SCOOP: Ulett_23 lets no one else win Event 5-Low

scoop2009_th.gifPot-Limit Omaha is the game that never did anybody any favors. It's the game that lures you in with the promise of six two-card combinations available in the four starting cards each player is dealt. Then it whacks you over the head when you get your "monster draw" all in and find out you're in a coin-flip situation. The variance involved makes PLO a brutal game. Adding a turbo format on top of that, where levels are a mere five minutes long, almost seems suicidal.

The 5,551 players in SCOOP Event #5-Low, $11 Turbo PLO, did have one lifeline: a single rebuy was available to each for the first 60 minutes of play, in addition to a single add-on at the end of that period. 4,217 players exercised the rebuy option, and 2,511 took the add-on, to create a prize pool of $122,790. It more than doubled the $50,000 guarantee that PokerStars made for the event. Even despite the gut-punch variance, it seems that PLO players just couldn't stay away.

For the second day in a row, Team PokerStars members did not fare well in a SCOOP low buy-in event. 15 decided to brave the variance and play the event, but only two - Team Online members George "Jorj95" Lind and Dusty "Leatherass9" Schmidt - survived to claim one of the 990 prizes. Neither player was able to fade variance or the relentlessly increasing blinds long enough to make it into the Top 500 of this event.

No margin for error

As play consolidated to the final table bubble, players were forced to pick four cards that they liked and go with them. The turbo format of the tournament had caused the blinds to reach 150,000 and 300,000, but the average stack was only about 3.0 million - just 10 big blinds. Even the biggest stack had only 7.3 million. Almost any pre-flop raise committed a player to the hand whether he or she liked the flop or not.

Event 5-Low FT.JPG

By the time the final nine were set, blinds were at 200,000 and 400,000. The nine players who faded the sucker punches longer than anyone else were:

Seat 1: PokerKingDJ (3,034,184 in chips)
Seat 2: paddafrik (2,020,950 in chips)
Seat 3: leguito (3,131,074 in chips)
Seat 4: PLH_23 (2,307,643 in chips)
Seat 5: StunnyG525 (2,317,336 in chips)
Seat 6: 1ssr1 (9,433,994 in chips)
Seat 7: hummylun (4,258,753 in chips)
Seat 8: zenman (3,664,283 in chips)
Seat 9: Ulett_23 (6,668,783 in chips)

1ssr1 brought the chip lead (such as it was) to the final table courtesy of a double elimination with 12 players to go. But with only 23 big blinds, the chip lead didn't provide much cushion.

The final 9 start to fall

The Team PokerStars Pro host for this final table was Barry Greenstein. Before Greenstein could even congratulate the final nine on their accomplishment, PLH_23 was eliminated in 9th place. Just as zenman was wishing, "gl all," PLH_23 moved all in for 1.9MM over an opening raise to 1.75MM made by paddafrik. paddafrik called with A♥ Q♣ J♣ 9♦; PLH_23 had a similar hand, A♣ K♦ T♠ 8♣. It was paddafrik that flopped the best hand, a pair of nines that held on a board of 8♠ 2♥ 9♥ 3♦ 5♥.

"Has there ever been a SCOOP that got to the final table this quickly?" Greenstein asked after PLH_23's departure. zenman, by far the chattiest of the final 9 players, agreed. "Quickest 5000-player tourney ever." The 5,500-player field took only 4 hours to reach the final table.

The remaining eight took turns trading small double-ups. leguito was the beneficiary of one such double-up with a very nice river card:

RSS readers click through to see replay

Greenstein, author of Ace on the River, couldn't help injecting some levity into the situation. "Q on the river," he said. "The second sequel."

Blinds reached a punishing 400,000 and 800,000 with still 8 players remaining. The average stack was roughly six big blinds. To put that in even more perspective, 1ssr1, the player that was the chip leader at the start of the final table, busted in 8th place. First 1ssr1 lost a small pot to zenman by bricking a huge draw after the flop. Then 1ssr1 got all in pre-flop for 3.0 million against Ulett_23. At the reveal, 1ssr1 had single-suited aces, A♣ A♦ 5♦ Q♠, against Ulett_23's connected medium cards, 9♣ 9♥ 8♣ 6♦. We imagined that we could hear 1ssr1 shouting "HOLD!" after a flop of 2♥ 6♣ 7♦ gave Ulett_23 a two-pair draw, trips draw and an open-ended straight draw. But aces did not hold; although the 2♣ turn took away Ulett_23's two-pair draw, the river T♣ made a ten-high straight. That pot gave Ulett_23 11.2 million chips, good for the lead.

