SCOOP: Reflexbakker goes wire-to-wire in Event #31-Low ($22 NLHE, 1R+1A)

SCOOP logo.gifThere once was a time - a time not too long ago in the big scheme of poker history - when truly massive tournaments with substantial prizes could only be played by those able to pay a buy-in commensurate with the size of the field. Outside of winning the WSOP Main Event, your chances of getting a five-figure return on investment were slim to nil. Thankfully those times have fast receded into poker's rearview mirror and today's players now have the opportunity to win bankroll-changing amounts of money for small buy-ins.

Today's low buy-in SCOOP event, a $22 no-limit hold'em event with the options to take one rebuy and one add-on, was the perfect example of why today is the greatest era in the history of the game for those who can't put down five figures just to sit at the table. A total of 8,562 players chipped in their $22 for a seat at the table, with 6,118 of them opting for the rebuy and 3,332 of them taking the add-on at the end of the rebuy period. All told the prize pool came out to $360,240, with $52,996.98 set aside for the eventual winner. Even for a player who took both the rebuy and add-on, that would amount to an ROI of around 80,000 percent - a total unheard of just a few years back, but fairly standard for your low-buy-in SCOOP winners these days.

Of course, with such a large field not every player was of limited means. Chief among those who could toss in their money without thinking twice were 20 players from Team PokerStars and Team Online, including one player who knows all about massive returns on investment, reigning WSOP Main Event champ Jonathan Duhamel. Another massive cash wasn't in the cards for Duhamel today, nor for most of his fellow sponsored players. Joining him on the rail before the money were Marcin "Goral" Horecki, Andre "acoimbra" Coimbra, Stavras "IDOLLS" Kalfas, Joep "Pappe_Ruk" van den Bijgaart, Vicky Coren, Arnaud "frenchkiss" Mattern, Lex Veldhuis, Martin "AABenjaminAA" Hruby, Matthieu "mattidm" De Muelder, Alex "J0hnny_Dr@m@" Zervos, Christophe "chrisdm" De Muelder, Grzerorz "DaWarsaw" Mikielewicz, JP Kelly, ElkY, Pierre "Zoutechamp" Neuville and Bryan Huang.

Jan Heitmann 2.jpg

Team PokerStars' Jan Heitmann went deep in this event

Three PokerStars players did manage to cash, though. Team Online players Anders "Donald" Hoyer Berg and Georgio "gkap13" Kapalas managed modest scores, finishing in 1,204th place ($64.84) and 256th place ($151.30), respectively. But the true star of the day among the ranks of the sponsored was Team PokerStars' Jan Heitmann. The German pro hovered in the top 50 for quite some time after the money bubble burst and had positioned himself among the top 15 chip stacks with just 150 players remaining. He managed to hold steady by making solid value bets and good calls to pick off bluffs as the field grew smaller, though his choice to call down on three streets with pocket threes against another player's pocket aces on a 6♦ 2♠ 2♣ 6♥ 4♠ board cost him some momentum and left him in 33rd place with just 50 players remaining in the tournament.

Heitmann managed to recover all those lost chips and more and was nearing the top ten with four tables left when he was moved one seat to the left of Sweden's storn 10. Then came this hand, which ended Heitmann's impressive run in 35th place:

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The German pro showed grace as he collected his $720.48 payout, telling the table, "gg, I wish everyone a great night."

REFLEXBAKKER WAS READY TO RUMBLE

From there the tournament was up for grabs. Brazil's mestrefilipe (3.94 million chips), Russia's cascader1703 (3.7M) and Norway's terminato868 (3.27M) had all been at the top of the chip counts for some time, and they were joined by Poland's NegPL (4.2M) at just about the time that Jan Heitmann exited the proceedings. NegPL would miss out on the final two tables in 19th place, but all the rest, along with Heitmann's assassin, storn 10, would progress to the final 18. By that time another player, the Netherlands' Reflexbakker, would surpass them all.

The Dutch player had been dueling with terminato868 on Table 517, making life hard for the Norwegian even as they both stayed head-and-shoulders above the rest of the table. Then came a crucial pot that gave Reflexbakker's chances in the tournament a substantial boost:

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With 8 million chips more than his nearest competitor at the six-handed Table 517, and the prospect of missing out on a nearly $900 pay jump hanging over the heads of his opponents, Reflexbakker began leaning on the others in the same fashion that top pros will do in those big tournaments we talked about at the beginning of this recap. The Dutch player avoided showdowns more often than not but managed to catch just the right cards when he one of the others took him down to the river. The Czech Republic's Ilove.caty was the most successful in fighting back, but Reflexbakker managed to hold on to a lead of no less than 10 million chips over his nearest rival until the final table lineup was set.

