SCOOP 2012: Resistance is futile as ministerborg assimilates Event 21-High, $2100 NLHE

SCOOP logo.gifI'm always impressed when I see players playing for hundreds of thousands of dollars and not even considering some sort of a chop to smooth out the drastic differences in payouts. I know for some, it's the mark of a true gambler. Maybe that's what it takes to succeed at the highest levels -- an indifference to the money at stake.

Maybe I should just ask 2012 SCOOP Event 21-High champion ministerborg, who never once considered a deal en route to the victory.

$1,000,000 in guaranteed prize money? No problem. The 951 players that registered for Event 21-High nearly doubled the guarantee by creating a prize pool of $1.9 million and a first place prize of almost $345,000.

Unlike its counterpart of Event 20-High, the Event 21-High Day 2 field was thin on star power. Of the 60 players that made it through Day 1, only Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez represented the red spade. He busted in 36th place, well short of the final table and the big prize money. And it certainly wasn't for lack of trying on the part of Team PokerStars. Fully 30 Team PokerStars Pro and PokerStars Team Online players entered the field, but the only other one to finish among the 108 in-the-money spots was Marcin Horecki in 78th place.

In fact, the final nine players were a crew without much in the way of previous PokerStars high buy-in tournament final table appearances:

2012 SCOOP 21-High Final table.jpg

Seat 1: trontrontron (853434 in chips)
Seat 2: JRADF79 (258995 in chips)
Seat 3: hook2120 (1766053 in chips)
Seat 4: JACK-CRACK-R (1018973 in chips)
Seat 5: Exan13 (277625 in chips)
Seat 6: Chris "ImDaNuts" Oliver (1498257 in chips)
Seat 7: I'am_Sound (1496821 in chips)
Seat 8: ministerborg (1856296 in chips)
Seat 9: 10IsTheYear (483546 in chips)

Level 28: blinds 6000-12000, ante 1500
Average stack: 1,056,666

The long haul

Day 2 played down from 60 players to the final table in just more than four hours, leaving the final nine players with an incredibly deep average stack of almost 90 big blinds. When the final table began, JRADF79 and Exan13 were battling for the "short stack" designation. JRADF79 won that battle, but only because Exan13 picked up pocket kings and ran them right into the pocket aces of 10IsTheYear. All the chips went in pre-flop, and to add insult to injury 10IsTheYear flopped a set of aces. Exan13 was drawing dead by the turn and became the 9th-place finisher by the river.

It was a long, long time before another player was eliminated, with lots of cold four-betting. JACK-CRACK-R called all in at one point with pocket jacks against big stack hook2120's ace-king, but jacks held to give JACK-CRACK-R a slight chip lead over the other seven players. Not to be outdone, JRADF79 made pocket aces stand up against I'am_Sound's pocket 9s. The final table promised to stretch far into the night.

A series of strong hands helped Chris "ImDaNuts" Oliver to become the dominant chip favorite at the final table with more than 3 million in chips. Yet as the relentless pace of pre-flop three-betting, four-betting and five-betting continued, Oliver feel back towards the pack and settled around 2.4 million.

It took a bad beat to finally find the 8th-place finisher. An hour and 45 minutes after Exan13 was eliminated, ministerborg opened from under the gun with a minimum-raise to 50k. Action passed to JACK-CRACK-R, who three-bet shoved for 635k. I'am_Sound was in the big blind with pocket queens and called all in for 557k total, folding ministerborg. JACK-CRACK-R showed K♣J♣ and was in big trouble after a queen-high flop of 3♥7♥Q♣ gave I'am_Sound a set of queens. But the turn and river came perfect running cards, T♥ and A♠, to improve JACK-CRACK-R to a Broadway straight and the winning hand.

Another 60 minutes passed without elimination. The orgy of four- and five-betting pre-flop continued. The big winner was hook2120, who climbed to 3.0 million. The big loser was Oliver, whose stack dwindled to about 1.0 million.

