SCOOP: blows away the field in Event 13-High, $1,575 NLHE Ante Up

scoop2009_th.gifI'm going to give you the secret to tournament success, right here in the first paragraph of this post. Ready? Here it is: flip well. Remember that. It'll be important later.

Online poker has helped revive some dying games that aren't typically spread in brick-and-mortar casinos anymore. It has also given birth to unique tournament formats that you won't find anywhere. The "Ante Up!" tournaments on PokerStars employ one of those unique formats. The tournaments are played with blinds that stay at 5 and 5 for every level of the tournament. The antes, which started right away in Level 1, were the only forced bet to increase each level.

The format encourages a lot of pre-flop limping, especially in the later stages of the tournament. After all, if nobody has yet raised, there's 4,000 in the middle in antes, and you have 100,000 chips, what hand would you ever fold for 5 chips?

2010 SCOOP Event 13 used the "Ante Up!" format. The High version of the event sported a price tage of $1,575 and attracted 312 players. Three Team PokerStars players made the money in the event. Jorge Arias finished 33rd, earning $3,042; Jason Mercier made the final two tables, busting in 17th for $4,680; and JP Kelly made the final table of nine. That's where we picked up the action.

In the beginning...

Event 13-High final table.JPG

Seat 1: Hazarrr!! (87465 in chips)
Seat 2: Jp kelly (193604 in chips)
Seat 3: coxnator (293132 in chips)
Seat 4: sakpoker (66017 in chips)
Seat 5: Needleking (66786 in chips)
Seat 6: Tha Giggy (203175 in chips)
Seat 7: (257460 in chips)
Seat 8: soso9200 (139371 in chips)
Seat 9: Vaga_Lion (252990 in chips)

The thing about the Ante Up! format is that it's a very, very slow format, especially with a deep structure like the one that PokerStars offered in Event 13-High. The tournament played hand-for-hand on the final table bubble for more than half an hour. As you might expect, final table eliminations were difficult to come by. Sakspoker got things rolling when the ante was at 1,000 by four-betting all in for 94,072 pre-flop with A♦ K♦. The three-bettor, coxnator, who had made it 35,550, snap-called with K♥ K♣. That was what it took at the beginning; two monster hands dealt at the same time. In this instance, the board rolled out no help to Sakspoker, T♥ 4♣ 5♠ 6♣ 7♦

Later on almost the same thing happened to JP Kelly, except Kelly had enough chips to survive the confrontation when his A♦ K♥ ran into soso9200's A♠ A♥. They traded spots in the counts, with Kelly sinking to about 70,000 and soso9200 climbing to 140,000.

That was the first of a series of double-ups. needleking was the next beneficiary, when needleking's pocket jacks held up all-in pre-flop against Hazarrr!!'s Big Slick. The double-up parade went on so long that even host Jason Mercier took note of it.

"The all in player has now won 47 straight times," said Mercier. " Doing a good job of keeping me awake guys." He amended himself a few moments later when's pocket kings held up all in pre-flop against Hazarrr!!'s pocket jacks. "48 now," he said. "Let's go for 49."

There was no 49. Hazarrr!!, short on chips after losing two all-in spots fell at the hand of . With the ante up to 1,750, opened for 7,200, then called Hazarrr!!'s shove of 27,425. This time, at least, it wasn't a total set-up of a hand. showed the best hand, shows A♦ 4♦, but Hazarrr!! was quite live with K♥ J♥. Neither player hit a board of 2♣ 3♥ 2♠ 7♣ Q♥, sending Hazarrr!! to the rail as the 8th place finisher.

"I did that for you Jason," said.

Slow it down

That elimination stemmed the tide of double-ups. JP Kelly was the next to get his stack in the middle, four-bet shoving his last 60,000 with A♠ Q♠. Once again, the original re-raiser had a monster. Vaga_Lion snap called with K♣ K♥. Although Kelly flopped a queen, he wasn't able to improve after that. He finished the tournament in 7th place, earning $15,912 on his $1,575 investment.

"Oh man this is a long tourney," said coxnator after they'd been at it for 14.5 hours. As if on cue, there was an elimination. As with all of the others, even though the stacks were reasonably deep, the action was all pre-flop. The Giggy opened for 5,654, with the ante at 1,750. soso9200 three-bet to 22,222, then called all in for another 127,711 after The Giggy shoved. The Giggy had the goes, showing up with the pre-flop nuts, A♥ A♠. soso9200 was a big underdog with 9♠ 9♣ and completely whiffed on a 8♦ 4♠ 2♣ T♦ 6♣ board.

That elimination occurred at 4:43am. After that The Great Slowdown began. The average stack was 312,000 with an ante of 2,000. To put it another way, the average stack could fold 156 hands without busting. Even five-handed, that's probably two full hours worth of hands. Although the remaining players certainly stayed aggressive, there was no strong reason to get terribly out of line. The structure favored patience, and patience is what each of the remaining five players demonstrated. was able to take the chip lead with some strong three- and four-betting pre-flop, but the tournament was a long way from being decided.

