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The 18th installment of the most successful tournament series in the world got underway Wednesday night. FullTilt Online Poker Series XVIII event #1 kicked things off with a $800,000 guarantee NL Hold’em freeze out hosted by John Racener. The tournament was well short of the 4,000 players necessary once play began but after a long late registration period exactly 4,500 players entered the $200+$16 event.  For those who do not immediately recognize Racener he was part of this year’s 2010 November Nine and nearly won the WSOP Main Event before finishing 2nd for $5,500,000. He became a FullTilt professional before the final table was played and joined 41 other FullTilt professionals in Event #1.

Some of the bigger names on hand included Scott Fischman, Scott Clements, Lee Watkinson, David Pham and Andrew Feldman. A few professionals were able to crack the top-540 and make the money including Dave Colclough who finished as the low pro in 107th place. The final table was quite strong for a large field event as a number of well-known online professionals were battling it out for a $161,100 first place prize.  One of the biggest names in online poker, Joshua “pbdrunks” VanDuyn found himself in decent position entering the final table but unfortunately had a swift exit in 8th place. The highly-ranked tournament professional is no stranger to success in big events having won an Ultimate Bet Online Championship event earlier this year as well as the $200k on FullTilt and the Super Tuesday on PokerStars. His $14,400 cash early Thursday morning does not come close to cracking his top-10 scores.

Fifth-place finisher “RAZA14” earned $44,100 for a hard days work which boosts a resume that includes wins in the Wednesday Quarter Million on PokerStars as well as the $109 re-buy.  After “a365551” busted in 4th place for $59,400 the final three players decided upon a chip-chop which guaranteed each a six-figure score. Taking home the biggest piece of the pie was “sir29” who actually finished in 3rd but guaranteed himself $121,304 during chip-chop negotiations.  The small-stakes grinder made a life-changing score as his biggest cash before yesterday was a $3,744 3rd place finish in a $55 re-buy. Eventual “winner” Pageh656 took home the title for FTOPS XVIII Event #1 but earned about $4,000 less than sir29.  The high-stakes professional has seen great success on FullTilt in the past having finished 3rd in the Brawl this past June.  Winning also seems to come naturally for Pageh656 who has won the Nightly $100k on PokerStars an impressive three times over the past two years.

Congratulations goes to Pageh656, sir29, and all 540 players who made the money in FTOPS XVIII Event #1!!!

FTOPS XVIII Event #1 $800k Guaranteed
4,500 Entrants; $900,000 prize pool
*3-way chop

1. Pageh656 $117,434
2. ZLucky93 $113,881
3. sir29 $121,304
4. a365551 $59,400
5. RAZA14 $44,100
6. MrTitsWiggle $30,600
7. royaljiks $20,700
8. pbdrunks $14,400
9. Atlfal62 $9,900