SCOOP: Big_Nemo spears white whale to capture Heads-Up Championship in Event #7-High $1,575 NL Hold'em

SCOOP logo.gifHeads-up poker often reminds me of Moby Dick.

I'm not referencing the rock anthem off of "Led Zeppelin II" with an incendiary drum solo from the legendary John Bonham. Rather, I'm talking about the 19th century novel by American writer Herman Melville. Critics called Moby Dick a masterpiece and the first great American novel. It was written over 160 years ago and the major themes can be recognized and attributed to today's tech-savvy gurus of online poker.

The story of Moby Dick is told by a deckhand aboard Captain Ahab's ship. Ahab is on one mission -- to kill the white whale that sunk his previous boat and bit off his leg. However, the story is not just about a revengeful old man trying to catch a fish that maimed him, rather Ahab represents man's struggle against nature, or man's quest to find God. And in the end, the story boils down to a heads-up battle to the death after a long and tiresome voyage.

This year's "high roller" SCOOP heads-up championship in Event #7-High $1,575 NLHE attracted 269 heads-up specialists. The prize pool for this event surpassed $403,000 with $100,875 set aside to the winner. The top 64 players would be awarded prize money with a minimum pay day of $1,614.

Team PokerStars Pro Jude "j.thaddeus" Ainsworth was the only pro to cash in the heads-up battle royale. He advanced to the Sweet 16, but busted in 12th place.


Due to an uneven amount of runners, all but 18 players received an opening round bye. The starting stacks were a standardized 5,000 for everyone with blinds increasing every fifteen minutes. When a player advanced, they reset their stack to 5,000.

During Round 2, five PokerStars Team Pros busted out: Sebastian Ruthenberg, Pat Pezzin, Stavros "IDOLLS" Kalfas, Toni Judet, and Keiran "K_Man2307" Harris from Team Online.

The featured match-up in the second round was Team PokerStars Pro ElkY (fresh off of his EPT Madrid High Roller victory) vs. Russian phenom Alexander "joiso" Kostritsyn. ElkY came from behind to win a match that drew a slew of curious railbirds. He delivered the final blow on a flop of 6♣5♦4♠. Holding A♣7♥, ElkY got it all in with an open-ended straight draw against joiso's 8♦6♦ and pair of sixes. The A♥ spiked on the river and ElkY backdoored a pair of Aces to win the pot and knock out joiso in the process.

During round 3, five more PokerStars players fell to the wayside, including Team Pros Vickey Coren, ElkY, Viktor "Isildur1" Blom, Lex Veldhuis, and Jorge "Baalim" Limon.

Battle of Scandinavia

The featured match-up in the third round included a battle for the hearts and minds of all of Scandinavia with a pair of Team Pros pitted against each other: Isildur1 vs. Anders "Donald" Berg. In a quick match, Isildur1 took an early lead, but Donald prevailed. The two got it all-in on a flop of 9♥8♦7♦. Both players flopped a straight, but Donald's T♣6♣10-high straight was vulnerable against Isildur1's 6♦5♦ and an open-ended straight flush draw. Donald faded a flush and knocked out Isildur1.

The proverbial Bubble Boy was edoiler, who busted out in 65th place at the hands of Puropoker123. With 64 players remaining, Puropoker123 still had five more matches to win before the championship even started.

In the fourth round, three PokerStars players busted, but they each cashed: Alexis "J0hnny_Dr@m@" Zervos (58th), Joep "Pappe_Ruk" Van Den Bijgaart, (55th), and Jonathan Duhamel (52nd).

Only two PokerStars players advanced to Round 5 -- Anders "Donald" Berg and Irish Team Pro Jude "j.thaddeus" Ainsworth. But only Ainsworth would advance to the Sweet 16 after he flopped a set of tens to sink his opponent. Meanwhile, Donald busted out in 27th place when his two pair lost to a rivered straight.

The Sweet 16

Ainsworth was knocked out in 12th place. On a board of J♥T♣2♠3♣3♦, Puropoker123 shoved and Ainsworth called off the last of his chips with T♥9♥ and two pair. Puropoker123 held a better two pair and won the pot. Jude "j.thaddeus" Ainsworth secured $4,842 for 12th place.

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The Elite 8

Round 7 began with a bang. It didn't take very long before we had a quick bustout. On a flop of Q♥9♣2♥, Chojjasd checked, tralaira bet 150, Chojjasd check-raised to 500, tralaira reraised to 1,175, Chojjasd shoved all-in for 5,425, and tralaira called all-in for his last 3,150. Tralaira's A♥A♣ trailed Chojjasd's flopped two pair with Q♣2♣. The turn and river didn't help tralaira, who bowed out in 8th place with a $12,912 payout.

We had another quick first round knock out. The board read A♠4♠2♣A♦5♥ with over 2,200 in the pot. Revjot shoved for 5,150. Lermonad was covered and called for 2,500. Lermonad showed 6♥6♠, which was way behind Revjot's full house with 4♣4♦. Lermonad won $12,912 for 7th place.

To keep with the theme of kick matches, a third table was settled in the opening fifteen minutes of the round. Puropoker123 and Fishenzon got it all-in preflop. Puropoker123 was ahead with A♠K♦ against Fishenzon's A♣Q♥. Fishenzon failed to come from behind and Puropoker123 hooked himself a fish. Fishenzon collected $12,912 for 6th place.