Gentlemen, start your flipping!

Almost an hour passed before the next player busted, but it took six bets before all the chips were in. The ante was 2,500 when opened with a raise to 7,550. Vaga_Lion popped it up to 18,888. made a just-slightly-bigger-than-minimum re-raise to 38,226. Vaga_Lion was undeterred, raising again to 77,777. That was the last sign needed. The next raise was a shove to 4661,96 that Vaga_Lion, with only 143,010 behind, snap-called. It was a race, perhaps the biggest race of the tournament, with tabling Q♠ Q♦ against Vaga_Lion's A♠ K♥. A nine-high board, 7♥ 9♣ 9♠ 5♥ 3♠, was not what Vaga_Lion was looking for. Finishing in 5th place was worth $26,676 for Vaga_Lion.

With so many chips, could afford to get in there and mix it up. Mixing it up is exactly what happened just a few hands later. Needleking limped for 5 before Tha Giggy opened to 5,678. called that raise before Needleking limp-re-raised to 26,777. opted to jam, effectively putting Needleking all in for 162,000 more. Needleking made the call with pocket tens; showed K♥ Q♥ and the race was on. A flop of 8♥ 7♦ 2♣ looked great for Needleking, but the board filled with running hearts, J♥ and 6♥, to give a king-high flush and another knock-out. It also gave two-thirds of the chips, with 3 players remaining.

"You all want to discuss a deal so I can go to sleep?" Coxnator asked. Tha Giggy was agreeable to at least looking at the numbers. was not.

"Nah, I am feeling fresh," he said. Having two-thirds of the chips will do that. But still there was a long way to go. coxnator, as the short stack, had more than 100 antes.

They played into the night, with maintaining his lead but slipping back to the pack a little bit. Then a hand that started out in a very standard fashion turned the tide in coxnator's favor. opened to 5,550 pre-flop. Only coxnator called. coxnator then check-raised a flop of 9♠ 8♦ A♣ from 12,222 to 39,050. called that raise, called 73,175 on the T♥ turn, and called coxnator's shove on the A♥ river. turned a straight with J♦ 7♦, but coxnator hit a fortuitous river 4-outer for a full house, A♦ 9♣. That hand made coxnator the new chip leader, with slipping to third.

The action went end-to-end for a short time after that pot. and Tha Giggy took five raises to get all of the chips in pre-flop, with Tha Giggy having covered by about 50,000. It was another flip, with taking pockt tens against Tha Giggy's A♣ K♣. flipped well again, winning the 786,000-chip pot on a board of 3♦ 8♠ 4♠ 5♣ 9♥.

Tha Giggy was eliminated seven hands later. Tha Giggy doubled up twice to get back to 60 antes, taking beating A♣ T♦ with A♦ 8♥, then winning a flip with 5♥ 5♦ against A♠ 9♦. coxnator was the victim both times. But the third time Tha Giggy got the chips in the middle in the space of seven hands proved to be the last time. Tha Giggy was flipping against coxnator again, this time with pocket seven against A♦ J♦. An ace on the flop put an end to the roller-coaster ride and left and coxnator heads-up with roughly level stacks.

Down to two

Again coxnator brought up the possibility of a deal. Again said no, although he acknowledged that if nothing changed after a while they might look at a deal later on.

The first big pot of the heads-up match went to and was, as poker players say, "so sick". three-bet pre-flop, and then bet the flop, turn and river of a K♥ A♣ Q♣ 2♦ 4♣ board. coxnator called every step of the way, and probably was none-too-pleased to see turn over 3♦ 5♦ for a runner-runner wheel. The pot was worth almost half a million chips and gave a better than 2-to-1 chip lead.

That's where the chip counts stayed until the very end. It came down to another flip, and once again proved that flipping well is a key ingredient of winning a major tournament. won every single major flip at the final table, which was bad news for coxnator when they each put in 437,000 (110 antes) pre-flop on a flip. showed pocket jacks; coxnator showed A♣ Q♥; the board showed K♠ 5♥ 7♣ 2♠ T♥, no help to coxnator.

Almost 17.5 hours after the tournament started, it ended with as the winner. certainly exhibited all of the skill that he is known for throughout the course of the tournament. Of course, winning all of those flips at the final table couldn't have hurt.

SCOOP Event 13-High $1,575 No-Limit Hold'em [Ante Up!] results:

1st place: ($90,558)
2nd place: coxnator ($67,860)
3rd place: Tha Giggy ($51,480)
4th place: Needleking ($38,610)
5th place: Vaga_Lion ($26,676)
6th place: soso9200 ($20,592)
7th place: JP Kelly ($15,912)
8th place: crazyjanie Hazarrr!! ($11,232)
9th place: sakpoker ($8,190)

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in SCOOP