Meanwhile, over on Table 423, Brazil's mestrefilipe took advantage of flopping quad kings to get ahead of the other players and from there ran a similar show to Reflexbakker's, if on a slightly smaller scale. Though mestrefilipe never crossed the 10-million-chip mark, the Brazilian stayed in second place overall until MrChallenger was eliminated in 10th place with A♠ Q♥ to the A♣ K♣ of spence79, taking the field down to one table.

THE FINAL TABLE

The situation as the final table began was as follows:

Seat 1: CitAltFort (2,232,728 chips)
Seat 2: terminato868 (4,462,784 chips)
Seat 3: mestrefilipe (9,652,225 chips)
Seat 4: cascader1703 (3,158,725 chips)
Seat 5: toddswain (2,810,425 chips)
Seat 6: Ilove.caty (4,513,555 chips)
Seat 7: FERNANDOGM (1,515,000 chips)
Seat 8: spence79 (7,571,913 chips)
Seat 9: Reflexbakker (18,118,645 chips)

SCOOP Event 31-L Final Table.jpg

Russia' CitAltFort came in next to last in chips and looked like the likely first casualty after getting all-in with A♣ T♠ against terminato868's J♣ J♠ on the fourth hand of the final table. But a board of 4♥ J♦ 9♣ K♦ Q♦ gave the Russian a Broadway straight and 4.84 million chips, keeping the table nine-handed. Four hands later Ilove.caty would become the next player to crack pocket jacks with the tournament on the line, winning a 7.7-million-chip pot with A♠ Q♣ against mestrefilipe's fish-hooks thanks to queens hitting the turn and river.

Though terminato868 had come into the final nine in decent shape, fortune would not smile on the Norwegian. First his A♣ K♥ would run into toddswain's K♠ K♣ to double the UK player up. Then a few hands later, with their stacks reversed, a coin flip situation before the flop for terminato868 with A♠ 9♣ to toddswain's 8♣ 8♥ turned brutal when the flop fell 8♦ 2♠ 7♦. No running straight cards materialized and terminato868 was the final table's first casualty, leaving with $2,791.86 for a 9th place finish.

The next elimination would also come at the hands of toddswain, though another 16 hands would come and go before the confrontation took place. With just 15K in chips separating toddswain from mestrefilipe on the 125K/250K/31,250 level, the former opened under the gun for just over the minimum and faced an all-in raise from the latter to 5.64 million. In the end toddswain's J♦ J♥ held up against the mestrefilipe's A♦ Q♥ to send the Brazilian home in 8th place with $3,962.64. Next out - on the very next hand, no less, was mestrefilipe's fellow countryman FERNANDOGM. Former short stack CitAltFort called the Brazilian's desperation shove of 1.28 million with A♥ K♣ and was in great shape against A♣ T♥. Big Slick held up and FERNANDOGM was out in 6th place, claiming a prize of $10,807.20.

With just 1.9 million chips and each orbit costing 562,500, Russia's cascader1703 was in dire shape now that the table was six-handed. After dropping to 1.5 million cascader1703 managed to double up with A♥ 3♥ against toddswain's K♠ 6♠ in a blind-versus-blind, preflop all-in confrontation. Only getting in with the worst of it would provide a lifeline for the Russian, though, and that new hope would come at the expense of the player who was second in chips when the final table on this hand:

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Two hands later the United Kingdom's spence79 would exit in 6th place, his loss coming once again at the hands of cascader1703 when A♣ J♥ couldn't crack 7♦ 7♣. The unlucky UK player earned $10,807.20, which should come as a fine consolation once the sting of having aces cracked at the final table wears off.

WHAT'S THE DEAL-IO?

