SCOOP 2014: Dan "w00ki3z." Cates comes out ahead in Event #14-H, $2,100 PLO (Heads-Up)

Dan "w00ki3z." Cates is known much more for his exploits at the ultra-high-stakes cash game tables than he is for playing tournaments. After all, many times their cost of entry is equal to a big blind (or even less) at his normal games, and they take a relatively long time to play through. That doesn't mean he avoids them entirely, though. And after earning his first COOP title today, he might start playing them more often.

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Daniel Cates, your newest SCOOP champion

A total field of 216 players turned up for Event #14-H, a $2,100 heads-up Pot-Limit Omaha tournament, building a total prize pool of $432,000. More than one-third of that total would be split among the two finalists, with $95,040 going to the winner. The first day of play finished up when Daniel "d2themfi" knocked out Sami "Lrslzk" Kelopuro in 5th place ($16,848), leaving just the four semi-finalists to return at 2:00 p.m. ET today for Day 2.

Semi-final: Daniel "d2themfi" Isaacson (Mexico) vs. LEXER1986 (Ukraine)

The first semi-final matchup brought Daniel "d2themfi" Isaacson, playing from Mexico, together with past Sunday Million runner-up LEXER1986 from Ukraine. Ending Day 1, Isaacson defeated MrSweets28, IneedMassari, kookosh, and Lrslzk, while LEXER1986 took out Eversti78, feurinho, BongBob, and wesslan_19.

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Their match was over almost as soon as it began. Both d2themfi and LEXER1986 were aggressive from the start, so the action on Hand #7 wasn't unexpected:

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On Hand #8, d2themfi picked up K♠ K♣ 7♥ 4♥ while LEXER1986 had A♠ A♣ T♥ 6♦, and all of Isaacson's chip went in the middle before the Q♥ 5♣ K♥ flop gave LEXER1986 top set and a flush draw. The A♦ on the turn moved d2themfi into the lead temporarily, but the 2♥ fell on the river and brought their match to a close. It was too soon for Mr. Isaacson's liking, to be sure, but his $30,240 prize for 4th place was well-deserved.

Semi-final: Dan "w00ki3z." Cates (United Kingdom) vs. xxMatSon (Finland)

The other semi-final featured xxMatSon, a past SCOOP PLO final tablist from Finland, taking on all-world high roller Dan "w00ki3z." Cates. To close out Day 1, xxMatSon eliminated aDrENalin710, chipchuker5, ubersherms, and sauce3000, while Cates beat vandir4rek, jsizzle20, ISILDRooN, and goodeh99.

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Where the other two semi-finalists had been aggressive from the beginning, Cates and xxMatSon spent some time feeling each other out in the early going of their match. Then Cates hit the gas on Hand #9 and won the next 12 pots in a row, including two big ones that shifted the balance of power firmly in his favor.

The first big pot came on Hand #17. xxMatSon opened for 60 chips on the button and called when Cates three-bet to 120 out of position, bringing a 9♠ 8♣ 6♠ flop. Cates led for 160 chips and called when xxMatSon raised to 440. Both players then checked the A♦ turn and the 8♥ on the river as well. Cates showed A♠ K♠ K♦ 5♥ for two pair, aces and eights, winning the 1,120-chip pot as xxMatSon mucked. Three hands later Cates got paid on a great river card:

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That gave Cates 8,371 of the 10,000 chips in play and he kept the pressure up from there, winning 12 of the next 13 pots, just four of which came after seeing a flop. That gave him a 9,219-781 lead and every reason to remain aggressive. On Hand #40 xxMatSon was finally able to double up - but only to 1,046 chips.

Cates kept up the pressure from there. On Hand #47 he opened on the button for 60 chips and called a re-raise to 180, bringing an A♣ 8♠ Q♥ flop. xxMatSon led out for 180 and then called Cates' raise for 326 more, ending up all-in with K♣ J♣ J♥ 2♥ for a pair of jacks. Cates held A♦ J♦ 8♦ 2♦ for two pair - aces and eights once again. The 3♣ [turn and Q♦ river were no help to xxMatSon, whose tournament ended in 3rd place ($30,240).

Final: Dan "w00ki3z." Cates (United Kingdom) vs. LEXER1996 (Ukraine)

It didn't take very long for the first burst of real action in the final. Cates opened for 60 chips on the button on Hand #8 and called a re-raise to 180, taking a 5♣ J♠ A♣ flop. He flat-called a bet of 270, then raised to 2,925 after LEXER1986 led for 675 on the 7♦ turn. The Ukrainian folded and Cates jumped into the lead. Three hands the later the pre-flop action was the same, only with LEXER1986 on the button for a J♥ A♥ 4♣ flop. LEXER1986 called Cates' bet of 260 on the flop. Then Cates check-called 528 on the T♣ turn before check-folding to a pot-sized bet on the 9♦ river, bringing the two players back to within 500 chips of one another.

