SCOOP: Aggression serves zethos1 well in Event #2-Medium ($215 NLHE)

SCOOP logo.gifIf there's one thing the world has learned about proper no-limit hold'em play over the last decade, it's that aggression is the key to the game. Of course, there's a real balancing act at play in even the most skilled aggressive player's game. Let off the pedal too long and you can miss big opportunities. Go too wild and you could find yourself praying to the poker gods for the only out you have left in the deck. Threading the needle is a skill that comes only through experience, and even those most skilled in doing so can still fall short.

Sure, you can choose other routes - if you're content with moving up a pay spot or two, or maybe with just hoping the cards go your way. But if grabbing the top prize is your main goal there's really no question that being among the most aggressive players at the table. Say what you will about aggression, at least it's an ethos.

Just 51 players out of a starting field of 6,877 survived the first 33 levels of play to return for Day 2 of Event #2. At stake were the largest shares of a $1,375,400 prize pool, including a top prize of $209,202.21. Plenty of Team PokerStars and Team Online players entered on Day 1, including ElkY, Isildur1, George Danzer, JP Kelly, Pat Pezzin, Toni Judet, Nacho Barbero, Lex Veldhuis, Marcin Horecki, Maxim Lykov, and Dale "Daleroxxu" Philip. But in the end only two Team Online players would cash: Anders "Donald" Hoyer Berg finished in 848th place for $385.11, and Matthew "chipstar1" Didlick took 805th for $385.11. All the other spots in the money belonged to the ranks of the unsponsored.

MV99 from Canada was the chip leader among them with 3,542,814 chips, but by the time only three tables remained the Canadian had fallen back to the middle of the pack. Replacing MV99 at the leaderboard as the were a pair of particularly aggressive players. Colombia's LetsFlipIt took advantage of a good flop to take the field down to 27 players and climb to nearly 10 million chips in this hand:

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It looked like LetsFlipIt would be the first to cross the 10-million-chip mark, but that honor quickly fell to Hungary's twirlpro immediately after this hand:

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LetsFlipIt and twirlpro continued to jockey for position atop the leaderboard until LetsFlipIt had an edge of about 2 million chips with the field reduced to its final two tables. The incoming Day 2 chip leader, MV99, hadn't been heard from too often for most of the day but with just 14 players remaining made a charge into the top three. Just when it looked like MV99 might reclaim the lead, the Canadian had the misfortune of running into lermonad's flopped quad deuces in a 9-million-chip pot. Then just a few hands later lermonad would flop a perfectly timed set with 8♠ 8♣; MV99 held Q♠ J♦ for top pair on the J♥ 8♥ 3♥ board, which was good enough to get chips in the middle but not good enough to avoid a 13th-place exit when the turn and river came 9♠ J♣.

That push was enough for lermonad to come from nowhere and be in position to claim the chip lead as the final table began. And that's when the double-edged sword of aggression decided the fate of one of the players who had wielded it so effectively. FlipItNow had built up a big enough stack to start taking stabs at knocking out the shortest stacks and getting the final table underway, but one of those stabs was poorly timed when LetsFlipIt's K♣ J♥ ran into the pocket aces of T-Recz for a 4.8-million-chip pot. Seemingly on tilt, LetsFlipIt then broke the final table bubble just a single minute later with this case of aggression gone wrong:

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That hand left only these nine players in contention:

Seat 1: zethos1 (9,208,969 chips)
Seat 2: kommandoGE (8,138,274 chips)
Seat 3: GuitosBR (1,964,872 chips)
Seat 4: lermonad (12,374,855 chips)
Seat 5: JohanEll (5,069,478 chips)
Seat 6: twirlpro (9,317,291 chips)
Seat 7: Volanthn (10,553,907 chips)
Seat 8: T-Recz (4,683,286 chips)
Seat 9: ReadOnYou (7,459,068 chips)

SCOOP Event 2-M Final Table.jpg

With the final lineup set the art of pushing one's opponents around would once again take center stage. Peru's zethos1 drove a good bit of the action in the early going, dropping well over half of his 9.5-million-chip stack on a stone cold, three-street bluff with A♣ 7♣ against twirlpro's pocket kings. A few short hands later aggression appeared to have backfired on zethos1, who was all-in before the flop with A♥ 8♥ to twirlpro's A♦ K♠, but the deck brought an ace and an eight to bring the Peruvian player back from the brink. By 5:30pm ET he had completed an incredible turnaround and claimed the first elimination of the final table when his ace-king outflipped the pocket nines of GuitosBR, sending the Brazilian home with 9th place money of $10,659.35.

