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The sheer variety you get in an event like the Full Tilt Series of Poker is what makes them so enticing. It’s rare that the likes of Stud/8 or Razz get stand shoulder to shoulder with their more popular cousins. Similarly, there’s great scope for different styles of tournament structure. Shootout, Turbo, and Heads Up events are all part of the multi-faceted FTOPS rainbow. However, sometimes you just want to play some high-stakes No Limit Texas Hold ‘em.

FTOPS XIV Event #10 was just that, a $300 + $22 NLHE tournament with no frills. The only variation was the increased stack sizes, amounting to even more Texas Hold ‘em than normal. This simplicity was a carrion call to the online poker illuminati, tempting in 5,174 of the game’s top online players. This is the highest count so far this series, topping even the traditionally popular Event #1.

It would take the collected poker experts over 14 hours to play down to a winner. Full Tilt predictably pitched their guarantee just right, with the eventual prize pool of $1,552,200 marginally tipping over the $1.5 million guarantee. The eventual winner was Jakivi, who actually ended second in the money stakes. A heads up deal ensured that rakeinfools picked up $228,000.01, versus Jakivi’s $222,137.99. In third was KAFFEPUNCH, who received the standard payout of $131,937.

The event was hosted by Phil Gordon, part-time poker player, author, commentator, and .com millionaire. As a player he has picked up a number of WSOP cashes as well as a WPT title in 2003. He is respected as much for his knowledge of the game as for his ability at the tables. His three instructional textbooks have helped many upcoming players improve and refine their game.

Going into the final table, the chip-stacks were surprisingly even. Early at the final table, the approximate counts were as follows:

KAFFEPUNCH – 4.1 million
LucaG – 1.6 million
rakeinfools – 2.7 million
Jakivi – 4.5 million
likimmer77 – 2.4 million
Jeff1515 – 0.8 million
bryn2 – 3.3 million
harliee – 3 million
rjmgrace – 2.8 million

The first of the nine to exit was bryn2. He ran into every poker player’s worst nightmare just a few hands in. Facing a re-raise from Jakivi, bryn2 looked down at pocket aces and re-popped to 600k. Jakivi made the call and the duo watched a flop of 7-6-9 hit the felt. bryn2 took the initiative and led out for 700k with his premiere over-pair. Jakivi made a quick call and a 2 came on the turn, prompting bryn2 to pump his last 1.9 million into the pot. It didn’t take long for Jakivi to call and flip over his heartbreaking pocket nines. A 10 on the river wasn’t one of bryn2’s two outs and he was eliminated in 9th.

Next up it was the turn of harliee, who tripped up when he called rakeinfools 2.2 million pre-flop push. His A-Q suited was evenly matched against rakeinfools’ pocket 10s, but a board of 8-9-8-5-3 failed to provide the picture cards or diamonds he was looking for. Shortly after, the table’s shortstack Jeff1515 put his tournament life on the line against lilkimmer77. Jeff was halfway out the door when he discovered that his Ac-9c had to beat his opponent’s Q-Q. However, the poker gods were clearly on his side, flopping him a nut flush that negated the third Queen which arrived on the turn. A blank river confirmed his double up and left lilkimmer77 flailing. The very next hand he would commit his final 1.4 million and be called by rjmgrace. Both 9-10 off-suit and pocket 8s were completely missed by the board, ending lilkimmer77’s run in 7th place.

After this rip-roaring start, which saw three players eliminated inside 18 hands, it would be some time before the next competitor made his way to the rail. During this pause, Jakivi succeeded in building his stack to around 10 million and was looking odds-on for the title. After some lengthy toing and froing the floodgates opened, and two players were eliminated in two hands.

Everyone folded around to Jeff1515, who was nursing a 1.6 million shortstack. He committed it all from the small blind and rjmgrace defended his BB with a call. Unfortunately for Jeff he was thoroughly dominated, his J-4 trailing badly to the A-J of rjmgrace. After flopping the nut flush earlier, Jeff might have been hoping for a little more luck, but his reserves seem to have run dry when the board of A-J-9-4-5 arrived.

After Jeff1515’s exit in 6th, LucaG pushed his final 1.7 million into the middle the very next hand. This time it was up to rakeinfools to make the call and repeat history. Once again the shortstack’s faced domination, this time A-9 against A-Q. An Ace on the flop changed nothing and the rest of the board was no help to LucaG. A Queen on the river sealed the deal and put Luca out in 5th.

A short while later, the previously quiet KAFFEPUNCH decided that the time was right to gamble. He doubled up to 5.2 million when his 7-7 managed to dodge the board against rakeinfools’ A-Q. A few hands later he was down to 3.2 million, but succeeded in doubling up a second time. rjmgrace was the obliging chip donator, his A-K failing to topple KAFFEPUNCH’s pocket 5s. That proved to be a deadly blow for rjmgrace and a few hands later he put in his final 2.3 million from the small blind. In the big blind, rakeinfools elected to make the call and was ahead with K-7 against Q-10. The board came 5-6-8-A-9 to furnish rakeinfools with an unnecessary straight and put rjmgace out in 4th.

After some failed discussions regarding a prize money chop, KAFFEPUNCH played his final hand. Calling a raise for Jakivi heralded the arrival of a Q-8-2 flop. A sneaky check-raise all-in was cut short when Jakivi called and flipped up A-Q. Top pair-second kicker wasn’t enough for KAFFEPUNCH and his K-Q was in need of some drastic assistance. If you had asked him which card he would like on the turn, I expect an Ace would have been at the bottom of the list. When the Aces arrived it left KAFFEPUNCH drawing dead and on his way to the rail.

With two players remaining rakieinfools had a slight chiplead and he negotiated a deal with Jakivi that saw him take a slightly larger portion of the prizepool that his opponent. Left to play for was a mandatory $15,000, along with the FTOPS XIV Event #10 title. With his new found fiscal advantage, rjmgrace pressed his chiplead and started to pull away from Jakivi. However, a pair of key double ups put Jak firmly in the driving seat. From Jakivi looked like the only likely winner, slowly building up his stack until he had a 4-1 chip advantage.

The final hand of the heads up contest began with Jakivi raising to 666,666. Satan’s raise proved unlucky for rakeinfools, as he saw his 5.2 million all-in bet called. Holding only 10-9 he needed some help against the A-2 of Jakivi. The board contrived to miss everyone, running out J-6-5-3-K. Despite taking home the most money, rakeinfools missed out on the prestige of an FTOPS title – an honor which belongs solely to Jakivi.

The final table payouts were as follows:

1* Jakivi $222,137.99
2* rakeinfools $228,000.01
3 KAFFEPUNCH $131,937.00
4 rjmgrace $99,340.80
5 LucaG $74,427.99
6 Jeff1515 $51,222.60
7 lilkimmer77 $33,372.30
8 harliee $23,283.00
9 bryn2 $16,298.10