SCOOP: B4d3m3!st3r brings home the watch in Event #1-High, ($2,100 NLHE 6-max)

SCOOP logo.gifShort-handed no-limit hold'em is an action game, there's no question about that. The pace is faster, the hand ranges wider, and the aggression ramped up several notches. However, with a structure as long and stacks as deep as the players enojyed in SCOOP Event #1-High, 6-max NLHE becomes less of a display of outright firepower, but a carefully calculated war of attrition. Will my opponent fold to this bet? Can I get away with check-raising this scare card? How can I induce a shove from my opponent in this spot? There was time enough to plot and plan, set up and pay off, double up and chip away in the first high-stakes SCOOP event of 2011, a marathon affair spread over two days of play.

463 players put up $2,100 apiece (a Step 6 ticket would suffice as well), creating a $926,000 prize pool that blew past the half-million guarantee. 54 players came away with a cash finish, first place earning the $185,200 lion's share and a SCOOP champion's watch. A baker's dozen of Team Pros came out to play, including Jude "j. thaddeus" Ainsworth, Alexis "J0hnny_Dr@m@" Zervos, Maxim Lykov, Stavros "IDOLLS" Kalfas, Matthias "mattidm" De Muelder, Toni Judet, , George Danzer, and Marcin Horecki along with Team Online's Diego "vgreen22" Brunelli, Kwangsoo "PIS.To.To" Lee, and Javier "El_Canonero" Dominguez. Two bearers of the mighty red spade made the money-- Team Online's Anders "Donald" Berg (43rd) and Englishman J.P. Kelly (41st).

After 12+ hours of play on Sunday, 17 players shook off the sleep this morning afternoon as their pursuit of a SCOOP title continued. Four and a half hours after play recommenced (did we mention the roomy structure?), the final table bubble burst. Holding A♠K♥, TylluK four-bet shoved from the small blind following a raise from joaobarb and a three-bet from MONSTER_DONG on the button. Lying in wait, however, was B4d3m3!st3r in the big blind, who woke up with A♥A♦ and re-shoved behind him. Joaobarb and MONSTER_DONG folded, the aces held, and we had our final six.

SCOOP 1-H FT.jpg

Here's a look at the chip counts as the final table began:

Seat 1: joaobarb (209,558 in chips)
Seat 2: Søren Smith (541,763 in chips)
Seat 3: MONSTER_DONG (796,470 in chips)
Seat 4: MatchBalla (1,087,796 in chips)
Seat 5: B4d3m3!st3r (1,064,453 in chips)
Seat 6: Cod Meharly (929,960 in chips)

A little help from Mr. Google revealed that this is a rather accomplished final table. Cod Meharly won a WCOOP second chance event last fall for over $38,000 and went on to win the UK & Ireland COOP Main Event in December for another $30,675. B4d3m3!st3r finished second in the Super Tuesday only four weeks ago and MatchBalla won the Sunday Warm-Up for over $145,000 on April 3. Søren Smith has 20 outright tournament wins on PokerStars, his largest score coming from a victory in the $11 rebuy. MONSTER_DONG is the online moniker of Australian pro Jonathan Karamalikis, who has a lengthy live C.V. to go with his online success, which includes a victory in the Super Tuesday along with multiple wins in the $109 rebuy. Rounding out the sextet is joaobarb, better known as 2008 EPT Warsaw champion Joao Barbosa. More recently, he won the €5,000 High Roller Turbo event at EPT Deauville in January and finaled a €4,000 NLHE 6-max side event last week at EPT San Remo.

Cod Meharly filleted in sixth ($32,873)

Cod Meharly had ground himself up from third position to the chip lead before making his first serious misstep. After opening for a 29,000 raise in the small blind and getting a call from joaobarb in the big, Cod Meharly led out for 29,750 on the 8♦4♠4♣ flop. Joaobarb called, and the turn came the 7♣. Meharly check-raised all-in and joaobarb called off his remaining 211,000 with 4♥6♥ for trip fours and a gutshot straight draw. Holding only 6♦9♣ for the same gutter, Cod Meharly's only hope was a chop with a five on the river, but the 9♦ landed instead, giving joaobarb a double-up to 656,500. Later on, Cod Meharly got his stack in with A♦9♦ on a 8♦6♦3♣ flop against Søren Smith's 4♦5♦. Smith caught the 5♠ on the turn to pair up and Cod Meharly could not find an ace, a nine, or a diamond on the river to catch up. Down to 328,430 in chips, Cod Meharly made a squeeze raise, three-betting all-in from the big blind after joaobarb opened from UTG and B4d3m3!st3r called from the small blind. Joaobarb folded, but B4d3m3!st3r called, turning over pocket eights. Cod Meharly's A♣J♥ was drawing nearly dead after B4d3m3!st3r flopped top set and when the board paired on the river, he exited in sixth place.

