Full Tilt Poker completed FTOPS VIII last month. That was the eighth installment of their popular series featuring 24 tournaments, and four more than FTOPS VII which was held in February.
Each FTOPS VIII event was hosted by a different Full Tilt Poker red pro including David Chiu, Max Pescatori, David "The Dragon" Pham, Marco Traniello, Jeff Madsen, Dario Alioto, Hans Martin Vogl, Paul Wasicka, Gus Hansen, Mike Matusow, Nick Schulman, Lee Watkinson, David Singer, Amanda Baker, Eddie Scharf, Phil Gordon, Markus Golser, Berry Johnston, Rob Hollink, Mike Schneider, Phil Ivey, Sigi Stockinger, Roland de Wolfe, and Jennifer Harman.
The entire FTOPS VIII had a guaranteed prize pool of over $10 million with the $500 buy-in main event featuring a $2 million guarantee. Events this time around featured a two-day $2,500 buy-in nolimit event and three special "mystery" events that had never been done at the FTOPS before, such as a triple and quadruple no-limit shootout.
Other events in FTOPS VIII included no-limit shorthanded 6-max, pot-limit Omaha knockout, pot-limit hold'em, stud/8, pot-limit Omaha shorthanded 6-max, no-limit rebuy, pot-limit Omaha/8, no-limit heads up, no-limit with one rebuy and one add on, HORSE, no-limit turbo, half pot-limit hold'em and half pot-limit Omaha, no-limit shorthanded 6-max rebuy, razz, limit hold'em shorthanded 6-max, pot-limit Omaha with rebuys, and no-limit shorthanded 6-max knockout. Buy-ins ranged from as little as $100 to as much as $2,500.
The big story about FTOPS VIII surrounded an online player from Denmark named Halfrek. He won two different events in the same week and walked away with almost $860,000, which he accomplished without even leaving Scandinavia. That's a stunning figure considering that his competition included the best pros in the world.
Halfrek first caught everyone's attention when he won Event No. 11, the $1,000 no-limit hold'em tournament, and collected $342,495 for first place. He outlasted a field of 1,593 runners with a prize pool of almost $1.6 million. Halfrek started the final table second in chips and then got hot at the right time as he amassed a commanding lead. He busted the final five players. On the final hand, Halfrek's Kc-Qd ran down huey680's Ad-7h. Huey680 was eliminated in second place as Halfrek won his first FTOPS event.
A couple of days later, Halfrek decimated the field in the largest buy-in two-day $2,500 event. There were 899 players and the prize pool surged to over $2.4 million. Halfrek collected $516,925 for first as his career online tournament earnings almost topped $1 million. Halfrek didn't exactly come out of nowhere. He had been crushing the highest no-limit tables on PokerStars. He also won $30,000 for first place in a tournament on Full Tilt in March which seems like chump change compared to his recent score during FTOPS.
There has been lots of speculation about the identity of Halfrek. Some internet forums suggested that he was Philip Hilm. I heard rumors that he was Oren Hallin. His true identity is a mystery. The only thing I could dig up is that Halfrek is from Odense, Denmark. Halfrek's dominating performance in FTOPS VIII almost made the Main Event an afterthought. Over 4,750 players entered the $500 buy-in Main Event with a $2.375 million prize pool. The top 648 places won prize money. Phil Ivey took bubble boy honors when he busted out in 649th place. Several Full Tilt pros cashed in the event including Huck Seed, Andy Bloch, Mike Gracz, Roland de Wolfe, Robert Mizrachi, and Stuart Paterson. Jason "strassa2" Strasser went deep and made the final table, but finished in ninth place.
Keith "cheesemonster" Lehr won the Main Event for a $410,780 score. Prior to his victory, cheesemonster had almost $600K in live tournament earnings including three WSOP final tables and one bracelet. Cheesemonster actually beat Full Tilt pro Chris "Jesus" Ferguson to win his first bracelet in a $3,000 pot-limit hold'em event. Congrats to cheese monster and Halfbeak for their standout performances in FTOPS VIII.