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WCOOP kicks off, almost one million dollars up for grabs!

The World Championship of Online Poker kicked off last Friday with Event #1, Short Handed No Limit Hold’em, which had $215 buy in. Big names came out for the event, including Victor Ramdin, The__D__RY (16th ranked player on pocketfives.com), jcamby33 (former winner of the Sunday Million), and thegrumpyone (high stakes cash game player) just to name a few. 4,610 players in total entered for their shot at a share of the nearly one million dollar prize pool, more than twice the guaranteed $400,000.

As I played with high hopes of a coveted bracelet in WCOOP Event #1, an interesting message came to my attention. An observer, who was supporting a friend low on chips, typed “Don’t worry……the cream will rise to the top soon.”

He was right.

Zangbezan24, aka 1mperium, considered the best online tournament player in the world by fellow pros according to pocketfives.com, was in the lead very briefly three and a half hours into the tournament. However, while the leader board was filled with many familiar names, one familiar name stood out. Samh133, a well known high stakes cash game regular, without a doubt was a dark horse to win.

As the tournament went on, Zangbezan24 was no where to be seen on the leader board, and eventually busted out in 326th place, while jcamby33 rocketed up into the top 20. However, it was not Jcamby’s day either, as he finished in 39th place. When we finally reached the last half dozen players, the clear favorites had to be TiltHappens, a mid-stakes cash game regular, and samh133, who was a high stakes cash game regular. But luck seemed to be on Samh’s side. TiltHappens on the other hand, ended up busting out in forth after suffering some huge bad beats.

Over 16 hours after the tournament began, we were left with a worthy winner, samh133, who scored over $150,000 for his victory.

Cash game professional takes down the first bracelet

Samh133 was no amateur poker player. The 25 year old from Chicago had quit his accounting job in January to pursue a career in poker. There’s little doubt he made the right choice: Before he entered this tournament he had career earnings of roughly $750,000. Samh actually had little tournament experience before entering into Event #1, as he was mostly a high stakes, short handed cash game player, who is considered by his peers as one of the best at his stakes. “He’s just one of those ridiculously solid players.” Says kingsofcards, a fellow player at Samh’s stakes. Local FTR high stakes player sauce123 also had high praise to Samh’s game. “I think he’s the best 10/20 reg on stars… seriously, I think he’s sick.”

Samh thought he had a big advantage in this specific tournament for a few reasons. First, it was 6-max. This was a format that Samh played all the time, while most tournament players are used to 9 or 10 person tables. “There’s a big difference [strategy wise] between 6-max and full ring.” Samh said in an interview a day after his victory.

Another advantage Samh thought he had was how deep stacked the tournament was. He was 100 big blinds deep for most of the tournament, and at one point was as much as 300 big blinds deep; which is an unbelievable amount for a tournament. “It was obvious some of these players had no idea how to play deep stacked.” Samh told me.

Samh was doing well early on, and had the chip lead for a brief period. He felt like he was playing his best, and luck also seemed to be on his side. As players continued to bust out and as Samh continued to sustain a large amount of chips, he was not the only one who realized his chances. “My brothers were watching me play, as well as my roommates when they got back from the bar and realized I had a shot at winning it.”

Samh continued to play well, and, after over ten grueling hours of play, he had finally reached the final table, and in good shape too. Here were the chip counts.

Seat 1: TiltHappens (United States) 4,540,326 in chips
Seat 2: LUFCBas (United Kingdom) 2,396,363 in chips
Seat 3: Samh133 (United States) 1,959,713 in chips
Seat 4: toomanyonks (United States) 968,974 in chips
Seat 5: WiLDmAn75 (United States) 2,069,922 in chips
Seat 6: bearbeer123 (Sweden) 1,818,652 in chips

While Samh was confident he was the best player at the table, his positioning to the right of Wildman, who lived up to his name, was a tough postion. “Wildman was crazy at the final table, he was hard to deal with as he was re-popping me every time.” Samh explained. “But I just gave him a walk in the big blind a lot and tightened up.” He has decided to play tight, solid poker, and wait for the other players to make mistakes.

It worked.

Soon enough TiltHappens took a huge beat against Wildman. Tilt’s AA was beaten by Wildman’s 24o after they got all in on a 654 flop. Wildman now had the chip lead. Wildman, however, may have gotten too confident in his aggression, as he began to put all his chips in almost every hand. But Samh continued stay in his game and make tight folds, trying to avoid marginal spots because he thought his edge was so big. “But I’m not going to lie,” Samh spoke earnestly. “I wanted to assure a big payout for myself. There was a huge difference between 5th and 3rd.” But he regretted caring as much about the money as he did. When it got down to 3, Samh had a commanding chip lead. Even though he thought he had a huge edge versus his opponents, he decided to chop because of how good the money he would be guaranteed looked.

