SCOOP: finsfan7 swims to win in Event #2, $1,050 PLO8

scoop2009_thn.gifIt seemed fitting that one of the earliest tournaments on the 2009 SCOOP calendar should be Pot-Limit Omaha Hi/Lo, a split-pot game that requires players to scoop the whole pot if they expect to make any headway against the field. To some, PLO8 (as its known) is the devil's game. Omaha Hi/Lo is a game of draws. Going all the way to the river with a monster draw is the very essence of the game. But pot-limit betting structures are designed to make it very difficult to draw, creating a frustrating tension in the game.

To its devotees, PLO8 is a true gambler's game. Since preflop hand values run closer together than they do in holdem, there's a real sense that a player is never too far behind before the flop. Such a mindset appeals to the loose-aggressive action junkie that burns at the core of every poker player's psyche.

327 players attempted to dial into that mindset earlier today by stepping up to the virtual felt and shelling out $1,050 for the high-stakes version of SCOOP #2. $327,000 went into the prize pool, creating a temping first-place prize pool of $66,871.50 and a SCOOP Champion's Watch. Among the player battling for that first-place payday were five Team PokerStars Pros: Chad Brown, Ivan Demidov, Daniel Negreanu, Victor Ramdin and Katja Thater. It was a rough day for the team, with only Thater managing to crack the top 100 on the leaderboard. She ultimately bowed out of the tournament in 66th place, thereby preventing the Team PokerStars Pros from notching a cash in this event.

There were, however, 36 players who did make the money after bean1869 was eliminated as the bubble boy in 37th place. Those 36 players half-potted, full-potted, drew and quartered their way down to a final table of these nine:

Seat 1: tatta (343,594 in chips)
Seat 2: finsfan7 (234,629 in chips)
Seat 3: bleu329 (95,795 in chips)
Seat 4: Benjaphon (75,603 in chips)
Seat 5: caprioli (114,829 in chips)
Seat 6: OmahaEd (237,491 in chips)
Seat 7: Kcannon (192,006 in chips)
Seat 8: DenYoungGun (191,543 in chips)
Seat 9: Slavik_Krs (149,510 in chips)

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For the first ten minutes of final table play, the players seemed very cautious. Chips changed hands but seemed to just be passed endlessly around the table from one player to the next, resulting in no real chip movement. Then caprioli, who came into the final table in 7th chip position, was crippled by tatta.

caprioli opened the pot preflop for 14,000, then called tatta's reraise to 46,000 out of the small blind. With all of those chips already in the pot, tatta took a small ball approach on a flop of 7♦ 9♦ J♦ by betting 4,000. caprioli called that bet, called another 4,000 on the K♦ turn, and then called a more sizable bet of 24,000 when the river fell Q♠. tatta showed down an ace-high flush, A♦ 8♦ K♥ A♣, to jump to 434k in the counts and drop caprioli to just 30,000. caprioli impressively hung on for another 25 minutes before getting all in preflop for 36,000 with A♠ K♦ 9♠ 6♣ against finsfan7's A♣ J♣ T♣ 3♦. finsfan7 was all over a board of A♦ 3♥ T♥ T♦ Q♣, making a full house, tens full of aces, to send caprioli to the rail in 9th place. He left the tournament with $6,213 in prize money.

Play continued to develop slowly while caprioli was trying to stave off execution. Once he was eliminated, play seemed to relax a touch. bleu329 caught a huge break by tripling up against OmahaEd and DenYoungGun. bleu329 re-raised big from the small blind, to 75,000, and was called by both opponents. He put his remaining 30,000 chips into the middle on a board of 4♦ [ kc] Q♠. OmahaEd and DenYoungGun both called, but neither one of them could beat bleu329's 4♥5♦A♥K♦ when the board came running queens, Q♦ Q♥. bleu329's trip queens, ace-king kicker, was a good enough hand to take down a pot worth 330,000 and to take over the chip lead.

bleu329's chip lead didn't last for long. Supernova player tatta hit a small rush up to 485,000 in chips that was capped by eliminating kcannon in 8th place. The two players went to war on a flop of 3♣ 4♥ K♣. When the dust settled, kcannon was down on the mat and didn't get back up. His A♥ 4♠ 3♥ 3♠ started out as a set of threes, but was overtaken by tatta's A♠ 2♥ 6♣ Q♣ when the turn and river came 5♦ 7♥ to give tatta a wheel for both halves of the pot. kcannon receive $8,175 in parting money.

tatta was at it again a few minutes later. His 7th-place victim was DenYoungGun, who opened preflop for 17,500 and was quickly all in for 35,903 after a re-raise from tatta. Although it might not look like at it first blush, the two were essentially flipping with DenYoungGun's A♣ Q♣ 9♥ 4♣ a slight favorite against tatta's A♠ J♦ 8♣ 3♦. it was tatta who came out on the right side of the coin by making a full house on a board of Q♦ 8♠ 8♥ 4♠ J♠. 7th place was worth $11,445 to DenYoungGun.

