The 5th Event of the WCOOP proved to be the best so far. The tournament had 6025 entrants and a prize pool of over 3 million dollars. AB_illusive, a respected high stakes cash game regular, took home almost 400 thousand dollars in the biggest prize pool of the WCOOP so far.
Many tournament pros entered including everyone’s favorite player Daniel Negreanu (who was knocked out within the first hour of the tournament), WSOP 2004 winner Greg Raymer, WSOP 2005 winner Joe Hachem, and Bill Chen. Online tournaments pros who entered included Bel0wAb0ve, zangzebean24, and westmenloAA, who had the best finish of the pros, taking 19th for 10 thousand dollars.
Massimo (aka Muckingurmom) and Johnny_fish (aka busto_soon) were two Flopturnriver.com players who played in the tournament, and they both faced similar fates. Johnny finished in 1421st place, 500 places out of the money and Massimo finished in 1254th, 350 places out of the money.
But it was AB_illusive who hung around and overcame a huge chip deficit to win the tournament. When it was down to the final two, illusive chopped with his opponent Taktloss47, guaranteeing illusive $248,649 and taktloss47 $260,185. They now were playing for $150,000, and taktloss47 started out dominating. It looked like illusive was almost out, but he won three huge pots and was back to even. The final hand of the tournament was all in preflop, AB_illusive’s pocket 3’s against taktloss47’s King-Queen suited hearts. AB_illusive took it down and was awarded $150,000 and a WSOP bracelet.
Cash game experience reigns supreme… again
As we saw from Event #1 winner Samh133, experienced cash game players are dominating the No Limit Hold’em WCOOP fields. Event #5 was no exception.
Bill Ivey’s (not to be confused with his inspiration Phil Ivey) poker career started when he saw poker on T.V. 3 years ago. Him and his friends would go play in the library after school. Poker became his life. He would read books and browse forums, constantly striving to get better. He would deposit most of his paycheck at Officemax into Pokerstars. He lost it all a few times before he eventually built a large bankroll and never looked back. He quit his job, and after a semester of college he decided he would take his shot as a professional poker player.
Ivey was not only skilled in mid and high stakes cash games, but also equally as savvy in tournaments. “I like the adrenaline rushes.” Bill told me. “There is a lot of money to be won.” Bill must have been licking his chops at the enormous prize pool of Event #5, because even 5th place would have given him nearly a 6 figure pay day.
Bill knew it was going to be a long day. The last 4 tournaments of the WCOOP had all lasted around 15 hours, and this was the biggest event yet. But he liked his chances. Unlike the tournament professionals who master being 10 big blinds deep, this tournament would have most of the players 50 to 100bb deep, something Bill was used to in the cash games he played. He was able to use aggressive play and didn’t have to worry if he got called on a bluff or two. “I was able to raise a lot when I had chips, and it also allowed me to lose half my stack and still be able to bounce back. There were about three crucial times I lost a lot of chips and recovered them.”
With the help of his ruthless and aggressive play, Bill scratched and clawed his way to the final table. If he fought his way to victory, he could be as much as $500,000 richer. If he made one misstep, it could be $480,000 less. Although he was in 8th, an early double up with KK put him in contention for a huge score and a WCOOP bracelet. “I felt like I had an edge against everyone at the table.” Bill believed.
It was at this point he knew he had a shot. But whether it was being blinded by the money, nervousness, or fatigue, Bill could only muster his B game. “After [I doubled up] I made a questionable call with AT, and went card-dead. I believe there were a couple spots where I could have shoved or squeezed and got the big stacks to fold but I chose to play tight. I finally took a stand with A3 and ran into 88 and finished in 5th place.”
Although he had won almost $100,000, he couldn’t help but feel haunted by his loss. “After I busted I stared at the screen for a little, then stood up and stretched out a bit. I realized I won $97k, which just feels great of course and that put a smile on my face. I was really tired so I just went to bed, thinking how I should have folded the AT, and other mistakes I made which cost me that bracelet and another $350k. I am still regretting these things now.”
Bill hopes to use the extra money to take shots at bigger games and boost his bankroll.