StunnyG525 was the next player to hit the rail. With fewer than 2 big blinds, StunnyG525 found A♠ 8♠ 8♣ 7♥ good enough to make a stand. PokerKingDJ had a powerhouse hand, double-suited kings K♦ K♥ Q♥ J♦. They held up, as StunnyG525 failed to make more than a pair of sevens on a board of 7♣ 4♥ 3♠ 9♦ 4♦.

Turbo eliminations

The blinds moved up again, to 500,000 and 1,000,000. Befitting a turbo tournament, perhaps, the field was trimmed from six players to the final two in the space of seven hands. The first player to go was hummylun, eliminated in 6th place when one of the strongest PLO starting hands, double-suited aces A♥ A♠5♠ 4♥, couldn't hold off zenman's A♦ Q♦ J♥ J♣. It was a jack on the flop that did in hummylun.

You might think that, given the stack sizes, the blinds, and the money up for grabs that someone might suggest a deal. zenman was the only person to do so. But he didn't seem all that serious when he said, "lets chop it up and go to the nudie bar." None of the other players took him up on that offer. Why should they have? The very next hand, PokerKingDJ was eliminated in 5th place, running T♦ 3♠ T♠ A♠ all in pre-flop into zenman's aces 3♥ Q♠ A♦ A♥ and failing to overtake them. The very next hand after that, leguito was eliminated in 4th place, also with tens. leguito's T♣ T♥ 8♥ 4♣ couldn't hold of ulett_23's 3♥ A♠ 6♠ 6♦ after the board came flush wish spades, 9♠ 4♦ 2♠ 3♠ 4♠.

Greenstein was having trouble keeping up with all the eliminations and congratulating the players on their achievements. "You need to type faster Barry" joked zenman.

Those turbo eliminations left only paddafrik, zenman and Ulett_23 to compete for the SCOOP 5-Low victory. Within the space of a few hands zenan and Ulett_23 conspired to send paddafrik out of the tournament in 3rd place:

RSS readers click through to see replay

Sprint to the finish

At the start of heads-up play, Ulett_23 had a 3-to-2 chip lead over zenman, 22.4 million to 14.4 million. But blinds had gone up again, to 600,000 and 1.2 million. Clearly, it was not going to take long to crown a champion. zenman got an early double-up to take a 3-to-1 chip lead, but Ulett_23 doubled back to bring the players all square at about 18.5 million chips each. Blinds kept going up, first to 800,000 and 1,600,000, then to 1.0 million and 2.0 million.

That blind level proved to be the one that broke zenman. On the final hand, zenman, down to 9.9 million chips, opened with a pre-flop raise to 6.0 million, then was forced to call all in when Ulett_23 re-raised. Ulett_23 had been dealt single-suited aces, A♠ A♣ 5♣ 2♦, and had to fade zenman's T♠ 8♣ 4♣ 2♠. The hand was all but decided by a flop of 5♥ 5♦ 3♦. zenman was drawing thin and couldn't fade variance once last time. The turn and river were blanks, the 7♥ and Q♦, that gave Ulett_23 the SCOOP #5-Low victory in a tidy 4 hours and 37 minutes.

SCOOP Event #5-Low Turbo Pot-Limit Omaha results:

1st place: Ulett_23 ($18,681.21)
2nd place: zenman ($13,813.87)
3rd place: paddafrik ($9,823.20)
4th place: leguito ($6,753.45)
5th place: PokerKingDJ ($5,157.18)
6th place: hummylun ($3,929.28)
7th place: StunnyG525 ($2,701.38)
8th place: 1ssr1 ($1,473.48)
9th place: PLH_23 ($951.62)

The first two days of 2010 SCOOP are history, but 13 more remain. All the information about the remaining events and the results of the completed events is at the SCOOP page.

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in SCOOP