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The chip lead went back and forth before LEXER1986 broke out the first pre-flop four-bet of the match on Hand #31, getting Cates to call 540 chips total to see a A♣ 2♠ J♣ flop and to check-fold to a 648-chip bet. That gave the Ukrainian a 6,113-3,887 lead, one that stayed intact until Cates brought things back close to even once again on Hand #53:

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LEXER1986 pulled ahead again, chipping up to 6,286 after filling a straight on a rare limped pot on Hand #62. But Cates got right back into it five hands later:

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Balance was the watchword at this stage of the match. By the time 80 hands had gone by, the two finalists were separated by just five 30-chip big blinds. LEXER1986 managed to edge out into the lead over the following 25 hands, beginning Hand #108 with 5,616 chips. The Ukrainian player opened for 90 chips and called Cates' re-raise to 270 to see a 7♥ A♥ 2♣ flop, then called another bet of 390 to bring the 6♥ on the turn. This time Cates checked and called LEXER1986's bet of 792 and the two checked down the 2♠ river. Cates showed A♣ K♣ T♠ 7♦ for two pair, aces and sevens, but LEXER1986's flush with K♥ T♥ Q♦ 6♦ was good for the 2,904-chip pot.

The very next hand turned everything around, though. Cates opened the action for 90 chips on the button and called a re-raise to 270, leaving him with 2,662 chips behind. The flop came 6♣ Q♥ 6♥ and LEXER1986 led out for 324. Cates raised to 720, LEXER1986 called, and the turn was the 9♠. This time LEXER1986 checked and Cates moved all-in on the button for 1,942 chips. LEXER went deep into the time bank, pondering the situation for more than a minute and a half before finally opting to call with A♥ A♠ T♣ 2♠. That turned out to be the wrong decision as Cates held K♥ 6♦ 4♥ 2♥ for trip sixes with a flush redraw. The Q♣ on the river changed nothing and Cates dragged the 5,864-chip pot.

The blinds now rose to 20/40 and both players remained aggressive. They traded pots back and forth regularly enough that the average difference between their stacks remained fairly constant. LEXER1986 was able to pull back within 11 big blinds on Hand #131 after rivering two pair, aces and fours, with A♠ K♣ 4♦ 2♠ on a 9♥ A♣ T♦ 5♥ 4♣ board. Then the Ukrainian player actually re-took the lead six hands later after check-raising Cates on a T♦ 5♥ K♦ flop and leading out on the T♥ turn. But Cates erased the advantage entirely on the next hand, moving in front by four big blinds. Then LEXER1986 won the next pot and the lead flipped again. The pattern held until Hand #161 gave LEXER1986 a big boost:

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Three hands later Cates brought the match back close to even. Then he reclaimed the lead on Hand #166, rivering a set with Q♦ 4♦ Q♣ 9♣ to chip up to 5,459. The turning point came on Hand #171:

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After that the balance of pots won remained about the same as before, but Cates' stack would never again dip below 6,000 chips. With the blinds now at 25/50, LEXER1986 was sitting with 2,616 chips as Hand #185 began. The Ukrainian player raised to 150 out of position after Cates limped on the button. Cates called to bring a 9♠ 4♣ 5♥ flop, then raised to 700 after LEXER1986 led out for 225. LEXER1986 raised the pot and then called all-in for 2,466 total, showing A♥ 9♣ 7♥ 2♣ for top pair with a gutshot wheel draw. Cates' T♥ 7♠ 6♣ 5♣ was behind with a pair of fives and remained there on the K♠ turn, but the T♦ on the river gave him two pair. LEXER1986's hand remained unimproved and the tournament came to its end.

For finishing in second place, LEXER1986 earned a prize of $60,480, the second-best of the Ukrainian's career after that Sunday Million runner-up finish in 2011. As for Dan Cates, who has accomplished so much in poker already, this marks, surprisingly enough, the first COOP title of his career. The $95,040 prize is also the largest he has earned in a PokerStars tournament to date. Congratulations to him on joining the annals of PokerStars COOP champions!

SCOOP 14-H: $2,100 Pot-Limit Omaha (Heads-Up)
Entrants: 216
Prize pool: $432,000
Places paid: 32

1. Dan "w00ki3z." Cates (United Kingdom) $95,040
2. LEXER1996 (Ukraine) $60,480
3. xxMatSon (Finland) $30,240
4. Daniel "d2themfi" Isaacson (Mexico) $30,240

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

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