AB_Illusive, unlike Bill Ivey, had very little experience in tournaments. “I have played a maximum of 100 tournaments in my life.” AB said. “I played the Main Event at WSOP this year, and did fairly well. Unfortunately, I busted out early on Day 3 just before the money, so dollar wise it wasn’t much of a success.” The 25 year old from Denmark has spent most of his short career playing cash games, which this past year included as high as $5000 buy in.
AB went into the tournament planning on playing a tight and solid game, which successfully vaulted him into the final 50. After a double up when he caught a set of sixes versus his opponents AA, AB found himself in the chip lead. But when I asked him if the thought of a possible half a million dollar score made him nervous, his prompt answer was “Not at all, no.” Playing in high stakes games where he regularly lost $10,000 pots, he knew he couldn’t let the though of money phase him. “I actually turned off my phone so I couldn’t be interrupted.” AB noted.
AB knew with a big stack he could start to run over his opponents. He began to raise preflop almost every hand, putting pressure on his opponents whenever he could. Unfortunately, AB found himself in spots where he was forced to give up on a bluff or make a big fold. The chips lost from this took him from the chip lead to one of the short stacks when he finally reached the final table. It looked like his tournament life could be over when he got his stack in with 44 versus his opponents AK all in preflop. Fortunately, AB’s hand held and like Bill Ivey, found himself in contention; but he wasn’t sure of his chances. The big stack, FredManiac, was pushing around his stack like pocket change was at stake. Fortunately for AB, the tables turned on Fred. “I’m quite certain he would have won the tournament, if it wasn’t for the hand where the only stack that could touch him, Taktloss47, made a running flush against his top two pairs.” The loss crippled FredManiac, who busted out in 6th place.
After busting a few more players busted out, they were down to the final two. AB decided that he would take a chop, because he wasn’t sure how if he had an edge versus his aggressive opponent. “I simply thought in the line of reducing variance, and figured that the deal had neutral EV but reduced variance. I would have no trouble playing Taktloss47 heads-up in a cash game on a limit, we can both agree on, but I’m not certain, I had an edge in tournament play.” No one blames AB, he was facing German poker star Sebastian Ruthenberg, who had recently won the German Poker Open. Also, at this point, AB had been awake for nearly 30 hours.
The heads up match was certainly a tumultuous one. It seemed like when either player looked as if they were going to lose, they would get right back in it. At one point, it looked like AB was done when his A3 of spades was all in against taktloss’ JJ. Fortunately, AB hit two spades on the flop, and another on the river. It must have been devastating to taktloss, who was so close to celebrating a victory to finding himself at a 3 to 1 chip disadvantage. After hours of grueling play, AB finally pulled out a victory when his 33 held against KQ. PokerStars called the match “epic.” Certainly it has been the most exciting match of the WCOOP so far.
However, some felt that the better player didn’t win. A poster on twoplustwo.com thought it was mainly AB’s luck that pulled out the victory. “Taktloss47 dominated the HU match and played much better in my opinion. AB_ won like 6 of 6 all-ins, being an underdog several times (AJ>KK, A3>JJ etc).” AB didn’t agree with this assessment. “The poster obviously doesn’t realize that having AJ vs. KK and A3 vs. JJ are huge setups with the effective stacks at that point. I’m certain Taktloss47 would have played it exactly the same, if stacks and position were reversed. Furthermore, he had a great run of cards when the heads-up started, which might have seemed as he “dominated”. But if he keeps hitting top pair, and I hit nothing, it’s fairly easy to dominate. You might also realize from the replay, that when the stacks changed, I was able to make more moves and work my stack.”
Nonetheless, AB_Illusive is now $400,000 richer. And while he was exhausted from the longest tournament of the WCOOP yet, which lasted over 20 hours, he found some time to celebrate. “Of course, I was dancing around on the floor and opened a bottle of champagne with my girlfriend. Then, I called all my friends and my family to share to good news.” AB said. “It was a crazy amount of money, and a great tournament win.”
Although AB went to sleep a few hours later, he wasn’t dreaming of what he’d do with the money. “It’s not like I really need the money, as I already have all the stuff I want. The money will simply enable me to play higher stakes cash games that I can still beat, so I can increase my hourly rate, and hopefully move further up in stakes.”
AB may have not dreamt that night, but he sure as hell was living one.