By Lisa Yiasemides
The Season XIX WPT Online Series came to a close last night in a thrilling end to what has been an action-packed few weeks. Seven titles were won as the final side events took place. However, the biggest story of the night was undoubtedly that the jewel in the crown of the entire festival reached its conclusion. The suspense had been steadily building in the four-day, $3,000,000 guaranteed Main Event, and the final day was epic in every way, taking almost eight and a half hours to play to a winner.
Below you can read all about how Christian Rudolph saw off some of the world’s best to clinch the title, the crown, and a lifetime of bragging rights, as well as almost half a million dollars in prize money.
Main Event ($3M GTD)
Four days of Main Event action saw the 1,065-strong field reduced to nine by the time the final got out of the starting blocks. The guarantee had been easily surpassed and a huge portion of the $3,195,000 prizepool was still up for the taking when the finalists sat down to play at 19:05 (BST).
No one could have predicted how long it would take for a winner to be decided, especially given that two very early eliminations took place.
All players were guaranteed at least $42,711, yet it is fair to assume that an early departure would come with its fair share of disappointment. Still, someone had to go first, and that person was Stoyan Obreshkov. The Bulgarian lost a big pot to Fabiano Kovalski in the opening minutes of play and couldn’t get back in the game after the hit. Down to two big blinds, one of which was committed in the big blind, Obreshkov hit the rail after calling Yuri “Yuri Martins” Dzivielevski’s min-raise with nine-six. He didn’t improve against the Brazilian’s ace-queen holding and left in 9th place.
One of the biggest names in the field departed next, and this time it was a cooler for Rainer Kempe. Currently ranked 26th in the all-time live tournament rankings, Kempe was dealt pocket-queens and got it all-in preflop in a cutoff/big blind clash against Daniel Dvoress’ superior pocket-rockets. Logging in from Austria, the German star won $54,089 for placing 8th.
Sebastian Camilo Toro Henao fell next, losing the majority of his chips bluffing with pocket-tens on a six-queen-nine-five-king board and getting looked up by Dzivielevski. Both players checked the flop. Dzivielevski led for half pot on the turn, and with a sizeable amount in the middle already, the Brazilian checked the river, giving Camilo Toro Henao room to make a move. He bet pot and Dzivielevski made the call. The last of his chips went in some 30 minutes later and Camilo Toro Henao had the best of it this time but couldn’t hold. Fabiano Kovalski was the benefactor, hitting a flush with queen-three suited after he open-jammed blind on blind and Camilo Toro Henao called with queen-jack. He collected $68,181 for reaching 7th place.
Play was now short-handed and despite a great early run and performance for Dzivielevski, including ascending to the chip lead at one point, his campaign was about to unravel. The online crusher who has notched up several considerable results already this year came unstuck in a huge tussle with Daniel Dvoress when the former was dealt ace-king and the latter pocket-jacks. A jack on the flop and an ace on the turn set up a big pot. A deuce paired the board on the river, giving Dzivielevski two pair with top kicker, but he couldn’t beat a full house and departed in 6th place for $86,399.
Luciano Hollanda had been holding on with a short stack for some time and successfully outlasted Dzivielevski for an extra ladder. That turned out to be the end of the line for him though. He 3-bet jammed king-jack suited but ran into a pair of aces to leave in 5th place. Dvoress was the executioner for a second time, closing in on 100 million in chips while Hollanda took the first six-figure prize available, padding his bankroll with $111,783.
It would be well over an hour before another elimination would occur. Marc Lange had done well to stay in the running, fighting against an extremely tough field with only a short stack as his weapon. Lange 3-bet all-in effective against Kovalski’s open with ace-nine and ran into Kovalski’s pocket-queens. Though Lange bubbled a podium finish, he will no doubt be able to console himself with the $163,003 in prize money he won for reaching 4th place.
Then there were three, and Dvoress appeared calm, collected, and very much in control for the majority of the day. The High Roller superstar made a particularly impressive hero call early on in three-handed play against Rudolph. That hand netted the Canadian a huge pot which secured himself almost 60% of the chips in play, and for a while, it looked like he would make light work of the last leg of the competition.
It wasn’t to be all plain sailing though, instead, it would be three hours before another player was lost – each time the short-stack would double up in an all-in and call situation. The chip lead changed countless times during that period. All three players experienced being top, middle, and bottom of the counts, and the game became a test of endurance and patience with all three players rising to the marathon challenge.
In the end, blind pressures started to come into play and Dvoress lost a big all-in after three-bet jamming pocket-deuces over an open from Rudolph, who called with pocket-jacks. That left Dvoress very short and despite doubling soon after, his hopes were short-lived. The final nail in the coffin came when he shipped six big blinds with ace-ten only to find himself behind to Kovalski’s ace-queen suited. His third-place result was worth $249,324.
That brought an end to the hiatus and Rudolph and Kovalski entered a deal discussion, with the latter writing in the chat: “That wasn’t easy. Lol.” Once a deal was struck, the pair continued to play for an additional $30,000 plus the title and trophy.
Kovalski had the most work to do, and fought hard, even regaining the lead at one stage. The pivotal hand came when Rudolph correctly picked off a huge three-barrel bluff with six-five on a four-five-queen-eight-two board. He was rewarded with an almost 6:1 lead from which Kovalski couldn’t recover.
The last of the chips went in on a ten-queen-four flop, with two diamonds. Kovalski needed a jack or a diamond to hit a straight or flush with his nine-eight suited, but the turn and river bricked, leaving Rudolph to collect the last pot, his ace-queen improving to trips on the river.
Congratulations to our runner-up Kovalski who won $401,793 for his efforts and, of course, to the newest WPT Champion… Christian Rudolph! He goes away $487,443 better off as well as nabbing those all-important bragging rights and a lifetime membership to the WPT Champions Club.
The Closer ($150K GTD)
The $320 buy-in event attracted 524 entries, generating a $157,200 pot by the close of late registration. There were 77 who progressed to the second day of the knockout tournament last night, all of them locking up at least $335 for a min-cash.
After seven hours and 14 minutes, Josh Boulton had picked off the last of his competition, eliminating June Stenberg in second place, and banking $11,026 + $11,765 in bounties, for a total haul of $22,791. Stenberg takes $16,731 ($11,009 + $5,722 in bounties) home for coming runner up.
Belarussian pro Vadzim Lipauka took the last podium spot and banked $12,300 ($7,748 + $4,552 in bounties) for third place.
In the Mini event, a huge 2,093 entries were logged meaning a $62,790 total prize pool, smashing the $50,000 guarantee. By the time Day 2 got underway, only 310 were still in with a chance. Claus Knoop Sørensen rose to the top, a feat all the more impressive considering it took him over 11 hours. The Dane won $6,135 ($3,782 + $2,352 in bounties), leaving Lukas Frey to collect $4,818 ($3,745 + $1,073 in bounties) for coming second.
A total of 2,336 registrations were counted in the Micro event, and 347 returned for the second half last night to do their best to win a share of the $15,000 prizepool. Austria prevailed over Canada when Kevin Mild defeated Gurvir Sidhu heads-up. Mild banked $1,728 ($1,095 + $633 in bounties) and Sidhu won $1,161 ($1,091 + $70 in bounties) for their respective deep runs.
Turbo and Hyper Side Events
That concludes the second WPT Online Series, and it has certainly been quite the ride. Need more poker in your life between now and next May? The WPT team never sleeps and is already working hard to bring fans the next installment of top-notch poker action. Tune back into WPT.com in July for the WPTDeepStacks online, which will once again run in partnership with partypoker.com.