The final match up was decided relatively quick -- before the second level was complete. On a flop of J♦9♥7♦, Big_Nemo checked, Berndsen12 bet 300, Big_Nemo check-raised to 600, Berndsen12 shoved for his last 1,127, and Big_Nemo called. Berndsen12 showed J♠5♠ for a pair of Jacks. When he saw Big_Nemo's flopped joint with T♦8♠, all he could say was, "fml." Big_Demo's straight held up and Berndsen12 hit the rail in 5th place. At least he went home $12,912 richer.

The Final Four

Only four players survived to make it to the Final Four: Big_Nemo, Puropoker123, Revjot, and Chojjasd. Puropoker123's dominance continued with a first round knock out. He quickly opened upa lead against Revjot. On the decisive hand, the flop was Q♦6♦4♦. Puropoker123 checked, Revjot bet 150, Puropoker123 check-raised to 350, Revjot reraised to 850, Puropoker123 shoved for 6,215, and Revjot called off his last 2,735. Revjot flopped aflush with 8♦2♦, but Puropoker123 flopped the nut flush with A♦5♦. Revjot was drawing dead and finished in 4th place. A spot in the Final Four was worth $28,245 for Revjot.

On the other table, Chojjasd took an early lead, but Big_Nemo chipped away at the lead to even up and eventually pull away. Big_Nemo looked like he was about to deliver the knockout blow when he got it all in with A♣Q♥ against A♥9♥. But Chojjasd avoided an instant death when the board gave them both a Wheel to chop the pot.

Big_Nemo would have to wait until Level 3 to pick off Chojjasd. Both players got it all-in ona flop of 7♦3♣2♠. Chojjasd had nothing but air and K♦9♦ against Big_Nemo's pocket Queens. The Q♦ fell on the turn to improve Big_Nemo to a set, but Chojjasd picked up a flush redraw. Big_Nemo faded a diamond on the river to win the pot. Chojjasd bubbled off the final table in third place. He won $28,245.

Heads-Up: Puropoker123 vs. Big_Nemo


As soon as the two heads-up players were set, they asked to pause the action to discuss a deal. There wasn't much to discuss. An idea was floated and immediately accepted, to split first place ($100,875) and second place prize money ($52,455) and play for $10,000, the title, and the coveted SCOOP champion's watch. With $71,655 guaranteed for each player, action resumed.

It's interesting to note the final two players' avatars were Santa Claus (Puropoker123) and actor Ben Affleck (Big_Nemo). Which one would prevail? The bearded old guy in a red suit with an apparent drinking problem? Or a Hollywood actor and Oscar winning screenwriter with an apparent receding hairline?

In the end, it came down to Puropoker123 from Panama and Big_Nemo of Canada. Which one of them would channel his inner Captain Ahab to find the strength, courage, and determination to bring down his adversary?

Although Puropoker123 wasn't exactly a white whale for Big_Nemo, he represented the only thing standing in the way of an extra $10,000 in cash and a SCOOP title.

Big Nemo struck first blood in the first level. He picked up a 3,200 pot with an uncontested bet on the river. However, Puropoker123 was just getting warmed up. During Level 2, Puropoker123's stack slowly began to rise. On one hand, a raising war broke out preflop, and Puropoker123 induced Big_Nemo to fold. He dragged a pot worth 4,726 to regain the lead.

But Puropoker123 failed to deliver a knock out blow when he had Big_Nemo on the ropes. The two both shoved preflop, but Big_Nemo's A♠8♦ prevailed over K♠6♣. Big_Nemo won over 4,200 and was inching close to even.

Toward the end of Level 2, Puropoker123 dragged a medium-sized pot with trip Jacks to almost pull away once again. A couple of hands later, it was all over. Puropoker123 opened with a raise and a war ensued. Both players got it all-in. Puropoker123's suited Big Slick was ahead of Big_Nemo's K♦Q♠, but Big_Nemo flopped a Queen, but Puropoker123 picked up a nut flush redraw. Big_Nemo faded a deadly spade and his pair of Queens held up, which was all he needed to secure the hand, the tournament, and the championship.

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Puropoker123 from Panama finished in second place. He collected $71,665 for his runner-up performance. Meanwhile, Canadian Big_Nemo speared his white whale en route to a victory in the 2011 SCOOP Heads-Up title.

SCOOP Event #7-High $1,575 NLHE - Final Eight Results:
1st Big_Nemo - $81,665*
2nd Puropoker123 - $71,655*
3rd Chojjasd - $28,245
4th Revjot - $28,245
5th Berndsen12 - $12,912
6th Fishenzon - $12,912
7th lermonad - $12,912
8th tralaira - $12,912

* Denotes a deal for the final two players

Congrats to Big_Nemo for his win to prove heads-up supremacy. He also won a sleek new watch, an additional prize awared to all SCOOP champions.

For complete coverage of the action, visit our SCOOP page for full details. Don't forget to tune in to PokerStars daily highlight show, Inside SCOOP.

Pauly McGuire
@PokerStars in SCOOP