Last night I was up late again -- ’til about 3 a.m. my time -- helping cover the end of the PokerStars’ World Championship of Online Poker Main Event (a $5,000 + $200 buy-in no-limit hold’em event). Change100 and I handled the live blog, and as the night wore on we were marveling at the fact that Daniel “djk123” Kelly was building a huge chip lead once again. Kelly had already cashed 10 times in this year’s WCOOP series, and won two previous WCOOP bracelets, including one just the night before in the $10,000 + $300 High Rollers H.O.R.S.E. event.
Kelly was in the top ten when Day 2 of the WCOOP Main Event started yesterday (with 178 players still alive from the 2,144 who entered). With about 50 players left, Kelly charged into the chip lead and had a huge advantage for much of the endgame before finally falling in third place.
We were also noticing and reporting on several other recognizable names among those still around for the conclusion of this one. J.C. “area23JC” Tran -- who won the WCOOP Main Event in 2006 -- made a deep run and finished not far outside the top 100. Scott “dorinvandy” Dorin, who won a High Rollers event during the 2008 WCOOP, ended up finishing 61st. Layne “reloadthis” Flack was around at the end, too, getting eliminated in 55th.
A lot of the online names were familiar, too, having turned up time and again deep in these WCOOP events we’ve been covering, or having become recognizable after taking down big Sunday tourneys. There were a few who made it deep who hadn’t been “outed” officially, and so while we knew they were name pros we weren’t identifying them in the blog.
A couple who were eventually identified included Isaac “philivey2694” Haxton, who finished 31st, and Yevgeniy “Jovial Gent” Timoshenko, who ended up winning the sucker. Change100 and I covered Haxton back in the summer when he finished second to Vitaly Lunkin at that $40,000 WSOP event (Event No. 2). And, of course, we remember Timoshenko for winning that WPT World Championship event at the Bellagio this past April.
I had been up all night the previous evening writing up the report on Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier’s victory in WCOOP Event No. 43 -- his second WCOOP bracelet of the series. So I was going on 40-plus hours without sleep when, noticing the preponderance of players who’d enjoyed repeat successes going deep in last night’s Main Event, when I confidently delivered the following thesis to Change100 in chat: “this must be a skill game.” “haha” she replied at my less-than-startling conclusion.
’Cos it’s obvious, ain’t it? We poker players love to quote Mike McDermott’s sort-of-hyperbolic-but-still-meaningful questioning of his girl, Jo, in Rounders when he asks “Why does this still seem like gambling to you? I mean, why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table of the World Series of Poker every single year? What, are they the luckiest guys in Las Vegas?”
Mike concludes “it’s a skill game, Jo.” Indeed, this year’s WCOOP provided still more evidence to support that ideer, I think.