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The 2010 World Championship of Online Poker has less than a week left to run, but the tournaments keep coming thick and fast. This morning the 44th contest came to a close, crowning yet another winner and awarding yet another gold bracelet. The $300 + $20 No Limit Hold’em Second Chance tournament was a slight departure from the standard freezeout or rebuy format. If you lost all your chips within the first 90 minutes, paying the buy-in cost again would buy you a new starting stack.

Of the 1989 players who logged onto the PokerStars download for Event #44, 362 opted for a second shot after their first run ended in disaster. Their collected buy-ins still failed to top the $750,000 guarantee laid on by PokerStars, who were forced to add a small amount of their own cash to the prize pool. A total of 252 players would share that kitty, with the winner having to survive 15 hours worth of high octane play to pick up the largest share.

None of the Team PokerStars Pros were able to emulate their comrade Jason Mercier’s success Event #42, but one man did come close. Alvaro Ballesteros, known online as VARICO, fought his way to the final table before being ousted in 8th place. Joining him in the money were George Lind III (52nd), Vanessa Rousso (65th), Randy Lew (83rd), Anders Berg (178th), Diego Brunelli (219th), and Pat Pezzin (227th). Other notable online cashers included Isaac “westmenloAA” Baron in 14th.

Going into the final table, the remarkably even chipcounts were as follows:

Seat 1: supergood1 (1,211,722 in chips)
Seat 2: lb6121 (1,195,481 in chips)
Seat 3: SlippedMe (1,598,117 in chips)
Seat 4: Hulios (1,261,464 in chips)
Seat 5: ebandita (1,332,112 in chips)
Seat 6: ImDaNuts (924,340 in chips)
Seat 7: mviper256 (2,346,254 in chips)
Seat 8: VARICO (548,942 in chips)
Seat 9: KongenavU (1,336,568 in chips)

The railbirds didn’t have to wait long before the first blood was spilled. On the first hand, ebandita moved all-in with a respectable pair of Jacks and was called by SlippedMe, who held As-Qs. Board contained no Jacks and four hearts, more than SlippedMe required to complete the nuts and put ebandita out in 9th.

Following him to the bar was the resident PokerStars Pro VARICO. Alvaro Ballesteros put his last $500k into the middle with 8-8 and ended up staring down the barrel of Ib6121’s A-A. Nothing even resembling an eight hit the board and that was all she wrote for the last sponsored man standing.

Next to depart was KongevaU, who had slipped down to a sub-500k shortstack since the start of the final table. Picking up pocket sixes was enough to prompt an all-in push and K-K was more than enough to convince supergood1 to call. The board comfortably missed both players, handing the pot to the bigger pocket pair and sending KongevaU home in 6th.

SlippedMe and mviper256 combined to create the next critical pot. An old fashioned pre-flop raising war culminated with an all-in shove for SlippedMe and his opponent obliged with a call. The hands were predictable enough; a straight coinflip between Jh-Jd for SlippedMe and As-Kh for mviper256. The 5h-4h-7h flop failed to connect with either player, but left mviper256 tantalizingly close to a flush. As it happened, he wouldn’t need the fifth heart. An Ace on the turn was enough to win him the hand. SlippedMe exited Event #44 in 5th place.

There was little to separate the chipstacks going into the final table, but with more than half of the field eliminated a few players began to push ahead. One of them was supergood1, who padded his stack even more by eliminating Ib6121. On a flop of Q-3-J, super played it coy and check-called his opponent’s bet. A Queen on the turn was enough to rouse him from his stupor and encourage him to lead out. Ib6121 wasn’t going anywhere, calling to see a Ten land on the river. Another bet from super prompted a climactic all-in from Ib6121 and a call from supergood1. Ib6121 may have been confident that his A-Q trips were enough to take down the pot, but supergood1 delivered a sucker punch and revealed a rivered gutshot with K-9.

supergood1 was also responsible for the next knockout blow. Up against ImDaNuts preflop, he made a big all-in push which his opponent called. It couldn’t have been more straightforward – A-K for ImDaNuts against 4-4 for supergood1 – and the flop couldn’t have been less helpful. It totally blanked both players to gift even more chips to supergood1 and send ImDaNuts home in 3rd.

When the heads up contest between supergood1 and mviper256 started there were less than 1 million chips separating them. A glance at the form book would not have helped anyone predict a winner either. Neither of these players have posted any big online scores in their short careers, with a few hundred thousand dollars in winnings between them. The winner of Event #44 would gain a huge $120,000 boost to his bankroll.

After a topsy turvy series of hands, it was mviper256 who pulled ahead. Going into the final hand he held a 3-1 chip lead. On an innocuous looking 9-8-4 flop, mviper256 checked, supergood1 raised, and his mviper256 called. A Jack on the turn prompted all kinds of excitement, with mviper256 check-raising supergood1, who responded with an all-in bet. A call from mviper256 revealed that he had hit top-pair on the turn with J-9 and that supergood1 was chasing a gutshot with T-6. Only a 7 on the end would do it for supergood1, and the 9 that eventually fell was categorically not that.

The final table payouts for WCOOP 2010 Event #44 were:

1st place: mviper256 ($120,000.00)
2nd place: supergood1 ($90,000.00)
3rd place: ImDaNuts ($67,500.00)
4th place: lb6121 ($49,312.50)
5th place: SlippedMe ($35,625.00)
6th place: KongenavU ($27,750.00)
7th place: Hulios($20,250.00)
8th place: VARICO ($13,125.00)
9th place: ebandita ($7,500.00)