SCOOP: Alaei is cream of star-studded final in Event #13, $2,100 Razz

scoop2009_thn.gifSome people delight in inflicting pain and suffering upon themselves. Polite society calls those people masochists. Poker society calls those people razz players. We call them brave. Razz, with its propensity for turning an excellent starting four cards into the worst kind of trash by the river, is not for the faint of heart. The words "unreal", "unbelievable" and "are you kidding?" are typed into the chatbox in this game more than any other.

117 brave razz players turned up on a Wednesday morning to try their hand at a game that many have referred to as "a punch in the gut" over the years. Only 12 would see any of their money come back to their accounts. Seven Team PokerStars Pros were in the mix, including Chad Brown, Alexander Kravchenko, Isabelle Mercier, Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Rousso, and former razz World Series of Poker bracelet winner Katja Thater.

In the end, only 2008 razz bracelet winner Barry Greenstein enjoyed any success for Team PokerStars Pro. He was one of the eight players to make this star-studded final table.

Seat 1: gunning4you (44,729 in chips)
Seat 2: Justin "Boosted J" Smith (49,456 in chips)
Seat 3: Josh "nitbuster" Arieh (54,293 in chips)
Seat 4: Barry "barryg1 Greenstein (73,442 in chips)
Seat 5: 7CardRyon (122,986 in chips)
Seat 6: Daniel "steamraise" Alaei (171,183 in chips)
Seat 7: adanthar (39,410 in chips)
Seat 8: GrowingPains (29,501 in chips)

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Unlike many of the other high-stakes SCOOP tournaments of the past week, this tournament had a clear chip leader going into the final table. Daniel Alaei accumulated more than three times as many chips as five of his seven competitors, and a significant lead over the other two. The table was playing razz, however. Brick a few good starting hands in a row and things would change in a hurry.

Justin Smith quickly proved that. After being crippled down to less than 10,000 chips in a hand against Barry Greenstein (after which hand Smith said, "misread my hand lovely"), Smith made his stand with 3♦ 4♥ / 6♦ and promptly caught the A♣ on fourth street against 7CardRyon and adanthar. 7CardRyon folded, but adanthar went all the way to river with 8♥ 5♥ / 4♣ Q♣. He finished with an eight-five; Smith paired on fifth street and bricked sixth and seventh streets to finish with a ten-six. He won $7,605 for his 8th-place finish.

Four hands later GrowingPains also made a stand. Facing similar prospects as Smith (fewer than 10,000 chips), GrowingPains went with 3♣ 4♣ / 5♠. Chip leader Alaei got i n there with 8♠ 6♣ / 2♣ and the race was on to seventh street. GrowingPains showed up with the familiar "paint, pair, paint" to make a jack-five. Alaei's nine-eight was more than enough to win the pot and send GrowingPains crashing out of the tournament in 7th place with $9,945 in parting gifts.

Josh Arieh was the next player eliminated. He hung on for a long time, but couldn't stop picking up the bring-in or bricking his hands. His stack was down to 1,643 at limits of 3,000 and 6,000 when he went with T♥ 3♣ / 8♥ and was called by Greenstein, 7CardRyon and Alaei. There were four ugly boards after the action checked down all the way to the river. Alaei's 9-8-7 was the least ugly, besting Arieh's 10-8-5 and knocking him out in 6th place. His $2,100 investment in this tournament returned $12,285.

While Greenstein slowly started to accumulate chips five-handed, gunning4you was headed in the opposite direction. Like the players eliminated before him, gunning4you made his stand with an excellent fourth-street hand, 7♣ 3♥ / 6♦ 5♣. Alaei also had an excellent draw, 3♣ 4♦ / 8♠ A♠, and was the one who drew the best, making an eight-four against gunning4you's nine-seven. Sometimes, as Barry Greenstein said when asked by 7CardRyon who would win a razz match between Greenstein, Huck Seed and Ted Forrest, razz is about "whoever makes the best hand." gunning4you earned $16,380 for 5th place.

Speaking of making the best hand, 7CardRyon was having trouble doing just that. Coming up second-best a few too many times put 7CardRyon in the danger zone. His demise came with J♥ T♣ / 6♠ 3♥ J♠ A♥ / 8♥, a ten-eight. Alaei, once again the chip leader, knocked 7CardRyon out of the tournament in 4th place with 8♠ A♠ / J♣ 6♣ Q♠ 3♦ / 7♦, an eight-seven.

At that point, three players remained: adanthar, Alaei, and 2008 razz WSOP bracelet winner Barry Greenstein. Greenstein caught a few tough boards, including one where he made three pair against adanthar after starting A♣ 4♠ / 7♠. He was all in shortly thereafter with 3♦ 7♥ / 4♦. Alaei called with T♠ 9♥ / 2♣ and once again drew best, making a nine-five. Greenstein was drawing live going into the river but only managed a queen-seven. He exited the tournament in 3rd place with $32,760 in winnings.

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That elimination left Alaei and adanthar heads up for the championship. Alaei had a commanding chip lead, 448,000 to 137,000, at the start of heads-up play but adanthar battled long and hard to bring the match square and then take a two-to-one chip lead of his own. It had to be frustrating for Alaei to watch his boards continually brick while adanthar constantly caught non-pairing baby cards. Within twenty minutes, adanthar and Alaei had switched positions in the counts.

Another forty minutes elapsed. After an hour of heads-up play, the match was all square. Twenty more minutes and the two players had played 400 heads-up hands. Then Alaei hit a rush of six hands, including two big hands back-to-back, to eliminated adanthar. The crippling blow came with Alaei showing x-x / 7♦ K♦ 5♥ 7♣ / x to adanthar's x-x / 3♠ Q♣ Q♠ 7♠ / x. They went to showdown for a pot worth 244,000 chips, almost half the chips in play. Alaei's 9-8-7 took down the pot. The very next hand, he got the rest of the chips by making a ten-seven after adanthar moved all-in on sixth street. adanthar finished the hand with a ten-nine to be eliminated in second place.

For a game of patience, frustration, and a touch of masochism, today's Event #13-High, $2,100 Razz had it all. We hope that Daniel Alaei enjoys the $63,765, the SCOOP champion's watch, and most importantly the bragging rights for his impressive final table performance. He started, and ended, as the chip leader. In a game like razz, that's quite an accomplishment.

SCOOP Event #13-High Razz results:

1st place: Daniel "steamraise" Alaei ($63,765)
2nd place: adanthar ($43,290)
3rd place: Barry "barryg1" Greenstein ($32,760)
4th place: 7CardRyon ($22,230)
5th place: gunning4you ($16,380)
6th place: Josh "nitbuster" Arieh ($12,285)
7th place: GrowingPains ($9,945)
8th place: Justin "Boosted J" Smith ($7,605)

SCOOP isn't over yet -- there are still a few more packed days of thrilling tournament action. You can find the schedule on the SCOOP page and can track the results of the top performers on the leaderboard page. PokerStars.tv has also been hard at work putting together their usual fantastic video coverage of the SCOOP series.

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in SCOOP