8: redsxfan3300 (1,422,678 in chips)
Seat 9: Believer82 (1,316,240 in chips)

First to fall was BrynKenney, who committed his final 330,000 with a shaky 10c-6c. He nearly won the pot uncontested, but scarface_79 elected to take a chance in the big blind and made the call with Ks-4c. The board conspired to miss everyone’s cards – with no flush or straight outs to be seen – ending BrynKenney’s run in 9th place.

Two of the final table shortstacks were the next to tangle. 011PokerDr and REDDYBAB902 embroiled in an all in pot holding 9-9 and J-J respectively. Unsurprisingly, the jacks held up, leaving 011PokerDr clinging to his tournament life with a chip and a chair. Just four hands later it was all over. His 9-J failed to win the race against the 4-4 of redsxfan3300, putting him out in 8th place.

Starting the final table second in chips, shengy might have hoped for a deeper run. But it all went wrong when he faced off against fellow big-stack Believer82. It started with a 150k raise from shengy, which was picked off by Believer82’s 440k bet. shengy made the call and took his pocket fours to a flop of 3-J-J. Despite missing his set, shengy decided to push all his remaining chips in the middle, leaving Believer82 with a tough decision. He eventually elected to make the call, delighted to find his pocket 10s way ahead with two cards to come. A two and and a King on the end sealed the deal and put shengy out in 7th.

The next major pot began to develop when df1986, nicelife, and REDDYBABY902 saw a Js-4c-5c flop. Although df1986 folded to nicelife’s bet, REDDYBABY902 was less accommodating. His raise began a betting war that culminated with an all-in call from REDDYBABY902. He found himself well ahead of nicelife’s Q-J with A-J, but couldn’t fade a heartbreaking Queen on the turn. A meaningless 6 on the river confirmed REDDYBABY909’s exit in 6th place.

With plenty of play left in the structure things began to slow down; it would be over an hour before the next elimination. When the action finally ramped up again it did so in style, two players exiting the tournament in the space of 6 hands. First up was a confrontation between redsxfan3300 and df1986. Holding pocket Queens, redsxfan put in a 100,000 raise, to which df1986 responded with a massive 3.1 million bet. redsxfan quickly made the all-in call and was in good shape against his opponent’s A-Q. He was somewhat less happy with the T-7-A-K-A board which lost him the hand and put him out of the tournament in 5th place.

Just six hands later it was the turn of scarface_79, who ungainly ran into the pocket aces of niceline. With only a couple of 4’s to his name he was drawing at straws, but did get some hope from a flop which ran out 5-6-3. A four, a seven, or a three would have seen niceline’s aces cracked, but the deck could only muster a 5 and an 8 for the turn and river. scarface_79 out in 4th.

With three players remaining, discussions began about a possible deal. Well known high stakes pro Bertrand “ElkY’ Grospellier had been observing the tournament and stepped in to help broker an agreement. After some short discussion, the agreed totals were as follows:

Believer82: $134,892.57
nicelife: $177,084.33
df1986: $150,525.11

Although the majority of the prize money had already been distributed, there was still $10,000 and the coveted WCOOP bracelet to play for. With some serious prestige on the line it was quite a while before the the tournament reached the heads up confrontation. Proceedings finally came to a head between df1986 and Believer82. On a flop of 3c-Ks-8c Believer82 came out with a bet which was immediately raised by his opponent. Believer82 continued to employ the aggression that had served him so well and pushed his remaining chips all-in. df1986 called and found that his 8-6 second pair a fair way ahead of Believer’s A-10. A King on the turn left Believer82 without only six outs and the Queen that bookended the board was not one of them. He exited in third place, over $100,000 richer.

The heads up contest was a fierce battle between two highly skilled players, each of whom  held relatively even chip stacks. df1986 assumed the role of aggressor and had built up a small chip advantage when the tournament ended with a surprise final hand. All of nicelife’s 5.8 million stack went in the middle on a flop of 4s-2c-5s, called by the 6.4 million of df1986. With the cards turned face up it was nicelife who lead with a 4-2 two pair. However, his he would need to dodge a lot of outs to maintain that advantage against the As-2s of df1986. The Queen of spades that fell on the turn all but ended the tournament, with an 8 on the river finishing the job. Although nicelife took home the largest share of the prize pool, the glory goes to df1986 – 2009 WCOOP Event #33 Champion.

Final table payouts were as follows:

1. df1986 (Las Vegas) *$160,525.11
2. nicelife (kasarnei) *$177,084.33
3. Believer82 (murfreesboro) *$134,892.57
4. scarface_79 (Tool) $84,320.00
5. redsxfan3300 (brandon) $60,760.00
6. REDDYBABY902 (Grande Prairie) $48,360.00
7. shengy (San Francisco) $35,960.00
8. 011PokerDr (Irvine) $23,560.00
9. BrynKenney (New York) $12,896.00