How painful can it be to lose a penny? Try asking Viktor Taranenko.
Thanks to the excellent PokerNews reporting, we know that Taranenko won his seat to the WSOP Europe Main Event—a tournament that usually costs more than €10,000 to enter—by playing a satellite online for just one cent.
Quite the score, so off he flies to King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic and sits among 341 other hopefuls. If he can last until 81 people remain, he’s going to walk home with over €15,000. First place prize is over €1 million.
Then people start getting knocked out. He makes it through Day 1, and the field has already shrunk to 221 players. He makes it through Day 2—there’s now only 165 players. He has a healthy 30 big blind stack going into Day 3. He only has to outlast 84 more players and he’s going home with a five figure score.
Players start dropping, but his stack is dwindling. One by one they fall. Then all of a sudden there’s a palpable tension in the room. The money bubble! There’s only 82 players left in the tournament! If just one more person is knocked out, our hero is taking home a prize.
But there’s a snag. He’s only got 1 big blind left. And he’s in the big blind. He makes his mandatory post and is all in. He keeps his cards face down. Gary Hasson, a big stack, makes a raise under the gun. Everyone else folds. Our hero is all-in, heads up for his life. And he keeps his cards face down.
The flop comes 622—not a great flop for an early raiser. The turn’s a jack—that’s a bit scary. A five on the river is seemingly innocuous. The raiser flips over his hand—AK—just the board’s pair with an ace high. All our opponent needs is to match the board in some way to stay in and assuredly lock in his five figure score.
For the first time, slowly, Viktor Taranenko flips over his hand to see his fate.
Ten four offsuit. Nothing.
“Taranenko … was bitterly disappointed to not have made the money,” PokerNews reports. “He quickly left the tournament area, clearly upset, while the rest of the players celebrated their min-cash and rushed to the buffet to enjoy their 60-minute dinner break.”