Joaobarb bows out in fifth ($51,393)

Joaobarb was having a nice run at the final table at this point. Although he entered as the short stack, he'd nearly tripled his stack to 621,000, still good for almost 39 big blinds at this stage. A massive coinflip against MONSTER_DONG, however turned all that good fortune around in an instant. MONSTER_DONG had been quite an active preflop reraiser, and did nothing to deter that reputation when he three-bet joaobarb's 32,000 button raise to 86,999. Joaobarb came back over the top, moving all-in for 619,694 with pocket sixes and MONSTER_DONG called all-in for 400,128, turning up A♦9♠. MONSTER_DONG flopped top pair and rivered trips on the A♥3♣8♠K♣A♠ board, leaving our man from Portugal on only 8 big blinds. They went into the middle preflop against MatchBalla a few hands later, joaobarb's A♠6♣ falling to K♥T♥ when a king hit the flop.

Søren Smith finishes fourth ($70,376)

Søren Smith went on a steady decline during four-handed play, sliding from nearly a million in chips to the 615,000 he held before he played his final hand. His pocket eights, however, could not hold up against MatchBalla's A♣J♠, especially after this turn card.

RSS readers click through to watch replay

MONSTER_DONG loses monster flip, collects third-place cash ($101,860)

MONSTER_DONG and MatchBalla continually locked horns during three-handed play, playing a preflop game of chicken with four and five-bets until someone finally swerved out of the way. They finally got all the marbles in, MONSTER_DONG five-bet shoving with A♦Q♠ and MatchBalla making the call with 9♥9♦. The pair held and MONSTER_DONG was left with 8.5 big blinds. Although he doubled up on the next hand when his Q♥8♣ hit an eight on the river against MatchBalla's Q♣J♣, MONSTER_DONG met his tournament end five hands later. This time, his dominated hand stayed dominated, B4d3m3!st3r's K♣T♣ holding up against MONSTER_DONG's K♥8♣.

Heads-up chip counts
Seat 4: MatchBalla (2,332,664 in chips)
Seat 5: B4d3m3!st3r (2,297,336 in chips)

With their stacks so close in size, MatchBalla and B4d3m3!st3r quickly decided to pause the action and run the numbers for a potential deal. After agreeing to leave $20,000 on the table along with the winner's watch, our final two chopped the rest of the prize money nearly evenly, MatchBalla guaranteed at least $151,345.41 and B4d3m3!st3r $150,902.59.

Marathon men

Although most of the prize money was squared away, that didn't speed things up one bit. These two ground it out for over two hours heads-up, the lead swinging back and forth in pendulum-like fashion. Just as one would pull out to a significant advantage, the other would even things up. They kept slugging it out all the way until the 30,000/60,000/7,500 level, when only 77 big blinds were left in play. One decent rush would leave us with a winner.

Ultimately, it was B4d3m3!st3r who caught luck's tailwind, winning five consecutive hands to pull out to a 3.08 million to 1.54 million lead over MatchBalla. The final hand was a bit of a cooler, as both players picked up an ace, but MatchBalla couldn't escape his kicker trouble, ending his run in second place:

SCOOP Event #1-High ($2,100 NLHE 6-max) results:

1. B4d3m3!st3r ($170,902.59)*
2. MatchBalla ($151,345.41)*
3. MONSTER_DONG ($101,860)
4. Søren Smith ($70,376)
5. joaobarb ($51,393)
6. Cod Meharly ($32,873)

*= denotes two-way deal made at the final table

If you're hungry for even more SCOOP, check out's new half-hour web show Inside SCOOP, broadcasting live every night at 22:00 GMT. There are some juicy prizes on the line every day!

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in SCOOP