Five-handed play featured plenty of raises and three-betting, though few pots were contested as far as the flop. Over the course of the first 24 hands the only hand that went to showdown saw CitAltFort double up with pocket aces against Ilove.caty's A♠ J♥. By the 150K/300K/37.5K level, Reflexbakker was up to 22 million chips and everybody else was between 6.3 million and 9.2 million chips. Talk of a deal first surfaced here, with a potential split based on chip counts looking like this:

Reflexbakker $44,679.72
llove.caty $27,065.40
cascader1703 $27,043.50
CitAltFort $24,310.56
toddswain $23,063.21

The Czech Republic's Ilove.caty pressed for more money, though, citing a longer tournament resume than the rest of the field as enough reason to take $1,500 from Reflexbakker and $500 from everyone else. For 11 minutes the debate continued until toddswain asked to either receive $24,000 or continue play. Ilove.caty was having none of it, so play was resumed. Two hands after getting back to the business at hand, those two players would butt heads before the flop. Ilove.caty opened under the gun for 609,375 chips, just a little over the minimum raise, and the action folded to toddswain in the big blind. Holding A♦ 5♥, he immediately shoved all-in for 6.23 million. Ilove.caty couldn't have called any faster with K♦ K♥, and when no aces fell on the board toddswain was out in 5th place with a prize of $14,409.60.

The remaining four players almost immediately agreed to look at the numbers of a potential deal, leading to another lengthy discussion. Now with 16.3 million chips and a lot closer to Reflexbakker's leading stack of 21.99 million, Ilove.caty once again demanded a larger share of the prize pool. After another healthy dose of Czech cajoling, the other three agreed to give Ilove.caty an extra $2,000 and split up the rest of the prize pool according to chip stacks. Once play resumed, cascader1703 quickly left in 4th place with the previously agreed upon share of $26,653.71 after getting coolered with pocket queens against Ilove.caty's pocket kings.

Now three-handed on the 250K/500K/62.5K level, Ilove.caty held the lead with 26,586,490 chips to the 20,605,828 of Reflexbakker and the 6,843,682 of CitAltFort. All three players turned up their aggression levels, causing plenty of fluctuations in the chip counts, but Ilove.caty was never able to get above the 29 million mark. Finally came the hand of the tournament:

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On the very next hand Ilove.caty would come out on the wrong side of a coin flip, 7♥ 7♠ falling to CitAltFort's T♣ 8♣ in a 13-million-chip pot that left the Czech with just four big blinds. One double-up was in the cards for Ilove.caty, but a shove with K♠ T♣ would finally mark the end of the road when Reflexbakker called with A♦ 2♥. The previous deal meant that third place was still worth $40,064.92, a solid $13K more than the original pay schedule had called for.

A TENSE BATTLE

With a lead of 44.3 million to 9.67 million, Reflexbakker held a definite advantage as heads-up play for the remaining $5,000 of the prize pool began. But CitAltFort, who had been quiet for most of the final table, proved to be a tough opponent. After doubling up to 14.7 million with 3♠ 3♥ against A♣ 2♦, the Russian began fighting back against Reflexbakker's aggression at every opportunity and managed to stay level. Then, facing the end of the line with K♣ Q♣ against A♥ 9♦, a fortunate queen on the turn not only kept hope alive but actually gave CitAltFort a 35.8M-to-18.2M advantage.

For 28 hands CitAltFort continued to push Reflexbakker against the ropes, until one key pot changed everything. With the big blind now up to 600K, CitAltFort opened on the button for 3 million chips. Reflexbakker wasted little time moving all-in with K♦ J♠ and CitAltFort, taking a chance to end the tournament immediately and lay claim to the last $5,000 up for grabs, quickly called with T♠ 9♠. Both players paired on the A♣ J♦ 9♦ flop, but the 4♣ turn and A♥ river set both players right back to where they had started the heads-up match. Nine hands later Reflexbakker's K♣ 2♦ would survive a preflop confrontation against CitAltFort's Q♠ 4♠ to bring an end to a long, and quite frankly thrilling, final table.

CitAltFort came back from eighth position when the final table began to an impressive 2nd-place finish, though the previously agreed deal meant the Russian player took home $25,943.75 instead of the original payout schedule's $38,725.80. Still, it was a performance to be proud of. And for Reflexbakker, who employed a near-perfect strategy on the final table bubble and then survived a minefield of a final table, the extra $5,000 meant a first-place prize of $44,090.40 to go along with a well-deserved SCOOP champion's watch.

SCOOP Event #31-L $22 No Limit Hold'em (1R,1A) Results

1st place: Reflexbakker ($44,090.40)*
2nd place: CitAltFort ($25,943.75)*
3rd place: llove.caty ($40,064.92)*
4th place: cascader1703 ($26,653.71)*
5th place: toddswain ($14,409.60)
6th place: spence79 ($10,807.20)
7th place: FERNANDOGM ($7,204.80)
8th place: mestrefilipe ($3,962.64)
9th place: terminato868 ($2,791.86)
* - denotes payouts based on a four-way deal

Can't get enough hot recap action? Check out the main SCOOP page for all your post-tourney needs.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in SCOOP