Play settled down for approximately fifteen minutes after DenYoungGun's elimination. The only thing that really seemed to excite the players was learning that they would all receive SCOOP jackets, courtesy of PokerStars, for making the final table.

Eventually, of course, the table had to continue consolidating. Benjaphon had been flirting with disaster for most of the final table, never really able to muster any pots or accumulate many chips. He was finally put out to pasture by finsfan7, who called a big blind re-raise by Benjaphon from 15,000 to 48,000. Benjaphone had no choice by to move all in for 55,863 on a flop of 6♣ 6♦ A♥. His A♣ Q♦ Q♣ 7♠ was no match for finsfan7's A♠ 7♥ 6♠ 3♣, which had flopped a full house. Benjaphon was unable to runner-runner a qualifying low, as the turn and river fell K♠ and 8♦. He left the final table in 6th place with $14,715.

Ninety minutes of final table play had resulted in the elimination of only four players. Five still remained; one of them was OmahaEd. Ed had a rough final table, his chip stack slowly dwindling orbit by orbit. When one player at the table remarked that he had played with Ed before and that Ed was a dangerous player, Ed responded, "I was more dangerous an hour ago," a clear allusion to his diminished chip count. He found himself down to 69,000 chips, which all went in against finsfan7 after two preflop raises. Ed's luck at the final table was so bad that despite flopping about as big a draw as you can have, the 2♥ T♥ 4♥ flop matching almost perfectly with his 3♣ 5♦ 6♦ 7♣, he missed completely against finsfan7's A♣ 2♠ 8♥ J♦, which went runner-runner Q♠ and 9♠ for a queen-high straight. That unfortunate hand left OmahaEd without a seat at the final table. He took home $18,966 in 5th-place money.

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OmahaEd rides off

It was after OmahaEd's elimination that looking at a deal was first proposed by finsfan7, who was the chip leader at the time. Slavik_Krs and tatta agreed, but bleu329 never responded to the requests to look at the numbers for a chip chop. As such, the PokerStars host told the players he would not stop the tournament. They seemed to take that as their cue to focus their fire on bleu329. Within ten minutes, bleu329 was out. He lost half of his stack to a small flush rivered by tatta. Six minutes later tatta finished the job by calling bleu329's preflop all-in raise of 82,270. It was another flip situation, with tatta again getting the best. His A♠ 7♣ 4♣ 6♦ made sixes full of sevens on a board of 6♠ 7♠ K♦ T♠ 6♣. That was much, much more than bleu329's A♣ Q♣ J♥ 4♠ could produce/

With bleu329 out of the way, the tournament was paused to consider a chip-chop. The host reminded the players that $4,000 had to be set aside for the champion, then told them that a chip chip would results in $50,396.02 for tatta, $47,918.85, and $50,557.63 for Slavik_Krs (who had very quietly survived to the final three). The three went back and forth for ten minutes about what numbers would be fair, with Slavik_Krs asking for time to call a friend. He was the one who eventually scuttled the deal.

Deal karma being what it is, nobody should be surprised to read that Slavik_Krs was the next player eliminated, and in somewhat brutal fashion to boot. On a board of K♠ 2♣ K♦, he flopped a full house with 2♦ 2♠ 6♥ A♦. He managed to get all 397,000 of his chips into the middle against finsfan7's K♣ Q♠ J♥ T♣, only to see the J♦ immediately pop off on the turn to give finsfan7 a bigger full house. Nobody could blame either player for getting their chips in the middle in that spot; it was just a rotten piece of luck for Slavik_Krs. He was left with 3rd-place money of $36,951 and perhaps the nagging feeling that he would have been better off agreeing to the original deal.

With yet another chop-blocker out of the picture, finsfan7 and tatta ran the numbers again. They agreed to a slightly modified chip chop of $57,686.62 for finsfan7and $54,234.88 for tatta.

That left $4,000 and a SCOOP watch up for grabs. Ten minutes later, those two prizes belonged to the player who started heads-up play with the chip lead: finsfan7. On a flop of A♠ Q♣ 2♣, the action was furious. finsfan7 checked, then raised tatta's 16,000 bet to 80,000, then raised all in after tatta made it 272,000 to go. tatta called with 2♠ 4♠ 6♣ 8♣, a flush raw and a low draw. finsfan7 showed a better flush draw and a better low draw, 3♠ K♣ 7♥ 5♣. The board ran out A♣ and T♥, giving finsfan7 the best hand, and the victory, in SCOOP #2-High. We imagine that he'll become a convert to the "devil's game" if he wasn't one already.

Final table results (including two-way deal)

1. finsfan7 - $61,686.62
2. tatta - $54,234.88
3. Slavik_Krs - $36,951
4. bleu329 - $27,795
5. OmahaEd - $18,966
6. Benjaphon - $14,715
7. DenYoungGun - $11,445
8. Kcannon - $8,175
9. caprioli - $6,213

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in SCOOP