“I’m kinda mad at myself now for doing it.”

Samh, of course, ended up winning the tournament, but he only would’ve earned about $15,000 more if he were to have not taken a chop. When it was all said and done, although the sun may have been rising, Samh wasn’t about to call it a day. “There was no way I could go to sleep right after that. There was a home football game so we went and had a few beers. I’m definitely planning on celebrating more [Saturday].”

One big issue for everyone was the shear length of the tournament. The tournament lasted over 15 hours; sitting on your computer for that long can be mentally and physically exhausting. Samh shared his thoughts.

“The bubble was really frustrating, it seemed like it was never going to end. It was just important to stay patient and not try to force anything.”

Some players thought that in the WCOOP events the blinds should go up faster or they should become two day tournaments. Samh agreed. “I think if they do anything they should make it a two day event like FTOPS.”

You will definitely see Samh in more WCOOP events this year. Although he celebrated more on Saturday, he isn’t planning on being extravagant with the money he’s won. “I’m probably going to cash out a big chunk of it and invest it.”

Stay tuned for Hand Histories from Samh’s amazing win as well as analysis.

Two FTR players’ struggle, two flourish

Massimo, IowaSkinsFan (me), Hartlin, and Triptanes all represented FTR in Event #1. Massimo ended up busting out very early on. Triptanes busted out early on as well.

On the other hand, I was up and down. I had sustained a decent sized stack throughout the early stages, but my luck took a horrible turn. After getting all in as a 95% favorite, I ended up losing to a runner-runner straight.

PokerStars Game #12059214011: Tournament #70000001, $200+$15 Hold’em No Limit – Level VII (100/200) – 2007/09/14 – 18:47:31 (ET)

Table ‘70000001 813′ 6-max Seat #3 is the button

Seat 1: LostLuck_PT (9793 in chips)

Seat 2: MUSTAFABET (12068 in chips)

Seat 3: Croustillant (7905 in chips)

Seat 4: heybude (13157 in chips)

Seat 5: DJCrazyD (38184 in chips)

Seat 6: mey2k (2661 in chips)

LostLuck_PT: posts the ante 20

MUSTAFABET: posts the ante 20

Croustillant: posts the ante 20

heybude: posts the ante 20

DJCrazyD: posts the ante 20

mey2k: posts the ante 20

heybude: posts small blind 100

DJCrazyD: posts big blind 200

*** HOLE CARDS ***

Dealt to heybude [Ac Ks]

mey2k: folds

LostLuck_PT: raises 400 to 600

MUSTAFABET: folds

Croustillant: folds

heybude: raises 1400 to 2000

DJCrazyD: folds

LostLuck_PT: calls 1400

*** FLOP *** [As Qc 5s]

heybude: bets 2500

LostLuck_PT: raises 5273 to 7773 and is all-in

heybude: calls 5273

heybude: shows [Ac Ks]

LostLuck_PT: shows [7h 6h]

*** TURN *** [As Qc 5s] [3s]

*** RIVER *** [As Qc 5s 3s] [4d]

I was down to around 3.5k chips, and it looked like I was ready to be done. What I didn’t realize is how important the next decision would be. I raised preflop with 66 UTG and got a caller from the big blind. The Flop was JT4 rainbow. I had 2.5k left and the pot was 2.5k. I decided instead of shoving, I would bet and fold if he raised. And that’s what I did. Essentially, I had a chip and a chair afterwards, and I thought it was over. However, after a few double ups, I was back in it.

It was then I was faced the toughest decision of my tournament.

PokerStars Game #12060659952: Tournament #70000001, $200+$15 Hold’em No Limit – Level X (300/600) – 2007/09/14 – 20:10:13 (ET)

Table ‘70000001 176’ 6-max Seat #4 is the button

Seat 1: HBsen (22507 in chips)

Seat 2: slimsimm77 (75987 in chips)

Seat 3: heybude (5118 in chips)

Seat 4: Snitsky27 (4010 in chips)

Seat 5: SilentSupra (19981 in chips)

Seat 6: bubsski (8300 in chips)

HBsen: posts the ante 60

slimsimm77: posts the ante 60

heybude: posts the ante 60

Snitsky27: posts the ante 60

SilentSupra: posts the ante 60

bubsski: posts the ante 60

SilentSupra: posts small blind 300

bubsski: posts big blind 600

*** HOLE CARDS ***

Dealt to heybude [Ks Js]

HBsen: folds

slimsimm77: raises 1200 to 1800

SilentSupra said, “i see”

Heybude: ????