The game of pre-flop chicken was bound to take a toll on someone; it finally victimized JACK-CRACK-R during the 15k-30k level. JACK-CRACK-R 6-bet shoved for 1.7 million with A♦5♦ and was snap-called by ministerborg, who turned over pocket jacks. JACK-CRACK-R was drawing dead by the turn and fell to 275k. A timely triple-up two hands later with pocket jacks against the ace-queen of two different players kept JACK-CRACK-R in the hunt.

A lot flip caused JRADF79 to fall to less than 7 big blinds total. Those chips went into the middle pre-flop after trontrontron opened for the minimum. trontrontron called with A♠8♠ and beat out JRADF79's A♥K♦ after three spades hit the board, T♥9♠Q♠6♠Q♦. JRADF79 exited in 7th place.

Picking up the pace

Six players remained. The shortest among them was trontrontron, whose stack of 685k represented less than 20 big blinds at the new level. Once again ministerborg opened for the minimum from first position. trontrontron stuck all 685k into the middle and this time they didn't come back out. ministerborg called with A♠K♠. It never improved on a jack-high board but was good enough against trontrontron's unimproved A♣Q♦ to take the pot and end trontrontron's run in 6th place.

ministerborg was on the right end of a cooler that eliminated hook2120 roughly ten hands later. Take a look:

RSS readers click through to see replay

That set-over-set situation gave ministerborg the chip lead. The relative positions of the players didn't change for a long stretch, long enough that 10IsTheYear offered to deal. "I feel like playing, guys," said ministerborg, and so play they did.

Just before the 11pm break, ministerborg extended the chip lead by eliminating 10IsTheYear. In the 25k-50k level and sitting in the small blind, ministerborg open-shoved. 10IsTheYear was down to 721k and called with K♣T♦, the best hand against ministerborg's J♠9♥. Both players missed the flop, but the turn and river came running 9s to give ministerborg the pot and to eliminate 10IsTheYear in 4th place.

Six down, two to go

The counts at that point showed ministerborg in front, Oliver in 2nd and JACK-CRACK-R as the short stack. That is how thing stayed until Jack-CRACK-R opened for the minimum 100k, then pushed over a 3-bet by Oliver. JACK-CRACK-R called all in for 1.0 million with pocket 9s, but Oliver's A♠8♠ found three matching spades on a 8♦5♠6♠Q♠2♥ board to make the nut flush and eliminate JACK-CRACK-R in 3rd place.

To start heads-up play, ministerborg had a small 5-to-4 chip advantage over Oliver. Oliver's short stack represented 80 big blinds, however, so heads-up play rated to take more than an hour - especially with a difference of almost $100,000 between 2nd place and 1st place.

Instead it took less than 15 minutes. Oliver tried a risky 7-bet shove-bluff for 4.3 million with Q♥4♥, perhaps reasoning that ministerborg wouldn't call the shove without a super-premium hand. ministerborg picked off the bluff with A♦Q♣, and that lone ace was enough on a board of 7♠T♠T♣8♦T♥ to claim the Event 21-High title.


Chris Oliver - runner-up

It was a gutsy play from Oliver, but this time it blew up in his face. ministerborg will go to bed tonight $344,000 richer and will soon be the proud owner of a new Movado watch as the 2012 SCOOP Event 21-high champion.

2012 SCOOP Event 21-High, $2100 NLHE results:

1st: ministerborg ($344,262.00)
2nd: Chris "ImDaNuts" Oliver ($247,260.00)
3rd: JACK-CRACK-R ($185,445.00)
4th: 10IsTheYear ($138,846.00)
5th: hook2120 ($97,953.00)
6th: trontrontron ($78,933.00)
7th: JRADF79 ($50,913.00)
8th: I'am_Sound ($42,034.20)
9th: Exan13 ($24,345.60)

One whole week of SCOOP is in the books but there's still another week to go. Check out all four leaderboards, as well as stats and the upcoming schedule of events, at the SCOOP home page.

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in SCOOP