Chip lead now in hand, zethos1 started leaning on his opponents with pressure bets whenever possible - and also to spar with twirlpro. As they tangled back and forth, their fellow big stack lermonad took a big hit by calling an all-in shove holding A♠ T♦ to Volanthn's A♣ K♦ and failing to catch a ten or a straight. That pushed Volanthn over the 12M mark and dropped lermonad to just 5.3M. But almost all those chips were soon slid over the zethos1's stack when a preflop confrontation when Volanthn's Q♠ Q♥ couldn't hold up against A♦ K♥. Volanthn shoved for his last five big blinds just a few minutes later with K♥ 3♥ but ran into kommandoGE's K♦ 6♣, good for 8th place and $16,504.80.

It looked as if lermonad might be the next to go, but a little preflop luck with K♦ 7♣ against kommandoGE's A♠ Q♦ and A♥ 4♠ against T-Recz's J♦ J♥ kept the hopes of a win for Russia alive. T-Recz, meanwhile, would bust on the next hand when a desperation shove with A♦ 5♣ couldn't outdraw zethos1's 8♠ 8♦, leaving T-Recz in 7th place with a $30,258.80 prize. The climb back into contention for lermonad was complete when an all-in call with 5♣ 5♠ turned out to be good against the A♥ J♠ of JohanEll of the Faeroe Islands, who left in 6th place with $44,012.80.

The five-handed chip lead already belonged to zethos1, but an aggressive player always knows the competition is never more than a few pots away from taking any lead away and continues to apply pressure at every opportunity. That's exactly what zethos1 did, and unfortunately for Germany's ReadOnYou, the leader's continued rise was at his expense. Two times all-in against the leader produced nothing but a bust-out; the first time saw both players held pocket tens for a chopped pot, and the second saw ReadOnYou's Q♥ J♣ unable to sink zethos1's pocket nines, sending ReadOnYou home in 5th place with $57,766.80.

The four-way battle dragged on for quite some time as zethos1 continued to lean on his remaining opponents with his big stack and they continued to bide their time looking for an opportunity. It was only a matter of time before a showdown happened, this time in the form of a confrontation that sent twirlpro packing in fourth place with $75,647:

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The two shorter stacks, lermonad and kommandoGE, would trade the second and third chip positions a few times before they both settling into stacks of about 10 million chips each. Relentless aggression continued to be zethos1's gameplan, a particularly sound decision considering both of the other players were facing the prospect of losing out on a $44,000 pay jump by finishing in third place. In the end it was lermonad who failed to make the cut, felled in third place for $110,032 when A-Q couldn't outdraw zethos1's A-K.

SCOOP Event 2-M Final Table heads-up.jpg

That left just two players, one who had been unstoppable throughout the second day of play and the other who had picked spots en route to the final showdown. The big stack of 56,597,577 chips belonged to Peru's zethos1, with the other 12,172,423 chips sitting in front of Germany's kommandoGE. It was an uphill battle for the German, and though those kinds of battles can be won this wasn't a day for the underdog. The two sparred back and forth for 23 hands, never going past the flop, before the final confrontation saw kommandoGE get all-in preflop with A♣ 7♠ against zethos1's A♠ K♠. Once the 4♦ 4♠ 8♦ T♣ 6♣ board played out the tournament was complete.

Relentless aggression may backfire from time to time, but when employed consistently - as it was today - it leads to big wins. Congratulations to zethos1 for grabbing the $209,202.21 top prize and the SCOOP champion's watch.

SCOOP Event #2-M $215 No Limit Hold'em Results

1st place: zethos1 ($209,202.21)
2nd place: kommandoGE ($154,732.50)
3rd place: lermonad ($110,032.00)
4th place: twirlpro ($76,647.00)
5th place: ReadOnYou ($57,766.80)
6th place: JohanEll ($44,012.80)
7th place: T-Recz ($30,258.80)
8th place: Volanthn ($16,504.80)
9th place: GuitosBR ($10,659.35)

Of course, SCOOP is just getting started - there are dozens of events left. For all the latest results, recaps and winners, check out the main SCOOP page.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in SCOOP