I had just switched tables. I didn’t know anything about slimsimm77, but what I did know was the tournament had a lot of aggressive players and I was still low on chips. I decided I would go all-in.

heybude: raises 3258 to 5058 and is all-in

Snitsky27: folds

SilentSupra: folds

bubsski: folds

slimsimm77: calls 3258

*** FLOP *** [8c Ad 9h]

*** TURN *** [8c Ad 9h] [Ts]

*** RIVER *** [8c Ad 9h Ts] [Qs]

*** SHOW DOWN ***

slimsimm77: shows [As Th] (two pair, Aces and Tens)

heybude: shows [Ks Js] (a straight, Ten to Ace)

heybude collected 11376 from pot

*** SUMMARY ***

Total pot 11376 | Rake 0

Board [8c Ad 9h Ts Qs]

Seat 1: HBsen folded before Flop (didn’t bet)

Seat 2: slimsimm77 showed [As Th] and lost with two pair, Aces and Tens

Seat 3: heybude showed [Ks Js] and won (11376) with a straight, Ten to Ace

Seat 4: Snitsky27 (button) folded before Flop (didn’t bet)

Seat 5: SilentSupra (small blind) folded before Flop

Seat 6: bubsski (big blind) folded before Flop

Resident tournament professional Johnny_Fish thought I made the right play. “I think I’d just gamble here, and take the (close to a) flip. If you fold you have to push one of the next 2 hands into the big stacks who are probably calling very wide anyway.”

After that it was as if I was on cruise control. It seemed like one double up after another. Soon enough, there were less than 100 players left, and I was in 12th with almost 250,000 chips. But I was playing to win, and I wasn’t about to play scared money. Unfortunately, two almost mirror image hands lead to my downfall. Hissi had been aggressive, and raised to 9000 from the Cut Off. hAAdooken called. I had AJ in the big blind. I figured I was ahead of Hissi a lot, so I put half his 90,000 chip stack in. Unfortunately, he had AQ and I lost. I wasn’t scared of hAAdooken, he had been playing a lot of hands and probably would re-raise his big hands.

My chip stack continued to dwindle, and oddly enough I found myself faced with almost the same situation I was faced with a few orbits before. This time, Hissi doesn’t have a hand, unfortunately rompsa does.

PokerStars Game #12065010354: Tournament #70000001, $200+$15 Hold’em No Limit – Level XVII (1500/3000) – 2007/09/15 – 00:30:28 (ET)

Table ‘70000001 696’ 6-max Seat #6 is the button

Seat 1: heybude (96287 in chips)

Seat 2: römpsä (151797 in chips)

Seat 3: CasablancAA (156948 in chips)

Seat 4: HissiProppen (116907 in chips)

Seat 5: shadav55 (75285 in chips)

Seat 6: hAAdooken (266754 in chips)

heybude: posts the ante 300

römpsä: posts the ante 300

CasablancAA: posts the ante 300

HissiProppen: posts the ante 300

shadav55: posts the ante 300

hAAdooken: posts the ante 300

heybude: posts small blind 1500

römpsä: posts big blind 3000

*** HOLE CARDS ***

Dealt to heybude [Ad Js]

CasablancAA: folds

HissiProppen: raises 6000 to 9000

shadav55: folds

hAAdooken: calls 9000

heybude: raises 86987 to 95987 and is all-in

römpsä: raises 55510 to 151497 and is all-in

HissiProppen: folds

hAAdooken: folds

*** FLOP *** [7s Kh Ac]

*** TURN *** [7s Kh Ac] [9d]

*** RIVER *** [7s Kh Ac 9d] [8c]

*** SHOW DOWN ***

heybude: shows [Ad Js] (a pair of Aces)

römpsä: shows [As Ks] (two pair, Aces and Kings)

CasablancAA said, “NH ROMP”

römpsä collected 211774 from pot

*** SUMMARY ***

Total pot 211774 | Rake 0

Board [7s Kh Ac 9d 8c]

Seat 1: heybude (small blind) showed [Ad Js] and lost with a pair of Aces

Seat 2: römpsä (big blind) showed [As Ks] and won (211774) with two pair, Aces and Kings

Seat 3: CasablancAA folded before Flop (didn’t bet)

Seat 4: HissiProppen folded before Flop

Seat 5: shadav55 folded before Flop (didn’t bet)

Seat 6: hAAdooken (button) folded before Flop

I busted out in 74th place for almost $2,000. Fortunately, my night wasn’t over! Read WCOOP Event #2 report for more information on that.

Another FTR member, Hartlin, also did well. He ended up finishing in 106th place for just over $1,500, a respectable score indeed.

There is still over 14 million of guaranteed prize pools up for grabs. Make sure you take YOUR shot at some life changing money!